Feminist Rails Against Legalized Prostitution Based on Fundamental Misunderstanding of Economics, Criminology, and the Sexual Marketplace

Kat Banyard, a British Feminist and founder of UK Feminista, attempts to explain why prostitution is exploitative…and fails.

Right now, a global push is under way for governments to not only tolerate but actively enable the sex trade. The call is clear: decriminalise brothel keepers, pimps and other “third parties”, allowing them to profiteer freely – and certainly don’t dampen demand for the trade. This is no mundane policy prescription. The stakes are immense.

Feminists know everything under heaven except how voluntary transactions work and why they are preferable to involuntary transactions.

For all the ways it is marketed, the sex trade boils down to a very simple product concept: a person (usually a man) can pay to sexually access the body of someone (usually a woman), who does not freely want to have sex with him. He knows that’s the case – otherwise he wouldn’t have to pay her to be there. The money isn’t coincidence, it’s coercion. And we have a term for that: sexual abuse. Getting governments to facilitate a commercial market in sexual exploitation therefore requires masking it with myths such as: that demand is inevitable; that paying for sex is a consumer transaction, not abuse; that pornography is mere “fantasy” and that decriminalising the entire trade, pimping and brothel keeping included, helps keep women safe.

This is some top-shelf nonsense. By her standard of “coercion” every person who works a job for money is “exploited.” How many men throw garbage into trucks because they freely choose to dig into other people’s waste? How many people mop floors because it edifies their soul? How many men’s life long dream is it to be a truck driver, or a gravedigger, or any of a hundred more dangerous and lower paid jobs than being a whore?

In Pimp State, I set out to track down the reality behind these myths.

It took me to a multi-storey brothel in Stuttgart, where I accompanied Sabine Constabel, a local support worker, as she went room to room to let women know there was a doctor available for them to see that night. Thirteen years earlier, the German government had bowed to calls for pimping and brothel keeping to be decriminalised, so this one operated openly and legally, with fewer regulations placed on it than the restaurants we passed to get there. Constabel didn’t hesitate when I asked her who drove efforts for prostitution to be recognised as work. “It was people running the brothels … they wanted these laws that made it possible to earn as much money as possible.” Those laws have certainly delivered for some. Germany is now home to a chain of so-called “mega-brothels” and a sex trade estimated to be worth €16bn (£14.5bn) annually.

That sounds pretty civilized to me. People petitioned the government, the government approved of their petitioning, and they got what they wanted. No guns needed to be fired, no blood was shed, no one was beaten, or killed, or anything of the other events arise when political discourse breaks down.

The women Sabine and I met that night in Stuttgart lived and “worked” in their single room in the brothel. None spoke German as a first language, and all were young – most around 20 years old. The brothel owner charged each woman €120 a day for her room, which translated as having to perform sex acts on about four men every day before she could even break even. “I have women here, young women … They say: ‘I died here,’” Sabine told me. “I can empathise with what they mean. I believe them. I believe them that in reality the ‘johns’ can damage the women to the extent that it is not possible for everything to go back to normal.”

And now…it’s time for math!

€120 for four johns equals €30 per hour. That’s some pretty economically-priced pussy. I am assuming that the brothel-keepers, in line with industry standards in America, stipulate that the €30 covers the first hour or the first nut, whichever “comes” first, so whores are typically not getting railed for an hour straight. Four hours covers the expense of the room. If a whore works four more hours, she walks away with €120 in her pocket. According to Glassdoor.com a McDonald’s Crewmember in Germany earns €8.85 per hour. In the same eight-hour shift, our non-German speaking whore would gross €80.50 for the day. Our actual whore is grossing €39.50 more than our imaginary McDonald’s worker in the same period of time for less physically rigorous work.

In the feminist narrative, no female would WILLINGLY sell pussy. In reality, selling pussy is not only an economically sound decision for many women with few useful job skills, but it is a smart economic decision for an attractive woman who could easily clear €120 in an hour or less.

Researching Pimp State also led me to spend hours speaking to johns – sex buyers – after placing an ad in my local paper for men willing to talk about why they pay for sex. Based on the response my advert got, there is no shortage of sex buyers ready to ruminate about what they do. Indeed, the number of men who pay for sex in the UK almost doubled during the 1990s to one in 10, with a survey of 6,000 men finding that those most likely to pay for sex were young professionals with high numbers of (unpaid) sexual partners. I heard a range of justifications rolled out by the men I spoke to about why they pay women for sex: “I don’t have any option … At the moment I’m just single so I have to buy it”; “It’s just a male thing where it’s get as many as you can” … “I think it’s just a fact of ‘I’ve done my duty’,” for instance.

I’m not certain why it is more honorable to bid for pussy with food and entertainment than it is just pay for it with actual cash.

What united these men, however, was an overpowering sense of entitlement to sexually access women’s bodies. Some explicitly drew on the notion that they were merely consumers availing workers of their services. One complained about occasions that had been “poor value for money” – which he defined as “them clearly not enjoying it”. Another man described having paid for sex with a woman who obviously didn’t want to be there as a “very bad service, very”. He recalled over the phone: “We went upstairs and, how can I say, she was, like, very frigid. Very frigid. It was very disappointing in the sense I was paying … no touching in places like I would like. Even the sex was really, really crap. It was really, really disappointing.”

