Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Chester Brown: Body Cameras & Dave Sim


Cover for True Porn Vol 2 (Alternative Comics, 2005)
Art by Chester Brown


Body Cameras & Dave Sim
(first posted on Patreon, 28 March 2017)

My March 14th post about Dave Sim was put up on A Moment Of Cerebus on March 18th which prompted another round of comments from Dave and A-M-O-C readers.
Some of them considered the word whorephobia to be “nonsensical” and didn’t understand that it referred to the prejudice that sex-workers and their clients face. (And they thought I’d invented the word.) For me, writing whorephobia is easier and quicker than repeatedly typing: “the prejudice against sex-workers and their clients”. It hadn’t occurred to me that, of course, whorephobes wouldn’t want to admit that they have a prejudice — they see all of the negative representations and negative discussions of sex-workers and their clients as reflecting reality, not a prejudice. Racists and homophobes must have similarly resisted the words racism and homophobia. We’ve seen how Dave has tried to deny that the word misogyny refers to to a prejudice. 
Fortunately, an intelligent guy named Barry Deutsch added some comments defending my use of whorephobia and countered a lot of Dave's points. (And Deutsch did so with more skill than I could have brought to the task — you really should read the exchange.) However, Deutsch neglected to mention one of Dave’s opinions that’s worth highlighting. 
In one of Dave’s comments on the February 26th A-M-O-C post, Dave gave his solution to the problem of the violence that sex-workers sometimes encounter:
“The answer to that I think is body-cams. You have to register as a John with approved ID and use your ID in the body cam when ‘visiting' a hooker. The body cam records the entire encounter and if the hooker has a complaint to make, she just e-mails the encounter to the appropriate court and a judgement is made as to whether she was assaulted or not. […] If you want 100% safety you have to give up 100% privacy. Otherwise you’re ‘tasking' the police with playing 'he said, she said' on the public nickel.”
This seemed so ridiculous that I initially ignored it. But Dave returned to this idea in his comments for the March 18th A Moment Of Cerebus post, and, in his insistence, made it clear that he’s serious about this idea. Someone named Jeff told an anecdote about how, when she was a teen, a "Crazy Canadian Lady" who Jeff had known had been sexually abused while working as a babysitter. The abusers had been the fathers of the kids this woman had been babysitting and the abuse had happened when she was driven home. (On the basis of no real evidence, Jeff believed that she had later become a sex-worker.) Dave wrote this:
“If Jeff’s Canadian Lady had had a body-cam and her parents insisted it be turned on 24-7 when she was babysitting NOTHING would have happened on those ‘rides' home. It’s beneath, in my opinion, the dignity of our Courts and outside of our Courts’ competence to determine the reality in 'he said/she said' cases. [My emphasis.]
It seemed that Dave was expanding this body-cam idea to include any interactions between females and males that could potentially result in a rape. This was confirmed in a later comment: 
“You want to hit on women and date women and not get charged with rape? YOU wear a body cam, too. 'Here’s my history with her. YOU tell ME. Am I a rapist or is she nutty as a fruitcake?’”
In most cases, rape is, in Dave’s opinion, “beneath the dignity of our Courts” to consider. Dave’s problem with rape cases and cases involving violence against sex-workers is that they involve “he-said/she-said” testimony. I wonder if Dave has considered that a lot of non-sexual/non-sex-work-related cases also involve he-said/she-said testimony, as well as he-said/he-said and she-said/she-said testimony. There aren’t always witnesses to non-sexual crimes and there isn’t always forensic evidence. Is it also “below the dignity” of the court to consider non-sexual cases where it’s just one person’s word against another’s or is it only “below the dignity” of the court when it comes to rape cases and cases involving sex-workers? Are we all supposed to be wearing body-cams all the time?
I had planned to address a few other things that Dave wrote that Deutsch hadn’t dissected but, having written the above, I’ve decided not to bother. When applied to fictional invention, the extreme nature of Dave's thinking makes for interesting reading. But that extreme nature, when applied to real-world problems, results in opinions that almost no one can take seriously.

