Sunday, 30 April 2006

Catherine LaCroix: Sacred Prostitute in Today's USA

Sylvana SilverWitch: I also asked this question of Carol Leigh last year: What exactly do you think is the problem for most people with prostitution? Is it that people are having sex? Or that money is being made? What part of those things is bad? We don't think its bad to spend money for anything else, or to have sex in other instances; why does it suddenly become bad when put together?

Catherine LaCroix: I wish I knew the real answer to this one, but our access to personal freedom of choice is curtailed in the name of a selective morality at best, one that distinguishes between business transactions solely on the basis of sexual involvement. We can debate the "immorality" of prostitution until we're blue in the face, but the fact remains that this religious censure has no legal standing whatsoever. Would there be prostitution laws if it wasn't for enforced Christian morality? We live in a society that prides itself on the constitutional separation of church and state yet outrageously allows the predominate religious system to jeopardise my freedom and curtail my profession in the name of morality.

All employment or professional service is nothing more than the exchange of energy for material gain. You may exchange your 40 hours or more a week to receive a salary that is simply a substitute for material property potential. Sex work exchanges, between consenting adults, are not essentially different from any other economic activities, particularly those of a similar recuperative nature such as psychological counselling, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, licensed massage and even a physician or attorney. In each and every case, a service or energy in the form of knowledge, intellect, judgement or physical touch is traded for cash. The fact that my particular service involves sexuality does not alter the essential nature of the exchange.

Logically, the question is begged whether it is lawful for the state to use obviously discriminatory physical force against those making this wholly voluntary exchange. What's the difference between a man hiring a whore and hiring a physical therapist? Or even a psychotherapist? In either case, the parties are engaged in a voluntary transaction without external coercion. It is not an unusual transactional paradigm, with the exception of sex, since each party openly acknowledges their own self-interest just as with your attorney or accountant. Perhaps what abolitionists resent most is our moral and mercenary lack of regret.

SS: Do you think prostitution as sexual healing should be legalised? How would that look? What might it accomplish?

CLC: I think all sex between consenting adults should be decriminalised, sacred or not, in recognition of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression. It does not distinguish between verbal, sexual or any other form of expression. America repealed the unenforceable Prohibition idiocy but continues the same neurotic principle regarding prostitution: Legislate an individual version of morality, and jail all of those who happen to disagree. Then as now, it only serves to subsidise organised crime in the process of restricting freedom of expression.

However, we need to distinguish in the reader's mind the difference between legalisation and decriminalisation from both a sex worker and non-worker perspective. Legalisation would be the bureaucratic control of sex work by the government. Remember, these are the guys who can't find their ass with both hands.

Decriminalisation means we are treated as any other profession without undue governmental intrusion. It's not enough that we already have police officers abusing, beating, blackmailing, raping, robbing and killing us. Under legalisation, we would then have licensing bureaucrats also abusing, blackmailing, raping and robbing us with paperwork and restrictive regulation. And they would still be backed by the cops. No, thank you. I have no more confidence in a bureaucrat's alleged altruism than I do a cop's. Both have proven extremely unreliable over the past 100 years of protecting us from ourselves, as they put it.

The end result of decriminalisation would be less abuse, violence and coercion of sex workers, happier clients and happier taxpayers who would save the millions of dollars spent annually to arrest us.

SS: Could you speak to the prejudice of people thinking that prostitutes spread disease?

CLC: The U.S. Department of Health consistently reports that only 3 to 5 percent of the sexually transmitted disease in this country is related to both criminalised and legalised prostitution, compared with 30 to 35 percent among teenagers. Although a small percentage of prostitutes are HIV-positive, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control stated there were no proven cases of HIV transmission from prostitutes to clients as of July 1995. There is no statistical indication, again according to the CDC, that prostitutes in the United States are even a measurable vector of HIV infection. Those sex workers proven seropositive have all but exclusively been street whores and intravenous drug users.

The vast majority of non-addicted and non-street sex workers consistently use condoms and practice safe sex because they are keenly aware of the increased risks of multiple partners. The most prevalent STD among sex workers, like the rest of the adult female population in the U.S., is chlamydia. The rate of HIV and hepatitis C infection among sex workers is directly proportionate to IV drug use. Sex workers are far more likely to get a disease from a client than vice versa.

Source: Healer, Witch, and Whore - Catherine LaCroix: Sacred Prostitute in Today's USA, an interview by Sylvana SilverWitch.