Unfortunately the few right-thinking ones such a Jaquie Petrusma are well outgunned by radical feminists like the awful Michelle O'Byrne and Lala the ex Premier and their erstwhile heroine the super-awful Judy Jackson. Even the conservative Christian ones seem to lack that militant and righteous spirit needed to fight back against their vociferous and nasty sistas.
The Feminist lady politicians here are just as hypocritical and frankly evil as Nancy Pelosi is in the more influential USA. They are practicing for their long time next posting where they will legislate in Hell. These feminists have left a trail of misery established in our legal code that will take great courage and many years to repeal.
Michelle - with her kindred evil spirits - was the prime mover behind the wicked new laws in Tas about abortion and free speech. "Kill babies - forbid people to protest'. But now in opposition, having been thrown out and leaving their misery to continue without them, they are intent on driving a new stake into society's soul with the Prostitution Law.
I had lunch (not in my own fine dining rooms) with a pleasant lady staffer last week to discuss the intent she has in recommending the 'Nordic Model'. My credentials for speaking about prostitutes are little known in the Tavern but at one time before taking up the towel and apron and after taking off the armour and sword I did spend a considerable time in the depths of the vice industry working with what I termed my 'Rude, Nasty Girls'.
Talking with such girls - and women - was as instructive to this old male psyche as it was to theirs, because I was able to develop a profound understanding of them, as human beings, someone's little girl once, and they allowed me to show a vision of chaste, masculine - even Fatherly ! - Love that they sought. I can say that with considerable help from deep within I was able to grab a lot of mud-caked hair and haul many a little girl's soul up from the pit wherein it had been suffocating.
I tried to get some of it across to the pleasant and thoughtful Amanda-Sue, over a ham and salad sandwich. But she seemed fixed on the idea of the 'Nordic Model'. Give a horror a name and people will bow before it. Anyway, who listens to a mere man. I do hope she did.
I am pretty sure she would have got a better view had she lunched with a friend of mine. Mishka came by yesterday and was talking to some of the crowd in the Oz Room. She put comprehensively what the sandwiches interefered with when I tried.
She started by referring to a party of what passes for Politicians from the ACT. For our American friends, that is like Washington DC's governance - crooks and pillocks. They too are enamoured by the 'Nordic Model'. As usual some phrases caught the ear of a busy barman and I emphasise them here.
POLITICIANS BEYOND THE PALE
Four low-profile Australian politicians briefly hit the headlines last month when they announced they would be spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a study tour to Europe. The subject? Prostitution reform using the Swedish (or Nordic) model.
This came on the heels of the February 26 European Parliament resolution that EU countries should “punish the clients, not the prostitutes”.
The leader of this tour, Giulia Jones MLA, said she hoped it would “start a conversation” on the sex industry: “people will say what they need to say and I’m comfortable with that”. Accordingly, I hope this commentary will provide a discerning voice in what has thus far been a polarised and facile dialogue.Allow me to begin with the ‘m’ word:
Prostitution has always been and always will be a moral issue. Morality should not, however, be confused with criminality.
Even the Catholic Church’s greatest moral theologian St Thomas Aquinas did not advocate secular laws prohibiting prostitution, arguing that authorities “rightly tolerate certain evils, lest … certain evils be incurred”. More history later….
The point I want to make upfront is that the end does not justify the means, and one form of wrongdoing may not be permitted in the hope of eliminating or ameliorating another.
To criminalise male purchasers while simultaneously exonerating female vendors (of sex) is a violation of natural justice and (Judeo-Christian) morality.
This is something even my six-year-old daughter can grasp. As she put it, “that’s not fair”.Procedural justice is only the tip of the iceberg, though.
For a model that is supposed to help prostitutes and improve their lives, it shows them remarkably little respect.
I might add here that one needs to listen with 'disinterest' too: and with Love. It is a deep skill, I can tell you, to manage to juggle all three at once.Dr Laura Agustín, an international trafficking expert and author of Sex at the Margins, identifies this as a “denial of consent”. She explains that those keen to “rescue” prostitutes “claim to Know Better how they should think and feel” instead of “listening with interest” to what prostitutes have to say for themselves. They rely on the “classic idea that prostitution is a patriarchal institution that must be abolished”.
This refusal “to believe in the consent of women who sell sex” fails to understand the motivation of women who would rather not be prostitutes but nevertheless prefer prostitution to the alternative.
“Few sex workers are attracted by ‘exit strategies’ or ‘diversion programmes’. They hate being low-paid, disparaged, disrespected cleaners, nannies and maids. They don’t want to return to their countries as failed migrants.
They don’t want to be poorer again.
The sex act may be something they adapt to, learn to enjoy or close their eyes and endure, but if doing it provides more freedom, autonomy, flexibility or hope then it can be preferred….
The majority have consented to sell sex, somehow or other, to some degree…. The consent of adult women is denied en masse.”This silencing of the voices of prostitutes whose stories don’t fit the feminist narrative is profoundly dishonest and disrespectful.
