Craigslist and sex work

September 8, 2010

So Craigslist recently shut down the “adult services” section of the board because some lawmakers deemed it exploitative, which strikes me as counterproductive and giving into the worst instincts we as humans share: the overreaching desire to protect ourselves from ourselves. Shutting down a board will not magically erase the sex trade. All it will do is drive it further underground where it cannot be monitored.

I have an ex whose immigration status led her to becoming a prostitute a little while after the demise of our relationship. She’s incredibly smart, a feminist and equal rights activist in her college days in Mexico, and she kicked my ass at chess multiple times. But even so, it was the exploitation of her regular life that gave her no choice but to take this path. People go into sex work for all sorts of reasons. The idea that prostitution is inherently exploitative or anti-feminist is quite absurd. I spoke to her just once after all of that went down and while she bemoaned how hollow she personally felt, I shudder to think of what will happen to her if she’s not able to pick and choose who she interacts with, if she has to go out and ply her trade on the street as opposed to via a high-traffic internet site. Sure, there’s abuse and exploitation that occurs even on the internet but hopefully, they happen on terms that are at least marginally favorable to those involved. What does all the moralizing about the evils of prostitution get sex workers besides massive damage to self-esteem, guilt, shame and lack of recourse when the arbiters of morality would rather just see them not exist. Why must we force the marginalized to be even further marginalized?


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