PODCAST: An interview with the directors of 'Buying Sex'

Filmmakers, Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason set out to explore the various models of prostitution law across the world and the impacts on women in the industry. They spoke with johns, sex workers, law enforcement officers, academics, experts, and government officials. Much of the film is focused on the Bedford v. Canada case, scheduled for hearing on June 13th at the Supreme Court of Canada, and feature interviews with both the plaintiffs and their lawyer, Alan Young. ‘Buying Sex’ recently showed at Hot Docs, Toronto’s documentary film festival and will be available to the public, on the National Film Board of Canada’s website, as of June 6, 2013*.

Listen to the podcast below.

*EDIT: June 7, 2013 — The dates the film will be available to view online have changed to June 14-21.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • marv

    I was gratified to hear that abolitionists are receiving some coverage from filmmakers like Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason. In spite of that I had the notion that they were dancing around provocative terms like patriarchy and male supremacy while making vague allusions to them. I can see why they are cautious to avoid being too contentious and taking sides, given their aim to promote dialogue; but it is a little unnerving to hear. While the pro sex lobby has more power, exposure and influence in society, playing the part of impartial mediator confers the impression that both sides in the discourse are equal. In addition, I think it is unsettling for married couples to confront the male constructs in which we live, albeit they did question assumptions around monogamy. Overall I will still be eager to watch their production.

  • The Bedford parties featured in Buying Sex participated on the assurance that the goal of the film was to raise public awareness regarding the nature of the constitutional challenge to Canada’s prostitution laws.

    Regrettably, Buying Sex provides an incomplete and inaccurate account of the case. Through highly selected editing, the film marginalizes and trivializes the significance of the court challenge.

    Bedford v Canada is not about legalization, decriminalization or the ‘Swedish model’ advanced by some advocates. Nor is this case about polarizing a feminist debate. Bedford is about individual’s constitutional right to security of the person under s.7 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. For more information about the constitutional challenge go to: bedfordsafehaveninitiative.com

    • stephen m

      @Bedford Parties: I would not recommend your site for an accurate or up to date source of information, now or in the future. Currently the factums on your site do not reflect the same number of factums as on the official government site, and the actual material of some (I could not be bothered to check all of them for accurate material) of the factums on your site are not the same as on the official government site located below:


  • stephen m

    The Attorney General of Canada, et al. v. Terri Jean Bedford, et al. *IS* about prostitution and how it will be approached in the future under the law in Canada

    There is an incredible amount of information for this case at the GC.CA site and I recommend you take a quick look. A full link is at the bottom.

    The first and most important factum is: Appellant Attorney-General-of-Canada.pdf

    Here are some extracted sections of this factum

    Minimal impairment analysis asks whether the means chosen are reasonably tailored to achieve the objectives of the legislation. In making this assessment, “the courts accord the legislature a measure of deference, particularly on complex social issues where the legislature may be better positioned than the courts to choose among a range of alternatives”. Greater deference should be given to Parliament’s legislative response if this Court finds that a de minimis standard of causation is sufficient to engage s. 7 of the Charter given the tenuous connection between the impugned provisions and the Charter breach. As outlined above, a blanket prohibition against bawdy-houses and those who live on the avails of prostitution is a reasonably tailored response in balancing the objectives of protecting prostitutes and the communities in which prostitution takes place, and deterring prostitution, and its commercialization.

    The beneficial effects of targeting these harms through the legislation as supported by
    many experts, law enforcement and experiential witnesses outweigh the possible indirect deleterious effects that the provisions may have on those who engage in prostitution. In light of the contradictory social science evidence of the impact the law has on the dangers faced by prostitutes, Parliament’s choice to criminalize the most harmful and public emanations of prostitution is within a reasonable range of legislative options. As such, should this Court find the impugned provisions breach s. 7, they are a reasonable limit within the meaning of s. 1 of the Charter.

    It follows that the choice as to how best to respond to any constitutional infirmity should be left to Parliament. These prohibitions are part of an interrelated comprehensive scheme. Should this Court strike down any of the prohibitions, Parliament will have to make policy choices regarding how to best achieve Parliament’s objectives in relation to the complex social issues surrounding prostitution.