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Brothels Gonna Work It Out
March 27, 2012 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Ontario’s highest court has legalized brothels in a sweeping decision that condemned current prostitution laws for adding to the hazards of a highly dangerous profession.
posted by BEE-EATING CAT-EATER (68 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
So prostitution was legal, but brothels weren't? That seems strange, and this is a good decision that will protect women and men working as prostitutes. I loved this quote:

"Valerie Scott, one of the litigants, said that prostitutes have a sense of belonging for the first time. “I feel like a debutante,” she said. “I feel like a citizen.” "
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:17 AM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Prostitutes will always have a place in society, whether anyone likes it or not. I think it's time to accept that once and for all.
posted by Malice at 12:18 AM on March 27, 2012 [24 favorites]


The homeland, at least from this distant vantage point, is beginning to feel like it's about to tear itself apart from centrifugal force as it spins up ever faster in place -- one week it's these kind of sensible, humane decisions that the Canada of yore would make, and the next it'll be yet another new vile neoBushite move from the Harper Scum.

Very confusing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:23 AM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


This gave me hope. The budget meeting on Tuesday will give me less hope.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:25 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sensible approach to prostitution, it helps protect a marginalized section of society.
posted by arcticseal at 12:31 AM on March 27, 2012


So prostitution was legal, but brothels weren't? That seems strange, and this is a good decision that will protect women and men working as prostitutes.

pimps. Its the pimps who the prostitutes need to be protected against. Whether male or female, it is these pimps who create most of the circumstances that end up hurting the ladies.

Away pander, for there are no women for YOU to sell.
-Dante
posted by karathrace at 12:48 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pimps should be the ones that get arrested then. NOT prostitutes.
posted by Malice at 12:59 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actual establishments are a lot easier for the state to investigate or regulate, so it isn't at odds with condemning prostitution. The profession tends to entrap many desperate and damaged women with a likely history of sexual abuse. Men like to think of prostitutes (and porn actresses) as free-loving women that simply love sex. But men and women think VERY differently about sex.
posted by savvysearch at 1:24 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is great and karathrace picked up on it. This ruling will help to take the violence out of prostitution. Also interesting the level of positive support in the comments. Think my favourite was about the new pimp in town… the one who charges taxes.

The power dynamics of prostitution are fascinating:

The usual opponents to legalised prositution and brothels seem to be women, who say 'it's digusting and hurts women.' Yet, the worst aspects of prostitution often don't relate to sex, but rather violence. Thus the attitude that prostition hurts women is precisely what leads to prostitution hurting women.

And somehow, from the view of somewhat of a cynic, women against the legalisation of prostitution may be more wary of spoiler effects than the actual act, for no one is forcing them to prostitute themselves. When prostitution is legal and socially-sanctioned, it decreases women's competitive ability, as men have greater options for sex. Thus, 'prostitution is bad for women' becomes 'prostitution decreases the sexual power of women who are not prostitutes'.

That being said, I doubt many women acclimate to prostitution, rather I imagine it has to do with market forces. If men provide the demand side, some women will provide the supply side. Hence why societies of religious extremists resort to extreme violence to control sex within society.

Musing on this, it's interesting that in California -- for example -- prostitution is illegal, that is the private act of taking money for sex. Yet, pornography (the Other Hollywood) is a huge industry. The differences being 1) pornography has significantly decreased levels of violence as there's a group of people present, and 2) it's visibility means it can be taxed.

Thus, perhaps it be assumed that societies are tacitly not against prostitution, but rather against untaxed commerce? Based on the comments in the article above, perhaps.
posted by nickrussell at 1:26 AM on March 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


pimps. Its the pimps who the prostitutes need to be protected against. Whether male or female, it is these pimps who create most of the circumstances that end up hurting the ladies.

In a related note, gangmasters of illegal labourers often end up injuring them, and drug dealers often kill more colleagues than pharmacists. It's almost like the common theme is that labour relations are really messed up when the existing illegality of the industry prevents normal labour protections from operation.
posted by jaduncan at 1:32 AM on March 27, 2012 [40 favorites]


Men like to think of prostitutes (and porn actresses) as free-loving women that simply love sex.

