Design Observer (bizarrely) has a post by Marc Rabinowitz called ”Prostitution Facts”. It is, like Clinton’s campaign, complete spin and based on bad assumptions, using questionable ‘facts’, from a biased party. But it’s also a good comment on design, because it’s placed inside a ‘classifieds’ section.
Firstly: There is no problem with prostitution itself. The problem is with any abuse surrounding it, which is exacerbated by the fact that it is (in most countries) a crime; thus driving it underground where these abuses can occur. If people are happy to offer sex for money (or status, or whatever) that’s their business and no one else’s. I personally think that should be done in a safe, legalized, and government regulated manner, in order to stop the associated problems that can surround prostitution (which boil down to cruelty in all manner of forms), but the point is that prostitution itself is fine, and a matter between two consenting adults, not anyone else.
Secondly, those figures seem rather overcooked, I want to see the actual data that these figures are extracted from, and the methods used to get that data. Any source that starts off with a wild and inaccurate statement such as “prostitution is an act of violence” is hardly credible, and is clearly biased. No, prostitution is not a “violent act”. By definition it is a consensual transaction. Do not confuse the problems surrounding prostitution with prostitution itself.
By way of further considering the validity of the ‘facts’ being offered; can you trust an organisation who’s Mission Statement is as obviously biased as this:
PRE’s goal is to abolish the institution of prostitution while at the same time advocating for alternatives to trafficking and prostitution - including emotional and physical healthcare for women in prostitution. The root of the problem of trafficking for prostitution is men’s demand for prostitution. Emphasizing the roots of prostitution and trafficking in racism and poverty as well as lethal sexism, PRE collaborates with other organizations in all projects.
Talk about a lot of absurd assumptions. One: the mission goal means they can not be objective about the topic, and thus I question the validity of their ‘facts’. They’ve already decided what ‘prostitution’ means and what they want as an outcome. That will colour their interpretation of events and data if nothing else (God forbid they are doing the research itself, you may as well throw it away if that’s the case). Two: if they think there can be an ‘alternative to prostitution’, they’re deluded. Perhaps for the prostitute, in the event that they do it as a last resort or under duress, but the prostitute is not ‘prostitution’ and an alternative for the prostitute is not an alternative for prostitution ‘the phenomena’. PRE are so focused on “the woman victim” that they utterly negate the fact that the woman is only half of the equation (their assumption, by the way, is ‘woman victim, man criminal’. Read that mission statement again and notice the blatant gender bias. I’m sure they assume that all pimps are men too. And that no woman wants to be in prostitution. And that no act of prostitution can be ‘victimless’).
The reason it’s “the oldest trade in the world” is because people always have, and always will, want to get or give sexual favours for reasons other than love or lust. You can’t wave a wand, remove prostitution, and replace it with something else, precisely because of why prostitution exists, which leads me to absurdity three, their claimed reason for prostitution: “The root of the problem of trafficking for prostitution is men’s demand for prostitution … the roots of prostitution and trafficking in racism and poverty as well as lethal sexism”. No, men do not demand prostitution, they want sex. And it’s as logical to blame prostitution on men that want sex as it is to blame air for our needing to breath. Life would not exist today without the overwhelming desire for sex, and baby it takes two to tango. Men can want sex all they like but someone else has to choose to give it. As for the other ‘race’ talk going on: no, the roots of prostitution have nothing, nothing, to do with racism, and only by extension ‘poverty’ (poverty is largely subjective). I’m not even sure what ‘lethal sexism’ is, let alone understand how gender bias (sexism) could be a key cause of prostitution.
The root of prostitution is that people want sex. It’s the single biological urge that human life is based around. You can argue over the power of a sex drive and rational thought all you like, but the one and only reason the next generation gets here is because people want sex. It’s also the one and only reason why you are here to read this. People are going to get it, as they always have, one way or another, regardless of any thinking, rationalising, or judging you do. So blaming prostitution on men for wanting to have sex is insanity.
The entire mission statement of PRE is fundamentally flawed in a mosaic of ways. If they had been less miopic and decided their mission was to alleviate the abuse that currently surrounds much prostitution; that I could rally behind. Because it’s those surrounding issues that are wrong. But that’s not their agenda, and their ’solutions’ are as absurd as their rationale of the problems.
Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with two consenting adults, of free choice, reaching an agreement whereby sexual gratification is exchanged for money. That’s prostitution. That’s fine, and a private matter. What is absolutely not fine is if the prostitute is being abused or forced into that situation. There’s a very big difference here. It’s the latter part that needs addressing, because it is wrong, but it will not be addressed by criminalising prostitution. The problems of abuse within prostitution are in fact exacerbated by criminalising the act.
Why is it in Design Observer? Because of the juxtaposition of the content with it’s surroundings on the page. It’s a shame the content itself is so objectionable.