Pornos of zdenka podkapova
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Prostitution laws, whether tolerant or against prostitution, results in more disadvantage than advantage for prostitutes. This is rather ironic, since feminist backed prostitution laws are usually aimed at protecting sex workers. For example, in Sweden, prostitutes are only protected from the law so long they adhere to ‘exiting’ programs, which are programs that aid prostitutes to exit the sex industry and integrate in mainstream society. This idea of exiting assumes that all prostitutes have the same desires, and thus all can be controlled . Therefore, prostitutes who don’t exit are deemed as criminals. As Scoular notes, “Criminalization in Sweden resulted in more risky situations for sex workers, where they have less choice of clients, quicker transactions, drop in prices and greater stress” (20). She further notes, “The Swedish Model just got rid of ‘visible’ street workers, while it created ‘invisible’ sex workers in off-street work” (20). Therefore, individuals who remain prostitutes in Sweden become excluded, because society has made no place for them. What is also interesting is how radical feminists aim at the criminalization of men over women, where men become targeted as clients. This actually doesn’t result in gender equality, but rather it shifts the stigma of prostitutes over to men.
Canadian examples illustrate the implications of prostitution laws where prostitution is tolerated. In Canada, the exchange of sex for money is legal, yet other laws make it difficult for prostitutes to conduct their services legally. Tamara O’Doherty (2011) notes that Canadian prostitution laws “ensure prostitution remains firmly entrenched in illicit markets by requiring sex workers to offend the criminal laws in order to work in safety (indoor venues)” (219). She further notes how Section 213 of the Canadian criminal code states that public communication for the purpose of prostitution is criminally prohibited. To illustrate this: brothels cannot legally label themselves as spaces for prostitution. Instead, they have to label themselves as non-sex related businesses, such as a massage parlor. Prostitutes themselves cannot be open about their services either; they cannot discuss with clients beforehand about their services. At the same time, Section 211 makes it illegal to use a place on a regular basis for prostitution, so therefore the massage parlor must ensure they deny sex is going on . According to O’Doherty, this ‘quasi-legal’ atmosphere places sex workers in more vulnerable positions, where they less prone to working in safe places. Given that the two feminist stances both have mainly negative implications for the lives of prostitutes, it seems that laws are not empowering their intended subjects. But rather, it’s pushing the majority of prostitutes to the ‘bare life.’
Since laws do not benefit most prostitutes, then the obvious question is: who benefits from the prostitution law? The State benefits as the laws ensure that their neoliberal interests are not challenged. In Sweden, exiting programs help prostitutes find ‘normal’ jobs, which they will become ‘qualified’ taxpayers, and thus assimilating with the hegemonic ideals and aiding the state power. In some Canadian provinces, for instance, local municipal laws require that massage parlors obtain expensive licenses to operate. As well, Edmonton sex workers are required by local municipal law to obtain licenses for each place they work. The act of licensing is a way of commercializing the sex industry, which means the state profits off licenses. It also is way of controlling and monitoring prostitutes. Therefore, those who participate in licensing are included in society, as they are doing what the state wants. However, not all prostitutes want or are in the position to reveal their identities. For instance, an illegal immigrant is automatically excluded from having ‘qualified life,’ because they are invisible to state recognition. And while legalization is argued to protect some prostitutes, others have argued that increased regulation means increased policing and monitoring over the lives of women . Further, many academics agree that prostitution laws do not reverse the negative impact of social stigma, which stigma causes psychological trauma for many prostitutes . Therefore, many prostitutes are excluded and marginalized for failing to adhere to state interests. Sadly, marginalized groups are part of sustaining the capitalism. Therefore, the Radical and ‘pro’ feminists are contradicting themselves, because they are supporting a system of inequality, where only a minority of ‘qualified’ prostitutes are included in society. Such groups should not even be called feminist, because feminism is supposed to be about gender equality.
Feminism in current times, influenced by Postmodernism, emphasizes the diversity of female experiences, yet the ‘pro’ and radical feminist views on prostitution ignore an open, multi-theoretical approach. It is no wonder that these feminist stances on prostitution laws have had problematic results for prostitutes themselves. Given that prostitution laws have not benefited the fate of most sex workers it becomes obvious that laws are more concerned with sustaining state power and interests . However, the complexity involved in prostitution makes it difficult to find an alternative law that will satisfy the needs of everyone. Yet the question remains: can law be more inclusive of all members of society when considering how law is a tool of marginalizing certain people? So while the framework of biopower helps us understand prostitution laws it doesn’t really give us a solution to challenge the hegemonic power. Many aspects of people’s lives are orientated toward neoliberal interests in most advanced capitalist nation-states. Therefore, it is difficult to challenge the power of state when the populations are compliant with the law. However, as an anthropologist it is the task to be critical and to educate others about making the familiar seem strange, whilst making the strange seem more familiar. As a postmodern feminist, it is important to be open to the ideas and theories of others. Rather than continue to marginalize others, one needs to think of ways that society can be more inclusive of so-called deviant groups.
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