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cartoon by Norma Jean Almodovar 2009©
IN THE US GOVERNMENT'S WAR AGAINST PROSTITUTION AND PORNOGRAPHY..... sex workers are out-numbered and out-gunned...and wondering, where are our allies?
WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT
PROSTITUTION AND PORNOGRAPHY COULD COST YOU--- AND
HURT THOSE YOU LOVE...
|by Norma Jean Almodovar|
|THE US GOVERNMENT BELIEVES THAT A TOP PRIORITY FOR ITS
SCARCE AND VALUABLE LAW ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES SHOULD BE TO
FIGHT TO ELIMINATE PORNOGRAPHY AND PROSTITUTION BECAUSE
THESE ACTIVITIES AMOUNT TO SLAVERY AND EXPLOITATION..... SO,
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE, IF YOU DON'T VIEW ADULT MATERIAL OR USE
THE SERVICES OF PROSTITUTES?
On the morning of September 11, 2001, just as the World Trade Center Towers in New York were being attacked by terrorists, our dedicated FBI agents, under the command of Attorney General John Ashcroft, were busy setting up wiretaps on the phones of a number of madams across the country. Their goal was to entrap as many of them as possible in their sting operation to stop what U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone says is "the vilest form of racketeering there is, and that is the exploitation of women for the sake of a buck."
While on the surface this may appear to be a fight only against prostitution, the reality is that the goal of the US Government, under the ultra-conservative John Ashcroft, is the elimination of pornography and all other adult- oriented businesses. Even though pornography itself is currently protected under the First Amendment by the Freeman court decision of the1980's, the issue of whether or not those who are paid to have sex on screen are nonetheless prostitutes has never been resolved. In the Freeman decision, the court held, "[E]ven if Defendant's conduct could somehow be found to come within the definition of 'prostitution' literally, the application of the pandering statute to the hiring of actors to perform in the production of a non-obscene motion picture would impinge unconstitutionally on First Amendment values." Those who hold onto this ruling as their protection from the forces of government will be in for a shock when the virulently anti-sex radical feminists succeed in convincing all our local, state and federal legislators (liberals and conservatives alike) that "all prostitution and pornography... is incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be eliminated."
In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, five sex workers (prostitutes) from around the world held off attempts by these feminists to include the above paragraph in the Platform for Action without the modifying word- "forced." As one of the five, for two weeks I lobbied with my colleagues to ensure that this important word was included in the final document which was ultimately ratified by the majority of government representatives. Even so, our government, in bed with these radical feminists, has behaved as though this word did not exist in the debate on 'exploitation, prostitution, pornography and trafficking.' As we have seen with the 2001 "USA Patriotic Act," those liberties that we take for granted can be dispensed with if the federal government deems it necessary to override our constitutionally guaranteed liberties for the sake of its' fight against the "exploitation of women and children" and "trafficking." They include pornography in that category, and to our government, as with the radical feminists, there is no difference between "forced" and freely chosen sex work.
So, why should any of this matter to you if you don't use the services of prostitutes, view pornography or patronize other adult businesses? Why should you care if our government flexes its powerful arm and crushes those who do? If you don't care about liberty in general or how the government spends your money to 'protect' you from the 'evils' of commercial sex, then perhaps it is not ever going to matter to you. But you should care that the priorities of your government are to rout out those who engage in consenting adult commercial sex rather than those who threaten the lives of its citizens through terrorist activities.
What you didn't read in the recent reports from the investigation of the events and culpability of our leaders in the months before the 9-11 attacks, was the story out of Florida regarding a call girl and one of her clients. This is the event which precipitated the wiretaps on phones of various madams around the country that culminated in their arrest in 2003- an investigation which cost the tax payers millions of dollars and perhaps even the lives of thousands of innocent Americans on September 11, 2001.
A certain prostitute who worked for a madam named Judy Krueger, based in Florida, had an Arabic client who told this call girl all about the plans his terrorist group had, including the hi-jacking of planes and the World Trade Center. After the 'date' with this client, the terrified call girl went to her madam with the information. The madam decided they should take this information to the police, which they did. The local cops thought it was a matter for the FBI and sent the madam and call girl to the local FBI office. Rather than investigate the information given to them by the call girl regarding her client and the potential terrorist attack on the US, the FBI began investigating the madam and subsequently set her up and turned her into an informant to help them set up the other madams nationwide. Thus, on the morning that thousands of people were being murdered and the World Trade Towers and The Pentagon were being pummeled by planes hijacked by the terrorist (and his accomplices) who had given all the information about this event to a prostitute, FBI agents were busy placing wiretaps on the phones of a national network of madams and prostitutes whose crimes consisted of taking money for acts of sex they could freely and legally give away. The terrorist knew that our government would be more concerned about the activities of prostitutes and madams than the horrifying information he gave to the call girl.
