I have obviously upset some pure-minded people with my views on prostitution. One reader now even calls me a postmodernist who “ultimately ascribes to no form of reason at all”.
But it is some form of reason that makes me question the motives of people who claim to want to help sex workers by criminalising their work. Surely, if we legalised sex work, it would undermine the power of pimps and others who exploit sex workers? In that way sex workers will face less exploitation than they do now. O, yes, and of course they will not face police harassment and jail time for earning a living in this particular way.
In the end, the argument is not about reason at all. It is clearly about sex and whether one thinks that sex outside the procreative marriage is evil, sinful, dirty and disgusting. If one does, then one can obviously not fathom sex work as another legal job because one believes the state has a duty to enforce the moral views of one section of the community on all of us – regardless of the consequences to others.
This is not a pro-women position but an anti-sex position. It is, of course, deeply illiberal and quite patronising towards woman and many woman who make a living from sex work would feel highly aggrieved by these attempts to “help” them.
I come from another perspective. I do not see sex as having any moral significance on its own. Having sex is morally no different from having dinner, or making photocopies. It might often be more enjoyable, but it is just another activity. Of course if one is raped after having dinner with someone, or if one is sexually harassed in the photocopying room, then those acts would be worthy of condemnation and criminalisation.
However, one does not protect the woman by banning them from having dinner with strangers or from taking a job doing photocopies. Why would one then claim to protect woman by banning them from doing sex work – because one thinks they are disgusting fro doing it? The christianists may not agree with me, but they can’t say this view is not based on a kind of reasoning. It is just not the kind of reasoning that they like.