Monday, May 29, 2006

socialism and sex workers

It has been interesting to read the debates on the feminist blogs, and Louise’s contribution here, on prostitution.

I just wanted to add some thoughts for discussion.

Firstly, I do not see criminalisation, even of just the punters, as effective in either eliminating prostitution or protecting women. Making something illegal does not make it go away, for example prohibition, drugs or abortion. What it does with prostitution is make it more difficult to help the most vulnerable , such as trafficked sex slaves, and puts the money and control in the hands of pimps.

If it is legal it is easier to deal with the pimps and the safety of women. I believe that feminists, and those on the left, should support unions for prostitutes and try to improve conditions. Whether we like it or not it won't just go away. Resources need to focus on tackling the most vulnerable, such as the trafficked women and underage girls, who are forced into prostitution. Support needs to go into helping woman who end up in prostitution through homelessness, poverty, drugs or abuse. Energy and resources need to go to addressing the causes of women needing to be prostitutes.

The debate is also framed in terms of women as prostitutes and men as punters. What about gay rent boys? How does that fit in to the arguments?

There are many degrees of prostitution. The most obvious is straightforward transactions of men paying for one off sex. However, what about men who ‘buy’ brides from developing countries? Would that young woman who is desperately poor really choose to marry that middle-aged western man if it was not for the financial security?

We need to work to help and support those who are prostitutes in society today.

What about society as we might want it to be.
Even with supporting women to get out of prostitution, even in a nice sparkly socialist world, will there still be prostitution?

Would any woman want to be a prostitute if they had a real choice? I think it is not easy to answer that. If someone was faced with menial work (and that will still exist, even with better pay and conditions) would prostitution be preferable?

Will men still want prostitutes? Why do men visit prostitutes? That is a fundamental question that will not just go away with the end of capitalism. It goes to the heart of how men and women view sex. I hope that society would be more open about gender roles and sexuality. I would like to see a society where people are not faced with the pressure to conform to nice nuclear family units, a world less judgemental about women and sex. So if we are free to live as we choose, without the conditioning of how men and women should be (ok, this is close to fantasyland), where would that leave prostitution?