Thursday, October 08, 2009

Banning Burqas? No.

No. That's not Canada's job.

I agree that the burqa is a backwards, ancient, misogynistic piece of clothing. I agree that it places the responsibility for sexuality on a woman rather than sharing that responsibility.

I agree with pretty much every feminist who says the burqa is a bad idea and that the world will be a better place when women don't feel obliged to wear it - either out of religious need, fear of punishment or to protect themselves from the eyes of potential rapists.

But we're not going to make a law against it. Forget it. Even at the behest of progressive Muslims, we're not going to outlaw it.

Canada is a a free country. You wear what you like as long as it isn't dangerous. Until we have giant burqa crime-sprees there's no need to outlaw burqas as a security risk. Society has no right or reason to interfere here.

The best quote is the simplest one, that comes at the end of the article.
[Mr. Elmasry] believes those women should have the freedom to decide whether they wish to cover their faces, and that a ban would limit freedom of expression.

It's not for you and me to decide.”

You can close the case right there.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Prostitution: Let It Be

When the issue of prostitution comes up, I have to be consistent and apply the same logic that I apply to abortion: it’s her body; it’s her choice. If a woman (and it's mostly women) chooses – freely chooses – to sell sex, then she should be able to do so.

Society can intervene. I don’t want to mince words here. If some obvious and gigantically disastrous outcome were a direct result of prostitution, I could see that the rest of us would have a voice. You can’t run your prostitution outfit where it’s likely to attract minors. You can’t recruit prostitutes with drugs and alcohol. You have the same zoning restrictions that apply to everyone else.

But as it is, the disastrous outcomes are entirely on the side of Canada’s present set of laws which try to confuse and befuddle prostitution in to non-existence, but fail miserably. These laws only serve to force prostitutes in to the most dangerous situations. By outlawing safe forms of communicating for the purposes of prostitution and by prohibiting “bawdy” houses, women are forced out in to the streets, unprotected against unscrupulous customers

But the Crown wants you to believe something:
They also contend that prostitution is inherently degrading and unhealthy…

That’s a lot like saying that homosexuality is inherently unhealthy because homosexuals often get beaten up and set on fire. The problem in that case is society’s attitude. In the case of prostitution, it’s the laws that make it dangerous.

Laura Holland, of the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, tells us:
“If you view prostitution as violence against women, as we do, you understand you can't make violence safer”

In order to view prostitution as inherently violent, we would have to view sex as inherently violent, view purchasing things as inherently violent or imagine that the two somehow magically become violent when tied together. The violence can be all but eliminated if we choose to make it safe. That’s the whole point.

In a way, that too makes me think of abortion. If you look at the horrific results of illegalizing abortions (namely: various home-abortion techniques) and you look at the horrific results of street prostitution (namely: beatings and serial killings), you can see the similarity.

And lastly, even if it were a good idea to stop prostitution, there remains one simple fact: we can’t.

We’ve tried it for thousands of years. Every force of logic, religion, social custom, physical punishment (up to and including death) has been tried. Nothing prevents the kind of demand that the sex drive brings from finding a willing supplier. There’s no point trying to stop it. All we’re doing is hurting people – mostly poor women.

It’s time to grow out of our puritanical, religious roots and start applying reason and logic to this profession. It’s time to respect the people involved as human beings – even if you don’t agree with them – and let them do what they want.

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