Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I spend too much time with my social scientist friends

Chicagoist is one of my favorite blogs, and while catching up on it this morning, I came across this posting: The Legal Side of the Sizzlin' Chicago Sexpo. Most of the post discusses what attorney JD Obenberger discussed during his presentation, and while some of what he said might be a little extreme, I agree with the overall sentiment that criminializing sex work is problematic, especially when other laws that crimilaze acts associated with sex are also on the books but not often inforced--not that I think those things need to be on the books either. I understand laws against violent acts, but I just don't agree with criminalizing sex that falls outside the mainstream.

The problems Obenberger pointed out weren't what really got to me, though. I had a real problem with the comments people posted, though I doubt posting a counter argument would be productive. Instead, I'm blogging about it. Here's what commenters had to say:
  • One of my least favorite justifications for breaking a law is that other people are breaking a law. I learned early on that "But they did it, too" is no excuse. By extension, murderers could make the argument that law enforcement officials are picking on them with impunity.
  • So let me get this straight...Dart's picking on prostitutes just because they're doing something illegal. Gotcha. Look, I think prostitution should be de-criminalized, but until then, the law's the law. This isn't a "civil rights" issue. And until adulturers start advertising their "services" on Craig's list, it's being dealt with as it should and doesn't need Dart's intervention (Besides, think how much that would further clog up the courts). as is criminal fornication. [emphasis theirs] What, exactly, is "criminal fornication"? Sex with underage children? Cause if that's what it is, it's being dealt with as soon as it's discovered. And I've had sex that should be considered a crime as well. HEYOOOOOOOO!!!!!
  • this Obenberger is an idiot.
What kills me here is the seemingly blind acceptance of "a law's a law." Juts because something's a law doesn't mean we can't question it. I think we have an obligation to investigate where a law like this came from, what it's based on/in. We've constructed this ideology that anything outside vanilla sex between a man and a woman is BAD. Just because that ideology exists doesn't mean that it's true/right (or that it's not). We're getting better at questioning this why-do-YOU-have-a-problem-with-MY-gay-marriage? thing in some places and some states, seeing that just because something's always been one way or another doesn't mean it's right or that it can't change. Even that's going to take a long time for there to be--in terms of national decisions/legislation--a paradigm shift. Will that make it any easier, once we're not so quick to criminalize "deviant" gay sex, for the sex workers and sex work in general to be decriminalized?

(There are so many other issues I don't have time to address here, like my caveats about people entering into sex work, but for the sake of this quick blog post, I'll save that for another time.)

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Part of my issue with the criminalization of sex work is that the workers are overwhelmingly the ones to be prosecuted, while their 'customers' get off scott-free. And then when you think of these women, many of them already survivors of sex abuse and many more with addiction and other serious problems, it becomes clear that criminalizing this work, and punishing these women, is just not the way to solve the problem.