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Laws that sex workers really want - anti-Nordic-model TED talk

(154 Posts)
iismum Sat 18-Mar-17 07:44:01

A friend of mine just posted this video - it's a TED talk by a sex worker discussing how a NZ model is what (according to her) pretty much all sex workers want. She discredits full and partial criminalisation of sex work - which I quite agree with. She also talks about how the Nordic model is really bad for sex workers, whereas I support the Nordic model. But she made some interesting points - particularly how the Nordic model does not reduce the demand for sex work, it just makes it more dangerous and fosters more negative attitudes to sex workers. Is this really true?

I'd be really interested to hear people's thoughts about it. If you want to skip to what she says about the Nordic model, it starts at about 6 minutes in.

www.ted.com/talks/juno_mac_the_laws_that_sex_workers_really_want

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sat 18-Mar-17 08:16:54

There's some excellent discussion on the Julie Bindel thread at the moment, here, particularly Micro's post of Fri 17-Mar-17 10:26:19 and Beachcomber's a few posts later.

Micro sets out the statistics in chilling detail.

I'll cut and paste my own contribution:

Those who've studied it reckon New Zealand only works (insofar as it works - and there's considerable evidence to suggest the picture is not as rosy as the pro-prostitution lobby would have us belief) because of its geographical isolation. In a country like Germany, a much better social and geographical analogue for the UK, the results of complete legalisation have been disasterous - increased trafficking, mega brothels (where despite the arguments of the pro lobby that this would lead to health care and proper employment contracts, women in fact have none of these protections and are forced to work as "independent contractors"), pop-up brothels on the edges of motorway restplatz where women have sex for 15 euros, and street prostitution still runs rampant (remember, the whole point was supposedly to make women safer), except that the price has now dropped to less than the cost of a big mac.

It's inherent in the nature of capitalism - commodify something and you drive down prices, and people get exploited in the production process. Only now the thing being commodified is women's bodies, and the prices have dropped to a couple of euros for servicing a man's cock on your knees in the gutter.

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sat 18-Mar-17 08:20:44

I should also mention that even among prostitutes who say they went into prostitution as adults, of their own free choice, and are happy with their choice, there is disagreement as to whether full decrim is a good thing. We have had "freely consenting" (for want of a better phrase) prostitutes discuss their work on here in the past, and I certainly remember at least two who preferred the British compromise of criminalising pimping, because it maintained their independence and kept prices up. I even read one saying she liked working in countries where it was completely illegal, again because it kept prices up, and also because if the punters knew what they were doing could get them arrested, they had more of an incentive to behave (she said she had worked in a wide range of different countries under different legal frameworks).

iismum Sat 18-Mar-17 10:35:36

Thanks a lot for that and for the pointer to the Bindel thread. I have several friends that feel so passionately about this and although I disagree with them, I feel I need to really know my facts to plausibly challenge them. Someone wrote about the SNP support for the Nordic model that champagne corks would be flying for evangelicals and women haters. It makes me so angry to dismiss people who are pro-Nordic model as women haters.

YetAnotherSpartacus Sat 18-Mar-17 10:47:25

My view is that outside of Sweden the 'Nordic Model', which used to be the 'Swedish Model', has been ripped from its original context, which inlcuded a swathe of legislation and policies that aimed at challenging sex-role and gender stereotypes in schools, empoweing women, challenging men's views of women / sexism and building a robust welfare state. Instead of being part of this broader context it has instead been reduced to a narrow legislative solution that focuses on laws that punish johns. I am pro-Nordic model, but in it's original context. I'm lukewarm about the more narrow model. I don't think it adequately changes attitudes nor supports women leaving prostitution.

Xenophile Sat 18-Mar-17 10:49:46

I can see that the Nordic model might be bad for some prostituted women if they believe that their johns are "nice" men and criminalising the "nice" ones will mean that only the nasty ones are left, however, it does also make mechanisms for reporting those men clearer and easier and without stigma.

