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A Personal Choice is the front-cover August 9 print edition (and Website) article of the very liberal (not) The Economist, the print edition of which I subscribe to.

In the lead article (page nine), the senior editor in a two-page op-ed calls for world-wide decriminalisation of sex work, noting that the Swedish model works no better than any other sort of law, and the Internet has made the whole issue much safer for both providers and clientele.

More below the orange light district.

The Economist’s position has long been that sex work should be legal (noting it is work), but this is by far its strongest assertion yet. The magazine has international reach to politicians, heads-of-state, and business people around the world, and it's right on the front cover (with artwork). The comments section on the Website has thousands of comments (including mine on the first page, as I have long held it should be legal, regulated, and taxed, as crime can never compete with legal businesses).

In addition, the editor points out that while sex trafficking exists, it is not the bloated criminal ring that many First World governments claim (in truth most sex workers voluntarily do that sort of work). The Internet has largely (in First World nations) eliminated pimps and madams and criminal activity (other than the act itself), something legislation and police have consistently failed to do. The arguments of puritans have never in the history of the human race ended what is sometimes called the world’s oldest profession.

They also note that any alleged child sex trafficking is not correctly named: it is facilitating child rape or enslavement, not sex. There are already laws on the books for that (and ofttimes stronger than child sex trafficking laws).

From that article:

This newspaper has never found it plausible that all prostitutes are victims. That fiction is becoming harder to sustain as much of the buying and selling of sex moves online. Personal websites mean prostitutes can market themselves and build their brands. Review sites bring trustworthy customer feedback to the commercial-sex trade for the first time. The shift makes it look more and more like a normal service industry.
Poll

Do you feel sex-as-work should be legal between consenting adults?

87%61 votes
8%6 votes
4%3 votes

| 70 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    "A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!'"—William F. Buckley, Jr.—Founder of the conservative policy magazine "National Review"

    by Village Vet on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:13:15 PM PDT

  •  I've believed prostitution (13+ / 0-)

    should be legal as long as I can remember.

    That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment? Mary Oliver

    by weezilgirl on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:26:43 PM PDT

    •  The Least Rational Argument . . . (9+ / 0-)

      . . . I have heard used (to try and take puritanical morality out of it) is that it exploits the person.

      If that is the argument, so does National League Football, ditch-digging, bar bouncers, or any other sort of job that requires physical abilities or skills.

      George Carlin noted that it seemed wrong (paraphrasing) that something it is legal to give away for free is a crime if you ask for money.

      "A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!'"—William F. Buckley, Jr.—Founder of the conservative policy magazine "National Review"

      by Village Vet on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:56:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not even that (6+ / 0-)

        Lots of people have affairs where they maintain the lifestyle of the mistress or kept man: pay the rent, buy them nice things, take them on vacation, and so on. By any definition, they're paying for a relationship (that probably includes sex).

        So:
        Have sex with no financial transaction: legal
        Have sex with and give other person money for it: illegal
        Have sex and buy other person stuff instead of giving them money to buy stuff on their own: legal

        Oh, forgot one:
        Have sex where participants get paid and someone else films it: legal in some jurisdictions

        Does this make any sense to anyone?

        •  Suing someone for support (0+ / 0-)

          after the sugardaddy/mommy relationship ends: legal

          I'll never forget Karen Walker's line in Will&Grace: "You think I'm a hooker? ... No! For jewels, for furs, for mixed securities, like a lady!"

      •  "Sweaty work in dark w/men leering at you... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek
        -- and prostitution is also not so great".
        This comparison of factory sweatshop work with the alternative of prostitution was in the interesting and useful book "The Wisdom of Whores", by Elizabeth Pisani, an epidemiologist who spent years doing field work in the international anti-AIDS effort, which she criticizes (generally constructively).
      •  This (0+ / 0-)

        Cleaning toilets of smeared feces is degrading. Working for three hours in the grease pits of McDonald's before getting sent home with no more wages for the day because the "labor" computer program deemed you redundant is degrading. Working in a sweatshop until you have to bind both wrists due to RSI is degrading. Being on dialysis at age 50 because you were a short order cook on 11 hour shifts who didn't take bathroom breaks for a decade is degrading.

