The conversation around Bill C-36 fascinates me.
I'd never given much thought to sex work, in much the same way as I've never given much thought to sushi-making or the manufacture of drink umbrellas - these are professions that have just never come onto my radar.
The content and controversy around C-36, the rights of sex workers, the responsibility of government and the public perception of sex has changed all that.
It's no surprise the position being taken by the Harper government - it's in keeping with their general MO. They define themselves by what they stand against. Their solutions are to loosen regulations and tighten penalties. They are uncomfortable with the notion of committing sociology, downright skittish on all issues pertaining to reproduction and yet have less concerns when it comes to natural resource extraction and its impacts.
To be blunt - fucking the land = acceptable practice. Fucking people for money? That's taboo.
And so the focus isn't on making life safe for sex workers, but making life unsafe for those who would trade in sex.
I have fears, same as anyone. Some of them have melted with experience and knowledge; others have been tamed by experience and knowledge.
Curiosity trumps fear, every time. When you're not curious, though, you have no option for conquering fear, nor for finding solutions to that which made you afraid - you ignore, shut down, fight or flee.
Our society has an historically tenuous relationship with sex. It's almost Calvinist - work is good, building the work force is good, but turning biological work into a pleasurable activity is uncomfortable. To turn it into a profession is almost sinful.
That's a socio-cultural position that doesn't come out of nowhere, but how much sense does it make?
As I listened to a conversation about sex work at a recent Why Should I Care, I started to get curious.
What was being described by the women (and some men) in the field who had come to the event was practical business matters; advertizing, financial management, customer service, security, etc. When asked if she liked doing sex work, one speaker retorted with another question - how much do you like working in a cubicle? How much does anyone like working?
Someone in the audience talked a relative who is a miner and the toll that job took on his health. You needn't stop there - fire fighters face a risky business, too. I'm not sure anyone aspires to clean garbage for a living. Yet even with the so-called "higher end" businesses, there costs and benefits.
Lawyers fight for their clients, even when they know they're wrong. Are they selling their ethics? Politicians sell their voice, their key tool of agency, for partisan title. Are they whoring themselves out for their party?
The Conservatives see nothing wrong with taking minerals out of the ground for money, nor farming, nor creative enterprises that practice idea sex to develop their products. Why is sex different?
It's not the latent dangers of the profession; lots of professions have associated risks, like police or nurses or power-line workers. It's not about the "lifestyle" associated with sex work, however that's defined; legislation has cleaned up countless workplaces over the years, when there's will. It's not even the notion of selling what you got to make a buck - if anything, the Conservatives' economic policies favour this kind of economic activity over creative stuff.
Supply and demand - there is a demand for sex (and intimacy), clearly, and some people are unwilling to earn it through courtship or simply would prefer to buy it. Daycare is not much different, more is getting your lawn cut, or buying pre-made food. These are all ways to simply life through outsourcing it transactionally.
So what, really, is behind Team Harper's position?
A missionary zeal to blot out that which makes them uncomfortable, apparently. They are uncomfortable about sex as something other than a holy union with reproduction in mind and therefore would rather see it gone.
I hate to say this, but prostitution is a wee bit older than their party. It's gonna be around long after they're gone, too.
Instead of giving in to fear and fighting against sex, it would be in the best interests of all concerned if the government could align their policy with the trajectory of society. Their ideas simply won't catch on or endure otherwise.