Michelle Goldberg: Should Buying Sex Be Illegal?Michelle Goldberg:

Should Buying Sex Be Illegal_ _ The NationSource:The Nation– with an article about prostitution in Sweden.

You can also see this post on Blogger. You can also see this post at FreeState MD, on Blogger.

Source:The Nation: “Editor’s Note: Reporting for this article was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

“Felicia Anna” is the nom de Internet of a 27-year-old Romanian prostitute who has worked in one of Amsterdam’s famed window brothels for the last four years. This spring, she launched a blog, Behind the Red Light District, and when I was in Amsterdam reporting on prostitution laws, a Dutch advocate for sex workers’ rights suggested I read it. Anna’s writing, the advocate said, would help me better understand the reality of legalized prostitution—a reality far removed from the lurid tales told by European anti-prostitution campaigners who seek to criminalize the purchase of sex.”

But this was not, Anna insists, an exploitative situation. The couple was kind to her, functioning more as a helpful employment agency than as underworld thugs. The work turned out to be remunerative, and the independence it provided was empowering. “I have a good live [sic], have enough money to do whatever I want to do, and have all the freedom in the world to do what I want, whenever I want to,” she wrote on her blog.

Anna is scathing about the so-called “Swedish model” (also referred to as the “Nordic model”), an approach pioneered in Sweden that bans the buying but not the selling of sex. For the last few years, the Swedish model has been ascendant in Europe. Norway and Iceland adopted it in 2009, and Ireland and France are both considering it, though its future in the latter country is increasingly uncertain after a defeat in a French Senate committee in July. Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution calling for Swedish-style laws throughout the continent. Dutch advocates for sex workers’ rights fear that such laws could eventually come to their famously liberal country. The variant of feminism that backs the Swedish model, says Anna, is a “growing cancer for prostitutes.”

I e-mailed Anna, and she agreed to meet early on a recent Friday evening at a cafe in central Amsterdam, where she arrived with her Dutch boyfriend in tow. Anna is slight and pretty, with dark hair pulled into a tight ponytail. Her eyes, slanting up above high cheekbones, are ringed with thick black liner, and her eyebrows are painted in a dramatic arch. Given the voice of her blog, I expect her to be tough and sarcastic, but she’s nothing of the sort. She smiles a lot when she speaks, in English that is more broken than on her blog.

How, I ask her, did she become so interested in the politics of prostitution? “Because of my boyfriend,” Anna replies. “I think if I don’t have him, I would still be one of the girls who really doesn’t know what is happening.”

Her boyfriend, who speaks excellent English, has longish brown hair and a hint of a mustache and goatee; he’s wearing a gold-colored chain around his neck and another around his wrist. He works in IT, he says, but never seems to make much money. He met Anna two years ago as a client; before they got together, he lived outside the city because he couldn’t afford an apartment in Amsterdam. Her earnings—about 300 to 400 euros per shift, which can run anywhere from four to ten hours—are more than five times as much as his.

As we talk, it becomes clear that the voice of the blog is at least as much his as hers. In conversation, he compares the Swedish model to Prohibition in the United States, a point also made on Behind the Red Light District. And while the online Felicia Anna says she’s been endangered by a client only once, the Felicia Anna sitting across from me says she’s had to call the police two or three times. Nor does she feel that she can call for help every time a client gets aggressive and starts demanding his money back: “You can’t call always the police, because sometimes then you have to call almost the whole night.” Her boyfriend chimes in to compare it to working late at night at a bar. “You can also get drunk guys late at night,” he says. “You can also have problems with them.”

When I mention that Behind the Red Light District sounds like him, Anna tells me: “He help me a lot with it, because I work in the nighttime and I have to sleep, too. And I have my own stuff that I have to do—cleaning the house, shopping, sometimes cooking. I can’t do everything by myself.”

Basically, her boyfriend adds, “she dictates what I have to write, and I kind of fill in, smooth out the story line…

Just one quick point on the Swedish prostitution law: if women were being arrested for selling their sex, but men weren’t for buying the the women’s sex, radical feminists and the Far-Left would be freaking out over that and saying how sexist it was. And they would be right. (For a change)

What Sweden has done is to say it’s legal for women to sell their sex. But it’s illegal for men to buy their sex. Which is also sexist. If you want to have credibility, at least with people who aren’t already on your side, when it comes to sexism and bigotry in general, you have to play it straight. (No pun intended)

Here’s an example where radical-feminists (to use Michelle Goldberg’s label) as well as Christian Conservatives as well as nanny statists on the Left and Right disagree with me as a Liberal. I’m in favor of legalizing prostitution and let me make that clear. I’m not in favor of prostitution, but I’m in favor of allowing for people to make these decisions for themselves. I have decided that prostitution is not for me as a job or as a customer. Millions of other Americans in and outside of Nevada have decided that prostitution is for them as a worker or customer and have never spent a day in jail for it. And that is really my point. Who should decide, the individual or government?