        The puritan academic trolls who run around lecturing us about the horrors of sex work have never had any experience with blue collar or pink collar work.

  •  swedish models do probably work no better (0+ / 0-)

    much like their bikini teams

    In the lead article (page nine), the senior editor in a two-page op-ed calls for world-wide decriminalisation of sex work, noting that the Swedish model works no better than any other sort of law, and the Internet has made the whole issue much safer for both providers and clientele.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:09:32 PM PDT

  •  And then there is this twist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Village Vet

    Should Buying Sex Be Illegal?

    The so-called “Swedish model” banning the purchase but not the sale of sex is catching on in Europe. But does it work? And for whom?

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action. UID: 9742

    by Shockwave on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:14:58 PM PDT

    •  It works for the State and prudes. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, Theodicy

      For the state they get more prosecutions (more clients than prostitutes). For prudes prostitution is still illegal.

      "A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!'"—William F. Buckley, Jr.—Founder of the conservative policy magazine "National Review"

      by Village Vet on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:03:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In locales with an adequate social safety net (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaNang65, G2geek

    to prevent strong coercion by poverty and lack of opportunity, yes.  Otherwise, you have the appearance of consent, but a false choice for some.

    Under all circumstances I believe sex work should be decriminalized for the individual provider.

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:44:49 PM PDT

    •  The "strong coercion by poverty and lack of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      opportunity" ain't got nuthin' on illegal drugs, more specifically the addiction thereto.

      You folks should have been at the homeless outreach meeting I attended this afternoon, listening to one of the women outreach workers going on about the women she tries to bring in off the streets.

      "The stroll" is a whole different world.

      We can't think our way into a better way of living. We have to live our way into a better way of thinking. Claude AnShin Thomas

      by DaNang65 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 12:04:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A lot more sex work has moved off the streets (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, DaNang65

        in the past 20 years, but it's still among the worst sides of the industry, part of why I am conflicted about this issue is that there is strong evidence that prior sexual abuse, substance abuse, poverty, and active coercion have a lot to do with the "choices" made by many (by no means all) American sex workers.  I think ending prohibition of drugs (not via private market channels for most drugs) and providing treatment and maintenance options would go a long way to removing that driver.  Universal mental healthcare is also important.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 12:19:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Better and more jobs (0+ / 0-)

          and better working conditions on the job would reduce the supply of street workers.

          Frankly, for many "cam girls" out there, the pay and working conditions are superior to retail today.

          We need unions.

        •  Bingo! (0+ / 0-)
          strong evidence that prior sexual abuse, substance abuse, poverty, and active coercion have a lot to do with the "choices" made by many (by no means all) American sex workers.
           

          That's the world I see. "Sex workers," as a term, is so over broad that it entices well meaning people to miss the horror of the lives of too many who fit under that nomenclature.

          The people I see are serial victims.

          Unless and until we can separate out those for whom sex work is a genuine choice folks will have to forgive me for my disdain.

          We can't think our way into a better way of living. We have to live our way into a better way of thinking. Claude AnShin Thomas

          by DaNang65 on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 09:34:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  agreed: economic coercion. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychbob

      Yes we should decriminalize sex work, and de-stigmatize it, and regulate it for public health reasons, and also enact laws to limit "middleman" fees (pimping).

      But I dread the scenario where in this ongoing social Darwinist experiment of our times, unemployed single women (or single men for that matter) are threatened with being thrown off welfare unless they "try harder" to "find work" meaning (implied) "if you can't get any other job, do sex work or else starve."

      Clearly the laws have to be written such that people are not obligated by poverty to do work that they have deep objections to, whether it's sex work, or something else.  Unemployed Mormons should not be expected to work in liquor stores, pacifists should not be expected to work in munitions factories, people with PTSD should not be expected to work as convenience store clerks in dangerous neighborhoods, etc.  Nobody should be expected to consent to having to remove any article of clothing as a condition of work.  And, looking forward to likely developments in technology, nobody should have to consent to an employer monitoring their brain activity.

