Treating Sex Work as Work
by Maggie McNeill
Sex work is ubiquitous. Where a substantial demand exists, some people will inevitably try to meet that demand for a price. Retired call girl and madam Maggie McNeill reviews the various legal regimes that have been set up to regulate and/or prohibit sex work. She concludes that many approaches, particularly the most restrictive ones, increase the likelihood of harm to all participants. They tend to infantalize women and invest law enforcement with arbitrary and dangerous powers. She argues that the best approach is a regime of simple legalization, without licensing or heavy restrictions.
Prostitution as a Legal Institution
by Ronald Weitzer
Prof. Ronald Weitzer argues that prostitution should be treated as a legal commercial transaction. He finds that much of the conventional wisdom on the sex trade is the result of generalizing from experience under legal regimes where it is criminalized. He argues that in a legally tolerant regime, many of the problems we observe today would vanish. He argues for a set of “best practices” that would entail some government regulation of sex work, including subjecting business owners to background checks and licensing, zoning regulations, and restrictions on advertising. These measures would make decriminalization politically palatable and protect against a possible backlash. He also finds, contrary to McNeill’s claim, that no country has fully deregulated sex work.
Prostitution Cannot Be Squared with Human Rights or the Equality of Women
by Dianne Post
Dianne Post argues that prostitution is a form of exploitation, and that the only proper response is to abolish it. Prostitution, she argues, only exists because of material inequalities. Worse, it tends strongly to produce further inequalities – material, social, and political in nature. Prostitution traps women in economic dependency on men, and it encourages men to view women merely as commodities. Following this strong normative case against prostitution, Post looks at the empirical evidence, where she concludes that experiments with legalization have all been failures. She praises the “Nordic Model” approach to sex work, in which in which sex workers’ clients are prosecuted, rather than the women involved in prostitution.
Prostitution is Exploitation
by Steven Wagner
Steven Wagner argues that the large majority of prostitutes are not workers at all, because they are not acting voluntarily: they are enslaved. The personal experiences of Ms. McNeill notwithstanding, many others have suffered horribly in prostitution, and even left-leaning governments like that of France under the socialists have justifiably outlawed the sex trade. Wagner likewise prefers the Swedish approach, in which prostitutes are not treated as criminals, but those who attempt to buy sex are.
- Responses to Weitzer, Post, and Wagner: Don’t Be Swayed by Exaggerated Claims by Maggie McNeill
- Rehashing Myths about Prostitution by Ronald Weitzer
- How We Treat Prostitution is a Measure of Our Society by Dianne Post
- A Baffling Response by Maggie McNeill
- Prostitution Reinforces the Subordination of Women by Dianne Post
- Canada’s Supreme Court Weighs In by Ronald Weitzer
- Privileging Fantasy over Reality by Maggie McNeill
- The Canadian Decision on Prostitution by Dianne Post
- Concluding Thoughts by Maggie McNeill