Have Rich, White Feminists Made Matters Worse for Sex Workers?
Several famous actresses have signed a letter opposing Amnesty International’s proposal to decriminalize sex work. Veronica Bayetti Flores believes “their position is misguided in several ways.”
Amnesty’s proposal, which is in line with the position of many major public health and human rights organizations, states that “The available evidence indicates that the criminalisation of sex work is more likely than not to reinforce discrimination against those who sell sex, placing them at greater risk of harassment and violence, including ill-treatment at the hands of police.” Seems like pretty solid logic, no?
Apparently not. Apparently rich white ladies — the likes of Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Winslet — have joined a list of outdated second-wavers and anti-trafficking organizations opposing the proposal. Rich white ladies have something to say!
Their position is misguided in several ways, probably most obviously because if you think about it for more than like two seconds in a row, you’d realize that if you asked people who trade sex themselves what they want, cops, arrests, overnight stays in jail, and court appearances probably don’t rank highly. Even if we’re talking about the “Nordic model,” in which criminalization shifts from those who trade sex to those who purchase sex, criminalization is a misguided direction based on the principle of saving women and children, and not in tune with evidence suggesting that full decriminalization actually helps keep sex workers safe. And don’t get it twisted: even though people who trade sex come in all genders, the foundation of these arguments around criminalization is that women and young people don’t know what’s best for themselves and need saving.
But guess what white feminists: even though it would be nice, I’m not even asking for you to think for more than two seconds in a row. One option is to actually ask people who trade sex themselves (game-changer, I know). You don’t even have to do the work. A recently released ground-breaking study asked LGBTQ youth who trade sex to meet basic survival needs where they experienced violence, and found that young people experience a lot of violence at the hands of law enforcement and the service agencies that are meant to keep them safe. When asked what they needed, young people in the sex trades said that they needed housing, employment, access to education, support.
Read more here.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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