      Some of that can be done by legislation, other parts of it will depend upon strong unions.  

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:57:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am all for Swedish models... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sunbro, Village Vet

    and, snark aside it is better than systems where sex workers end up being the ones who are prosecured. On the otherhand, while I don't underestimate the downsides of sex-for-money, attempts to stop it create more suffering, not less. You can't stop people drinking or taking drugs, you can't stop them ending pregnancies, you can't stop them buying/selling sex. You just can't.

    I also think that people are sovereign over their own bodies, but that's almost beside the point. If doing something is causing harm, you don't need a theorethical argument to support not causing more harm.

    I ride the wild horse .

    by BelgianBastard on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:57:53 PM PDT

    •  Belgian Bastard - Check out the article in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Theodicy

      "Nation."  The Swedish model is based on the idea that prostitutes are "trafficked" and are victims. The "Nation" reporter confronted one of the feminist leaders behind the law with evidence that this wasn't true. It made no difference. Th idea of the victimized, exploited woman is the basis of the law.
         In real life, what happens is that prostitution is driven underground and prostitutes have become more desperate as their income source is drying up. The Swedes may have driven woman from the field but they've made prostitution more dangerous to the women. Because of "anti-pimping" laws, prostitutes are being evicted by landlords afraid of being accused of living off the earnings of a prostitute. And women are losing their children to the newly puritanical government.
         The fact that many prostitutes in Europe are immigrants has led to a perception that all prostitution is the result of "trafficking." And the idea that women can't possibly have made the decision to engage in sex for sale on their own has led to prostitutes being marginalized and oppressed by a wrong headed law.

      •  Sex trafficking apologism. (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, there are exceptions. But the simple fact is that the overwhelming majority (89%) of people involved in so-called "sex work" want to escape, so your attempts to just brush sex trafficking under the rug don't pass muster.

        Puritanical? Sweden? Are you off your rocker? Your typical nordic general public attitudes toward sex would make a hippie blush. You Americans are the ones with puritanical attitudes toward sex. A question of whether to have sex on the first date, with a large chunk of the population thinking it's wrong to even do before marriage? Here in Iceland (where we have similar policies to Sweden in this regard, BTW), there's pretty much no thing as "dating" in the American sense  - people meet while out partying, have sex, and if you end up repeatedly sleeping with the same person in a row without mixing it up then you're de-facto "dating" and then sleeping around with others becomes frowned upon unless you get the person's okay first or otherwise break it off. It's pretty much assumed that everyone is f***ing someone, and nobody gives a rat's arse, which is why here it wasn't even an issue that came up that our last prime minister was a lesbian, and why last weekend nearly a hundred thousand people (out of 320k total in the country) turned out to Reykjavík's pride fest to cheer on one of our repeat Eurovision stars dancing around on a giant swan while guys dressed as disco balls slapped his arse. It's a big family thing here, there are usually more little kids out than adults. Almost 90% of first children are born out of wedlock, and 2/3rds of children as a whole. Most people never marry, most see it as old-fashioned and a pointless complication or a religious thing that has no bearing on them.

        Puritanical? Are you serious?

        Prostitution has dramatically declined in Sweden by huge margins, especially among the local Swedish population. Most of what remains is people who travel internationally, who according to surveys report less violence in Sweden, which is to be expected given that their customers have more of a fear of being caught. But of course they themselves don't have to worry, because when the law is based on the concept of eliminating exploitation, you obviously don't have the laws go after those your goal is to protect - in fact, people suspected of being trafficked in for sex work have a number of extra rights over general illegal immigrants.

        But there's a more fundamental thing at play than even preventing trafficking. Do you even know enough about the situation to know what that is? Because you didn't even mention it in your post.

        It's fighting against the culture of rape, sexualization, and in general demeaning of women in the public sphere.

        Here in Iceland not only is prostitution illegal, but more. Strip clubs are illegal. Advertisements involving sexualization of people are illegal. Not out of some sort of "puritanism" - people see each other naked all the time, just go to a public pool some time, or chat up someone cute on Laugarvegi at 4 AM on a Saturday morning. It's because the widespread acceptance and normalization of the treating women as sex objects is one of the great problems of our age. So many people have summed the situation up in so many ways, so I'm not going to bother to write it all up again... I'll just put it in comic form for you.

