The New York Times had a very biased and one-sided article come out this week that caused an uproar and further divided the growing chasm between the Sex Workers (who are pro-legalization of prostitution) and anti-trafficking advocates worldwide.
In reading the article and the myriad of its supporters comments, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a well-meaning, nice man on an airplane a while back. He said he thought prostitution should be legal. He said he had visited the red light district and all of the girls were smiling. It hit me. This is my market, this is our market! This is the reason I am making a TV show. Because there is a group of people out there who have been deceived by our media, a group of people who are not coming to our conferences or attending our events, they’re not reading our books or watching documentaries on trafficking. They are normal Americans who are not engaged in this specific social justice issue.
You may have even found yourself amongst a similar crowd. So how do we rebuttal those claims and help people to see the dangers of legalizing prostitution? Here are a few myths I’d like to personally debunk:
1. Prostitution is the oldest profession.
False: Prostitution is the oldest form of OPPRESSION. Big difference. You know what are the oldest professions? Farming and agriculture. But, Rape, Forced Marriage, and Prostitution - those are the oldest forms of oppression and entitled violence. Two big differences.
2. It is a woman's right to chose her profession.
Correct, it is. However, a profession that increases the risk of homicide, STDs, and depression and ensures PTSD and rape does not seem to fit the banner of “empowerment” that they are waving. Being left with little alternatives because of poverty, being transgender, sexual molestation and many, many more vulnerabilities, doesn’t actually make it “your choice.” It means the lesser of two evils prevails, yet again, in someone’s life. Why don’t we work on fair living wages and decreased vulnerabilities? That seems a much more humanity-focused option.
3. Legalizing and taxing prostitution will give our country revenue while monitoring the safety of the "workers" involved.
This sounds a whole lot like what the Transatlantic Slave Trade said and did hundreds of years ago. "These people aren't human, this is our property. They lack the ability to empathize and therefore should be separated from their children to give us a workforce and increase revenue." The slave owners and proponents justified and truly believed something that simply was not true. Legalizing will NOT make this safer for anyone. If anything, it will provide a more open path for traffickers to continue to supply the demand for youthful flesh. At a time in history when our culture has become more hypersexual than ever, this is a very scary statement to consider.
And for those that continue to argue that countries that have legalized it have done better - that is not true either and those people need to do more research… thorough, proper research. Not what one blog or newscast said. New Zealand and Germany have seen huge problems with trafficking where prostitution has been legalized, increasing organized crime and furthering putting communities in danger.
4. Prostitution isn't going to go away, so let's monitor it better by making it legal.
Rape and drug use won’t go away either. Neither will murder. Should we simply legalize so we can monitor the rapists and drug dealers and murders? Prostitution is generally men looking to fulfill their own lustful pleasures- they bring the demand and corruption will supply it. History proves that when anything is in demand, corruption nips at its heels.
5. Those women want to be there.
Actually, they probably don’t. Deep down, if they were offered a job at the same pay, same hours they’d choose the new job in a second. Furthermore, the “wanting to be there” sells - THAT IS THE MARKETING. Crying girls, kidnapped, chained to a dirty mattress and duct taped… girls who are begging you to help her…. that’s not what men want to buy - kind of kills the mood.
One last important consideration: professional sex workers will have you believe that they are the majority, and that the trafficking of children is a very rare and small percentage of sex trade. In the nearly six years that I was forced into prostitution, I met thousands of women in commercial sex. Only 2 were there by choice. The majority had traffickers beating, coercing, and threatening their family while having all the money they made each night taken. Pro Sex Workers are actually the minority, but because men, women, and children are STILL stuck in trafficking, their voices will remain silenced.
Let’s speak up for those still trapped in trafficking. Use #OppressionNotProfession this week and say what you think to create the right marketing and branding that speaks for the people and to the people who are becoming increasingly deceived. Let’s end slavery again!
There was one comment on the NYT piece that made me laugh- I love a good satire. I had to share:
“No need to channel your kids to STEM course. No more struggling with math and chemistry. Or lit. The ‘oldest profession’ is the way to go. Put down that cello. Sell the piano. Buy your girl a pair of practice stilettos and a halter top… The faculty, pictured top left, (referring to the ad) are reviewing new candidates now.”