On Monday night, April 20, I attended a launch for Victor Malarek’s new book “The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It“. The event was held at the Montmartre Cafe and hosted by hosted by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, for which I’m a longtime volunteer. It was an engaging and at times electrifying evening.
I arrived an hour before the official start time, and was joined by several other men from Rape Relief’s Housefunding Committee to welcome Malarek. He proved to be a straight-talking, down-to-earth guy and was a pleasure to talk with. His conviction that legalizing prostitution is a bad idea is rock-solid and evidently based on tireless research and investigation, documented in his new book. And the points he made, both to us and in his speech, seemed convincing. Legalization has been far from the panacea for abuse and exploitation of women that it is made out to be, or imagined to be by those who find the concept appealing. I couldn’t claim to summarize all he said in this space – I recommend the book which is highly readable – but here are some random facts and statements I heard:
- Where prostitution is legal, the legal operations are still outnumbered by 3 or 4 to 1 by illegal, unregistered ones where abuses continue to occur unchecked.
- “Decriminalization” merely puts the trade in a grey zone where, although there are no criminal penalties, there is also no protection for prostituted women – and it’s a dream arrangement for johns.
- Many current efforts at “education” solutions are riddled with misguided approaches that treat the women as little more than a public health nuisance and focus on protecting the men; when the opposite is needed.
There was plenty to challenge anyone’s safe assumptions (mine very much included) that legalization is somehow a progressive solution to an inevitable social problem, or even that the acceptance of a “transaction” renders it an approved arrangement between equal parties. And the fact that prostitution is so widespread in society should not be taken as proof that it’s acceptable, or that all we should do is ameliorate the worst abuses. After all, slavery was once widespread, and child abuse sadly remains so, but the extent of either of these would not be taken as a good reason to “throw up your hands” or simply try to apply a “harm reduction” approach – the intention must always be to stop them.
At any rate, it was a fascinating evening and I was truly proud to be there in support, as a pro-feminist man and a Vancouver Rape Relief volunteer – and also glad for the opportunity to learn more about this issue. Looking forward to reading my own, signed, copy of Victor Malarek’s book. And I recommend you check it out too.