This piece is sourced from Truthdig, another progressive source that I receive a weekly newsletter from. Christopher Hedges is a regular contributer to the website, and specializes in articles that lay out many of the political and societal problems he sees all over humanity (such as the American empire) and the bleak future that (in his eyes) we all face on account to all of these collective problems. He takes no sides, and doles out criticisms exactly where he feels they need to be doled out (its a writing style that I respect, and try to emulate in my world view. No one should be immune to criticism).
And he is one of very few authors that can write an article that can, scare the hell out of me. Not “AH! If you sneak up on me like that again, ill punch you!” scared. More like “that comet is on its way and there is NOTHING that we can do about it!” scared.
The article that he wrote which caused the uproar in Vancouver was this one , about how he equates prostitution to global capitalism. I will borrow a paragraph from the piece:
VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Prostitution is the quintessential expression of global capitalism. Our corporate masters are pimps. We are all being debased and degraded, rendered impoverished and powerless, to service the cruel and lascivious demands of the corporate elite. And when they tire of us, or when we are no longer of use, we are discarded as human refuse. If we accept prostitution as legal, as Germany has done, as permissible in a civil society, we will take one more collective step toward the global plantation being built by the powerful. The fight against prostitution is the fight against a dehumanizing neoliberalism that begins, but will not end, with the subjugation of impoverished girls and women.
Poverty is not an aphrodisiac. Those who sell their bodies for sex do so out of desperation. They often end up physically injured, with a variety of diseases and medical conditions, and suffering from severe emotional trauma. The left is made morally bankrupt by its failure to grasp that legal prostitution is another face of neoliberalism. Selling your body for sex is not a choice. It is not about freedom. It is an act of economic slavery.
The first 3 sentences, honestly make perfect sense to me. I have never really thought of the bonded sex slave trade as a comparison to the economic equality problem of many areas of the world, but it works. But for me, what I agree with ends there.
The vast majority of the article, is based around the sex trade as it stands now. I don’t deny that women in the trade have a terrible time of it. But I can’t help but think that, a big part of that problem is the very prostitution prohibition laws that he is in favor of.
This may be a terrible comparison (you be the judge), but I liken it to marijuana and other soft drugs. Prohibition has done nothing but push the business underground. Marijuana (and other drug) users are still using the substance, but the cash flow is flowing into hostile hands of criminals. There are all sorts of problems that can be attributed to drug prohibition.
One, cartels now often have enough fire power to occupy a country. The US and other nations spends billions on the investigation and prosecution of drug crimes. And a vast majority of those punished for drug crimes are visible minorities, despite having the smallest segment of drug users over all (compared to Caucasians). I also have this study from NIH, which goes far more in depth.
In the same way that drug prohibition has all these unintended side affects, it is my suspicion that the same can be said for prostitution. I agree that the dangers and abuses that face women today are very real. And I also agree that many likely turn to the trade out of economic necessity. But how does further supporting a trade that is already banned in most areas, HELP the situation?
Canada has played around with the laws a bit, but for all intents and purposes, its illegal. Because it is illegal, those who participate in the trade have to do so in secret, forcing themselves to be put in often harmful and dangerous situations. Which can lead to assaults, abuse, or murder of women of any race (unlike many Canadians at the moment, I acknowledge that women of other races then native DO fall into the murdered and missing category to).
If the answer to the problem is more enforcement to curb street prostitution, what do the women do for ends meat THEN? I am not saying that anyone should have to be forced into the sex trade. All I am saying is, they are just as down on their luck AFTER you stop them from prostituting openly as they were before. Only now, they have no income.
The idea that I propose, is a safe house. Presumably ran by (and watched over by) the government, such a place would provide a safe place for these girls to both solicit and work from. Regular screening of such things as diseases, as well as the mandated use of protection, could be made mandatory. Rooms can be rented in an arrangement to be figured out. But most importantly, they would all be enabled with emergency alert buttons that when pushed, will immediately bring security to the room to assist the women.
This is still based around the fact that many women have to go into the sex trade for money. Yes, it is unfortunate. But further enforcing the banning of prostitution does not do anything to solve that problem. One could say that it only makes it worse, since the economic plate TOTALLY dries up for some. And for those hidden, the chance of getting out (or even noticed) becomes even slimmer as the trade is driven even further underground.
Some may read this and think I completely missed the point of the article, and of Hedges stances in general. He is writing about how global capitalism is destructive and should be abolished, while I am writing about solutions that fit within that system.
However, though I know what an IDEAL world would look like and wish that world was the case, I am forced to accept that I live in, the reality that is the world today. If the world fell into some sort of anarcho-socialist status, then yes, figuring out problems in the context of capitalism would be stupid. But that is not what we have.
As prostitution and pornography become normalized, so does male violence against women.
“When some women are bought and sold,” said Hilla Kerner, an Israeli who has worked at the shelter for 10 years, “all women can be bought and sold. When some women are objectified, all women are objectified.”
Give me a fucking break with the feminist rhetoric.
Violence against women does NOT have to be normalized alongside prostitution and pornography. This is yet another false assumption based off of a terrible and unfortunate, yet entirely preventable situation (witnessed in Vancouver but applicable likely almost anywhere). Anyone that abuses ANYONE else should have to face punishment.
Taking away a person’s only means of income generation does not guarantee that the person will find a legal (and suitable) alternative. Unless that variable is taken into consideration, I have to seriously question the thought process.
BUT despite all of my stated disagreements with Hedges noted here, I would not move to have him “banned” from speaking if he were coming to a venue near me. If I do not like or agree with a visitor, I just won’t go.
I don’t understand this mindset that is permeating many campuses and other areas of academia, which makes people feel entitled to attempt to stifle those they have disagreements with, even from graduation speeches.
We live in a world that is filled with variation and nuance. This need to cling to ever more hostile and esoteric groups and creeds is not conducive to a free society. Its one of my biggest arguments against Anarchism and Anarcho-Socialism (how can we VOLUNTARILY be expected to care for others, when we don’t even want to do it now in many cases?).
Not to mention that this mass “segregation” is happening at a time when its more important that all be standing together (and on the same page) then ever before. If the biosphere collapses, all perish.
Very few groups are in agreement on many issues. Very few individuals are in agreement on many issues. But that does not mean that gap has to be a barrier. In fact, it is imperative that it not be.