Yes, when you pay for prostitution, you are buying a service. If you paid for a massage and the massuese spent an hour beating you in the head with a stick, you would probably complain that it was a bad massage and you didn’t enjoy it. If you went to a restaurant and the waiter slapped you across the back of the head everytime he passed you, you would complain about the service, no matter how good the food was. If you hailed a taxi and the drive crashed into every lamppost on the way to your destination, you would complain that it was bad service, despite reaching your destination.

An “expectation” is not an “entitlement” but a customer in a freely-bargained for exchange of goods for services is entitled to complain when the services aren’t what he bargained for or expected.

Above all, the journey of unpicking the myths that surround the sex trade led me to the inescapable conclusion that change is possible, that we don’t have to live within cultural and legal lines laid out by pimps and pornographers, that there is an alternative. And it is the courage and compassion demonstrated by the many inspirational campaigners I met while writing the book that is required to get us there. Campaigners like Diane Martin CBE, who after being exploited in prostitution in her late teens, spent nearly two decades supporting other women to exit the trade, and now campaigns for an abolitionist law in the UK. First pioneered in Sweden, the abolitionist legal framework works to end demand for the sex trade. It criminalises sex-buying and third-party profiteering, but it completely decriminalises selling sex and provides support and exiting services for people exploited through prostitution.

Ah, the “Nordic Model.” And how is that working out?

Amnesty International published a report on May 23, 2016 about the effects of the “Nordic Model” anti-prostitution law in Norway where “buying sex is illegal, but selling sex is okay”. Let’s take a quick peek:

Police are required to enforce the ban on promotion, the law against trafficking and the ban on buying sex. The regulations are based on the legislators’ view on prostitution as an unwanted phenomenon, and a wish to stop all forms of organization of these activities. The tasks of the police when meeting with people in prostitution are, therefore, complex and challenging.

As a preventative measure against the establishment of the brothel run by foreign human traffickers, the police in Oslo for example enforce the Penal Law through their prohibition to rent out facilities for use in prostitution. People who sell sex from rented apartments risk being evicted, since the landlord may incur criminal liability based on current legislation.”

Prostitution by whores who don’t own their own premises are grounds to evict them. Good job, feminists.

The concept of “promotion” under
the law is broad enough to include sex workers working together or with any other person, such as a cleaner, receptionist or security guard, for the purposes of safety. Working together also increases the likelihood of raids and subsequent evictions as is likely to be viewed by police as “organized prostitution”.

Prostitutes can’t hire security or screeners or door guards, because that would be “promotion” and “organization.” Good job, feminists.

Amnesty International’s research found significant evidence that sex workers continue to be criminalized and penalized directly and indirectly in a variety of ways by the legal framework in Norway – whether they are selling sex from rented premises or hotels or working together or whether they are migrants and in the country on tourist visas. Sex workers also told Amnesty International that the threat of losing their livelihood meant they were unlikely to go to the police to report buyers unless they were extremely violent. In terms of seriousness, the threat and impact of forced eviction, deportation and loss of livelihood on people who sell sex far exceeds the implications of a 15,000 – 25,000 kroner (US$1,700–2,850) fine for buyers. Amnesty International does not consider that buyers now “have most to fear” from the police in Norway. The aim of the “Nordic Model” that the balance of criminalization should be shifted from seller to buyer -has not been realized for the majority of people selling sex in Norway, particularly the most marginalized, who are still penalized, and potentially criminalized, under the law.

Whores will only go to the police if a john roughs them up too much, and whores are afraid to report johns out of fear of losing their livelihood? Good job, feminists.

Here’s another place where the feminist narrative and reality part ways. There is a concept in criminology and economics called the “black market premium.” The more penalized a good or service is, the more expensive it becomes (evading law enforcement ain’t cheap) and the more likely it is to draw dangerous people into supplying and producing it (a person who willingly commits one felony for money will likely commit other felonies). In America, we saw alcohol prohibition turn portions of America into a war zone between law enforcement against criminals and criminals against each other. American and European drug prohibition has turned petty criminals into millionaires and warlords. Sex prohibition has created multimillion dollar human trafficking operations from Eastern Europe and South East Asia and parts of Africa.

But feminists will never let collateral damage happening in the real world tarnish their affection for plainly destructive and irrational policies.

Back to the article:

A trade based on men paying to sexually access women’s bodies is fundamentally incompatible with sex equality. It is up to us to make sure equality wins out.

The sexes are not equal. Pussy is expensive and dick is cheap. That concept is universal across all sexual species on Earth. Males demonstrate value, females accept value in exchange for access to sex. It doesn’t matter if it is a wedding ring, a house, or a €30 toss in the sack.

Until females are willing to buy dick, or stop trading pussy for resources, the sexes will never be equal. Men will play the game for sex, not by the “rules” that feminists articulate, but by the rules they see females actually playing by … which is pussy for resources and status.

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