Chester Brown has been writing and drawing comics and graphic novels since the 1980s: Yummy Fur, Ed The Happy Clown, I Never Liked You, Louis Riel, Paying For It, Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus. You can help provide him with a stable source of income while he works on his next graphic novel by donating at Patreon

Further Reading:
Black Mirror: The Entire History Of You

32 comments:

Erick said...

Chester, first a necessary disclaimer: I am in no way, shape or fashion a Dave Sim acolyte. There are plenty on this site. I have vehemently disagreed with almost every position Dave has taken with regards to women and other issues.
That being said, I think your view of sex-workers is just as warped as Dave's view on Women in general. I do not doubt that some sex-workers enjoy their profession. Whether it was chosen, or by circumstances that they could not avoid. But I seriously doubt that the majority of sex-workers worldwide shares that view. For the purposes of this reply, we will not discuss the untold millions of children worldwide that have been forced into sex slavery. We will not discuss the untold millions of drug addicts that have been forced into sex work. We will not discuss the untold number of mentally ill who have fallen into sex work. We will not discuss the untold numbers of desperate, poorly educated with no other resort who have had to choose sex work. No, for this discussion let’s just focus on that subset that you seem to have found. The happy hooker. You have written about your long and ongoing relationship with a sex-worker as if that was a normal thing. It most certainly is not. You have written that you would have no problem with your Mother or sister or daughter becoming a sex worker. As if that was normal. It most certainly is not. You slam Dave for his views that are far out of the ordinary and the reality of the world, but you fail to see the same in your own views. You truly mean to say that you would have no problem with your own mother and daughter becoming paid receptacles for strangers to hump on and ejaculate over? To be used in every conceivable way by men who see them as just a physical object to satisfy themselves on. Who would treat them no better than a pair of old shoes? And you see no problem with that? You believe that to be a normal reaction? You sir, are a hypocrite. I know that you are far from the first to have such a relationship with a prostitute. Hell just look at any of the westerns from the 50’s on. Hard bitten man, soft hearted hooker always waiting for him to return. Yeah. An old story, but far from the norm.

Craig Johnson said...

Anyone interested in the idea of everyone wearing body cams, check out the episode of Black Mirror which covers pretty much the same ground, season one, episode three "The Entire History of You".

Sandeep Atwal said...

On the topic of He-Said, She-Said:

http://whotv.com/2017/03/02/drake-expels-male-student-despite-female-claiming-she-forced-him-into-sex-act/

Anonymous said...

I pretty much agree with Erick here:

"You truly mean to say that you would have no problem with your own mother and daughter becoming paid receptacles for strangers to hump on and ejaculate over? To be used in every conceivable way by men who see them as just a physical object to satisfy themselves on. Who would treat them no better than a pair of old shoes? And you see no problem with that? You believe that to be a normal reaction? You sir, are a hypocrite."

Yes, I don't believe anyone who says they'd be all right with this scenario, it's ludicrous. And Chester pretty much says that he uses the term Whorephobia because of the impact it will supposedly have, much like Homophobia etc.

Which misses the point. I don't think anyone here, myself included, has any anger, hatred, dislike, prejudice against prostitutes. I just don't think it's anything to be celebrated, to be proud of or to have as a goal for a woman's life. But that's not hatred, or dislike or prejudice.

Again, consenting adults, free will.

A Fake Name



Sandeep Atwal said...

Agreed. Very well said, Erick.

Jack said...

Very well said?! That was one of the most horribly written and logically disjointed comments ever posted on this site, and it has a tremendous amount of competition.

crazyyears said...

The lack of critical thinking and self examination in these comments is astounding.

Erick,

When you set up parameters within which you will consider Mr. Brown's assertion that he would have no problem with his mother or sister being a sex worker you then fail to remain within those parameters as you consider it.