Decrim increases trafficking, drops prices and means that women end up having to service more men to keep up with rent etc. I've not seen anyone sensible suggest criminalising the women for years and years, so that one being thrown into the mix is a red herring.

New Zealand is a poor example of how decrim works anyway, anyone suggesting that it's a paradise for prostituted women is patently ignoring the downsides to it and deliberately failing to acknowledge that even so, NZ is a special case. Germany or Netherlands would be a better example, enormous amounts of trafficking, mega brothels and caravans in restplatzen. THAT is what decrim means.

tangoman Sat 18-Mar-17 14:31:14

Oddly there seems very little discussion of the content of that TED talk-instead posters here retreat to their pre-prepared positions.

Mostly: You say that amongst prostitutes there is disagreement as to whether full decrim is a good thing as though it was somehow a balanced argument with equal numbers on each side-much like saying there is disagreement over the reality of climate change or disagreement about the truth of evolution when the overwhelming majority of those who know about it from their own involvement come down on one side.

Since 2004 there have been over two hundred threads on Mumsnet on prostitution and on those threads over a hundred present or ex-prostitutes have talked about their experiences (ranging from good to dire).

I can think of less than five who did not support decriminalization and only one who supported the Nordic model. So while yes-there are some who disagree the vast majority of those current or exited prostitutes do not want the Nordic model.

If you look at the evidence submitted to recent consultation carried out by the Home affairs select committee on prostitution you will find a majority are not in favour of the Nordic model and the overwhelming majority of those who identified themselves as prostitutes do not support the Nordic model either.

The same goes for the three consultations (yes three) held in Scotland over the introduction of the Nordic model the overwhelming majority of those who were prostitutes did not support the Nordic model. So yes there is disagreement but those whom the Nordic model is claimed to help overwhelmingly reject it.

You will no doubt claim those prostitutes who do not support the Nordic model are the privileged ones-the tiny majority-are not representative (see What is a representative sex worker? feministire.com/2011/11/13/what-is-a-representative-sex-worker/) –that somehow there is a silent majority of victimized and exploited prostitutes who cannot wait for the Nordic model-well how do you know? Where is the evidence?

And as for the claim that Microferretsets out the statistics in chilling detail” on the Bindel thread she does nothing of the sort-she just parrots lies and half truths from abolitionist websites that all seem to trace back to Melissa Farley.

To give just one example she obviously does not engage her brain when making claims such as the average age of entry into prostitution is 13.5 years old -just engage the brain and think about it for a nano-second-if that were the average age then for every prostitute who started at 20 there must be one who stated at seven.

No wonder such statements earned the four Pinocchio award for lies from the Washington post.( www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/06/11/the-dubious-claim-that-on-average-girls-first-become-victims-of-sex-trafficking-at-13-years-old/?utm_term=.96d292f15eca)

tangoman Sat 18-Mar-17 14:34:31

Sorry link on what is a representative sex worker given above does not work-this one should

feministire.com/2011/11/13/what-is-a-representative-sex-worker/

RhuBarbarella Sat 18-Mar-17 15:04:09

www.humanityinaction.org/knowledgebase/312-the-audacity-of-tolerance-a-critical-analysis-of-legalized-prostitution-in-amsterdam-s-red-light-district
This link gives a bit more of a nuanced look at how the situation in the Netherlands is. I used to work with sex workers, not in A'dam though, a smaller town. I'm not claiming the situation is good, but I do believe the Nordic model is wrong and endangers women more than the decrim model. Sweepingly I might say that for many people in the UK paid sex is unwanted to the extent that they lose sight of what is needed on a pragmatic level. We are not going into a non-prostitution utopia, not any time soon. Sex is going to be paid for and what we need to do is make sure that we protect men and women who work in the sex industry. Capitalism is a bitch, and exploitation is easy when people are vulnerable. Making sure people are safe means having enough resources to go after human traffickers. If you have limited means, going after them has a priority over going after sex workers and their clients, I think anyway.

Xenophile Sat 18-Mar-17 15:40:27

That's not actually how averages work there Tango, old chap. Sorry.

