The Argument For Decriminalizing Sex Work

Let’s talk about sex (work), baby, let’s talk about sex and work! If I’m being h with y’all, I think sex work is amazing. It’s the oldest profession in the game, pretty much everyone likes to indulge in it in some way (porn, anyone?), and it’s an industry that largely employs women and allows them to profit off of their sexuality. J’adore.

Just to clarify, when I say sex work, I am referring to the various jobs within the sex industry. This includes strippers, escorts, adult film actors, webcam models, street workers, and anyone who sells sexual services. It’s an umbrella term that covers more than you may realize. If you’ve ever sold photos of your feet or a pair of panties, congrats, that was a sex work gig. Also, hell yeah, babe, get that money.

Some sex work is legal, like stripping, and some is not, like selling sex. Sex work that is illegal arguably receives more judgment and shaming than legal sex work — people have an annoying tendency to blindly equate legality with morality — but all in all, it’s safe to say sex workers experience a lot of stigma for the work that they do.

Call me radical, but I think shaming someone for profiting off of their dope sexuality and literally just doing their job is, in technical terms, really fucking stupid.

My face when someone says sex workers should “get a real job.”

Don’t Be a Captain Save-a-Hoe

But what really grinds my gears is when people speak out against sex work under the veil of wanting to protect sex workers. Let’s start with the law: selling sex is illegal, and cops will likely tell you this is to protect people, mostly women, from entering a field that uses them, puts them in danger, and forces them to shamefully sell their bodies to survive. (Sidenote: sex work isn’t selling your body, it’s selling a service/experience. You go home with your body at the end of the day, as it is intrinsically yours and nobody can buy it.)

Sure, some people do sex work because they feel they have no other option (not all!), but last I checked throwing someone in jail and giving them a record did not help them thrive.

Also, many people do jobs they hate in order to survive, but the fact that sex workers are made to feel worse about what they do is only exacerbated by the narrative of “sex work is bad, sad, and dirty” that society keeps pushing. And this narrative is held up by the fact that a lot of sex work is illegal, because if it’s against the law, it must be “bad,” right?

And a lot of sex workers like their jobs. A job is a job and it can be hard and exhausting, but many, many sex workers do sex work because they want to. Stop being Captain Save-a-Hoe by trying to “stick up” for women who don’t need your saving.

And if you’re thinking, “but sex work exploits women!!!!” my argument to you would be that it’s not sex work that exploits women, it’s capitalism that exploits the working class, and the sex industry is no exception. If a woman doesn’t want to use her sexuality as part of her job, she certainly shouldn’t have to. In a capitalist society, many of us are forced to work jobs we don’t want to in order to survive. But on the other hand, if a woman *does* want to monopolize on her sexuality and make a living selling sexual services, then she should be able to without fear of the law, police brutality, and societal ostracizing. Sex workers deserve the freedom to do their jobs in peace, just like an other worker. So, how could this be done? Decriminalization, baby.

Sex Work and Sex Trafficking Are Not the Same

The decriminalization of sex work is what it sounds like: removing criminal penalties for sex work, mainly the trade of sexual services. This doesn’t mean it would be legal, it just means people wouldn’t be charged with a crime for doing it. This, of course, would not apply to sex trafficking. Sex work and sex trafficking are two separate things and should be treated as such. Sex trafficking should obviously be punishable by law.

Sex trafficking is when victims are forced into selling sex and is obviously nonconsensual. Sex work is when a consenting adult sells a sexual service to another consenting adult. See the difference? Treating two separate things in the same way is not effective, and conflating the two is actually dangerous.

For example, FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act were implemented to stop sex traffickers from being able to conduct their business online. However, the laws also make it illegal for consenting sex workers to conduct their business online. A lot of sex workers used to use resources like the website Backpage, where they could pre-screen their clients and make sure they were safe. Online hubs also helped sex workers communicate with each other, so they could warn each other about bad clients or verify good clients for each other.  FOSTA-SESTA took this away, so sex workers have been forced back onto the street, often going into work situations blind and at risk. Treating consensual sex work like sex trafficking victimizes sex workers, it doesn’t protect them.