I don't think the majority of men think that. Men are 'monetised' early in life as well. Perhaps ask a pro sports player how they feel about a value being placed on them. I haven't played baseball since college and whatnot.

As men are monetised early-on, perhaps we develop a worldview of people being monetised, for that's the game we are taught to play. A man's 'worth' -- especially when it comes to marriage prospects -- is often defined by his financial standing. Thus, perhaps when men see prostitutes, they see a price being put on human experience, as a price has put on themselves since boyhood.

entrap many desperate and damaged women with a likely history of sexual abuse.

And men don't experience violence and abuse? Many men are sexually abused. In fact, violence toward men is far more institutionalised than it is against women. Now, that is not necessarily sexual violence, but most teenage boys will have the experience of violence to a greater degree than women.

In fact, I would imagine if you look at sexual abuse of women, it will be highly corellated with the society's overall attitude toward violence. In the United States, you pay your rent because if you don't, a man will show up at your house with a gun and throw you out. In Europe, if you don't pay your rent, a man with a gun will not show up at your house. Consequently, Europe seems to have less of a problem with violence in society.

I'm not saying that women who are prostitutes haven't been sexually abused. The point is that it's not a man problem with male drivers, it's a societal problem with societal drivers.
posted by nickrussell at 1:35 AM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


In Europe, if you don't pay your rent, a man with a gun will not show up at your house.

Really?
posted by effugas at 1:40 AM on March 27, 2012


pimps. Its the pimps who the prostitutes need to be protected against. Whether male or female, it is these pimps who create most of the circumstances that end up hurting the ladies.

True, and I'd suggest that a prostitute working on the streets would be at high risk from her/his clients, even if there were no pimps involved. The ruling seems to draw a sensible decision between a pimp who controls and abuses a prostitute and a guard who is paid by the prostitute ("as of April 25, prostitutes can engage bodyguards. The court remodelled the pimping provision to target only those who live off the avails of prostitution “in circumstances of exploitation.” ).

New Zealand seems to have solved this one reasonably well - we have prostitutes working together out of shared premises, with staff hired by the prostitutes for administrative and/or protective services. No pimps. Sex workers in control of their own work. Seems like the way to go.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:41 AM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


In Europe, if you don't pay your rent, a man with a gun will not show up at your house.

Really?


And there was me, a European, about to say "really" to the other statement. Huh.
posted by iotic at 1:51 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


@effugas: Yes, at some point, you can be forceably evicted. However, it's nowhere near as easy or frequent as the United States. Excuse the exaggeration. In my experience, Europeans are substantially more adverse to violence than Americans… oddly unless it's at football matches, where anything goes. Consequently, there seem to be less cases of interpersonal violence. This is all based on very limited observation and of course there are infinite caveats.
posted by nickrussell at 1:51 AM on March 27, 2012


From the article:
"They said that it is senseless to have a law that compels prostitutes to work in dangerous isolation, given that prostitution itself is legal. (...) The Court of Appeal noted on Monday that Parliament is not precluded from enacting new prostitution laws provided they do not heighten the danger to prostitutes."

It's still possible to ban prostitution, and also possible to punish prostitution's buyers.

New Zealand seems to have solved this one reasonably well (...) No pimps.

According to this article, "Sex, law and social control: The sex industry in New Zealand today" by Jan Jordan, Leturer at the Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand:

"Recently the number of Asian women working in the country has increased, with growing numbers of Thai and Filipino women working in Auckland. Whereas there are comparatively few pimps in the New Zealand sex industry overall, these Asian women are considerably more vulnerable to exploitation by men because they often depend on male sponsors to bring them into the country and frequently have an insecure immigration status."
posted by iviken at 1:54 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another approach is the Swedish one, where selling sex isn’t illegal, but buying it is. Official reports reckon the policy a success, at least in reducing street prostitution.
posted by misteraitch at 1:57 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go Canada!
posted by jeffburdges at 1:58 AM on March 27, 2012


I'm currently way too drunk to respond to this in an articulate manner, and frankly I'm grateful for the auto-spell check that is preventing me from sounding like a complete moron, but I think what is important about this article is that actual women participating in this act are no longer being criminalized.
posted by Drumhellz at 2:34 AM on March 27, 2012


Pimps should be the ones that get arrested then. NOT prostitutes.

