I was browsing the web today, as I have been doing so much during quarantine, and one user on a discussion board that I visit had made a post that made the tired, played-out claim: “Prostitution Should Be Legal”.
His points were as follows: the government shouldn’t tell people what to do with their bodies, the women enjoy it, legalization would protect sex workers from pimps/bad clients, and prostitution is a valid profession.
My mission is to eradicate human trafficking in Canada, forever. Sometimes people assume that I am supportive of prostitution as long as it’s not forced, but I am here to tell you that ALL prostitution is forced.
I will dismantle each myth about legalization one by one.
First Myth Busted: “the government shouldn’t tell people what to do with their bodies”. Where do we draw the line? We don’t allow people to rent themselves out as human punching bags, we don’t allow people to sell their organs, we don’t allow people to sell themselves into slavery. All of those examples including prostitution are violations with extensive power differentials. I can reluctantly agree to get beat up in exchange for not being homeless. Is it not assault?
Economic coercion is still coercion. If a woman has no other option to support herself and/or her kids other than “consenting” to sex with somebody she does not want to have sex with, that is not consent at all. Prostitution is assault under the guise of a financial transaction; the money received after the act is merely reparations for the assault that just occurred.
2nd Myth Busted: “The women enjoy it”. There is no woman who exists, who has ever existed, who enjoys being penetrated by a multitude of strangers each night, for free or for pay. If women enjoy this so much, then why is there not also a huge market of boys and men being sold for women’s consumption? The only way for prostitutes to find clients at all is by pretending to like it; the realities prostitutes experience are omitted from their advertising. No one’s going to get interest from clients if they honestly detail things like single motherhood, chronic illness, precarious social housing, insecure immigration status, an abusive childhood or drug addiction.
3rd Myth Busted: “Legalization would protect prostitutes from pimps and bad clients” There is no such thing as a “good” client. Regardless of how respectful and non-violent a client is, the point is that the prostitute does not want to have sex with him. This idea of prostitutes celebrating legalization, skipping in the street because they are so happy to be able to openly have sex with strangers many times a night is a complete fantasy. They want a real way out. There is no prostitute who would not immediately leave for similar pay if given the choice. A 2003 study first published in the scientific Journal of Trauma Practice found that 89 percent of women in prostitution in the USA want to escape it.
People make the argument that nobody wants to work anyways, that a janitor does not want to clean toilets, but the difference is that the janitor’s body autonomy is not being violated. When a janitor is having a bad day and doesn’t want to go to work but needs to to make ends meet, going to work is a drag and he might have to clean up some vile messes, only some of which he’ll even remember. A prostitute in the same predicament is being raped repeatedly because she can’t afford not to be. Those are lifelong scars.
Legalization of prostitution would also legalize pimping. Suddenly, pimps are simply “managers”. It creates a safe haven for criminals who traffic people into prostitution.
4th Myth Busted: “Prostitution is a valid profession just like any other job.” I would invite anybody who holds this sentiment to advise their daughters to become prostitutes, or tell their wives to pick up a shift at the now-legal local brothel when the family is tight for cash. Make no mistake, people only say this when the women who are affected are women that they don’t care about. Should we allow brothels to attend high-school career days? Why not, it’s just honest physical work like anything else, right? Should we give training to young girls on the most pleasurable techniques? After all, young girls are the most in-demand, so this would just be good business. Saying this is just a job is describing very breezily the reality of having sex multiple times a night by men that nobody else wants to have sex with. People argue that it is a free choice but the people with the fewest choices are the ones who end up having to do it.
In Conclusion: If the government approves turning women’s bodies into a product and that selling sex is the same thing as selling any commodity, you are telling men that they are entitled to sex no matter how the woman feels about it, and it is their right to receive it. It sends the message that sex isn’t a big deal for women, and if a woman says no, she is only doing it to spite you. Male on female rape levels in Canada are already staggeringly high. You cannot tell men that have grown up with women being for sale like meat in the market that they should totally respect it when a woman says no because she doesn’t feel attraction. If the government says that women can get penetrated by dozens of strange men every day and it would be an absolutely normal working day, then why is that particular woman saying “NO” to ME?! It also supports the practice that men do not have to be appealing people in order to get sex, it doesn’t matter how lecherous, misogynistic, or unhygienic he is, he can simply pay for a prostitute.
Prostitution is everywhere. The solution is not to put a government stamp of approval on this violation of human rights. The solution is more access to education and jobs for girls, elevate the status of women in society, and send out messages from the media of self-esteem and self-love.
Consent is not for sale.
Yours With Conviction,
Katherine Leblanc, Miss Montreal