Letter in response to Michael Smerconish article on legalizing prostititution:
Apparently Michael Smerconish has never been harmed by prostitution. It’s too bad the same can’t be said for prostituted women. Men who buy and sell women generally have a limited amount of respect for their humanity. Whether it is legal or illegal, the women are still just “whores”. Sexual objects I can do what I want to, not people with feelings and families. And of course many people believe that women are there by their own free will, so who am I to interfere with their right to sell their bodies, or care about what happens between consenting adults. The problem is that a majority of the women are not “consenting”. They are coerced, entrapped, kidnapped, beaten, drugged, raped, threatened and killed. That’s the problem.
Part of the entertainment for men who buy or sell women is enjoying women’s sexual subordination, objectification, and pain. Consequently, countless bodies of research have documented assaults on prostituted women. Throughout these studies, 70 to 94% of women prostituted throughout the United States indicate being victims of sexual assault (www.prostitutionresearch.com). The lethal nature of prostitution is suggested by a 1985 Canadian study which found that the death rate of those in prostitution was 40 times higher than that of the general population (Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, 1985). Still, we believe women “choose” to be pimped, and sold, and enslaved as though it were just a simple business transaction.
This is not sex gentlemen, this is violence. And it involves children. The average age in which females are first prostituted in Minnesota is age 13. According to a 2010 study by A Future Not A Past and the Shapiro Group, more girls were commercially sexually exploited in one month (102) in Minnesota (May 2010) than there are teen girls who died by suicide, homicide and accidents combined in one year (29).
Make no mistake about it, this view of women as sexual commodities is widely accepted in our society and is imbedded into male culture along with notions of women’s inferiority and men’s right to be in charge. All together they begin to explain why so many men are abusing so many women. The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota reports in its June 2010 study that 1 in 3 Minnesota women have reported being a victim of sexual and/or domestic violence in their lifetime. This has become the norm. This is the abuse rate we have come to accept from the men in our society.
It is time we start connecting all the dots that lead to a society where so many sweet little boys become men who thinks it’s just fine to buy, sell, and abuse women. And it is about time men stop gaining pleasure from women’s pain!
Below is Suzanne Koepplinger's response to the article. Suzanne is the Executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center.
To the Editor;
Just when it seems we are making progress in recognizing all forms of violence against women and children as unacceptable in this country, along comes Michael Smerconish (The case for legalizing the oldest profession, Friday, March 4, 2011) to trot out old myths and false stereotypes about the crime of prostitution. Mr. Smerconish makes several allegations without the benefit of having checked facts or researched the true nature of the crime. For example, he asserts repeatedly that this is a “profession”, that it is “consensual sex among adults”, and that it is somehow an issue of morality. Let’s start there.
What the research does show is that the average age of entry into prostitution in this country for girls is between the ages of twelve and fourteen. This does not mean that a child, after years of repeated rapes and beatings, wakes up one morning and decides this is her dream job. The vast majority (90%) of prostituted women want desperately to get out of this life, but lack the resources or support to do so. Roughly the same number report having early sexual traumas, which led to increased vulnerability to predators. Seventy to ninety percent of women who have been prostituted have experienced sexual and physical violence. The homicide rate for this group is forty times higher than the general population.
In one study, fifty percent of men who used women in prostitution admitted that they knew the woman was under control of a pimp, and nearly one half were willing to buy a child despite being warned about the age of the individual. Still think this is a job option, or a consensual act?
Consider countries that have tried legalizing prostitution without corresponding consequences for those who create the demand – the “johns”. Germany legalized prostitution in 2006 in advance of the World Cup. In a report by a German Police Chief, since that legislation was enacted sex trafficking is up sixty percent. The report goes on to say that once legalized, prostitution was viewed as an acceptable form of employment for citizens whose unemployment benefits expired. One woman, a qualified information technologist, was told she would lose her unemployment benefits unless she agreed to accept a job as a prostitute in a legalized brothel. Still think it’s a good idea? Take a look at New Zealand, the Netherlands, or other examples – where prostitution is normalized and legalized, overall rates of violence against women and children skyrocket, while organized crime and drug and human trafficking increase.
Finally, Mr. Smerconish reasons that those who cannot find companionship due to, among other things, their “demeanor”, are entitled to this “form or recreation”. This is dangerous reasoning. What if that “demeanor” problem is violence, or brutality? Should that individual be allowed to purchase a human being to do with as they please? Prostitution is not a profession. It is a form of violence. It must be recognized as such and not glorified by those who wallow in the myth that women willingly submit to this degradation.