I think this is how the law is in Germany. Prostitution is legal but being a pimp is a crime.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:36 AM on March 27, 2012


iviken: According to this article, "Sex, law and social control: The sex industry in New Zealand today" by Jan Jordan, Leturer at the Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand:

I should really have said "few pimps" rather than "no pimps" (at work, posting too quickly). That article, though, looks pretty old to me - it's citing stats from 1990 and its most recent reference is 1991. The liberalisation of prostitution laws in NZ only dates to 2003. That said, I think pimping probably still exists in the black/grey market in NZ, but the liberalisation of the laws has meant more protection for workers in general - see this BBC article.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:40 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nikki Thomas, executive director of SPOC, told reporters that prostitutes will be normal citizens who file income taxes, purchase investments and quietly go about their work. “We are not going to have fire and brimstone and sex workers raining down from the sky,” she said.
with a disappointed sigh.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:59 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


yoyo_nyc: I think this is how the law is in Germany. Prostitution is legal but being a pimp is a crime.

That is true. Municipalities can prohibit it from certain areas and times (e.g. near schools, or in houses where underaged children live). Also, being a pimp is criminal offense (running a brothel is within a grey zone, the key differentiation is whether the prostitutes are being expolited or not, can be ordered to do things, or if, of course, there are minors involved in any way). But on the other side, prostitution per se is not longer considered immoral by law, all payments between a prostitute and her customer are treated as regular contracts, and they are treated as regular self-employed persons before the law (including the right to get health insurance, unemployment insurance and pension insurance ...).
posted by SAnderka at 3:22 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


As has been pointed out again and again, the most frightening feature of the legal system is that placing persons or activities into the realm of "the illegal" means that institutions of state power are free, indeed required, to withdraw their attention and concern for them - and thus those persons or activities must be subjected to the chaotic vicissitudes of lawlessness.

Thus, the "illegals" incarcerated in prisons can be raped with impunity; the "illegals" of immigration or prostitution have no economic rights, the "illegals" who use drugs are denied the medical care they require. Similarly, the lack of regulation of guns situates us ALL in the realm of "the illegal", where violent gun crime is allowed to prosper in the illegality-space of non-regulation!

In that context, it is obvious that the real crime of "law" is to fail to regulate, to fail to take responsibility. That is why our so-called "freedom from government interference" is a hollow, ironic lie: that freedom is itself the imposition of a (anti-)rule of state-sanctioned violence.

In that context, we should be suspicious of "illegality" as a concept, and move to embrace regulation. For example, making murder or manslaughter "illegal" is merely power's strategy to enable unregulated killing. We should REGULATE the activity of killing instead, allowing people access in exchange for increased tax liabilities - a "pay as you slay" system, if you will.

Thus I'm putting away a few dollars every week for this very purpose, in the hope that - one day soon! - the "illegality" of dumping poisonous waste into the water supply will reconsidered by a thoughtful public. And then my company, "quidnunc Chemicals Inc.", can keep on working for a prouder America, and we can get the gaddamn EPA off my balls.

So vote #1 quidnunc kid.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:39 AM on March 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


i`m amazed this is even a story, on today of all days. prostitution was alreaddy legal in ontario, this is just the next step.... the real story today is budget day in ontario, and the media and other commentators believe this will redefine Canada forever. Im not sure they`re wrong.
posted by Yowser at 4:01 AM on March 27, 2012


Consequently, Europe seems to have less of a problem with violence in society.

