Rebels of every bent, those of us who refuse to fit into the nice little pigeonholes society has provided us for their comfort, know instinctively when something is wrong, even when we cannot put a name to what is wrong. It is the reason that we became rebels. We do not repeat the "party line" for the sake of convenience, or to advance our personal agenda. We express ourselves regardless of cost: whether we are Thomas Paine with the Rights of Man, Martin Luther King, Jr., marching to Selma, or Carol Leigh campaigning for the rights of sex workers, especially the professional sex provider. We live by Bob Dylan's maxim that if you are going to live outside of the law, you must be honest.
American society has always suffered from a deficit of intimacy, or anything that might hint of it. A firm handshake (offered with hand open to show you don't have a knife concealed, a habit retained from patriarchal pre-history) has been the American standard, even among male family members. Yet, there are studies that show that it is our deficit of intimacy, our inability to relate with one another emotionally, our fear of real bodily pleasure and what is required to obtain it , that may be at the heart of much of the violence in American society. We know from multiple studies that human babies that are not held , that are not provided with frequent touches and caresses and hugs by their parents and others , do not do as well psychologically as those children who receive that level of physical affection. There can be no doubt that this need continues into adulthood. At puberty, this need acquires a sexual component. Failure to satisfy this need lies at the heart of many of the neuroses that affects human mental health, and effects the overall mental health of the American people to a very significant, negative extent.
The lies and misinformation about sex work in general, and prostitution in particular, clearly demonstrates the need of the American people to "grow up" in matters of sex and intimacy. A lot of people point to Sweden and its new laws of punishing the customer rather than the professional sex provider as the solution. This seems strange--or perhaps not--when 10% of young women in Sweden admit to having accepted money for sex, and 81% percent of the Swedish populace report being angered about the criminalization of prostitution clients. We are beginning to see Sweden's liberal veneer stripped away beginning with the suicide bombing in late 2010 (see Rob Prince's excellent December 15, 2010 article in the Granville Post, " Is Sweden Becoming Rapidly Toxified? " for more on this subject, as well as Stieg Larsson's "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series, which, while fictional, gives an accurate view of Sweden's crypto-Fascist underpinnings), as well as these anti-sex laws.
New Zealand has gone the opposite direction from Sweden with prostitution, with very positive results. A 2005 survey reported that there were 5932 professional sex providers of all descriptions in New Zealand , although a 2008 follow-up report (Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act of 2003) by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice states that number may be inflated. This same study states that 77.7 percent of all professional sex providers interviewed feel that they have become more assertive and confident since choosing prostitution as a job, and 86.1 percent have more money (ibid., p. 72, chart 16).
A recent study out of Great Britain is showing a similar result among women in Wales. These were women who worked the sex trade indoors, not streetwalkers. According to the study, most of them had entered the sex trade from "respectable" career. There were no incidences of trafficking or coercion reported by the women surveyed. Most of these women were "independents," who advertised their services on the Internet.
Professional sex providers are the source of only 3 to 5% of venereal disease in the United States . The rate of sexually transmitted diseases is twice as high in the promiscuous segment of the general population as among streetwalkers , who are the source for nearly all STD's among professional sex providers. A decriminalized system of prostitution, where the professional sex provider could insist on condom usage, would probably eliminate prostitution as a major vector for HIV/AIDS within a few years, just as it has in Australia ( Apr./May 2003 HIV Australia article "Two Steps Back?").
Last year, I wrote an article for OpEdNews entitled " Dignitas ," whose primary subject was about wealth and human dignity. Let me quote my first three paragraphs from that article, because I believe those paragraphs are equally true about every attempt by the self-anointed ruling class--the One Percenters--to inflict their values, fears, and desires on the rest of us on every subject from work to civil rights to sex and beyond:
" Dignity lies at the root of all individual worth.
Dignity declares there is a difference between being truly humble and being humbled, and resists the latter with all of its strength; it allows one true humility, but never permits unresisted humiliation; it defines the difference between making a place for ourselves in the world, and accepting one's "place" in the world.
Dignity is the basis for all self-expression; conscious doubt; privacy in our persons, our thoughts, and our homes; our private beliefs; our public dissent. It is the cornerstone of freedom, and the foundation of liberty. Freedom and dignity are inseparable components of one another. To deny another human being their dignity is to surrender any claim you might have to it yourself. And with that forfeiture, all claim to any freedom of your own."
We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what our station is in life. To quote the original version of the Golden Rule, "As you would have others treat you, you must in turn treat others"--Rabbi ben Hillel, The Talmud. Or to quote Jesus of Nazareth (for those times you run into that evangelical Christian):
" Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me." --Matthew 25:40; RSV
(I would like to thank Maggie McNeill , Brandy Deveraux , and Dr. Brooke Magnanti in advance. Without connections to studies and reports provided by these three amazing women's blogs, I would still be flailing away at this article, rather than finally putting it out on the Internet. I would also like to thank Ms. McNeill for her kind input and constructive criticism of this article before publication.)