This June, the government of Canada will attempt to restore reason and responsibility to the control of prostitution in the country. The government will be in court to respond to Susan Himel, an Ontario judge who, in 2010, attempted to legalize all forms of, and venues for, prostitution.
Judge Himel's decision had struck down the laws that punish pimping, keeping a brothel, and communicating for the purposes of prostitution -- all laws against the sex trade. There is no law in Canada that penalizes the actual performance of a sexual act for money; the law merely makes it harder to do that.
In her judgment, Judge Himel had maintained that laws set up to protect prostitutes actually endangered them -- by forcing them to engage in furtive transactions conducted in shady locations. In other words, legislating against pimps and bawdy houses made it more desirable for prostitutes to walk the streets and ply the highways -- so it followed that we should just let the pimps and gals do their stuff indoors and out.
The response by Justice officials -- an attempt to restore the existing laws -- has been met with outrage, especially in liberal media. A pro-prostitute lobby has sprung up, complete with dominatrix figureheads and leaders from feminist factions. They want Susan Himel's ruling to stand, and they want to abolish all sanctions against prostitution.
I agree with the government's response to Himel. First, I'm not interested in condoning or fostering the sex trade. It is in every respect a stain on society. It degrades the prostitute and the client, and surrounds itself with other forms of vice. We've known this for about 100,000 years, and that wisdom is not to be cast aside by Judge Himel.
Second, I'm not shocked at the knowledge that there are risks in the sex trade. It's still an activity curbed by law, and shunned by decent folks. Any illicit commerce is by definition more dangerous to the trader than a clean business would be. This not a mystery to prostitutes, it's patently obvious. Most such women (and men) choose prostitution, they're not forced into it. They inherit the trade from their addicted mothers, or learn the habit from role models, particularly among aboriginals. When a vice is thus passed on, the knowledge of its risks is also passed on.
According to newspapers (I can't locate a press release), here is the Justice Department's position: "Prostitutes voluntarily enter a world known for violence, drugs and death. The State does not owe prostitutes a promise of safety if they choose a profession that is fraught with danger... It is the practice of prostitution in any venue, exaggerated by efforts to avoid the law, that is the source of the risk to prostitutes.” The brief suggests that Himel was wrong to rule that prostitution is a career entitlement, and goes on to say that Parliament “is not obliged to minimize hindrances and maximize safety for those [whose work is] contrary to the law.”
To be clear, I do think prostitutes deserve equality before the law. Despite the fact that they are self-degraders; despite their willing engagement in risk; they should be equally protected by our law enforcement; when a crime is committed against them, that crime must be prosecuted vigorously.
However, the prostitute lobby seeks more than equality: it demands workplace protection, blanket protection of the prostitute corps wherever it is, as if sex-traders were women working in a factory. Cops would then be patrolling under bridges -- benignly -- and cities would have brothels intermingled with Toys R Us. This is wrong, arrogant, and preposterous.
Who, then, is lobbying for legalized and open prostitution in Canada? Chiefly it is organized prostitution, a portion of the feminists, and liberally minded people who are sympathetic to poor aboriginals. The liberals are mobilized when they get news of crimes against prostitutes. It is hard not to be moved by such stories, especially that of the Picton outrage in British Columbia. I share the emotion. However, I'm not about to throw social values (to say nothing of reason) out the window simply because one criminal has pounced on his grisly opportunities. And that is the unvarnished case: most prostitute victims are victims of an environment of crime they've chosen to live in.
Radical feminists tend to dislike prostitution, as this site demonstrates, although it's true that feminism denigrates ALL heterosexual sex, therefore, prostitute sex. Feminists will vilify the clients, while they absolve the prostitute of responsibility. However, feminism is a concatenation of enthusiastic sentiments, not a coherent ideology, so you never know what sexual politicians will say.
But there is a body of people who are happy for a world full of prostitutes. They tend to be liberals and liberal-feminists. They imagine a world where Joe the Coal Miner and James the Barrel-maker trawl the streets of London to quench their burning desires; for these men (yes, they did exist in 1825), poor females are a swarm, an army of starving wretches newly drawn from outlying villages. No woman will get hired into any respectable employment. Remember, we are in the Industrial Revolution; Charles Dickens is beginning to write.
For Joe and James, the closest thing to sex they encounter is the racy postcard they saw in a shop, the one from Paris. And that's why social reformers all agree that "prostitutes can help develop sexual hygiene in the frustrated masses," as a character from George Bernard Shaw or a pamphlet from the era might put it.
Our liberals and lib-feminists are a projection of this 19th-century construct. They see themselves as sexual emancipators, just like the streetwalker herself. The hooker icon is a good-hearted therapist of the orgasm; perhaps, at night, she reads Susan Faludi to improve herself; the only distinction between the whore and the feminist soul-sister is that the former is into erotics: she gives blow jobs to teenagers for reduced rates.
This body of people has never actually met a prostitute. But pay that no mind -- it's the prostitute's aura that dictates attitude. So, in today's liberal concoction, the prostitute is liberator, dominatrix (among males!), foxy outlaw; vanguard of the libido; anointed Whore.
Here's a description of a house that is located in my neighborhood in southwestern Ontario. The occupants here described were on the premises until the neighborhood had them all evicted:
In good weather, johns arrived at noon, fresh from work at the local factory; or, they arrived after work when neighborhood kids were around. They parked up and down the street illegally. The johns purchased sex, but also drugs of every type. They smoked marijuana and drank beer on the sidewalks.
As the johns had their indoor communion, associated whores cruised the walk; these women lived four doors away but were controlled by a pimp stationed at the house near mine. The pimp handled streetwalkers on the lawn using a cell phone. Clients pulled in and out of the property; we had the impression of sex happening in the cars.
Sometimes, there were disputes. The street women fought with each other, shrieking curses, and particularly went after Larna, the gal who actually lived next door. Larna was the pimp's favorite, so the streetwalkers were rivals, working their way up. Some day, one of them would be the new Larna.
When johns had finished their business, they peeled off in the cars, or were invited back onto the lawn -- especially if they knew someone at the house. There, they could join the block party.
The party began at 10 am and often lasted until 9:30 pm. It had to end at 11:00, because that's when the noise bylaw was enforceable. Men and women drank and danced and shouted obscenities, often for 10 hours a day. Women were groped. The noise could be heard in a radius of about 100 m, over three different streets, an uninterrupted screech.
One hot evening two police cars came racing down the street and took up positions, one pulling onto the lawn, the other blocking traffic. The cops drew their guns; a man with a dirty ponytail was seen exiting the house; the cops took him down with the whole street watching.
On another night, police and social workers arrived in a convoy. Once again, guns were drawn; we quickly discovered that a woman inside the house had been raped. Out she came, with her panties still in disorder, and she raced down the street to the address four doors away; it was learned later that she refused to testify. Nevertheless, there was an aggressor, and he had to be booked; he was carted away in handcuffs.
Finally, the social worker emerged from her car, impeccably dressed -- a peach suit, matching gloves and shoes. She gathered up documents and made her way into the house. An hour later, she emerged with three very young, aboriginal children on her arm.
We had all lived on the street for awhile; however, we knew nothing of the children. Soon, their story did the circuit: they belonged to one of the streetwalkers. One of them, about 6, was afflicted: fetal alcohol syndrome; I had seen him, now and then on the lawn, since the mother -- strangely -- allowed him, but only him, to emerge. He had no control over balance, could barely stand on his feet. The other two were a mystery; it seems, though, that they had been hidden in the basement by their prostitute mother.