You're not much of a history reader I take it.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:20 AM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


i`m amazed this is even a story, on today of all days.

I get that this budget is going to be interesting, but writing off something like this is a bit daft.

In Canada marijuana is half legal and the next step is some degree of legalization, but it will also be big news when it happens, as it's far from a forgone conclusion that it will.

Although I don't have the knowledge to properly comment on prosititution policy, this seems to be a progressive, right minded step in the vein of social justice. It's good to recognize this, and it's nice to have a place to discuss it.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm waiting on budget news too.
posted by Alex404 at 4:39 AM on March 27, 2012


Finally, a story on MeFi with a happy ending!
posted by acheekymonkey at 4:51 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


It will also be legal to hire bodyguards now, or so the radio said.

one week it's these kind of sensible, humane decisions that the Canada of yore would make, and the next it'll be yet another new vile neoBushite move from the Harper Scum.

This is because Harper hasn't yet figured out how to exert total control over the provinces.
posted by jeather at 4:55 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is always so pleasing to read about a moment of common sense in the world.
posted by Forktine at 5:21 AM on March 27, 2012


Surprised to be this many posts into a thread about legalized prostitution without any discussion of its possible effects on Canada's sex trafficking market.
posted by Kevtaro at 5:29 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here in Ottawa we have an indie bookseller who's just announced he's shuttering two of his three stores (the others are in Toronto and Montreal; he's also closing the Montreal one) after being told his rent is going to be jacked by as much as 60 per cent by the owners. I've just had this GREAT idea how he can re-open the Ottawa one in about 20 minutes flat and won't even have to change his signage. (And I'll bet it's a hell of a lot more profitable than selling books!)
posted by Mike D at 5:59 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This could lead to Canada suffering a brain drain if the salaries of high earners are not adjusted to their newly increased cost of living.
posted by srboisvert at 6:08 AM on March 27, 2012


Malice: "Pimps should be the ones that get arrested then. NOT prostitutes."

Nah... They need the Boots Riley solution:

Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night
posted by symbioid at 6:36 AM on March 27, 2012


Oh Christ, lovely censorship in that video.
posted by symbioid at 6:37 AM on March 27, 2012


Just to be clear, the court upheld an earlier decision that a federal law banning brothels was unconstitutional because it violated the right to life, liberty and security? And the decision is stayed for twelve months pending a possible further appeal? Have I got that right and am I therefore also right in thinking that so far the fat lady has got to her feet and taken the microphone but not actually sung?
posted by Segundus at 6:50 AM on March 27, 2012


Another approach is the Swedish one, where selling sex isn’t illegal, but buying it is. Official reports reckon the policy a success, at least in reducing street prostitution.

A friend of mine recently (as in Thursday) presented a paper at a human rights conference on Bedford, and looked at various other countries' models, namely the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand. Blame me for mistakes, not her.

The problem with the Swedish model is the same problem with the Court of Appeal's decision yesterday: it protects the "higher-class" prostitutes, and keeps it dangerous for those women in the most vulnerable position, street prostitutes. How?

One of the big dangers to street prostitutes is their lack of time to evaluate a potential client. Are they dangerous, hopped up on something, etc etc? The communicating ban (s.213(1)(c) in Canada), which makes it illegal to solicit, means that a woman can't spend much time hanging outside a car before making a decision. So she'll go with some dangerous people. Similarly, Sweden's ban means that a client won't want to spend much time buying, which again forces the street prostitute to decide quickly, which is dangerous.

And, naturally, the street prostitutes are the ones who can't afford bodyguards or drivers or whatever. So...crap.

However, in the Court of Appeal's defence, I will point out that the majority (who upheld that provision) did so mainly because they considered themselves bound by the Supreme Court's decision in the 1990 Prostitution Reference,* and said that only the SCC can overturn that. I think other than that they would have.