Your "Happy Hooker" definition is nebulous at best and as such is best left to the fictions from which it sprang, as are the soft hearted hookers in the western films you describe.

Mr. Brown's description of his current relationship is that of a consentual one, free from disease and pesonal danger, friendly, and mutually beneficial. That is not my opinion, that is Mr. Brown's description. I take him at his word.

You go on to describe a situation in which Mr. Brown's "own mother and daughter becoming paid receptacles for strangers to hump on and ejaculate over? To be used in every conceivable way by men who see them as just a physical object to satisfy themselves on. Who would treat them no better than a pair of old shoes?"

This of course ignores the parameters you yourself set up and Mr. Brown's description of a consensual relationship. Your conclusion that Mr. Brown is a hypocrite is based entirely on your inabilty to consider the question at hand within your own self descibed parameters or within the context as described by Mr. Brown.

Anonymous,

You write that Mr. Brown "pretty much says that he uses the term Whorephobia because of the impact it will supposedly have, much like Homophobia etc."

I assume by impact you mean the putting of one's debate opponent unfairly on the defensive by adding "phobe" to a subject, an argument against the word "whorephobia" that has been put forth more than once in this discussion. In any case, Mr. Brown wrote nothing of the sort, "pretty much" or otherwise, and your statement is false.

Mr. Brown goes out of his way again to describe his use of the word: "For me, writing whorephobia is easier and quicker than repeatedly typing: 'the prejudice against sex-workers and their clients'."

I don't know Erick or anonymous, and I won't label either as a whorephobe, but I do ask them to consider why, when Mr. Brown is the only one in this discussion to have both anecdotal knowledge of prostitution and to have done extensive research on the subject, they are so quick to dismiss his first person accounts and the conclusions reached by that research, and further, label him a hipocrite?

This knee-jerk reaction and apparent refusal to either ignore or misinterpret the material provided for discussion may well be the result of some sort of prejudice.

--- Michael Hunt


Erick said...

Michael Hunt?
Really?
Ok, well if that is your true name then you have gone through a lifetime of scorn which I will endeavor not perpetuate.

As for your arguments.
Hmmm, well I did not set any parameters and neither did Chester. When he mentioned that he would be fine with his mother, or sister or daughter being sex-workers he did not limit it to some ‘nebulous’ romantic engagement between consenting adults that just so happens to involve the exchange of lucre. While Chester very well may be involved in such a relationship with a prostitute, he in no way represents the norm of such transactions.

He is a hypocrite because he said that Daves’ views are of “extreme nature, when applied to real-world problems, results in opinions that almost no one can take seriously.” I actually quite agree with that about Dave. The problem for Chester though is that he seems to think it is normal for him to hold the views that he has about sex-workers and his own family if they chose to become prostitutes.

You seem to object to my description of what a prostitute can and is subjected to, and remember no parameters where set by either Chester or myself. Do you really think it is all peaches and cream and lazy days ‘making love’ to your regulars? If Chester is fine with his mother or daughter becoming prostitutes, then he is not objecting to the base condition that most prostitutes find themselves in: Which is that of a street walker. He may very well think that the role of courtesan would be just fine for his mother or daughter to aspire to (and I am admittedly am putting words in his mouth on this), but if that is the case then he is objecting to the role that most prostitutes fall into, the common street walker. And if that is the case, then he is once again proven to be a hypocrite. Do I need to connect the dots for you on that? However, if he does not object to his mother and daughter being a common street walker, subject to one of the scenarios I described which is not at all out of the ordinary, then that puts him just as far in the extreme as he claims Dave to be. Just on the opposite end of the spectrum

Anonymous said...

Michael,

I think Erick gave a good example of what these (mothers & daughters) would be subjected to. I just don't think anyone would be happy knowing their relative is a prostitute. I don't think this is very difficult to understand. Again, Erick's most recent reply covers that in detail. No need to elaborate.