Cops Are Not Our Friends

The criminalization of sex work is supposedly meant to protect sex workers, but it actually leads to a lot of harm. I’m going to let you in on a lil’ secret: the police are not sex workers’ friends.

Go ahead and clutch your pearls, but it’s true.

Sex workers are often harassed by cops, and far too often experience violence at the hands of them. According to the Human Rights Watch, police officers abuse their power in situations with sex workers by holding the penalties over their heads when they harass, abuse, and sometimes rape them. Some will even coerce them into giving free sexual services in exchange for no arrest. You know, like sexual assault.

Human Rights Watch also found research across various countries that showed criminalization makes sex workers unsafe because attackers acknowledge they are unlikely to go to the police, so they can get away with abusing them. Sex workers don’t want to go to police because they are afraid of getting penalized for their work, and also are afraid of being abused by the police. Plus, sex workers are often forced to conduct their work in unsafe locations, as they are trying to avoid being seen or caught by law enforcement, and this makes them much more vulnerable to violence. As it turns out, making sex work punishable by law puts sex workers in danger, rather than protect them from it. The law fails to provide for a marginalized group of society again, truly who could have seen this coming?!

There are also health issues when it comes to criminalization. Some sex workers fear using condoms because they can be used as evidence that the illegal work is being done. In some strip clubs, dancers aren’t allowed to carry purses because they don’t want them to have condoms on them. Some clubs even check the strippers’ purses for condoms before a shift, and make them throw them out if they find any. Cops treat street sex workers in the same way; they stop them, search them, find condoms and question them about them, and sometimes make them throw them away.

The “idea” here is that if the workers don’t have the condoms, they won’t engage in the sex work. Obviously that is not true, they will just do it without the condoms. Criminalization isn’t stopping the work from happening, it’s just making hard for sex workers to do their jobs safely.

The Nordic Model Doesn’t Work, Babe

The decriminalization of sex work would allow sex workers to do their jobs more safely, as they wouldn’t have to fear penalty of the law when it comes to where they conduct their work and if they feel the need to report being abused. It would also keep the cops from abusing their power over them. Some people advocate for the Equality Model — also known as the Nordic Model — which only criminalizes the buyer. This is nice in theory, but as made clear before, the cops are not sex workers’ friends. Having them involved doesn’t help. This model has been tried in Scandinavian countries and hasn’t been proven to benefit sex workers. In fact, it often gives cops an excuse to harass sex workers, and identify undocumented sex workers and deport them. Additionally, it makes negotiating with a client very difficult, since they are risking criminalization and the worker is not.

At the end of the day, consenting adults should be able to have sex with other consenting adults on their terms. It’s called bodily autonomy, Karen, look it up. The patriarchy is terrified of women realizing the power in their sexuality, and that’s probably why it enforces laws to stop them from profiting off of that. You don’t have to want to engage in sex work, but maybe don’t judge others who do just because some of it is illegal and society has deemed it immoral. Society is famously wrong, and we as humans all deserve to be respected, no matter how we decide to survive. Support women, support sex workers, support decriminalization. Just a thought!

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House Members Just Approved A Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

I have some good news and some bad news. What, did you think you were going to get solely good news in the year of our Lord 2019?! Think again. The good news is that the House Judiciary Committee just approved a bill that could lead to the decriminalization of marijuana. The bad news is it still has a long road ahead in order to become law. The worse news is the fact that there are still narcs who think weed should be illegal.

On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee voted 24-10 to approve Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE, which would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances. The bill would also require federal courts to expunge convictions for marijuana offenses and authorize a 5 percent tax on marijuana sales. Not to be dramatic, but this is one of the sexiest bills I have ever heard of.

This rules, but as I said before, there is still a long road ahead. The House Judiciary Committee is the only committee that has even voted on the bill, and it’s not even a guarantee that the House would vote to pass it. Democrats are pretty divided on how to go about the decriminalization of marijuana, and some aren’t even for it.