*For the American lawyers: there is a mechanism to avoid the "case or controversy" requirement here in Canada - the feds or provinces (with additional issues) can ask legal questions to the Court to weigh in. That's what happened for same-sex marriage, for example. It's not binding on the gov't or any parties, obviously, but it would seem (and I'm surprised by this) that it's binding on the lower courts).
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:02 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Segundus:
It's kind of complicated. There were three parts of the law (yes, federal: in Canada criminal law is federal) at issue.

The trial judge struck down all three.
1) "Common bawdy-house" provisions, which is pretty much any permanent place, even if it's one person, used for prostitution. section 210 makes using one a crime. The Court of appeal said that the definition didn't apply to prostitution, but suspended it for 12 months (which is pretty common, it lets the gov't re-write compliant legislation, it's not just for an appeal).
2) "Living on the avails", which was preventing prostitutes from hiring people, but also worked to criminalize pimping. s. 212(1)(j). The Court of Appeal "read in" a limitation, so that this only applies in "circumstances of exploitation" - trying to get it to only deal with pimping/trafficking issues. That is stayed for 30 days, which is pretty much "we'll let you appeal, that's it".
3) Communicating, which is s.213. I discussed that above, but it was upheld.

Essentially, yeah, your fat lady analogy is right. This (almost certainly) will go to the Supreme Court, and odds are they'll keep the stay going while they hear it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:19 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surprised to be this many posts into a thread about legalized prostitution without any discussion of its possible effects on Canada's sex trafficking market.

Should we deal with exploitative working conditions by banning factories? Trafficking is already illegal; having legalized (and hence much more available for inspection and enforcement by the police) brothels will make trafficking more visible and easier to curtail, not less.
posted by Forktine at 7:25 AM on March 27, 2012


"The profession tends to entrap many desperate and damaged women with a likely history of sexual abuse. Men like to think of prostitutes (and porn actresses) as free-loving women that simply love sex. But men and women think VERY differently about sex."

I have had a number of family members and friends working in sex work. I talked to one sex worker who was talking about how she liked sex work and thought it was valuable to society and underlying that she claimed that men will rape people if they can't access prositutes and therefore her work was part of protecting vulnerable women.

That doesn't sound empowering. Having sex with men for money so they won't rape people? Unfortunately I don't think this is how it works. It's like thinking as a kid living with an abuser that if you let the abuser abuse you they won't abuse anyone else in the family. The abuser might let someone they are abusing think that, but it's not really how it works. Abusers have ample capacity to abuse more than one person even with easy access to one victim.

Unfortunately even talking with "empowered" sex workers working in legal brothels I have heard some disturbing descriptions of why what they are participating in is ok and also descriptions of past sexual abuse and mental illness that prevents them from holding a straight job as reasons why sex work "helps" them. That, again, to me means we need to do a better job of helping people with disabilities be able to work within the limits of their disabilities and not that we need to encourage more disabled/mentally ill people to work as prostitutes in order to be able to contribute to society and have a sense of self worth.

I think prositution is a symptom and not the source--- you always need to address what is underlying the problem rather than attack the symptom. Making it legal DOES present some interesting questions though. There was that case of a woman who was on unemployment in Germany who was initially required to interview for a job in a brothel and accept the job if hired or lose her benefits. She was let out of this, but why?

If prostitution is only harmful because of potential violence and legal measures eliminates the violence, then why should a person get out of working in a brothel any more than any other profession that is not their ideal work? Is there something specific about sex work that could cause harm beyond working at Mcdonalds or as a waitress or housekeeper? If we can acknowledge it would be a terrible world where people are required to work as sex workers when they can't find other jobs, then should we look at why would think paying for sex is morally ok?
posted by xarnop at 7:44 AM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


If we tax the shit out of all things that are currently illegal but done anyway we can balance our budgets through the next two centuries
posted by Postroad at 7:52 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Profession? Let's not glamorize this.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:15 AM on March 27, 2012


How does the word 'profession' glamorize anything?
posted by spicynuts at 8:24 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was that case of a woman who was on unemployment in Germany who was initially required to interview for a job in a brothel and accept the job if hired or lose her benefits. She was let out of this, but why?
The truth behind that story is not quite so dramatic.
posted by cdward at 8:28 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


How does the word 'profession' glamorize anything?