While I appreciate you not labeling me or Erick as 'whorephobic' (regardless of me thinking it a stupid term), it's obvious the intended effect of the word is to shut down people who think differently about prostitution or even disprove of it on moral grounds.

It's not enough for me to say, well, you're consenting adults, it's your business, I hope you do it in a safe way out basic human deceny and I wouldn't waste time trying to arrest you for it, but I don't think it's something to aspire to or be proud of, no, that's not enough.

I have to approve of this life decision, or at minimum keep my opinion to myself otherwise, I'm a "phobe." That's not the approach of someone interested in a dialogue, it's someone interested in winning politically. Based on things I've read of Chester and his discussions with Dave, it's disappointing he'd adopt such a tactic.


A Fake Name


Anonymous said...

Michael,

You said:

"...In any case, Mr. Brown wrote nothing of the sort, "pretty much" or otherwise, and your statement is false."

Chester said:



"...It hadn’t occurred to me that, of course, whorephobes wouldn’t want to admit that they have a prejudice — they see all of the negative representations and negative discussions of sex-workers and their clients as reflecting reality, not a prejudice. Racists and homophobes must have similarly resisted the words racism and homophobia."

He's well aware of the hoped-for intended effect for the word. He's the one assuming people have a "prejudice.' No, people just aren't impressed that you pay a woman for sex or charge a man you'd not have sex with if he weren't paying you.

Again, it's a political tactic, a battle tactic.

"I think prostitution is wrong."

"WHOREPHOBE!"

"Prostitution is nothing to be proud of."

"WHOREPHOBE."

"I wouldn't want my mother to be a prostit-"

"WHOREPHOBE! If only these horrible whorephobes were more enlightened about sex work."



A Fake Name

Sean R said...

Chester Brown has "researched" prostitution in the same sense that a crack addict has "researched" brain chemistry.

Kit said...

Very well said?! That was one of the most horribly written and logically disjointed comments ever posted on this site, and it has a tremendous amount of competition.

Good thing Jack got in early before the bar was raised higher.

Chester is obviously not advocating a world in which all sex workers are physically mistreated and professionally disrespected. He's in favour of a society that facilitates sex work as a career option on the worker's own terms. Meet the argument on its own level, at least.

Presumably the posters above are opposed to children being forced to work in sweatshops. Would they be appalled if their sisters chose to work weekend shifts in a boutique?

As someone who lives in a country where sex work is legal, it remains creepy that all the virulently emotion-based posting here assumes all sex workers are female.

Scheisswaupt said...

I see a lot of personalities here whose only plausible option would be to patronize sex worker voids. And then only if they agreed to pay triple, in advance.

Erick said...

Kit,
the problem with 'meeting the argument on its own level' is that in the real world in which we inhabit, most prostitute transactions are not of the type that Chester engages in. Thus in order to meet on that level we must disregard the actual. That is a complete fallacy. Also, your own prejudices are showing with regards to male prostitutes. I certainly have not excluded male sex-workers. The term sex-worker and or prostitute is gender neutral. In the examples that have involved women, they are a direct response to Chester for his stated views that he would have no problem with his own mother or daughter becoming sex workers. Too, he never put a limit on what type of sex work he thinks would be appropriate for his own mother or daughter to engage in. I notice your umbrage did not encompass that portion of his argument.

Joshua Leto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Kit,

This isn't the end-all discussion of prostitution covering every possible permutation. I don't think anyone thought Chester advocated for anyone's abuse.


A Fake Name

crazyyears said...

Joshua,

You have attributed a quote to me that was in fact written by Anonymous. Please correct this.

You then go on to use this as evidence to include me within the group of commenters that are indulging in opinion on the issue. Please correct this.

If you'll reread what I wrote you'll find I included no opinions, only descriptions, simple declaratives, and a criticism of Erick's methodology.

