Rights or Wrong?

Hallie Lieberman's apologia for profitable immodesty, "Sex Workers Fight for Their Rights" (June/July issue), gave me pause. We may laugh up our sleeve at Freudians nowadays, but our society is still pathetically tardy in giving up our ancient totems and taboos. So the Victorian waif who had to kiss for her bread has metamorphosed into the self-assured and politically shrewd businesswoman? Quite a transformation in rather few generations, and soon to be socially accepted and condoned? Alas! Lingering doubts about exploitation and violence remain to haunt our collective and conventional sensibilities. Drug abuse, alcoholism, and of course venereal disease get in the way of glib argument and sophisticated gabble.

--William Dauenhauer

Willowick, Ohio

Editor's note: We also received a threepage response to Hallie Lieberman's article. We are unable to reproduce the entire response, but here is an excerpt:

The left has trouble with women's rights. Prostitution is the ultimate culmination of colonialism, racism, and sexism. It is not a path to freedom. It is neither "sex" nor "work"; it is exploitation. It is the buying and selling of human beings in the marketplace. It is the ultimate commodification of women for profit. It is a system of organized violence and profitability in which often women never get paid except for room and board. Even the author of the earlier article supporting it admits to her own trauma and PTSD--"We're fodder. We're seen as usable and abusable"--and to the trauma of others, such as Bella, who would like to call the police when her pimp or clients beat or rape her. Laws already exist to protect anyone, including prostituted women and trans people, from beating or raping. But we know laws are not enforced to protect the most vulnerable, including women and people of color. Calling the police is not a solution, even if it were legalized, because the police often beat and rape the victims, too. Law enforcement protects the status quo, not the rights of the people. Making prostitution legal won't force the police to behave better--it will make them worse because it will be legal to beat and rape her.

--Dianne Post

International human rights attorney Phoenix, Arizona

Hallie Lieberman responds (also edited for length):

While Dianne Post's argument is impassioned, it is misguided. Post purports to speak for women, but the women she's speaking for do not agree with her. Post says that we must "listen to women,"...

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