Indeed. Prostitution's been called that forever. See: oldest profession.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:34 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


A few things before I stop monopolizing the thread:

The court yesterday relied pretty heavily on the Supreme Court's Insite decision (previously - essentially, safe injection sites can't be denied arbitrarily). From a legal perspective, this is going to be interesting - that case was politically quite controversial, and one notable thing in that case is that the court really hammered home the requirement of policy being based on evidence and not morality. If the courts start picking up the Insite case as useful law, there could be a push from the courts against the level of deference they give to the court. This court explicitly drew links between the issues surrounding drug users and prostitutes (although there were some issues about proof which don't matter that much).

Unfortunately even talking with "empowered" sex workers working in legal brothels I have heard some disturbing descriptions of why what they are participating in is ok and also descriptions of past sexual abuse and mental illness that prevents them from holding a straight job as reasons why sex work "helps" them. That, again, to me means we need to do a better job of helping people with disabilities be able to work within the limits of their disabilities and not that we need to encourage more disabled/mentally ill people to work as prostitutes in order to be able to contribute to society and have a sense of self worth.

This whole discussion is predicated by Bedford and her two co-plaintiffs. Here is Ms. Bedford's website. Ms. Lebovitch is working towards her social work degree, if I remember right. Ms. Scott runs an advocacy group for decriminalizing prostitution. All of them, at least, seem to be of clear mind and frankly much more competent at life than I am. While there are certainly problems of illness and abuse in prostitution as a whole, that doesn't apply in every case, and either way it would seem that the better solution is to decriminalize and to provide services (counselling, addictions, etc etc), the same way it's better for drugs.

Since I haven't seen it above (sorry if I missed it):
Here is the actual decision. It's long, but interesting.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:43 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the Canada's sex trafficking link:
Perrin cites a report from Canada’s Criminal Intelligence Service that estimates domestic sex traffickers earn an average of $280,000 annually from every victim under their control.

The mind boggles. Apparently they're letting the same guys who do drug "street value" evaluations run the numbers here.

It's crap like this that makes getting our heads around the actual numbers for sex trafficking so difficult. Numbers get inflated right off the charts by activists and for some reason people's common sense fails to kick in.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:01 AM on March 27, 2012


The mind boggles. Apparently they're letting the same guys who do drug "street value" evaluations run the numbers here.

280000/365=$800 a day.

Let's give our victim two days off a week.

280000/(365/7*5)=$1073.97

Let's say this person can sleep with 11 people each working day (and this seems extremely high; one has to wait for the customers to arrive and finish, after all).

CA$97.63/US$98.37/UK£61.60 per trick. Is it realistic that the price is this high in Canada? I have seen girls in London offering sex for £20 (they offer as you walk by), so I assume there's a fair amount of demand elasticity. This isn't even covering time off for injuries and whatnot. It seems like a lot of trafficking would have to involve extremely high class prostitution to make up the numbers.
posted by jaduncan at 9:38 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have always wanted to own a brothel. Not one of those tacky Nevada things, but a small, intimate, upscale house like some of the ones in Holland. (Again, not the tacky tourist places, but the places you wouldn't know existed if someone didn't tell you.) I've talked with women who work in houses like that in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Berlin, Dallas and New York.

They are not "damaged" or running from some horrible past, as a rule. The women who run these houses, for all of the ones I visited were run by women, do an amazing job of only hiring women who really want to do the work. Most of the working women themselves are college educated, insanely beautiful, well dressed, well spoken, often speaking 4 or more languages, well read in a number of knowledge areas, all so they can speak intelligently to their clients, and be seen with their clients and not be spotted as "hired". They also make well into the 6 figure zone, and often marry out of the business, or leverage their contacts into a position that fits with their other skill sets and knowledge base by the time they're 30.

