I am hoping to interrogate the ‘Demand’ side of prostitution and human trafficking from an activist-scholar’s perspective.
So, I am going to float ideas on what it means to consider solutions from an economic theory model for, well, flesh and blood human beings. How far can we ethically take this theory – and how does lived experience complicate theory?
There is the claim: to arrest demand is to simultaneously disrupt, for some women (especially in poor countries and/or lower classes) their primary means of economic survival.
Said another way – do not halt demand, encourage it. For demand represents many women’s primary means of economic survival – we accept extreme sexual objectification of women, for sexual services, as a category of labor.
Well then, do we consider ways of sanctifying the industry – even trying to change the language as a form of amnesia to what the trade’s heritage is – sexual servitude of women?
No. Instead, I am thinking this brings forward other ways to look at the industry from this economic model. We need to go deeper for the ethical considerations – what keeps the sex industry sustainable with ready supply of resources and buyers?
For this focus I want to look at the ‘ready supply of resources’ – women – (our name is ‘woman’, not ‘supply’ but I keep on this economic theory!)
What is our ‘job training’ for the industry?
Well, the almighty data that the economic and social theorists worship does give a glimpse of the supply development (women’s lived experience): the majority of us were victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, and overall neglect.
So – do we now reframe criminal acts upon girls and young women as job training and job qualification for the sex industry?
This linguistic economic reframing of criminal behavior as resource development for the sex industry presents moral considerations all the way up the supply chain and crossing over to demand. It begs the question as to why prostitution is even framed as an economic model and labor issue if the language and theory obscures the criminal acts and suffering of those involved.
I am thinking the economic theory of supply/demand cannot park itself solely on the transaction but consider supply development; no different than what sort of labor conditions built this beautiful Mac I own. That said, the same argument follows for demand development – what was going on with these boys before they became men who thought it manly and harmless to buy women for sex? What is the real story behind the sale – on both sides?
But this social justice concern is framed in economic terms – why?
From my studies here at Harvard Divinity School, a vista from which to grasp world struggles in the valleys below, I am seeing that most ALL our lives have become understood in economic terms, whether we are involved in prostitution or not. They are not spiritually understood – we are to set the spiritual understanding aside, it seems.
So, to go back to the economic model that I detest, I look at supply again. My sisters lives – some dead. Are they ‘MOS’ – ‘marked out of stock’ – as we say in retail?
All right – back to the economic model that I detest. I consider the economic concept of ‘de-industrialization’, which is a study of industry disruption and collapse for whatever reason. The displaced workers received help from the government for relocation and/or job retraining.
Amazing. Well, if the government and NGO’s comprehend this battle against prostitution from economic theory – why not apply the job-retraining response to the women who are displaced? Why let them fall further down into poverty and become prey for further exploitation from unscrupulous job scams (more pimps)?
It would seem that to deliberately de-industrialize the sex industry would require a double-surgery approach (oops – I went to a medical model!). While demand is capped – the supply must be re-routed.
My next post may or may not cover ideas on our transferable skill sets as women who have exited prostitution. Or, I may wonder about ‘demand’ – can we call it what it is: lust addiction? Can we do both? (Rehabs are big business, after all)