SoHo Journal: The Magazine of Arts and Politics in SoHo and the Hamptons Soho Politics Blog Hamptons Politics Blog

March 15th, 2008

SHOULD THIS REALLY BE ILLEGAL?

by John Coakley

SW

On Monday we will have a new governor. Why? Because Eliot Spitzer saw a prostitute. There are many levels to why Spitzer may or may not be getting what he deserved: you may believe that prostitution is wrong, or that adultery is wrong, or that the hypocricy of “steamrolling” an industry you secretly support is wrong, or maybe you just thought Spitzer’s other policies were wrong and therefore you’re happy to see him going. Personally, I’ll take the hypocricy angle coupled with the fact that he wanted to practice unsafe sex, thus potentially bringing more than a paycheck back home.

But wait a minute – what about Kristen? To her credit, she apparently made Eliot wrap it up, thus protecting not only Spitzer’s wife but herself as well. After all, who’s to say that he hadn’t been adulterous before he became Client 9, and who’s to say that someone he’d been adulterous with had been as savvy as Kristen?

As far as these kinds of scandals go, Kristen is faring pretty well. All of the attention has done wonders for her music career, with over a million downloads in one day. And you know what? Good for her. Maybe she isn’t the best singer in the world, but the last time I checked, the Top 40 was filled with undeserving artists while a myriad of more talented acts continue to barely scrape by. It would be hypocritical of any struggling musician to fault her for the sudden interest in her music because they would likely make the most of it themselves if they were in the same position. One could safely assume that a lot of the haters have a hard time thinking of a sex worker as having anything else to offer besides her ass.

So if there is anything to be gained from this whole debacle, it is the opportunity to examine one’s own preconceptions and check them for fairness. Who is to blame here – the sex worker who was completely upfront about what she did for a living or the married lawmaker who built his reputation on further criminalizing an industry he obviously took part in? Why do we continue to feel the need to make prostitution a crime in the first place? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if sex work was brought up from the underground so both worker and customer were protected? As Audacia Ray, author of Naked on the Internet, noted, “It would be great if the government could use money towards services, not punitive measures.”

Unfortunately, America is a long way off from accepting sex for money as something people have a legal right to engage in if they so choose. But the fact remains that sex workers will continue to be the victims of humiliation, criminal prosecution, violence and disease until we take a deep breath and really consider legalization. We’re a country of extremes – right or wrong, black or white, virgin or whore. This is a great opportunity to examine the “it’s either one or the other” tendency of ours and work towards a culture that is a little more fair and a little less puritanical.

Some organizations that are fighting the good fight for sex workers include:

Sex Workers Action New York

Sex Workers Outreach Project

Spread Magazine

Filed Under: Commentary | Community | New York | Politics | Take Action

Articles

Search

Information

Extras

soho journal current cover
Newsletter

Yoga With April locations resource locations resource