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Canada’s shame

god. Ontario supreme court just ruled that Canada’s solicitation laws were unconstitutional. specifically keeping  a bawdy house, living off the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution. the judge, a woman judge, she said that removing these laws would keep women safer. She called them sex workers. Everyone called them ‘sex workers’. One of the main complainants in the case, a dominatrix who entered prostitution at the age of 14 because of pressure from her 37 year old pimp/boyfriend hooted that she was looking forward to spanking some bottoms in celebration. She is a complainant along with two other women who are active in prostitution. They are still prostituted(ing). They are delighted with the ruling.

It is not the law that causes their suffering. One of them said, “now a sex worker can pick up the phone and call the police if a john assaults them”. Did she even hear herself say that? What about having a job where rape is not the bloody job description? how bout that? How about stopping the john from buying access to her body in the first place? How be he just give her the money? sweet sufferin’ mother of jay-sus.

I felt sick. I still feel sick. Another sickening thing is the vitriolic spew issuing forth from women who call themselves feminists. See, the radical feminists are coming out and saying, “this is outrageous. this is a gift to pimps and traffickers and punters. Sure the laws need reform, but not all-out repeal, this does not make women any safer.” and the folks who think this is a good thing, the pro-prostitution lobby, they are saying, oh you know, the usual bullshit about radical feminists being anti-porn and anti-sex and hating prostitutes and all that. We’re fucking not any of that. well, okay, anti-porn. I’ll agree. we are anti-porn.

what the fuck is wrong with these people?

A dear friend of mine provided an affidavit–her own true story– to the Crown as evidence that the laws should not be struck, that women in prostitution are harmed by prostitution–by the practice itself. She, and other affiants, argued that the laws themselves are not the cause of the harms they experienced, but the men who bought them were the cause of the harms. Oh, and the people who did not buy them, but drove by them, and shouted to them, “whore! have you no self-respect?” or turned away, or offered disdain in the face of their suffering. That too was harmful. My friend, she said, “it’s hopeless. This is it, there is no way–we did everything we could, we gave them all we had”. She had a really hard time with her affidavit. A really hard time. Writing out what happened to her meant remembering it, almost like reliving it all. She’s tough, my buddy, eh. She’s been out for many many years, and she has a much different and better life now. But that brought up a lot for her. She has nightmares again. “I woke up screaming last week” she told me.

The people who call prostitution “work”, they say it’s just like any job in the service industry. But listen, we’ve all had shitty jobs. We’ve all worked way too hard for way too little money, or had bosses who power-tripped on us, or co-workers who betrayed us or picked fights or whatever. We’ve all had crappy jobs in the service industry. But when we quit those jobs and moved on to other things, the experiences we had flipping burgers or cleaning toilets or stocking shelves or– did not cause us, TWENTY YEARS LATER, to wake up screaming.

Prostitution is not a job like any other job in the service industry.

She told her story. She told the truth about her life. And that judge, she treated her with the same kind of flagrant disdain as did the passers-by twenty years ago when she was a young woman, doing her best, alone on the street, trying to be tough. It should have been enough. One woman’s story should have been enough to stop those fancy-ass lawyers in their tracks. And they had more stories. Many more.

The only thing i can figure, the only reason I can guess that the lawyers did NOT, the moment they read one of the affidavits from the Crown’s case, drop their pursuit of this challenge–is that they, too, are punters. They must be johns themselves. or pimps. or both. I can’t understand how they would otherwise try to chip away at the very slender protection women might have.

but i can’t for the life of me figure out why these other women are proclaiming such a victory. I can’t figure out for the life of me why they are directing such venomous spew at radical feminists–at the oldest rape-crisis centre in the country–at the women like my friend, brave and frightened, telling the truth. Why are these women, who will need our alliance, so ready to deny the alliance? We are right where THE MAN wants us to be. At each others throats.  I’m not gonna play that. I don’t like them, or trust them, but I will resist the powerful urge to throw their shit back in their faces. They are women. There is something about their own pain they are working out. I guess. Anyway, they have something to teach me. Everyone does. maybe it’s just fucking patience. christ.

The laws will not be struck down right now. The judge gave thirty days before she would recommend they be repealed. The federal government has already served notice they will appeal. It’s a conservative government, notably anti-woman, and no ally of the women’s liberation movement. But they are the only federal party which publicly states that prostitution is a form of violence against women.

it’s a weird world when the christian conservatives offer more hope for women’s liberation than women who call themselves feminists, or activists, or than the social democrats. Mind you, Rosa Luxembourg did say, early last century, that “social democracy paves the way for fascism”. mmmm. must think on that some more.

I just think of those arrogant young men in front of the strip club when we were doing the ‘buying sex is not a sport’ campaign, yelling, “c’mon in! we got pussy for sale!”

Inside. Women were inside. for sale. ya. lots safer. nausea rises. This is shameful.

we have a lot of work to do. more than i even imagined.

I’m afraid.

but that’s gotta not get in my way. my friend needs me. needs us. and we will win. we will. women are worth so much.

About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, working in a field for which I am not yet trained, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. Radical feminism will be the roots of our shared liberation. Rejection of sex-stereotypes (gender) and male domination will give us wings.

3 responses »

  1. Prostitution is not a job like any other job in the service industry.

    Yes, thank you. Over at the Ms. Magazine blog some porno-supporter named Sheldon is talking about how prostituted womyn getting condoms is just the same as womyn waitresses giving out napkins is the same thing. It’s so fucking wrong and it makes me want to scream – I can’t believe the moderators there approve of him and his ilk commenting.

    Having a life expectancy of around 28 isn’t standard in hospitality, and pregnancy, STIS, UTIS and HIV/AIDS aren’t ‘risks’ of hospitality industry jobs either.

    Have you heard the arguments where they compare professional masseurs to prostituted womyn? It drives me batty, and it totally diminishes the fact that 99.999999999% of prostitutes are WOMYN (made up statistic, but the point is the same) and not to mention, there’s a big difference between massaging someone who remains clothed with your hands and ‘letting’ a man stick his penis into you.

  2. Now, more than ever, I am ashamed to be a Canadian.

  3. I just don’t understand how there are feminists supporting this. And it’s so bad what your friend had to go through.


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