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31st January 2014 Sex Work & The Law Feminism Week 4, part 1.

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Presentation on theme: "31st January 2014 Sex Work & The Law Feminism Week 4, part 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 31st January 2014 Sex Work & The Law Feminism Week 4, part 1

2 Prostitution Last Week ✤ Prostitution might be of dis-value ideally ✤ Not all prostitution harms prostitutes ✤ Prostitution does not harm women in general anymore than the preponderance of women in secretarial jobs ✤ Nevertheless prostitution does harm some women ✤ How can the law respond to mitigate this harm?

3 Prostitution ✤ Prohibition: Criminalising sale and purchase of sexual services + related activities [soliciting; operating a brothel] ✤ Abolition: Criminalising only the purchase of sexual services + related activities such as kerb crawling ✤ Decriminalization & regulation: Making both sale and purchase legal. But imposing some regulations on who can sell what and when.

4 Prohibition ✤ Worsens the situation of sex workers ✤ Costs them more doesn’t deter ✤ Places their close relationships in jeopardy ✤ Unable to unionise ✤ Objection: Prohibition could be enforced other than by fines ✤ Sexual Autonomy ✤ Working as a sex worker will be the best option for some people & prohibition criminalises this choice

5 T1 - Slavery offer T1 - Money for Sex offer T2 - undertaking T2 - Being a slave

6 Prohibition ✤ Worsens the situation of sex workers ✤ Costs them more doesn’t deter ✤ Places their close relationships in jeopardy ✤ Unable to unionise ✤ Objection: Prohibition could be enforced other than by fines ✤ Sexual Autonomy ✤ Working as a sex worker will be the best option for some people & prohibition criminalises this choice

7 Decriminalisation or Abolition? ✤ Which will better protect prostitutes? ✤ Which will better protect young people from making rash choices from which there may be terrible consequences ✤ Objections to Decriminalization & Regulation: ✤ Will increase underage prostitution ✤ Will increase sex trafficking ✤ Expresses government endorsement of prostitution Vs.

8 Decriminalisation or Abolition? ✤ Objections to Swedish Abolition ✤ No reason to believe that abolition in fact decreases prostitution in general, or underage prostitution, or trafficking ✤ Sexual Autonomy ✤ Regulation improves sex worker safety better than abolition - allows sex workers to work in government regulated brothels ✤ Abolition punishes men who may have unusual desires or find it hard to find a partner

9 Decriminalisation or Abolition? ✤ Weak Abolition? ✤ Purchase on the street forbidden, purchase without ID forbidden, operating brothels or escort services forbidden ✤ Strong Regulation? ✤ Governments prohibit purchase, hiring, and sale by under 25s. But regulates all sex work over 25 ✤ Objection: Practically infeasible ✤ Objection: Does this cause greater harm to under 25 year olds?

10 The Paternalism objection to abolition, prohibition & some forms of decriminalisation ✤ Anti-paternalists hold that it is not legitimate for the state to stop us doing things that it judges are against our interests ✤ Motorcycle Helmets, Seatbelts ✤ Not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt harms everyone - puts everyone more at risk but not everyone is harmed by prostitution ✤ Need to argue that sex work produces some form of harm to all sex workers to justify even strong regulation

11 Summary ✤ Problems with Prohibition ✤ Some form of weak abolition or strong decriminalisation seems to be justified ✤ But justifying any view with an age restriction above 18 (perhaps 16!) requires us to hold sex work is always harmful to sex workers

12 Pornography & the Law

13 Pornography & Dis-value 1.That depicts and approves of rape 2.That depicts and approves of BDSM 3.That depicts and approves of sex than involves norms of male dominance & female submission 4.That depicts and approves of sex that does not involve norms of male dominance & female submission ✤ Even if some pornography does cause harm to women in general, not all pornography does ✤ Not all women are (all things considered) harmed by working in pornography ✤ If 1 (at least) is of disvalue, then are we justified in banning it? ✤ If 1-3 at the moment cause harm to women in general, are we justified in banning them?

14 Justifications for Bans ✤ Traditional arguments against pornography have been from its offence, immorality, dis-value ✤ Liberals & most feminists reject that laws can be justified on such grounds ✤ Laws can be justified on the grounds of harm caused to others ✤ Pornography is a kind of expression. The bar for restrictions on freedom of expression is particularly high

15 Banning pornography on the basis of net harm ✤ Even if there is sufficient evidence to show that pornography in general causes gender inequality other media does too. Should we ban these too?