Xenophile Sat 18-Mar-17 15:42:01

Also, do you mean mean when you talk of averages? Are the ages in a normal or skewed distribution? What's your standard deviation?

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sat 18-Mar-17 15:43:53

Tango is not very bright, I fear, Xenophile. He also only ever pops up to post on threads about prostitution - lets see, a man coming onto feminist boards on a single issue, an issue overwhelmingly about men who exploit and abuse women's bodies for their sexual satisfaction, coming to tell the feminists that he, a man, is perfectly fine about this. I find that beyond creepy, personally. I can't help but wonder what his vested interest is.

VestalVirgin Sat 18-Mar-17 16:00:45

But she made some interesting points - particularly how the Nordic model does not reduce the demand for sex work, it just makes it more dangerous and fosters more negative attitudes to sex workers. Is this really true?

Go and read what punters, also German punters, where it is legal, write about prostituted women. There is something on the internet, "Invisible Men Project" or so, where you can read it without having to access the forums where they talk to each other.

The way they talk about prostituted women is vile, and I really cannot fathom how their attitude to prostituted women could be any worse.
Of course, "sex worker" includes pimps, and yes, the Nordic Model leads people to view those in a less rosy light.

Besides, German newspaper "Die Zeit" had an article by someone who supported the Nordic model, and there were four letter-writers who called this "misandrist", because ... all men are punters, or something. They correctly identified who would be looking bad after the implementation of this scheme, and they knew it wasn't the women in prostitution.
(This article was written by a man, which is good, as a woman would probably have gotten rape threats, judging from the hate that was poured out on the male author.)

QuentinSummers Sat 18-Mar-17 16:06:53

tango if they are talking about median or modal average then 13.5 is a perfectly possible average age. Maths, innit.

sillage Sat 18-Mar-17 16:44:21

"it just makes it more dangerous and fosters more negative attitudes to sex workers."

I also wonder how this is possible given how deadly and destructive prostitution already is.

Porn is legal prostitution filmed and distributed globally, its misogynistic titles and content unabashedly displayed in the open for everyone to see; show me what "more negative attitudes to sex workers" means compared to what's recorded in porn and The Invisible Men website.

The whole argument feels like a threat, "If women don't give men easy access to legal whores, then punters are going to rape and murder them MORE and abolitionists will be blamed."

tangoman Sat 18-Mar-17 16:55:28

Xenophile: Yes of course I know how median means and skewness work-I was giving a simplified illustration of the principle that the average age cannot be 13.5 and the Washington post link backs that up with data.

And there is data from this country too:

Church et al 2001 Violence by clients towards female prostitutes in different work settings: questionnaire survey. BMJ 2001;322:524 (average age of starting Street Prostitutes:19.6 (N=115) indoor 22.7(N=125)
Jeal N & Salisbury C 2007^ Health needs and service use of parlour-based prostitutes compared with street-based prostitutes: A cross-sectional survey^ BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 114, 875-881 (average age of starting Street: 27.9 N= 71 Parlour: 27.2N=71)
Sanders T et al 2016 On Our Own Terms : The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK Sociological Research online 21, 1-14 (indoor workers 29.35 N=240) www.socresonline.org.uk/21/4/15.html

So you see-not pinched from some “punter apologist website” but from the peer reviewed literature. I could go on and produce a ton more papers showing that “the average age of entry is 13.5” is bollocks but that I enough for now.

Oh and by the way-if you are interested in what real escorts think-rather than those of your fevered imaginings I suggest you take a look at the SAAFE website-the thread “Describe your last booking” www.saafe.info/main/index.php?topic=19487.0 may give you a better idea the variety of prostitute –client interactions than the “invisible man project”

YetAnotherSpartacus Sat 18-Mar-17 17:04:22

I once found my way to a site where men located, compared and rated prostituted women. I'd wanted to find out if a particular premises was a brothel (it was in a city I was visiting) so I did some Googling. My oh my. Lets just say that so called 'negative attitudes' were an excellent description. But these had nothing to do with stigma as such or the Nordic model. They had everything to with attitudes to women as things without personhood that existed for their convenience. Many survivors of prostitution, once away from the clutches of the industry wholeheartedly support the Nordic model. As noted above, though, my personal view is that it has been watered down outside of Sweden and applied out of context - I.e it does not go far enough.

sillage Sat 18-Mar-17 17:34:10

So, I took a look at Tango's forum for "sex workers". Turns out what's supposed to be prostitutes talking about Real! Live! Sex! is actually a forum where men write out their fictional fantasies.

