It seems old news that there's prostitution on Craigslist. But, today, the New York Times reports that vice squads are suddenly getting wise to the fact that the world's oldest profession is thriving online and they're cracking down accordingly. Vice officers are rounding up prostitutes who pose as "escorts" on Craigslist and catching johns by posing online as women interested in exchanging sex for money.
I found the article incredibly discouraging -- however unrealistic it may be, I'm very much for the legalization of prostitution and we're obviously moving full speed ahead in the opposite direction. Luckily, I soon came across an antidote to the Times piece -- a Canadian Press article about a woman going "from managing editor to madam." Jody Paterson, a former editor and journalist, is planning to open a co-op brothel in Victoria, Canada. What's more, she says the Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society will use the brothel's profits to support counseling for prostitutes and help women leave the industry if they so choose. How rational and basically civil!
Part of what inspired Paterson, 50, to quit her job as a columnist for the Victoria Times-Colonist was her experience interviewing prostitutes for articles about sex work. "If you're a journalist you are meeting different people," she said. "You're learning things you didn't know. You're hearing things that you hadn't expected to hear, that your life previously hadn't exposed you to. And if you can just ignore all of that, you're a different person than I am."
Her career change is even more dramatic than it at first seems -- Paterson used to support the criminalization of prostitution. "Initially, I was against prostitution. I was in favour of eliminating it. I felt it was exploitative of women." But when she actually spoke with sex workers, she discovered that they were most interested in making their work safer. "The time has passed for moralizing about why men buy sex and why people sell it," Paterson said. "Let's step forward and into the reality of it and have a safe, fair, good workplace for it."
Oh, but there is one hitch: Brothels are illegal in Victoria, so Paterson will have to officially label it as an "escort service."