Cherry picking is an exploitation of the illicit and precarious situation of prostitutes in society, and it has also translated into a deafness to claims that the Swedish model endangers them by hampering risk assessments and creating a disincentive for clients to report abuse or trafficking to the police.
Prostitutes themselves reject the idea that they are victims.
Some assert their autonomy in the very act of tweeting #NotYourRescueProject. Others rely on reputable academics such as Ronald Weitzer… or the 560 NGOs and 86 researchers who wrote to the European parliament to discredit the shockingly erroneous report by MEP Mary Honeyball.The farce of the prostitutes-are-victims dogma is perhaps best illustrated by the prostitution trial in 2012 in which the alleged pandering “victims” not only testified on behalf of their pimps but stood outside the New York courthouse shouting “we are not victims”.
On home turf, this farce has manifested itself in “Australia’s most experienced brothel madam’s” offer of “a complete guide to the sex industry”. It seems that the politicians, in their eagerness to confer with their counterparts overseas, neglected to even visit brothels in their own electorates.
Janelle Fawkes of the Scarlet Alliance (Australia’s peak sex worker organisation) added that the politicians’ agenda is “based on the fact that, as sex workers, we cannot make choices about our own lives”.
From a Christian viewpoint (which all four politicians claim to represent), it is not charitable to lie to the sinner. Telling women mired in grievous sin that they are victims and have committed no crime communicates to them that they need not repent – to say otherwise is contradictory.This is arguably one of the nastiest things one can do as a Christian as it removes the catalyst for repentance and thus threatens the sinner with eternal hellfire.Admonishing sinners is a Christian duty, an act of mercy prescribed by the Catholic Church (to which I believe three of the politicians actively belong). Sweeping serious and repeated sins under the carpet and furnishing excuses for a life of vice is fundamentally opposed to this creed.From a non-Christian viewpoint, the duplicity and irrationality of wanting to eliminate prostitution as a blight on society while simultaneously denying the moral agency of prostitutes as consenting adults is mind-boggling.
The contortions of the mind needed to support this feminist narrative have, according to Dr Jay Levy, also led to patronising claims of “false consciousness” in which prostitutes are perceived to have failed to “see through apparent patriarchal subjugation and oppression” and become “unreliable” witnesses.
Some are further undermined by their portrayal as women who “put on a brave face” and are ultimately liars and actors. But if these women are “worth standing up for” (as Mrs Jones has so fervently asserted) surely they should be listened to and taken seriously.This contempt for prostitutes, which treats them like children incapable of taking responsibility for their actions and which offends their human dignity by eschewing their testimonies, carries over into the demonising of their clients.
In contrast to the absolution given to women in descriptions such as “desperate”, “addicted”, and “seduced”, male clients under the Swedish model are criminals and apparently do not suffer from desperation, addiction, or weakness. And they’re not petty criminals either.
They are “sex offenders”,
punished under the Penal Code along with rapists and child abusers.
Like the simplistic and skewed portrayal of prostitutes as victims, the picture painted of men is that of perpetrators and oppressors. According to Dr Melissa Farley, upon whose dubious ‘research’ seemingly every justification of the Swedish model is based, they are “predators”.
Andrea Dworkin adds that all men are guilty:
“Every man in this society benefits from the fact that women are prostituted whether or not every man uses a woman in prostitution.”The Swedish model ignores the consensual contractual arrangement clients have with prostitutes, doesn’t even attempt to understand the motivation behind their purchase of sexual services, and at best reduces them to an economic factor in a demand-supply scenario.
It aims to reduce prostitution by criminalising demand, but sexual demand does not simply disappear when made illegal, especially when supply remains legal. It is difficult to see how any progress can be made in addressing the problem of prostitution ...
if we ignore the real and complex motivations of both prostitutes and clients.So how did this ideologically-based legislative model gain such traction worldwide?Unlike the ‘world’s oldest profession’ which it seeks to undermine, the Swedish model is barely a quarter-century old. One of its many proponents, Equality Now, explains how it came about:“Sweden understood that gender inequality and sexual subordination could not be fought effectively by assuming a gender symmetry that does not exist…. Exploitation in the commercial sex industry is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. It is a form of violence against women….”In the years leading up to Sweden’s adoption of the 1999 sexköpslagen (sex purchase law), a parliamentary committee recommendation that both parties in the transaction should be criminalised was dismissed in a media flurry that claimed punishing both parties would obscure what prostitution was really about: male power and sexuality. They argued that criminalisation of the client would mark a “historical turning point in relation to that double standard which always has permeated the patriarchal society”.Mrs Jones echoed this interpretation of the model, saying that it was designed to minimise prostitution by putting “the onus of responsibility for the harms of the industry where they belong onto the men who buy sex”. She said the tour would visit countries that take “seriously the structural disadvantage to women”.This ideological assessment of prostitution is key to any advocacy of the Swedish model.