Just to regroup here, the decriminalization of marijuana would have many benefits. First of all, the epidemic of mass incarceration is strongly supported by locking people — mainly black men — up for non-violent drug offense such as possession of marijuana. There are people in prison for having weed on them — an offense I, and probably you, have made countless times and gotten off scot-free. This has to stop. Also, marijuana has health benefits AND is good for the economy. The list goes on and on.

Legalize weed

— Alise Morales (@AliseNavidad) November 15, 2019

Here’s to hoping lawmakers wake the f*ck up and pass the bill. In the meantime, read up about the argument for decriminalization/legalization of all drugs in a piece we wrote here.

Images: Giphy (1), Twitter (1)

Where Can I Get High Legally: A 4/20 Investigation

Today is 4/20, which means betches who love weed will be smoking in celebration and betches who don’t will be pretending they do in order to look like, super chill. Whichever category you fall in to, I am here to update you on the current state of legalization in the US, because I am selfless and don’t want you getting arrested or fined on this sacred holiday. You’re like, so welcome.

It’s 2018, Trump has been president for over a year, half of the people he’s ever met have been subpoenaed by Robert Mueller, Zuckerberg probably sold the data on everyone you’ve ever instagram stalked to Russia, and it’s snowing in New York in April. In other words, the citizens of America are in dire need of a stress-relieving drug. Public approval of marijuana legalization has never been higher, more than doubling since 2000 to clock in at 64% of US adults in 2017. Among anxious millennials, who have been gifted climate change, the gig economy, and mass incarceration, support is understandably even higher at 70%.

However, marijuana remains a schedule 1 substance in the federal classification system, rendering it equivalent to heroin or methamphetamines in the eyes of the law. Regardless of the fact that this is literally insane and I personally have had many more near death experiences related to alcohol than marijuana, this means that while states may legalize or decriminalize, federal prosecutors can still sue individual businesses. Jeff Sessions intends to keep it that way, and rescinded an Obama-era guideline that basically let states legalize without federal interference.Trump and Sessions appear to be divided on this issue, so stay tuned to find out who wins that battle. I’m sure they will deal with this right after Syria and gun control. Anyway, now that I’ve given you enough legal background to impress the next hot stoner you encounter at a party, let’s get down to where you can and can’t smoke legal weed.

Where It’s Totally Legal and Totally Lit

Nine states and the District of Columbia have completely legalized marijuana, including its use for recreational purposes. In Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington, you can fully purchase weed for fun at legal dispensaries. It’s literally lit. In DC, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine, recreational sale is either not legal or pending legislation, but you are allowed to smoke, carry, and grow your own marijuana. Dude…nice.

Where It’s Decriminalized, So Like, Kinda Illegal

Some states have decriminalized marijuana to varying degrees, so it isn’t legal, but penalties for possession are usually just fines, and do not incite arrests. In many states, this is part of an important broader effort to reform the punitive and racist enforcement of stricter marijuana laws. The decriminalized states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebrasksa, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. Right on.

Where It’s Medical, But You Probably Have  Anxiety So It’s Fine

States that allow medical marijuana include decriminalized states, recreationally legal states (duh), and some states where non-medical use is fully illegal. The non-recreationally legal states that do allow medical marijuana are Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Virginia. So basically, all you need to do is successfully convince your psychiatrist that you have anxiety, as you’ve already been doing for years to access your Xanax prescription, and you can get weed in these states. What a time to be alive.

Where It’s Illegal, But You Didn’t Want to Go To Kansas Anyway

Unfortunately, there are still some US states fully committed to outlawing weed (and joy). All forms of marijuana, including medically-prescribed weed, are illegal in Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. You probably weren’t going to use your previous vacation days in Montana anyway. Land of the narcs, if you will.

Happy 4/20, betches! Get high and don’t feel too guilty about ordering McDonalds via Uber Eats, it’s a damn holiday.

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