Some parts of this blog may contain adult-oriented material. (It is NOT porn or erotica, but some of the content is inappropriate for children). If you are under your country's legal age to view such material or find it to be "objectionable", please leave this page now. Reader discretion is advised...but if you couldn't infer from the title that this may be an adult-oriented blog, then you shouldn't be on the Internet at all.

Everything on the Evil Slutopia blog is copyrighted by the E.S.C. and ESC Forever Media and may not be used without credit to the authors. But feel free to link to us as much as you want! For other legal information, disclaimers and FAQs visit ESCForeverMedia.com.

November 15, 2007

New York Magazine Stops Selling Sex Ads

Not everyone knows this, but I am an avid reader of New York magazine. So of course I was interested when they announced recently that they will no longer be running ads for sexual services. That includes all advertisements for "spas", "massages", "escorts", "strippers", "dancers", "models" and other "adult services" (that is, no more listings touting "Asian bunnies" or "Hot Latinas").

This came just two days before New York's chapter of the National Organization for Women's planned rally against the magazine, although spokespeople for New York claim that the decision was not a result of NOW's campaign and was just a move in the direction they had been intending to take for some time now. Although this makes them the 15th publication to move in that direction lately, including the New York Press and Time Out New York.

This marks another victory for NOW's campaign against human trafficking in New York City, but I'm a little torn on the issue. I'm not sure how I feel about this because while I'm obviously not a fan of human trafficking, I also have the common sense to know that not everyone who advertises for "adult services" is being forced to perform those services against their will.

Not too long ago we wrote about the controversy in Philadelphia over Judge Deni's ruling of a prostitute's rape as "theft of services". It was then that I really took the time to look into the intricacies of the Desiree Alliance and other sex workers rights advocacy groups and movements. Despite the fact that I have had almost no contact with actual sex workers (and only a limited contact with strippers), I'm realizing that I strongly support these women.

I don't personally feel that prostitution should be illegal and I definitely don't think that every woman who is a sex worker is necessarily victimized or exploited. I'm not ignorant to the harsh realities that many sex workers face and like I said, I'm obviously against human trafficking and any other form of forced prostitution or abuse. But I do think you have to draw a distinction between children smuggled in from Asia or South America and a single mother putting her self through college.
(Yeah I know most sex workers today probably don't fit either cliché, but there is a big difference). You also have to draw a distinction between an exotic dancer or masseuse - who maybe or maybe not gives a little "happy ending" on the side sometimes - and an underage "sex slave".

This just feels like too much of the old Feminism vs. Sex Work battle that I never really got, because I personally believe in a more sex-positive kind of feminism and I don't think prostitution is necessarily "bad for women". I've seen many people preach that prostitution is violence against women, "born of inequality and desperation". I don't think it always has to be. I don't disagree that it can be, but I think that has more to do with the way it is treated in our society and the fact that it still hasn't been decriminalized in most states. I don't see why you can't be both a feminist and a sex workers' rights activist, in fact I think that is how it should be.

It just makes me think of feminists like
Andrea Dworkin coming down so hard on pornography, etc. Why can't porn be good? The problem is sexist or violent porn, not PORN, period. (Dworkin was best known for her work against pornography, however she also often spoke out about prostitution - particularly her own past experiences as a prostitute and the violence against women that she felt it perpetuated).

There are so many different ways to be a "feminist", that obviously there can't ever be one definitive "feminist stance" on prostitution. In general, many radical feminists oppose prostitution because they feel it degrades and exploits women and reinforces men's position of power over women. Other feminists are against sex work, but remain supportive of sex workers. While still others (typically more liberal feminists) view prostitutes as simply women providing a business service - that just happens to be sexual - of their own free will. Some women view sex work as empowering, rather than exploitative.... but obviously that isn't the case for every woman.