--- Michael Hunt


Erick said...

Michael,
your so-called criticism of my methodology is severely flawed, as I pointed out in subsequent post.

Neither I or Chester imposed limits or "parameters" on what 'duties' a sex-worker can and can not perform.

Joshua Leto said...

[Note: Edited to correct an error pointed out by Michael Hunt. He is the exception in my "most of the commenters" statement.

It seems to me that there is a common thread in all sides on this issue, from Mr Sim, from Mr Brown, from most of the commenters. That is that they are all demonstrating an opinion on the issue. I don't see any reason to think that anyone involved (Sim or Brown included, and most definitely including me) has any real factual knowledge (I think even Brown acknowledges that his role in this discussion is to share his opinions and shoot down poorly thought out perspectives) in the worldwide demographics and experiences of sex workers.
Examples:
Sim, "It's beneath...the dignity of the courts"
Brown, "I had speculated that Dave had been 'affected..."
Erick, "I seriously doubt the majority of sex workers worldwide share that view."
Anonymous, "I think Erick gave a good example of what there (mothers & daughters) would be subjected to."
Et cetera...

Josh

Jeff Seiler said...

Wow.

Just,

Wow.

And I used to think that, maybe, I was a little bit over the top...

Sean R said...

Mr. Brown,

My name is Sean Michael Robinson. I post here under "Sean R" because that's my default handle on Blogger, and I'd assumed previously that people posting here know who I am (I write for the blog weekly.)

I didn't respond to your previous comments because it seemed clear to me that your "fact finding" on prostitution is driven not by reality or a search for truth, but rather, a desire to find details to confirm the rightness of your present and past actions.

I have no doubt that there are those rare birds, prostitutes who have a self-reported healthy relationship with their gig. Perhaps they all live in Toronto. Regardless, from any objective standpoint, they are in the minority.

Regarding my previous comments and your response: it was my assumption that we were discussing the morality of being a john, not discussing legalization (or decriminalization, if you prefer), As I said then, you don't have to have Dave's religious framework to share his opinion that prostitution is a grave harm to the very real people on the other side of the transaction.

My previous comment:

"I think Dave's previous comments cut to the quick of the issue very effectively. I think if you to read them again and responded directly there might be an interesting dialogue to be had. I'm intrigued by Mr. Brown's assertion that "any intelligent person wouldn't be bothered" if they had a sister who was a sex-worker. Do you count yourself in this category?

To Mr. Brown, or anyone else who agrees with his assertions--what is the incidence of mental illness among sex workers? What percentage of that population was abused as children? How does the life expectancy of a sex worker compare to a non-sex worker? Do you think any of these issues are causal, or just correlated with that choice of profession? How many of these things do you expect would change with legalization, and how would such a legalization scheme avoid the problems with essentially indentured servitude seen under the German legalization scheme?"

My point still stands, and is easily verifiable. Prostitution is at the very least correlated with very bad health outcomes. Here's a publicly available abstract to get you started. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/482625

On the issue of legalization or decriminalization, I might be persuaded by an argument from practicality, if I thought that better outcomes for the prostitutes could be improved. But as I said, all evidence from Germany is to the contrary. Do we want a society in which poor people are further enslaved by the rich, owned sexually as well as monetarily? Does the law have an interest in encouraging behavior that brings such misery to people?

From your reply to me:

"Let’s say that it could be established that taxi drivers experienced more violence and tended to have shorter lives than accountants. Would that mean that it’s wrong to use taxis? Should it be illegal to drive people around? It’s wrong to use violence against taxi drivers and prostitutes, but that doesn’t mean it’s morally wrong to peacefully ride in a taxi or pay money to a prostitute and have consensual sex with her (or him). "

Putting aside the mechanics of your analogy...

Sean R said...