16 01010101 Banning pornography on the basis of net harm ✤ Even if violent pornography causes violence against women: ✤ Lads mags plausibly cause as much harm ✤ Right-wing marches plausible cause violence against minorities ✤ Should these things be banned? ✤ Why bans rather than education and blocking? ✤ Who decides what to ban? (or block!?)

17 Other Justifications for Bans ✤ Hate Speech ✤ Breach of Women’s Freedom of Speech

18 Summary ✤ Hard to justify an outright ban on undesirable kinds of pornography without also justifying a ban on many things that should not be banned ✤ Hate speech laws may provide a way to a segment (though presumably a small segment) of pornography

19 01010101 Norms of Feminine Appearance Feminism, Week 4, Part 2

20 Norms of Feminine Appearance ✤ Feminists are associated with rejecting norms of feminine appearance - An argument that this is a mistake ✤ How the norms of appearance harm (at least some) women ✤ An argument on the basis of the harms of these norms that gender norms should be abolished ✤ What does this mean for us?

21 Should feminists be against norms of feminine appearance? 1.Feminists aim to improve the lives of women 2.But many women enjoy spending time on their appearance - shopping for clothes wearing makeup and successfully losing weight. 3.Without norms of feminine appearance the women who enjoy doing this would not have this enjoyment 4.So feminism should not hold that norms of feminine appearance should be dropped ✤ Problem: enjoyment of an activity does not rule out political criticism of that activity - Imagine a practice of footbinding [also smoking] ✤ But: because of (1), distinguish critique of the norms & critique of women living up to them

22 01010101 The Norms of Appearance Women are Expected to Live up to ✤ Bodies ✤ Faces ✤ Clothing ✤ Movement

23 The Harms ✤ Women who do not live up to these norms earn less and have been fired for not living up to these norms ✤ Monetary ✤ Less opportunity for those who cannot live up to these norms & for those who find it harder to live up to these norms ✤ Physical & physical damage of trying to live up to self-imposed norms ✤ Note that this issue can be about norms of masculine appearance too

24 01010101 Justice, goodness, and the harms of these norms ✤ Standard Rawlsian & utilitarian arguments may hold that justice requires no such harm ✤ It would be better & just if there were no norms of feminine appearance ✤ Objection: the value of these norms? The value of these modes and ideals for self-expression ✤ But none of this value would be lost if there were no norms of appearance.

25 What does this mean for us? ✤ Are we required to challenge norms of appearance? ✤ A collective action problem? ✤ For average individuals, the amount of harm that one can avert by not living up these norms & not desiring that others do is negligible ✤ Not living up to these norms in our society will harm you ✤ Furthermore the types of appearance embodied in the norms might be your means of self-expression

26 What does this mean for those with the power to influence? ✤ Media moguls have an obligation to focus less on norms of feminine appearance ✤ Is this obligation enforceable? ✤ People with power (celebrities for instance) ✤ These people do have an obligation to use their power to challenge norms of appearance if possible

27 Living Up to Our Values ✤ Cahill asks whether there are conditions under which women’s beautification practices can be unproblematic ✤ Beautification processes must constitute more than an attempt to overcome or answer a lack associated with the feminine body by our society ✤ The process must be understood as one way of being among many ✤ (Experienced as) as way of either revealing true self or of extending oneself - not of covering oneself up ✤ The pleasure in the beauty must not just be for male viewers ✤ The beauty must not be relied upon for self-worth ✤ It is helpful if someone enjoying such pleasure in beautification regularly disobeys some norms of appearance ✤ The process is enjoyed for its own sake ✤ Possibility of communal experience in the process - dressing up with others ✤ The process is one engaged in as an artist engaging in aesthetic production not in the fulfilment of preconditions for public life in an oppressive society ✤ Is her view too restricted? Is it enough? How far away from many people’s pleasure in appearance is it?

28 Summary ✤ Better if there were no norms of feminine appearance ✤ This doesn’t seem to place an obligation on most people to challenge these norms ✤ We may be able to live up to feminist & egalitarian ideals & values whilst also living up to some norms of appearance


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