NOW's stance on prostitution has been varied. Right now I'm having trouble finding information online about NOW's exact stance on sex work because everything is focused on the human trafficking, which is related but not the same issue. I can tell you that NOW is strongly against violence against women and the abuses/injustices that often occur within the realm of prostitution, but I'm having a trouble finding any clear cut information on how they feel about sex work in general.

While I applaud NOW's efforts to make this issue known - and am happy that anti-trafficking legislation passed in New York City - I don't necessarily think magazines should be pressured to stop advertising for all adult services. I think this is one of those things where it's a temporary partial solution that doesn't address the larger question and problems about sex work and what should be legal and what shouldn't. I'm okay with the idea of a magazine deciding that this isn't something they want to support anymore, but it's hard to say where to draw the line.

Here's an idea: Work with the police to use the ads to catch people who are involved in human trafficking. (Yeah, we definitely watch too much Law and Order, that our first thought is like "let's do a sting operation!") I guess we have to consider this a victory, because anything we can do to stop the exploitation and abuse of women who are forced into prostitution is a good thing.

And in the meantime if you need some adult services, there's still always craigslist.


May said...

I definately agree with you about needing a more healthy view of female sexuality including sex for money if that's what she wishes. It's hard for me to understand NOW's position on human trafficking being against the sex industry in general. It's ridiculous for anyone to try and curb natural human sexuality. Anyway, it just seems to me like their approaching the problem from a direction that won't be any actual help at all which is really the saddest part.

Anonymous said...

This is such a complex topic to discuss this way, but OK. Obviously everyone sane abhors violence against women--especially in a sex industry situation. Now that we all agree on that, I have to agree that the pressure on publications seems unwarranted. Some will say that if it prevents even one person from harm it is good, and I tend to agree. However, very much like politics today, appearances are everything and substance is nothing. (You may remember one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite plays, The Importance of Being Earnest, when Lady Bracknell, speaking to Jack about Algy says, "...He has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire?"). All show and no action is not the way complex issues are solved, but in today's silly world everyone seems to "cluck-cluck" when one of the ‘hot’ words are spoken. You know, "abortion", "Christian", "soldier", "terrorist"--you get the point. A word like "prostitute" seems to drive many people to distraction. Since most societies in the world have made the sex business illegal, while quietly generating huge profits from it, can you say hypocrites? If I want to sell my body-such as it is-and someone is buying, where is the harm? Of course the key part here is "I want to sell", which is clearly different from the illegal trade in minors, etc. However, in this world, only a few countries look the other way or make this legal. Are they advanced thinkers, realists, or simply profiteers who saw a market need and filled it? I don't know the thinking that created the world’s legal sex industry’s various locations, but one must place most of the blame for our attitude on the Judeo-Christian ethic in the US.

Churches, many of which seem to be led by criminals and sex offenders these days according to arrest records, would go apoplectic over legalizing this business across the US. Funny, they do little to adjust the divorce and alimony laws. What exactly is the difference between getting paid to screw and marrying someone and then divorcing them for their $$? I know, a small piece of paper. I mean morally, which is where the righteous typically land on this one? Why not let people of legal age who want to have sex with each other do so under any conditions they want? I suppose removing the ads from a magazine makes the magazine seem more socially conscious to readers. Bowing to the politically correct crowd may be important to keep readership up. Who knows? Not wanting to offend people, or a genuine interest in curbing illegal sex industry activity may be part of the reasoning. Look at it this way—it is one more thing people can no longer complain about and it has to do with the biggest taboo in our silly society—sex. Therefore, the decision to remove the ads was done to keep the pleasure police at bay; how to raise an equal amount of ad revenue from ‘clean’ ads is now the problem. Maybe the religious community will take out ads now—you know, “Pastor of very large, holier-than-thou evangelical church wishes to meet gay men for religious conversion, drugs, and sex.” NYM would take out the last three words and life on Earth is now fixed. Thank goodness! Oh, you mean that not advertising for sex does not stop it? Never mind.

By the way, if you have not seen it, many in the industry do communicate openly with each other. Check it out: http://www.theeroticreview.com/main.asp