They're called labor laws, and they do exist. Labor laws limit the legal work day, require breaks, prevent children from working, set up frameworks of protection for coal miners and loggers and other high-risk professions. Maybe you have philosophical disagreements with all of these laws. But surely the improved health incomes, especially for those of our poorest and most vulnerable populations, have to be weighed against any negatives.

With a similar eye to pragmatism, I'd suggest the following: the decriminalization of prostitution, and subsequent strict enforcement of laws against trafficking, pimps and johns. Punish the people that are actually doing the harm.

I admire you as a cartoonist and an illustrator, and I admire that you're willing to take your opinions into a public forum. But I don't find anything you've written persuasive to the broader point, that transactional sex erodes the quality of life and physical health of the people on at least one side of the exchange. And regardless of the legal framework, it attracts the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Because we're trafficking in anecdotes"

For seven years I lived in Seattle, surely as much a hotbed of "sex positivity" as Toronto.

What in those seven years were my primary experiences with prostitutes?

There were half a dozen women who lived in a dilapidated motel a block from my house, that were all kept by the drug dealers who also lived there. The drug dealers "protected" (i,e, owned) the women. The women solicited on the main roadway (Aurora/99) and took their clients back to the public trail that ran between my house and the motel. Public sex, public intravenous drug use, out all night under enforcement of the men who protected them.

The city finally used an old ordinance to take away the business license of the owners of the motel, who were in on the project. This was one of three hotels they owned, all on the same corridor, all with the same basic business model.

For a majority of prostitutes, this is the environment, this is the experience. Are there ways to better protect them? I'm not sure. But there's one thing I do know. I'm unlikely to hear about them from a john.

Sean R said...

Related to the discussion--

Landlord's Daughter, "Park and Ride."

https://landlordsdaughter.bandcamp.com/track/park-and-ride

Sean R said...

Second thoughts— I could have phrased this (and I'm sure much more of the above) better.

"I didn't respond to your previous comments because it seemed clear to me that your "fact finding" on prostitution is driven not by reality or a search for truth, but rather, a desire to find details to confirm the rightness of your present and past actions."

I'm not intending to attribute thoughts or motivations to you. I'm saying that I'm even more skeptical of (to me) extraordinary claims when they come from a self-interested party. I'd suggest someone dispassionate about prostitution might make a more effective policy advocate.

To be fair, although I'm probably in the majority here, I'm most likely in the minority on a great many other related issues. For instance, I think the moral calculus involved in prostitution is very similar to the moral calculus involved in surrogacy, something that I see as similarly harmful and suspect. Though there's definitely been much less analytical study of the issue!

Jeff Seiler said...

Mags, wanna join in on the "discussion"?

Just to be clear, NOT because you are, in any way, involved, but because you're sorta, kinda a feminist (and, BTW, my favorite one.)

Jeff Seiler said...

Sean, what did (do) you mean by surrogacy? I ask, because, I think that surrogate parents, as were mine, although by adoption, are a Very Good Thing. Not all are. Mine were.

Sean, if you mean just a sex surrogate; well, then, I might be right there with you. Some surrogates fill in for the guys or gals who are shooting blanks. Not that I'm, uh, ... where were we? Sorry, blanked out there for a sec. Where were we?

Oh, yeah, and, if you want a family, it's not a completely horrible thing. If you're not shooting blanks!

Sean, on another note, I hope that you know I think of you like a brother...

From, of course, another mother.

But, let us get back to the proofing, already, eh, for God's sake, eh?

I'm running out of (un)funny things to say, and our Supreme Commander is, too.

Barry Deutsch said...

Sean:

I really enjoy researching policy issues - it's what I do for fun. But trying to research prostitution has been frustrating, because there's so little available, and much of what exists is of low quality.

Here's a link to an academic article about how bad much of the research in this area is (pdf article). People tend to choose either samples of street workers (who are generally the worse off prostitutes) or of high-end escorts (generally the best off prostitutes) and then draw conclusions; but neither group's experiences can be generalized to prostitution as a whole.