These are not "quickie up against the wall" workers. These are dedicated students of the art of "idealized woman". They are actresses who create the fiction of perfect, and only one or two scenes of the entire production is the naked bits.

I find these women fascinating. I would love to hear the client's side. Thus, I've always wanted to own a brothel, because I think it would just be so interesting.

(To be fair; I'm not nearly polished enough to own one the places I'd want to hang out. I'm a loud, round, mouthy southerner. I'd be the Mae West of madames, not the invisible tasteful one. It's true.)
posted by dejah420 at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I recently read Chester Brown's Paying For It, which chronicles his history of being a john while also making an argument for decriminalization. I see that he has been running for office in Toronto as a Libertarian, so perhaps there is a connection there.
posted by teekat at 9:43 AM on March 27, 2012


So prostitution was legal, but brothels weren't? That seems strange, and this is a good decision that will protect women and men working as prostitutes.

Infinite Jest, in Toronto prostitution is legal so long as it's outcall (the act takes place at the john's location). Much harder for a pimp to enforce his authority, when the women has to travel all over the city to work.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The profession tends to entrap many desperate and damaged women with a likely history of sexual abuse. Men like to think of prostitutes (and porn actresses) as free-loving women that simply love sex. But men and women think VERY differently about sex.

savvysearch, how heteronormative of you.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I recently read Chester Brown's Paying For It, which chronicles his history of being a john while also making an argument for decriminalization.

Ya, but.. Chester Brown's model of prostitution--like the model he actually participates in--is more like monetizing his personal relationship in general than just buying a sex service. I can totally see how that kind of thing appeals to a Libertarian.. As Maude Barlow puts it:
"There are those who intend that one day everything will be owned by somebody and we’re not just talking goods here. We’re talking human rights, human services, essential services for life. Education, public health, social assistance, pensions, housing."
except that she doesn't take the quote far enough :P

I do like the apparent practicality of the appeals court decision, but the problems on the ground are very complicated..
posted by Chuckles at 10:27 AM on March 27, 2012



Decriminalizing and regulating a profession that adults engage in makes perfect sense. Like gambling, liquor licenses and strip clubs. Why not?

Those adults who willingly engage in sex work are protected, their customers are protected and it's between those who want to transact this business.

I'd like to believe that if vices were legalized, then police work can focus on the victims of exploitation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:44 AM on March 27, 2012


Let's say this person can sleep with 11 people each working day (and this seems extremely high; one has to wait for the customers to arrive and finish, after all).

This in particular is an issue. You also have to book 11 people in advance every day so that there's no downtime waiting for drop-ins, as well as coming up with 11 people a day period. Business numbers on existing brothels indicate that business in the early week is practically non-existent. Most of the money is made on weekends.

If it's possible to gross $280,000 a year (on average!) as a run-of-the-mill prostitute, a lot of people are doing it wrong.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:55 AM on March 27, 2012


Tell Me No Lies is right. Numbers are all over the board, but from what I have learned, high-end ladies typically see 1-3 clients a day (at $200-$400/hour*), while streetwalkers are typically doing 1-3 clients/hour, until they make enough to pay their bills and score their fix (not in that order, of course).

* There exist "luxury class" prostitutes, of course, but their clientele tend to book them for longer periods; they don't work on an hourly basis. And they're the "1%" of their profession.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:13 AM on March 27, 2012


Let's assume, for a moment, that this decision is upheld by the Supreme Court. Taken with Insite, it would certainly look like the courts are becoming more willing to intervene in criminal law matters on what are really policy grounds. If so, it will be interesting to see how some of the changes in Harper's new Criminal Code amendments hold up.
posted by sfred at 12:28 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


A good read on the inflation of sex trafficking numbers.

