The government of Canada says I’m a bad person. In fact, they say I am a pervert and a predator for using the services of prostitutes. They’re wrong.
Holy Hooker, yeah.
I have used the services of female prostitutes on a number of occasions, while I was still married to my wife of many years. While I loved my partner and we were a happy family with one child, it was a sexless marriage. My spouse had no interest in me sexually and we had separate bedrooms for more than a decade of our union.
What was I supposed to do? I was a healthy young man with normal sexual desires. I did not want to break up our family and I did not want to have an affair. The simplest solution was to pay the sex worker, from time to time, to meet my needs.
I meant no disrespect to my wife and, likewise, I treat all women with the respect they deserve. That includes the women I paid to have sex with me. These encounters were mutually consensual business transactions that harmed no one.
That is the first place I take issue with Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s characterization of prostitution. He says it is demeaning to women to treat sex as a commodity. I say that is exactly what it is, a commodity. Just like the woman who works at a lousy minimum wage job sells her labour, the prostitute is offering a service for a fee. The two should be viewed and treated exactly the same, because at the end of the day, all services are indeed a commodity.
No one, including Mr. MacKay, has the right to tell a woman or anyone else what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. The women I had sex with made the choice to engage with me of their own free will. No one put a gun to their head and no one did anything they did not want to do.
Of course, choice is central to my whole argument. Anyone forced or coerced to do anything against their will is being victimized. But that is not the case with the women I met. They set the terms, we negotiated a price, the deed was done and no one was hurt.
I find it very ironic that many of the arguments used to suggest that it is morally offensive for men to buy sex from women are adopted from extreme feminist views. Many of these same feminists are pro-choice, rightly declaring that no one has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body, even if it means terminating a life. Yet when it comes to sex, these very same people are now here to say that a woman does not have the right to choose. Her body is her own so long as she does nothing with it that these moral guardians find objectionable.
Yes, there are men who are abusive. There is no denying that. But that is not the vast majority of johns, and that was not me. Men want sex. It’s that simple. They do not wish to harm anyone in the process, but it does require a little assistance. If a woman, for whatever reason, decides she is willing to provide that service, who is Mr. MacKay to stop her?
These proposed new laws do not empower women, they infantilize them. They take away a woman’s right to exercise her own judgement and strip her of her right to do so safely. As some former sex workers have pointed out, a ban on the advertising of sexual services puts women in a very vulnerable place. They will not be able to attract customers to the safety of their own homes or brothels and will be left with only one place to go — the streets.
Does the government of Canada really think they are enhancing the dignity of women by putting them out to the curb in the least safe, lowest paid position they can be? They are not preventing the exploitation of women with this move; they are setting up the very conditions which guarantee it.
I believe I am an ethical man. I do not wish to exploit anyone, and I don’t think I have. But by taking away the sex workers’ ability to operate under the terms of her choosing, they are forcing us all into the humiliating position of meeting in the back seats of cars in dark alleys. Forcing us all into the situation of sneaking around in the least safe, least dignified manner possible is the true crime against women.
If you really want to empower women, respect their choices. Don’t make the decisions for them.
The author of this column is a client of sex workers. He lives in a major Ontario city. The National Post agreed to his request for anonymity.