"My point still stands, and is easily verifiable. Prostitution is at the very least correlated with very bad health outcomes. Here's a publicly available abstract to get you started. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/482625"

The only people in that study's sample are people they found in drug treatment centers. You can't draw legitimate conclusions about sexd workers in general with that sample.

Plus, all the subjects of that study were in the United States, where prostitution is illegal. But the crucial question - would sex workers be healthier, or less healthy, if prostitution were decriminalized? - can't be answered by looking at only one country. How do you know that there wouldn't be fewer addicted sex workers, if sex work were decriminalized? What we should look at is cross-country comparisons.

For example, look at this study from the Lancet: National sex work policy and HIV prevalence among sex workers. They found that "Countries that have legalised some aspects of sex work have significantly lower HIV prevalence among sex workers than countries that criminalise all aspects of sex work, even after controlling for the level of economic development and the proportion of sex workers who are injecting drug users." That seems like a strong "argument from practicality."

"But as I said, all evidence from Germany is to the contrary."

It would be helpful if you would include a link when you make a factual claim like this.

In New Zealand, where (unlike Germany) prostitution has been decriminalized, the NZ ministry of justice was unable to find any sign of increased human trafficking due to decriminalization. "On the whole, the [decriminalization law] has been effective in achieving its purpose, and the Committee is confident that the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off under the PRA than they were previously." (Again, argument from practicality.)

This study finds no effect on trafficking due to the legal status of sex work. Instead, they find that the quality of governing institutions - if the government enforces contract rights, how free of corruption (bribery) the government is, etc - is what determines how much trafficking a country has.

(Continued in next comment.)

Barry Deutsch said...

(Continued from previous comment.)

This study (pdf link) finds that legal prostitution is associated with less human trafficking. "...heightened enforcement in the host country can raise the willingness to pay for trafficked victims in the host country, thus encouraging transnational trafficking."

And this study found that legalizing prostitution increases human trafficking.

This Foreign Policy article says that it depends on how the legalizing of prostitution is done.

Overall, research is mixed. We just don't know if legalization increases human trafficking or not.

Labor laws do exist, but making prostitution illegal is not the same as laws intended to improve working conditions or worker rights. Sex workers in Sweden, where they have the laws you favor, have reported that the laws make them less safe (pdf link).

"For a majority of prostitutes, this is the environment, this is the experience."

I doubt this is true. Do you have evidence to support this claim?

The prostitutes you describe are what researchers call street workers. And virtually all research agrees that street workers have terrible working conditions and health outcomes compared to indoor workers, so in general a lower proportion of street workers means better-off prostitutes.

In New Zealand, research indicates that there are thousands of sex workers - estimates range from 2,300 to 6000 - but only about 400 are street-based sex workers.

So either 1) prostitutes in New Zealand are much better off than prostitutes in most of the world, in which case, that's a strong argument for decriminalization. Or 2) your claim about what "a majority of prostitutes experience" is incorrect.

* * *

As I said earlier, I am not a John. I have no intention of ever being a John.

But I don't believe that "dispassionate" analysis, such as my own, is all we should consider. While there's a place for such analysis, it's perhaps more crucial to consider what sex workers themselves want. And as far as I can tell, most sex workers believe that making prostitution legal makes them safer than they would otherwise be. (There are many examples, such as the above-linked New Zealand government report, and this survey from San Francisco.)

Erick said...

The bottom line is that prostitution is a degrading practice. Beyond a doubt there are some who willing choose the profession and enjoy it. Beyond a doubt there are some who never see the 'seedier' side of it. They are the lucky ones who are high end call girls. But really how many of them are there? What if all sex workers including street walkers worked in legalized brothels, would that make the degradation less? Would that suddenly make the men who patronize bordellos more respectful of the women who worked there? Would you really be proud of your mother or daughter working in a bordello?
I am not opposed to legalization of prostitution. It is a profession that will always exist. But that does not mean that we should be proud of it. There are things that are legal that are morally repugnant to the vast majority of people. You can have your legalization, but it will never be a normal accepted thing to have no qualms about your mother or daughter being a whore.