The reason for concern here is that there is provably a lot of human trafficking going on and attention is being diverted to deal with a salacious but incredibly small proportion of what's happening. Project Pentameter 2 resources would have been far better spent raiding sweat shops than brothels.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:14 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And somehow, from the view of somewhat of a cynic, women against the legalisation of prostitution may be more wary of spoiler effects than the actual act, for no one is forcing them to prostitute themselves. When prostitution is legal and socially-sanctioned, it decreases women's competitive ability, as men have greater options for sex. Thus, 'prostitution is bad for women' becomes 'prostitution decreases the sexual power of women who are not prostitutes'.


Uh, well, except...I don't think that purchasing sex is on equal social market value with getting it from a willing and desirable partner. Can any sex economists weigh in on this? Are there any cite-able sources?
posted by 200burritos at 2:21 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my high school friends was a sex worker. She was brutally murdered here in Madison back in 1997.

One of my fondest memories of Emma was her coming up to me during a battle of the bands, kissing me on the forehead and cheeks with an impish grin and said "That's for you, George (my nickname), because no-one else will kiss you." That was Emma. It was both a terribly mean thing to say, but yet, full of sympathy (pity? perhaps, but I think it was more authentic concern)...

Even as someone in a more protected lifestyle (escort) than a streetwalker, this was her ending. A cruel horrific act. Legalizing it wouldn't have changed anything...

But just because one cannot protect oneself from all "black swan" events, that doesn't meant that it's useless to attempt to mitigate a broader spectrum of seemingly lesser abuses.
posted by symbioid at 4:19 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And somehow, from the view of somewhat of a cynic, women against the legalisation of prostitution may be more wary of spoiler effects than the actual act, for no one is forcing them to prostitute themselves. When prostitution is legal and socially-sanctioned, it decreases women's competitive ability, as men have greater options for sex. Thus, 'prostitution is bad for women' becomes 'prostitution decreases the sexual power of women who are not prostitutes'.
empathy: not a market force
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:05 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Legalizing it wouldn't have changed anything...

If she'd been working in a legal brothel, it may have changed everything.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:36 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Profession? Let's not glamorize this.

Hope you talk the same shit about lawyers.
posted by moneyjane at 8:55 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


How so, bonobothegreat? What would have prevented some crazy fucker from bringing his sledgehammer? Do you have to go to the brothel itself to do so? Do they have metal detectors and scanners and pat people down to prevent them from bringing sledgehammers and knives? If so, then I guess I see your point.

I guess that was my point - we can make things safer to some degrees, but I don't think it would have saved Emma. Again, I am 100% in favor of legalizing it, and I oppose seeing sex-workers as "human capital" (then again, I'm opposed to workers in general being seen as "human capital"). I just don't know if it would be able to prevent circumstances like Emmas.
posted by symbioid at 10:58 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


symbioid, "speaking for bonobothegreat" (presumptuously), he (I) was guessing that in a brothel the freak might have thought twice about trying to sneak in a weapon and assaulting her noisily. More control over the situation = good thing, even if it's not close-to-perfect.

My sympathies.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


symbioid - I don't see how anyone can argue against the fact that prostitute in a legal brothel is way less vulnerable than in a half-empty motel. Working out of a brothel would have mean't that she (and the insane freak) could reasonably expect someone to answer her first cries for help. He couldn't expect to carry out his entire sick fantasy.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:05 PM on March 28, 2012


How so, bonobothegreat? What would have prevented some crazy fucker from bringing his sledgehammer? Do you have to go to the brothel itself to do so? Do they have metal detectors and scanners and pat people down to prevent them from bringing sledgehammers and knives? If so, then I guess I see your point.

Like most other businesses involving women and nudity, presumably the large and muscular bouncers.
posted by jaduncan at 3:08 PM on March 28, 2012


There are probably still an awful lot of women who do outcalls where brother's exist. And the brothel itself creates a focal point for corruption that requires regulation, ideally by a sex workers union.

There is however be another broader increase improvement in the safety of sex workers once you legalize and destigmatize it, namely the fact that once the work isn't illegal, it no longer gets attracts nearly the same dangerous elements. In other words, psychopaths might target prostitutes less if society didn't implant the feeling of superiority.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:29 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


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