A few pages in, I started noticing that the stories were strangely similar with the same phrases and words used repeatedly. I've never seen an internet conversation use the words "amazing" and "hot" with such absurd frequency. I jumped around the 91 pages randomly searching for "amazing" and it came up multiple times on many pages.

The number of "turned my first trick tonight!" posts was also quite suspicious.

I could believe some of the shorter ones might be genuine, but the long and very detailed posts are obviously men writing out their fantasies.

tangoman Sat 18-Mar-17 18:48:58

Oh poor sillage- that forum is very heavily policed by a vicious administrator-anyone who is not a sex worker is pushed off.

The accusation that anyone who says anything that is not pure misery about a sex work experience is a male fantasist often made too when people claiming to be prostitutes on Mumsnet . The last occasion was by Thesparrowhawk -only stopped when the prostitute NottTheFordType showed her website and twitter feed,

What I suggest you do is read Sanders T et al 2016 On Our Own Terms : The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK Sociological Research online 21, 1-14 www.socresonline.org.uk/21/4/15.html which shows on the contrary that many prostitutes have positive experiences which correspond pretty well to those on the SAAFE thread

sillage Sat 18-Mar-17 19:28:41

Right. Because anonymous online posts by prostitutes can be confirmed by a moderator.

I think I'll ignore your illogical foolishness now. Amazing!

VestalVirgin Sat 18-Mar-17 19:49:19

Do that, sillage.
Considering that this poster apparently only shows up when someone talks about prostitution, it is not unlikely that he somehow derives sexual gratification from talking about it.

The claim that the Nordic Model would somehow make men kill more women is really absurd.

Let's try and apply it to other ways of exploitation - would anyone say that outlawing children working in factories makes it more likely for children to die in factory accidents?

As noted above, though, my personal view is that it has been watered down outside of Sweden and applied out of context - I.e it does not go far enough.

Regarding the punishment of punters, or the other elements?

Sweden has not such a big problem with poverty prostitution, because it is a relatively rich country; I assume that also plays a role in how efficient the Model in eliminating prostitution. (Though punters will pay more and behave better if they are in danger of being punished and there's no flatrate brothels)

tangoman Sun 19-Mar-17 02:19:51

OK sillage-why don’t you try reading some other threads on the SAAFE forum-since you are convinced they are all written by male fantasists .Like “reasons not to be an escort” www.saafe.info/main/index.php?topic=2645.0 or “Things client do to annoy” www.saafe.info/main/index.php?topic=23826.0 or “How not to book an escort world championships!” www.saafe.info/main/index.php?topic=1637.0 or “Whats the grossest thing that has happened to you” www.saafe.info/main/index.php?topic=11284.0 . Still convinced its all male fantasists?

Did you bother to look at the Teela Sanders article I linked to-a very large survey of prostitutes working via the internet. It cooberates the spectrum of experiences outlined in the SAAFE forum.

Your problem is that you cannot believe that the experiences in prostitution are not always dire but are a spectrum of experiences-from dire to good. Anything that does not fit as part of the “oppression paradigm” you reject as being a male fantasy-well wise up.

sleighbellend Sun 19-Mar-17 05:43:16

Tangoman, stop trying to justify the fact that you pay to rape women.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 19-Mar-17 05:59:47

So what if there are some sex-workers who actively want to sell their bodies?

I disagree with prostitution because of the wider effects it has on women and girls in general.

QuentinSummers Sun 19-Mar-17 07:20:23

Yeah good point lessthan

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