Barry Deutsch said...

"The bottom line is that prostitution is a degrading practice."

That's not my bottom line; it seems obvious to me that some prostitution is degrading, and some is not, depending on the person and the circumstances. More importantly, insofar as prostitution is degrading, it doesn't stop being degrading because it's illegal. Probably the opposite; the more prostitution has to be kept secret from the law (and regulations, and police protection from violence, etc etc), the worse it will be.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is harm reduction. There is no available world we can choose in which everything is perfect. Of the imperfect options we have, which one will lead to the most people being least harmed?

All the rest - calling it "degrading," asking "what if it was your sister?," etc - seems besides the point.

But I'll say this: If my little sister WERE a prostitute, I'd want her to be a prostitute in a place where sex work is decriminalized, and where she can be safe and hire the help she needs and not have to live her life hiding from the law.

"I am not opposed to legalization of prostitution. It is a profession that will always exist."

That seems like a sensible attitude.

"You can have your legalization, but it will never be a normal accepted thing to have no qualms about your mother or daughter being a whore."

People once said that about being gay, or about being trans. People once said something very similar about Jews - "would you want your daughter to marry one?"

The world can change in ways you don't expect.

Erick said...

Barry,
I believe that all prostitution is degrading. For the sake of this particular discussion I am going to limit the scope to just female prostitution because of the point I want to make about men and women. I am sure there are individual cases where the woman involved does not feel degraded. That is almost irrelevant. Now, I know what some folks will say. 'How can he possibly say that a certain person's feeling are irrelevant with regards to a practice that he has moral reservations about?' 'He is simply projecting his self-righteous morality where it does not belong!'
Perhaps.
But consider this: Slavery is almost (almost) universally repugnant, even though the practice continues to this day. Slaves were and are degraded and treated as less than human. Treated as if their only function in life is to serve at the whim of their captors. I have railed on these very boards against the practice of ISIS and their sexual slavery of the Yazidis, to which Dave gave cover to by saying and I am paraphrasing 'that if God has a problem with it, it will be resolved in the after life'. To which I said It does not take relying on God's will to know what is right and wrong in this life.
I took that tangent to point out that in the thousands of years of the history of slavery, there have certainly been slaves who did not feel degraded. Who may have been treated well by their captors. But does that in fact mitigate the horror and degradation of slavery as a whole?
It most certainly does not.

I make no apologies for taking a moral stand. After all, what compass do we navigate by without morals?
At what point does everything become acceptable simply because some folks believe that morality is so subjective that all so called morality must be abandoned?

Where do you then stop?
Just recently a very high profile former right wing internet star named yianopolis, was caught on tape advocating sex between 13 year old boys and older men. He said that some 13 years boys where mature enough to make that decision. He was roundly condemned and his 15 minutes evaporated. But, he was far from alone in holding such a warped belief. At what point do we as a society simply say 'keep your morals to yourself?'

For the most part, men have treated women that they have paid to have sex with, with contempt. Just as a vessel to be used and forgotten about until the next time they need to get off.

The issues about mothers and daughters only arose because Chester said he would have no problem with his own mother or daughter becoming whores. I find that morally objectionable and intellectually indefensible. It is admirable that you said if your little sister were a prostitute that you would want her to be in a 'safe' environment if she were a whore. But the fact remains, she would be a whore.

But hey, that is my morality speaking. I accept that others have a different moral compass or none at all.

Erick said...

And to the dimwits who can not see the line I was drawing between the degradation of slavery and the degradation of prostitution, well lemme spell it out to you. I was drawing a line between the inherent degradation of slavery and the inherent degradation of prostitution!

Oh and Barry, you are most certainly not one of the dimwits.