Local governments too, spend much time and money investigating and setting up sting operations on individuals and small businesses which may or may not be involved in prostitution activities. The justification for the use of scarce and valuable resources is the need to stop the "trafficking in women"- a catch-all phrase which, to the average tax-payer, sounds like a terrible crime and therefore is a plausible reason to go after those who engage in such activities. The problem is that to law enforcement agents,"trafficking in women" is not limited in its scope to those young girls and women who are kidnapped and forced into prostitution against their will, but includes any and all adult women who have made an adult choice to engage in sex work as a way to (a) earn a living on their own, (b) earn a living working for someone else or (c) work to repay the fee for being transported into this country because they cannot get into the country any other way [the fear of the "white slave trade" caused the US to implement immigration and even visitation policies which make it almost impossible for young, single, attractive females to enter the country alone]. The (irrational) rationale behind this policy [to include those who freely choose to engage in sex work] is the illogical assertion that no one would willingly engage in prostitution- therefore there is no difference between "forced" and "free choice." This astonishing claim is made by radical leftist feminists, who have persuaded our legislators, top law enforcement officials and the media that this is so.
In their "anti-trafficking" literature, these feminists accuse those of us in the sex industry who make a distinction between "forced vs. free choice" sex work, of supporting slavery and sexual exploitation- and yet it is the very lack of distinction between the two that causes women the greatest harm. What we want to know is, how is it possible to help those who are victims of rape if all consenting adult sex acts are considered rape? Doesn't it diminish the victimization of women who have been raped if those who vehemently assert that they are not victims are told that in fact, they really are victims? Why is a woman believed by these radical feminists if she claims to be a victim but not if she insists she isn't?
This same group of feminists argue that there must be no distinction made between child and adult prostitution, and that all pornography and prostitution is violence against women. Says Janice G. Raymond, Ph.D., co-executive director for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, "Recently, and unfortunately, some non-governmental and women's rights groups have attempted to draw distinctions between trafficking and prostitution, between "forced" and "free choice" prostitution, and between child and adult prostitution....... Recognizing pornography as violence against women is an important landmark in the struggle for women's equality and for the elimination of all forms of violence against women." [Apparently these feminists are not concerned about the violence against prostitutes at the hands of law enforcement agents who have been caught time and time again raping and even murdering the women they are paid by society to "protect." Thanks to these feminists, the requisite stringent enforcement of prostitution laws has led to the all too frequent incidents of rape, extortion and injustice- at the hands of cops, judges and prison guards. (For a partial list of newsclippings on this subject, visit the ISWFACE library: http://www.iswface.org/library1.html)]
For now, these radical leftist feminists have not succeeded in re-criminalizing pornography, but without allies among legislators (and just how many conservatives are out there who support the adult industry's right to exist?), will it take much effort to convince pusillanimous legislators that pornography is as "demeaning" to women as prostitution and that regardless of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech, "protecting women from exploitation" is a priority that necessitates the abridgement of our First Amendment rights?
Sex worker rights' activists are desperately trying to stop the anti-trafficking movement's efforts to "eliminate" all forms of sex work on the grounds that sex work is a "human rights violation." But if we are ever going to succeed, we need the help of all those who enjoy the services of or profits from any adult business- the consumers, business owners AND the producers of adult material. We cannot do it alone. And if we don't all work together to change the prostitution laws, soon exotic dance clubs, the operation of adult 'swing' clubs and even the production and distribution of pornography will join the outlaw status of prostitution, thanks to legislation enacted by liberal democrats to protect women "for their own good." And you can be sure that no conservative legislator is going to oppose such legislation, even if it was proposed by liberal democrats! Who will defend your civil liberties if you don't?
Across the US, adult clubs (swing, exotic dancing establishments etc.) spend millions of dollars defending themselves from charges that they are nothing more than places of prostitution. As long as prostitution for consenting adults remains a crime, adult businesses will continue to have to defend themselves from these charges. However, rather than distance themselves from prostitution, it would make more sense for all adult businesses to work with sex workers to decriminalize consenting adult prostitution so that such claims by local and federal prosecutors will be irrelevant. In the long run, wouldn't it be more cost effective to change the prostitution laws than continue to fight, year after year, government claims that adult businesses are nothing more than fronts for prostitution, as well as challenge the radical leftist feminist assertions that all prostitution and pornography is "incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be eliminated?"
When we know that our government is investigating terrorists and not individuals and businesses who are engaged in consenting adult activities, perhaps we will all feel safer from the threat of terrorism. And, if consenting adult prostitution was no longer a crime, there would be sufficient law enforcement resources available to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who truly victimize children, young women or any other persons by forcing them into ANY type of activity- including garment manufacturing "sweatshops," domestic labor and picking crops. It is the act of coercion which creates the victimization of those forced into these activities, and it is coercion -not the activities themselves- that is the crime and thus the rightful concern and target of law enforcement!
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