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Carnival

Why sex work should be decriminalised in the USA and why it will be so difficult to achieve

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This thoughtful article by Kari Lerum (Associate Professor, Cultural Studies; Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies, University of Washington, Bothell), is easily the best article I've read on:-

  • Why sex work should be decriminalised in the USA
  • Why it will be so difficult to achieve
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A good find, Carnival, and a good article. All considering legislation should be required to read it.

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On 8/6/2016 at 8:05 PM, Carnival said:

This thoughtful article by Kari Lerum (Associate Professor, Cultural Studies; Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies, University of Washington, Bothell), is easily the best article I've read on:-

  • Why sex work should be decriminalised in the USA
  • Why it will be so difficult to achieve

Yes, a very good article. I was astonished by the breezy way at the beginning she just took it for granted that our side has essentially won the argument. Grounds for optimism.

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2 hours ago, Colonel Bonkers said:

Link doesn't work (for me, anyway).

Nor me now. I'm getting an "Error establishing a database connection" message, which is common when a Wordpress blog owner tinkers with their settings and inadvertently does something wrong.

I guess the site owner will twig at some point and fix the problem.

 

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18 hours ago, Carnival said:

Nor me now. I'm getting an "Error establishing a database connection" message, which is common when a Wordpress blog owner tinkers with their settings and inadvertently does something wrong.

I guess the site owner will twig at some point and fix the problem.

 

Link seems to be working again now.

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Here's another short but well argued article outlining the benefits of decriminalising prostitution in the USA. Published a few days ago on the Chicago Tribune web site.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-prostitution-amnesty-international-cindy-mccain-sex-workers-trafficking-rape--20150826-column.html

The whole article is worth a read but here are  few sample quotes:

Banning things you don't like has a long history, though not a happy one. Americans have tried banning alcohol, marijuana, pornography and homosexuality. All of them persisted anyway.

So we learned to not only tolerate but allow them. Nowadays, you can have a glass of scotch in a gay bar while looking at porn on your iPad, and the police won't care. In Colorado and Washington, you can walk out and buy weed at a state-licensed dispensary.

Prohibition has also been a failure for commercial sex. Finding an "erotic massage parlor" on the Internet is about as hard as finding a pizza place. Websites offer page after page of female and male "escorts."

 

What outrages the critics is the idea that rational adults choose to rent their bodies for erotic gratification. McCain insisted, "The decision to sell one's body for sex made in the absence of better circumstances is not a human right." But the same reasoning could be applied to people who do any number of unpleasant jobs, from slaughtering chickens to guarding prison inmates.

Prostitution may be a terrible way to earn a living. But the women (and men) who choose it regard their other options as even less appealing. Barring them from sex work, by definition, makes them worse off.

 

Human trafficking has been discovered in various industries around the world, including Manhattan nail salons. But no one thinks we should outlaw manicures.

The denunciations of decriminalization come from a strange alliance of feminists who regard all sex workers (including porn stars and strippers) as victims of oppression and Christians who see them as drenched in depravity. Both exploit the sense that some types of sex are shameful, dangerous and intolerable — an attitude that long fueled the persecution of gays.

But one thing we have learned is that different people have different types of sex for all sorts of reasons that are really no one else's business. Doing it for money is no different.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Carnival said:

Here's another short but well argued article outlining the benefits of decriminalising prostitution in the USA. Published a few days ago on the Chicago Tribune web site.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-prostitution-amnesty-international-cindy-mccain-sex-workers-trafficking-rape--20150826-column.html

The whole article is worth a read but here are  few sample quotes:

Banning things you don't like has a long history, though not a happy one. Americans have tried banning alcohol, marijuana, pornography and homosexuality. All of them persisted anyway.

So we learned to not only tolerate but allow them. Nowadays, you can have a glass of scotch in a gay bar while looking at porn on your iPad, and the police won't care. In Colorado and Washington, you can walk out and buy weed at a state-licensed dispensary.

Prohibition has also been a failure for commercial sex. Finding an "erotic massage parlor" on the Internet is about as hard as finding a pizza place. Websites offer page after page of female and male "escorts."

 

What outrages the critics is the idea that rational adults choose to rent their bodies for erotic gratification. McCain insisted, "The decision to sell one's body for sex made in the absence of better circumstances is not a human right." But the same reasoning could be applied to people who do any number of unpleasant jobs, from slaughtering chickens to guarding prison inmates.