        This is the driving force behind these laws. And until you understand and accept that, you will never understand these laws, nor the cultures in the countries that pass them.

        The day I'll consider justice blind is the day that a rape defendant's claim of "She consented to the sex" is treated by the same legal standards as a robbery defendant's claim of "He consented to give me the money": as an affirmative defense.

        by Rei on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 08:10:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am not conflicted about it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, psychbob, DEMonrat ankle biter

    Dr. Laura Augustín (anthropologist who studies sex work and trafficking, author of the book "Sex at the Margins" has a blog about this where she writes extensively (as well as travels around the world in talks, does TED talks, &c) about her studies of sex work.

    She notes that there are a couple problems with the concept of poverty, sex abuse as a child, or other reasons for prohibiting sex work.

    a) On the matter of sex abuse as a child: you could use that argument for any job. I fit the category and am now an elected town councilmember. Should sex abuse as a child disqualify me from politics? If not, why should it be a disqualification from any other work, including sex work?

    Likewise poverty. I was homeless for eleven years. Does that disqualify me from politics? (You see how the line of argument works: replace the offending word - prostitute - with another word - politician - and see if the same rules would apply. If not, it is bigotry, plain and simple.)

    That poverty argument is also used against military recruiters. I was a Navy Recruiter in the past; I assure you recruiters do not go out and target poverty-stricken areas (in fact I was stationed in Berkshire County, Mass., one of the richest areas in the country). They target qualified people, just like recruiters for IBM.

    As for the "evidence," I personally know two sex workers (not as a client; they are both long-time friends). They both chose the work; they were not coerced: one went into it out of high school and one has a PhD in Psychology. (Perhaps she is going to go the route of Dr. Augustin.)

    b) Even if grinding poverty could be used as a case against sex work [a service in the USA free to give away but illegal to sell], why would anyone want to take away a person's livelihood that is working for themselves to get out of poverty? So what if it is sex work, and so what if there are studies about many poor men and women entering it — there are many professional sports players that were poor too, so should we ban professional sports?

    The only difference I can see between sports (which requires exploitation of your physical prowess) and sex work (which requires exploitation of your physical prowess) is the first is morally acceptable and the second is not (mostly rooted in religious beliefs).

    And that brings up the third argument: any religious argument against it is a violation of Separation of Church and State and fails on its face. Any moral argument rooted in religion fails for the same reason.

    "A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!'"—William F. Buckley, Jr.—Founder of the conservative policy magazine "National Review"

    by Village Vet on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 02:00:01 AM PDT

    •  Good example (0+ / 0-)
      Even if grinding poverty could be used as a case against sex work [a service in the USA free to give away but illegal to sell], why would anyone want to take away a person's livelihood that is working for themselves to get out of poverty?
      There's a small village in Labrador, that had a massive economic boom starting in the 1990s due to the discovery of a huge metal deposit in the area.

      During the early years, people noted that there were women in the village who were getting into prostitution because (a) there were a lot of outsiders coming in to work shifts who were being paid well and had nothing to spend it on in the area, (b) some local people were being hired, getting paid well, and had nothing to spend it on in the area, and (c) there were crap-all else for job opportunities. So, some women made an economic decision on how to get a piece of the action.

      The thing to note for mining projects like this is that the period between the discovery of the deposit and start of construction of the mine, which can be a decade or more, is that job opportunities for untrained local people tend to be minimal, so there aren't very many jobs available although the ones who are lucky to get jobs are paid very well.  When the mine is in construction and operation, then you get training programs to fill jobs, not to mention many more jobs, and instead of choosing prostitution, a woman might be a haul truck driver or work in the mill or the mining camp, or whatever. But before that, when the money is flowing but jobs aren't there yet, why wouldn't someone make a rational decision on how they could exploit it?

  •  i agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denig, Theodicy

    regulate it
    tax it
    make it safe

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 06:48:15 AM PDT

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