2012/07/23

Sex workers and the police

The TV series "The Client List" just finished up its first season and the relationship between the sex workers, the police and other authorities is not portrayed as a good one. I would note that the series is careful to avoid any strident condemnations and focuses instead on being an entertaining series, with plenty of soap opera-type situations and reasons for the characters to feel pride in themselves and even occasional solidarity with each other. Why are authorities so mistrusted and seen as being on the opposite side from our heroines? Well, it might be because of situations like this one, where condoms are needed for sex workers to be safe from disease and accidental pregnancy, but where police are using the possession of condoms as evidence that the workers are engaged in prostitution.

In an entirely predictable development, the workers are not supplying themselves with condoms, which of course, increases their exposure to risks and makes their work more dangerous. This doesn't just affect sex workers, "transgender women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth" are also people who need condoms and are finding the possession of "too many" condoms to be legally hazardous.

Back during the 1980s, the anti-pornography feminists were actively promoting the censorship of pornography, under the theory that, well, they weren't worried about their own exposure to the stuff, but about your exposure to it.


These self-appointed, righteous moralists are not worried about their own ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality -- they are worried about yours; they aren't worried about their own ability to resist being seized by uncontrollable urges to commit rape and other violence -- they are worried about yours; they are not worried about their own ability to remain decent, law-abiding, ethical human beings who do not wish to hurt or degrade others -- they are worried about yours; in short, they are not worried about their own souls -- they are worried about yours and mine.

Also, a very serious consideration is a purely financial one. The very first people to lose money when pornographic films are banned are the performers in the films. When porn is legal, performers can keep addresses where fans can write to them and where performers can send catalogs of their films back to the fans along with responses to their letters. That's the very first source of income that dries up the minute pornography becomes illegal. Performers then have to deal with the public through agents, who frequently couldn't care less about correspondence to/from fans.

Does it really help the public to legally oppose the sex trade? There's no question that sex workers don't appreciate it as they're usually the ones who end up getting punished in many ways other than just getting arrested. "The Client List" looks into the question of just what sex workers do with all of the money they may make and it's clear that it constitutes a bit of a problem for them to store/invest all that cash without running into many legal and other difficulties.

Update: And yes, the Lifetime channel, which carries "The Client List," also carries the Bristol Palin reality show and no, I don't have the slightest interest in ever seeing that. A young woman whose major claim to fame is that she failed at abstinence-only sex education and then went on to support that very policy. Sorry, but I don't think Ms. Palin has anything to teach anybody.

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