Marches in Los Angeles, Oakland, New York City, and other cities in the US are taking place in support of sex workers’ rights and safety. Women took to the street chanting and carrying signs in support of prostitution, claiming sex work is work and should be protected as any other profession would be.
The focus of these marches seemed to be a law signed into law by President Donald Trump that penalizes the owners and administrators of websites used to purchase unwilling or underaged prostitutes; a law being challenged by many because of the adverse effects on prostitute’s ability to get business.
In the interest of objectivity, it must be stated that many of these objections have some footing in reality. Cities that had websites that facilitated contact between sex workers and customers saw a dramatic reduction in rape and murder of sex workers, however, these same sites were being used to traffic underage people and sex slaves and thus the argument for keeping them functional is a hard sell.
The glorification and vindication of prostitution is front and centre in many political circles, claiming people have the right to do with their body whatever they wish. The argument can be made that this is true and that a willing exchange between two adults should not be regulated purely on moral grounds, however, the story is not so simple.
We know that most sex-workers are constantly exposed to dangerous situations, violence, and rape, not to mention that many of them are motivated to do this because of substance abuse or mental illness that impedes their ability to do any other type of work. Many prostitution protection advocates would push the narrative of the high-end empowered prostitute; however, this is using the exception to justify the general.
Women who sell sex at with large monetary returns and are not exposed to dangerous situations and violence are overall pretty rare, and though it may seem like the so-called “whores’ march” is a group of women advocating in the interests of sex workers, it’s probably far more harmful to perpetuate the message that sex work is unlike other work and should be treated as such, as it may reduce motivation to help people who are in the industry and in need of help.
Deputy Editor, The Unshackled
Host of the Front and Center Podcast