So the Oireachtas Committee on Justice is recommending the implementation of the so-called "Swedish model" for the regulation of prostitution/sex work in Ireland. Basically, this means that while selling sexual services will remain legal, the purchase of them will be criminalised.
Astonishingly, the Oireachtas Committee has completely ignored the direct testimonies of current sex workers in Ireland. Furthermore, researchers who actually listen to sex workers in Sweden argue that the Swedish model has made life more dangerous for sex workers in that country.
So why was such evidence ignored? The only reason I can come up with is that our right honourable friends in Leinster House have bought into the notion that all current sex workers are suffering from a "false consciousness". This is the bizarre idea that women can never freely choose to sell sexual services and that any woman who claims that she can do so is deluded.
This 'false consciousness' or 'dissociation' notion is pure sophistry. It is a very clever way to insult the intelligence of sex workers in this country. On the other hand, the prostitution charity Ruhama seems to believe that sex workers' male clients are freely choosing to "demean" these women. As a man, I do not think I have some superior decision-making faculty which, according to Ruhama, allows me to make choices that women cannot. In fact, I cannot think of a more anti-feminist, sexist position to hold.
Moreover, I find it amazing that the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and supposedly feminist organisations like the National Women's Council of Ireland and Ruhama believe that women are capable of making incredibly difficult and complex decisions when it comes to abortion, but somehow lose this capability when it comes to sex. (I fully support abortion rights, by the way.)
I am sure organisations like Ruhama do much good for women who have reluctantly entered the sex industry through trafficking, drug abuse, etc. I fully support their endeavours in this regard. What does make me angry is their thinly-veiled contempt for brave, independent women like Laura Lee who do not see sex work as inherently harmful or degrading. Worse still, there seems to be a palpable disgust with aspects of male sexuality in much of the commentary from Ruhama and similar institutions. One need only examine the monumentally daft Lose The Lads' Mags campaign to sense it.
The Irish state has no right to prohibit any kind of consensual sexual activity between adults. For too long, we allowed the Catholic Church to run our lives and dictate sexual morality to us. Now that we've finally thrown off those oppressive religious restraints, why should we burden ourselves with a new set of moral shackles just so that the politically-correct, pseudo-liberal brigade can pat themselves on the back?