Metro Council Meeting 10/16: Public Comment Period
Wherein I lay out reasons for Decriminalization of Sex Work by reminding the assembled members of Council that at some point the hypocrisy of deciding who gets to sell what services to whom becomes itself quite ostentatious. If you engage in selling your work by the hour (a wage), or by the year (a salary), or by the job (an invoice) you have entered into an agreement, and while it may be asymmetrical in power (insert references to wage-slavery here) the basic premise is that anyone should be able to shake that moneymaker.
If you wanna shake it, don’t break it, and do so in a manner commensurate to the self-selling model laid out by the City’s leaders. The philosophical corruption required by those who have sold themselves in perpetuity to judge those who have sold themselves in person has to jump through so many mental disconnects that it fact maybe we have solved the Mind/Body problem: if you sell your Mind (with the conjoined ethics and belief systems), you’re a good biznessman; if you sell your Body (often a service requested by the Mind-sellers) you’re publicly unworthy and only privately consumed. But the Mind-sellers claim the high ground and take the day, while the body-sellers take the night. Is it not more appropriate and easier to swallow to sell your body to the night, than to sell your soul to forever?
In sucking on that thought experiment, I came too quickly to a conclusion and learned how hard some of the policy decisions can be. Eager to propose a way forward for Nashville, I looked to our rich history with the first profession, back to the Civil War when a US Army General implemented a policy of decriminalization that not only reduced health issues (basic no-morals-here epidemiological crisis control), but also provided health care to the licensed sex workers. In this case, as it turns out, a stigma was also lifted when it was determined through medical analysis and treatment that soldiers were the primary introducing agent of STDs into Nashville not the other way around. Of course, when military rule was lifted, Nashville City government, enjoying its newborn moment of home rule, quickly acted to re-criminalize, having not fully understood the lesson.
Could our town have a moment of clarity through the haze of moral DTs? Perhaps so, but applying the model of drug decrim, I prematurely opined that incremental steps would be easier for Nashville to swallow. But, Ill be the first to admit that I blew it. I believed in the promise of the Nordic Model wherein the approach maintains current restrictions on (1)buying sex, (2) organizing sex, (3) third-party involvement, and (4) soliciting sex. However, its main contribution, the legalization of selling sex, I believed, empowers the sex worker to report abuse and opens access to healthcare, social safety, and education programs, without the fear of criminal reprisal.
Having made my posts and reached out fellow travelers, I realized there is so much more to the discussion. Essentially through Socially Engaged Research I was better informed of the unintended consequences of this model and of the improper moral high ground often accompanying this model that were not fully aware to me. Contacts with PROUD (a Dutch Sex Worker Union), and SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project- in New South Wales, and in the US branches) were informative and engaged in helping to educate me on my misconceptions. Where I thought a partial decriminalization would provide a stepping stone for further increase in basic rights, in this model it often becomes the stopping point. In other words, I learned that not all decriminalization is the same and partial decrim often creates a tiered reality that further complicates the discussion instead of enriching it.
I’m obviously no expert on the subject matter and interested in still learning, but Metro Council opened the door to direct community engagement and I so I walked through it in order to promote a better social approach and in a manner that helps to extend basic rights and expand the ability of our neighbors to work how they want to work and be supported doing it.
Without drawing out the foreplay, here’s the aforementioned speech to Metro Council: