Peter Schafer 
Member since Nov 4, 2015


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Re: “Dan Savage: How Can Sex Worker Clients Fight to Legalize Sex Work?

Regarding what sex work clients can do, this is what I did…

Don't be silent and don't be invisible and don't let prohibitionists' caricatures of you be the only impressions that people have.

Posted by Peter Schafer on 08/31/2016 at 5:58 AM

Re: “Oakland City Council Takes Stand Against Sex Workers

I think the reason this debate results in people talking past each other so much is because each side of the debate is arguing about a very different thing from the other. Decrim advocates, including current sex workers, sex worker advocacy groups, the World Health Organization, and Amnesty International argue from a policy position that makes sex worker safety and well-being primary. The result is arguments against what are seen as threats to safety and well-being: criminalization; stigma; and treating sex workers as if, uniformly, they are victims and have no agency, which reinforces the paternalism with which they are treated and allows prohibitionists to displace them in public discourse.

Prostitution prohibitionists’ focus is on social message and political statement and the role of prostitution in the cultural reproduction of a) patriarchical exploitation (for feminists), or b) debasing immorality (for the religious right), or c) capitalist exploitation (for certain ahistorical leftists who seem unaware that prostitution has existed in every political and economic system ever established).

So the argument really boils down to what you think is more important to pursue as a matter of public policy. From the perspective of decrim advocates, such as myself, the point is that criminalization causes additional harms specific to sex workers.

The politics and morality that put abstract political ideals and personal morals ahead of the human rights of actual people is what gave us the Swedish model of criminalization. This can be seen in the statements of the originators of the Swedish model, for whom negative effects on sex workers was seen as a good thing and part of the strategy to eliminate prostitution, to drive women from the trade. It’s intended to send a message to society, no matter the collateral damage to sex workers evicted by landlords ensnared as pimps because they derive economic benefit from prostitution, sex workers forced to work alone who working together for security and support would be deemed guilty of operating a brothel, sex workers unable to hire drivers and security who would also be considered pimps, migrant sex workers deported back to the desperate situations they fled, sex workers who have to pick from a more dangerous smaller set of potential clients because only the better safer clients are scared off by threat of arrest, and have to negotiate transactions with them more quickly, more furtively, more dangerously.

It is a narcissistic morality and politics that values its projection of the virtue of the holder over the harm caused by it to others -- this can be seen by how the specter of child exploitation is routinely invoked as a cover for going after consensual adult activity. It’s a morality and politics pursued against reason, toward the elimination of prostitution — like its kindred movements alcohol prohibition and the drug war.

Posted by Peter Schafer on 11/04/2015 at 4:20 AM

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