Dr Jay Levy, author of the forthcoming book Criminalising the Purchase of Sex (Routledge), highlights the background: The sexköpslagen “is justified by a backdrop of a ‘radical feminist’ discourse which constructs prostitution as a form of patriarchal violence against women…. According to this understanding, female sex workers are seen as passive, disempowered victims of violence, their clients as male exploiters.”Appropriately, the Australian tour will include meetings with French officials from the Ministry of Gender Equality and, notably, the Stockholm Prostitution Unit. This is the Unit which Levy found to have “hampered” efforts to gather information on the views of prostitutes and which asserted that all the prostitutes had difficulties with sex work.
This Unit is expressly not interested in women who “feel well, and like to be in this situation”: “in Sweden, we are here for people who feel bad in prostitution”. A social worker Levy interviewed from the Prostitution Unit in Malmö concurred: “there’s never been nobody (sic) who asked the sellers about what they think… we don’t in Sweden. We assume.”However, this study tour isn’t some radical feminist junket. Those on the Australian tour are known as and supported by social conservatives. The Swedish model has been embraced by Christians in what has been termed an “unholy alliance”, and not just in Australia. I won’t speculate as to the motives of the politicians considering Swedish-style legislation but allow readers to draw their own conclusions from the words of the tour’s leader:“It’s putting the burden back on to those who purchase sex because of the toll it takes… It really comes from a feminist perspective about the violence that gets perpetrated on women in this industry…. This is a matter of gender equity.”Levy assessed it thus: the “structural violence apparently inherent in prostitution means that violence and abuse are always present, even if not physically visible, measurable, or empirically demonstrable”.
In short, the Swedish model meddles with the criminal code based on modern feminist ideology rather than empirical evidence and natural (or divine) law.This is just one of the peculiarities of the Swedish model. Suffice to say, anyone with an internet connection can summon up enough articles on the subject to satiate the greediest of information gluttons.Academics like Levy have written entire books on the subject. I won’t try to duplicate this work. However, there is a niggling question that remains unaddressed in this body of work:
how does Christianity fit in with this radical feminist characterisation of prostitution?The answer is: it does NOT.For Christians, promiscuity has been the defining aspect of prostitution throughout the centuries.
According to History Professor Ruth Mazo Karras, “it was not the exchange of money, nor even multiple partners, but the public and indiscriminate availability of a woman’s body that was the defining feature of prostitution....The modern Western notion of a prostitute as a woman who takes money for sex is a creation of particular understandings of sexuality and money. It is not a category that is automatically meaningful in any other culture.”
Professor James Brundage provides example after example of this perception of prostitution. Indeed, at least one canonist concluded it was only right to compensate the prostitute for her labour. Building on Gratian and St Jerome, medieval canonists agreed that although it was wrong for a prostitute to practice her trade, there was no wrongdoing in her receipt of money for herConversely, while financial need was seen as a root cause it was not viewed as in any way mitigating: “No matter how hungry she might be or how desperate her situation, a woman was not justified in turning to prostitution in order to earn even the necessities of life.”The crux of Christian morality on this subject is that any sex outside of marriage is sinful.
St Ambrose noted this included sex with a prostitute and that both parties were guilty.
St Thomas Aquinas categorised prostitution as fornication, a sin that secular law necessarily leaves unpunished.
It is therefore hypocritical and inconsistent to criminalise only this one form of promiscuity, especially given that more people are engaged in unpaid illicit sex than paid.Nor does it make sense.
It is not a criminal offence for a woman to have a different sexual partner each night. Nor is it a criminal offence for a man to buy his mistress an apartment, clothing, etc.
The singling out of prostitutes’ male clients is, in short, discriminatory.
Crucially, St Thomas Aquinas observed that “paying a prostitute for fornication involves money given for something unlawful, but the giving itself is not unlawful”.Of course, there is a valid argument for the prohibition of prostitution, but integrity would demand that such a prohibition apply to all illicit sex, such as adultery, sex before marriage, and sodomy. Such a prohibition is, of course, utopian. It was ludicrous in Catholic medieval Europe, and it is even more so in a modern western democracy. The phrase “we are all sinners” springs to mind.Whatever one’s opinion of prostitution..
the Swedish legislative model is an immoral imposition of radical feminist ideology that cannot be justified.
Its effectiveness is neither here nor there. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.
I could say quite a lot here, but this is a time for Mishka to have her view put forward. I agree with virtually all, but recognise that just a few of the salient points can be expressed over a drink in the bar. Much else could be said, regarding both the 'commercial' aspect as it affects men, and the individual personal agency of the women, especially the quite young ones.
But for now, it is for the customers to continue while I pull more good ale from the taps.
Mishka Gora is a writer and home educator based in Tasmania, Australia.
Her particular interests are conscience, justice, war, and the former Yugoslavia. She holds degrees in American Studies, Philosophy, and History from Monash and Brown universities, and her doctoral work on conscience won the 2007 George Yule Essay Prize.
She is the author of ‘Fragments of War’ and blogs sporadically at
Drink deep of Grace if you are to reach into the Pit. Especially when it is on a taxpayer-paid junket to the fleshpots of the Nordic lands.