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A few more links about Taslima Nasrin

2012/04/13

This will likely be my final post on this topic unless something new and exciting happens. There’s some other commentary worth linking to.

  • Vidyut Kale does a point-by-point on the list of “facts.” Vidyut lives in India and is familiar with the state of sex work there and gives a lot of information about what sex traffickers actually do and the probable effects of Nasrin’s preferred policies.
  • Godless Strumpet on how the US Code also conflates all transportation of sex workers with slavery. This is important as it shows how this demonization of sex worker as a lot of clout, even here. The idea that all sex workers are victims at best and possibly sexual predators isn’t just a meme that exists in radfem land and fundie land. A lot of laws are based on this idea.
  • Richard Carrier on the culture gap that probably caused this issue. This is one of the better takes I’ve seen on the issue. Essentially, while the US, Canada and a lot of the western world are not gender-equality utopias by any means, the sexual revolution made a huge impact on our culture which is difficult for people who haven’t lived it to understand. He covers the positives and negatives of porn so well that I’m not sure there’s any point in covering porn when I get back to my media series.

One thing that’s come up in the comments and I think to address is the way sex work and class intersect. Unfortunately, many people have it wrong. The way this is presented is that there are some people who are happy in sex work who will speak out and support it and who want legalization, but this really only benefits the most privileged few percent. Meanwhile, the majority of sex workers and desperately poor and many are exploited and no one is looking out for their interests and they are too busy trying to survive to speak out. They are the ones who need to be saved and we can’t put the a few upper-middle class women’s interests over the slavery and rape of the other ninety-plus percent of sex workers.

This might be valid if it were based on facts, but it isn’t. Legalization barely affects the elite sex workers. Pornography is already legal for the most part. Porn stars occasionally get arrested for indecent exposure when someone decides to shoot in public, but it’s mainly the producers in danger if a prosecutor decides to play moral crusader and trump up some charges. High end call-girls who charge more than one thousand dollars per date are technically committing criminal acts in most of the US right now, but they are not in much danger of being arrested. They are discreet and their clients are politically influential, so the public doesn’t notice them and a crackdown would affect reelections funds. They also operate in a relatively safe environment and are a low risk for being assaulted or robbed.

Legalization mainly benefits the poorer sex workers. Street walkers are in a lot more danger of being abused by pimps and johns and can’t go to the police or they will also be arrested. The police are likely a bigger danger, in fact. They can extort sex or bribes in return for not being arrested. Even if sex work itself is legal, police can threaten to arrest their customers, or threaten to arrest them for a related charge like running a brothel. The definitions are generally pretty fluid.

In fact, if you read through the accounts from sex workers in the various threads instead of trying to find a reason to dismiss them, many of the people sharing their had gone through similar experiences. They weren’t all porn stars and emperor’s club types. The main complaint was that criminalization puts the most vulnerable groups in more danger. The higher up the socioeconomic chain you go, the less it matters. This is why legalization is an important issue for humanism, feminism and labor. Again, if you want to help sex workers, listen to them. Don’t decide to speak for them and write off anyone who tries to speak for him or herself as an atypical case, but you speak for the majority.

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From → politics

One Comment
  1. AGodlessStrumpet permalink

    HEY! Thanks for linking to my blog post. XD

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