Prostitution may be a terrible way to earn a living. But the women (and men) who choose it regard their other options as even less appealing. Barring them from sex work, by definition, makes them worse off.

 

Human trafficking has been discovered in various industries around the world, including Manhattan nail salons. But no one thinks we should outlaw manicures.

The denunciations of decriminalization come from a strange alliance of feminists who regard all sex workers (including porn stars and strippers) as victims of oppression and Christians who see them as drenched in depravity. Both exploit the sense that some types of sex are shameful, dangerous and intolerable — an attitude that long fueled the persecution of gays.

But one thing we have learned is that different people have different types of sex for all sorts of reasons that are really no one else's business. Doing it for money is no different.

 

 

I think many of these people see sex as shameful, full stop.  In the fundimentalist Christian view of sex they see it as an evil necessity for procreation.

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Here's a really excellently argued article published last week making the case that the US constitution should protect sex work.

http://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20161012_constitution-should-protect-sex-work

A few extracts:

As courts confront challenges to prostitution laws that pile fines and criminal records on people who get paid for consensual sex, we’re making our position clear: we see no constitutionally adequate basis to criminalize sex solely because one consenting adult pays another.

When the government criminalizes sex work, people involved in the sex trade fear law enforcement, arrests and penalties. Criminalization deters people frequently targeted by police (often poor, often people of color, often transgender women) from carrying and using condoms, a cheap and effective method of preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections--because those condoms may be used as evidence of intent to commit a crime. And that result, as a prominent prosecutor admitted years ago, is “a public health disaster.”

At the heart of Lambda Legal’s most groundbreaking victories and continuing mission is self-determination, including bodily autonomy. When the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing same-sex relationships and gay identity in Lawrence v. Texas, it rightly rejected assertions against us that “public health” justified sodomy laws. The movement for reproductive justice, from which we draw key legal precedents, similarly fights for facts over fiction when government tries to limit the right to contraception, abortion, or other similar personal decision-making. Lawrence explained that the constitutional right to liberty protects all of us when we make our own decisions about adult, consensual sexual intimacy. In cases such as Lawrence and a long and venerable line of reproductive justice cases the Court has recognized values of dignity, privacy, and autonomy extending to each of us in our sexual choices, independent of whether encounters involve  love or marriage and unimpeded by moral disapproval. Across connected movements, we are all in this together, in so many ways.

And so we have rejected facile assumptions about public health and sex work.

 

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In an interesting parallel to Laura Lee's action in Northern Ireland, ESPLERP has filed a complaint with the United States District Court challenging California’s current anti-prostitution law, Penal Code 647(b), arguing that this law violates sex workers right to sexual privacy, right to associate, right to right livelihood and due process.

Here is an excerpt from the official document outlining the complaint:

This case asks the Court to determine whether the State can make it unlawful for individuals to choose to intimately associate if their association also contemplates that one of the individuals will provide something of value to another. The resolution of this question hinges on two bedrock principles of our constitutional jurisprudence. First, all Americans have a fundamental liberty interest protecting them from unwarranted government intrusion in their intimate lives. Second, the State cannot wholly outlaw a commercial exchange that is related to the exercise of a fundamental right.

Our jurisprudence leaves little doubt that private sexual activity is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Yet, when that intimate activity occurs as part of a voluntary, commercial exchange between consenting adults, the State criminalizes the intimate association and thereby prohibits individuals from exercising their constitutional rights. Appellants wish to engage in sexual relationships and they are willing to pay or to be paid in connection with those intimate relationships. Thus, they filed suit to enjoin and invalidate California’s state law on constitutional grounds.

In moving to dismiss the action below, the State argued that its ban on prostitution is a valid regulation of commerce that does not infringe upon any liberty interest of its citizens. The District Court found the State’s motion to dismiss to be well taken and determined that “the intimate association between a prostitute and client, while it may be consensual and cordial, has not merited the protection of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” (E.R. 8)1. Appellants immediately appealed the District Court’s judgment.

The brief was filed on 30 September. Not sure when it will be heard but any US reader wanting to contribute to the cost of pursuing this action can do so at http://esplerp.org/where they can also sign up to receive updates on the court case.

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