There are plenty of things that I would never do because of potential dangerous risks that come from them. And most of them are legal:

like owning and using firearms

smoking tobacco

drinking alcohol

bungee jumping


homosexual sex

hardcore porn. And hardcore porn not so much because of any danger factor, but I don’t have much of a taste for it. Perhaps you need to be more lonely or lonely period to appreciate solid hardcore porn. But being that as it may there are plenty of dangerous activities that are actually legal in this country.

These vices (if you want to call them that) are legal because we’ve decided that there there’s a limit to what government can do to protect a country of three-hundred fifteen-million people. And that we need to limit those resources except for a few exceptions to doing the things that we need government to do. Like protecting us from predators foreign and domestic. (To use as an example)

I’m not saying prostitution is a good thing, but like a lot of these other activities it would be safer if it is legal than illegal. Because government can regulate it to protect people from predators and the workers, employers and customers can pay taxes on it.

What happens when you legalize prostitution? Now government can step in to regulate it to make it as safe as possible. Because legal or illegal prostitution is not the oldest profession in  the world for nothing. And it is only going to get older  so you might as well legalize it. So only adults are involved and customers and workers are tested on a regular basis to prevent the spread of disease. And so taxes are paid on it which and people don’t have to pay other people’s taxes that they are not paying because they are involved in a illegal profession.

About Derik Schneider

I’m an easy going guy who is never afraid to crack a joke. I’m almost always in a good mood, I believe the happier you are the better off you’ll be & the longer you’ll live. I believe in living life rather than being alive. Very hard to get me down. I tease because I care. I try to find humor in everything & everyone that I see. I tease anyone that I respect, care about, like, or love. If I’m not joking around with you, or teasing you, it is because I don’t know you well, don’t like you or you don’t mean a whole hell of a lot to me. I blog about a lot of different things, because I have a lot of different interests and knowledgeable about a lot of those areas. How knowledgeable I am, you can decide that for yourself by checking out my blog. And we can talk about what is what in an adult professional manner. And perhaps even learn things from each other that we didn’t know going in.
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6 Responses to Michelle Goldberg: Should Buying Sex Be Illegal?Michelle Goldberg:

  1. Womanizer says:

    Please allow me to play devil’s advocate here. We are raising the old nut that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, and as such consent to its legalisation. Perhaps in the past the conditions of poverty, inequality and social alienation kept the system alive. In the future we may work to equalise society and reduce poverty. This may in fact end the oldest profession in the world. Thoughts?

    • Well similar to prostitution, poverty has always been with us and always will be. Otherwise I think you make a good point. But as long as we are stuck with both, the question is not whether we should have both prostitution and poverty or not. Because we always will have both. But the question is how best to deal with both issues.

      • Womanizer says:

        Dear Derik – I do believe that you have found yourself repeating the logical fallacy that the past somehow offers a guarantee for the future. That something has something has always been a reality does not demand that it must always be so. Not being mush of a fatalist or indeed a historical determinist I see no need for either prostitution or poverty to be a future reality. Surely as a liberal you find some common cause with this sentiment?

  2. Well first of all as a Liberal I believe that people have a right to do as they please with their own bodies as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else with what they are doing. Which is the real liberal position when it comes to prostitution or sexuality to use as another example. As long as prostitutes and the people they work for and with, along with their clients are licensed and getting medically tested, healthy, paying the taxes that they owe and so forth. That is the best and only way to deal with a profession that has been around forever and is not going away. We know these things and if you don’t like that, then eliminate it and make history.

    As far as poverty. You seem to want to eliminate both poverty and prostitution at the same time. Why don’t you find a cure to AIDS and eliminate cancer at the same time. The world is not perfect and as long as it is dominated by humans it will never be. You make the best out of the planet that you are dealt and go from there. Realism and the real world vs. idealism and Utopia.

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