By: Menahil Nauman
The government recently passed a law prohibiting the distribution of sex work. This backfired though, as the ones opposed to it, are the workers themselves
Passion Projects Intro
Person 1: So if you’ve got any form of social media these days, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, you’ll see this sort of trend that’s become popular in recent years
Person 2: It’s this, basically, emergence of feminism that’s, in my opinion, this new wave on the rise, of young women really trying to empower themselves
Person 1: It’s really quite heartwarming, you know, to me as a girl, to see all these other girls trying to make themselves feel powerful and better about themselves
Person 2: Yeah, it’s become popular over the past two to three years, girls claiming their sexualities, letting themselves wear whatever they want, posting whatever photos they want without worrying about what other people are going to say, becoming more confident in everything they do. You know, recently, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Rihanna, and Miley Cyrus have actively part of the “free-the-nipple” campaign, where they’ll go out or post photos of them baring all, in order to protest the censorship laws against women’s bodies.
Person 1: Yeah it’s been pretty controversial in terms of social norms. A lot of people are against it, saying it’s inappropriate, while others are totally for it, 100% down for women claiming their own bodies.
Person 2: Girls have really been trying hard to accept themselves in every shape and form, trying to be inclusive towards other women from all backgrounds. There’s been this great rise of acceptance, not just in what’s been coined as “white feminism” but feminism pertaining to women of colour, equal rights for disables females, and lgbtq people, including trans women.
Person 1: This is huge, this surge of empowerment that’s taking place, creating safe spaces for women to advocate for themselves
Person 2: Unfortunately, though, there still seems to be a divide between women, over what’s considered “acceptable” to fight for, like there’s some form of a moral standard that a certain cause has to meet, and if it fails to do so, well then it’s not worth fighting for. Like I’ve heard a lot of so-called “feminists” criticize women for their clothing, in the name of feminism. They’ll call out a woman for dressing a certain way, saying the woman’s oppressing herself, oppressing females everywhere, calling it “un-feminist” for her to dress in that way or another, and saying the exact same thing on the other end of the spectrum.
Person 1: That mindset, that way of dictating what other women dress like, in order to make yourself feel better, in a way that makes you feel all high and mighty about your own choices, insinuates that there’s a very narrow, very specific way of acting, for it to be acceptable as “feminism”
Person 2: You know; this sounds a lot like the very thing you’re trying to fight. These people sound just as misogynistic as the men you’re trying to fight. You know people like president elect, Donald Trump, who claim to respect women, have a very narrow definition of what women they feel the need to empower. Their definition only really includes those in upper class families with so-called “respectable” jobs.
Person 1: It’s sad really, that despite this surge of empowerment coming through, people still want to control what women do with their bodies.
Person 2: Yeah a good example of this is like, a couple years ago, the federal government passed a law, Bill C-36, that prohibits the distribution of sex work. This was an attempt to control the profession and keep those workers involved safe, prevent health risks, and all that you know? It was done with good intentions. The objectives of the bill were to protect those who sell their own sexual services, protect communities from the harms of prostitution, and reduce the demand for it as a whole. They thought they were helping the workers out, in order to prevent them from falling into harm’s way while on the job.
Person 1: Yeah, unfortunately, the government didn’t discuss this with the women who actually do this for a living, so suddenly having the government take away your right to choose what to do with your body, caused quite an uproar.
Person 2: The plan totally backfired though, because instead of stopping sex work as whole, it just drove the profession underground, making the job that much more of a safety hazard. Now there’s less regulations, and although that sounds like less of a problem, it actually causes the work to be less hygienic, jeopardizing the worker’s lives.
Person 1: Yeah, but there’s this organization, called Maggie’s Toronto, a social activist group for sex workers, that’s been working towards being the voice for sex workers.
Person 2: yeah, they’ve been working fighting for their own rights, wanting to reclaim their right to choose. They’re not victims of anything, they just want their freedom back. In a quick conversation with a representative from a Maggie’s employee, “they don’t condone sex work, they validate it.” It is a real job and deserves recognition. According to their website, their mission is to assist sex workers in their efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. They are based on the belief that in order to improve their circumstances, they must control own lives and dignities. They want to provide education, advocacy, and support to assist workers in Toronto. They want the right to be working independently, collectively, or for a third party; they, as humans, deserve the right to occupational health and safety.
Person 1: Yeah, there’s quite a few workers who enjoy being in the profession, who do what they do willingly. They want to do what they do.
Person 2: Maggie’s has been working for years in order to give sex workers the same rights that any other woman in any other profession. They’re humans just like the rest of us, shouldn’t that be enough? They work hard to ensure the safety of sex workers due to the stigmatization of sex work and the criminalization of the profession. The workers go through all kind of clients, but not all of them are as creepy and disgusting as the media portrays them to be. It’s really quite normal, nothing downright shocking. It’s important not to let past judgements come into play when discussing this. Sex work isn’t the same human trafficiking. Sex work is consensual, whereas trafficking is forced human labour. Additonally, by empowering sex workers, activists can prevent the amount of human trafficking taking place, even in developed cities such as Toronto. All these anti-trafficking laws and policies lead to further criminalization, harassment, and violence. Maggie’s is trying hard to reverse this abuse and support effective methods of solutions to the problems at hand. Sex workers are a solution.
Person 1: yeah, in all honesty, this criminalization of the profession is what’s led to all this controversy. Any prejudice against the profession has led to prohibition of it, which has only caused the work to go under the radar.
Person 2: We conducted a survey, asking the general public what they thought about the whole ordeal. You know, despite the controversy around the whole topic, majority of the voters, who’ll remain anonymous for the sake of privacy, voted that sex workers should, in fact, be in charge of their own jobs. We’ve asked them about who THEY thought should be in charge of the legalization of sex work, and majority of the voters once again said that sex workers are the ones who should be considered when discussing the legality of their profession.
Person 1: A lot of the voters stated the bill should be reconsidered as a whole, changed so it doesn’t backfire on the population. In all honesty, the sex workers are the ones who should be in charge of their own jobs, their own bodies, their own lives. And that will only start with the decriminalization of their jobs.
Person 2: yeah the first step is to stop the stigma. It’s a real profession and should be considered as such. Maggie’s has been working hard for years in order to follow through with this, trying to repeal the bill.
Person 2: Maggie’s wants your help, Toronto. A big portion of the population relies on this job as their only source of income. For young women, trans women, and people with low-income families, this is the best option they have. Maggie’s wants to work towards a better standard for the work they do.Get involved with them, start spreading awareness of this problem. These workers don’t need sympathy, they need activism. And by activism, I mean women getting involved with this cause, going out and protesting. Ladies, it’s a part of our constitution is our freedom to peaceful assembly and expression. The only way ANYONE will get anything done is by being united.
Person 1: Yeah, and this should start with the feminists themselves. If you consider yourself a feminist, you should be fighting for the rights of ALL women, not just the ones that you believe fit the standard. Your feminism should be intersectional and include all women. If feminism is based on the idea of pro-choice, then you should allow these women to choose for themselves. In my eyes, if your idea of feminism doesn’t include “sluts,” sex workers, anyone who works in the porn industry, any woman who dresses provocatively and even anyone who chooses to cover themselves up. The underdog in this situation are surprisingly those women who are being considered oppressed because they wear a hijab or cover up, when you think about it they are just like the sex workers: Stigmatized and being judged just like sex workers just because YOU think you’re better than them or what you believe is better FOR them doesn't mean you are necessarily right, then news-flash; you’re just as sexist as the men who think women belong in the kitchen. Or the ones who think women are just good for spreading their legs