Lisa Works Hard for the Money

Let me tell you about Lisa.
Lisa isn’t her real name, by the way. It isn’t even her professional name. It’s just a name I chose for her, to protect her identity.
Lisa is a fun girl. She’s caring, forthright, independent, and hard-working. I love spending time with her. She makes me feel good and I get a genuine sense that she enjoys my company, too. If she doesn’t, she at least gives me the feeling that she does. Since I have been a professional actor in my time, I can usually tell when someone is acting. She doesn’t give me that impression, so if she is just pretending, that makes her a great actor, too.
Lisa is a prostitute.

Screen-shot-2012-11-22-at-4_58_01-PM

There are other names for her type of worker, but I won’t put them here. She doesn’t deserve it. Lisa prefers the term “sex worker”. She takes her job seriously, and doesn’t like the negative image some people have about her line of work.
Lisa works hard. She has to put up with all sorts of stupid people, demanding people, crazy people, obnoxious people, angry people, scared people…

“Lisa”, as I said, isn’t her name. That’s because Lisa is an amalgam of sex workers. She is representative of the vast majority of them. I never met a sex worker I didn’t like. I know there are some desperate girls out there, hooked on drugs or whatever, selling themselves because they have no other choice. But I haven’t met them.
And I can tell you why I haven’t. Because I live in a society (Australia) where brothels are legal and registered. There may be streetwalkers out there, but I haven’t seen them. I’ve seen them overseas, but have avoided them.
Most of the girls working in the brothels here are young, intelligent ladies earning a bit of extra cash. Ones I have met have been nurses, teachers, university students, housewives and mothers. They know what they are doing and have chosen to do it. Most of them have high sex drives (a benefit in their job) and genuinely enjoy their work. That must be hard, given some of the clients they must have met.
They have regular health check-ups and insist on safe sex always. So do I. That’s just logical.
I would hazard a guess that it’s the places where sex for sale is illegal, where their services are frowned upon, that have the problems usually associated with the sex industry.
So legalised prostitution is a good idea.
There are restrictions, of course. A girl (or guy) can work from home or a hotel room, as long as they work solo. One can see the sense behind that, but it does limit the services that can be provided, such as when a client wants more than one girl or guy at a time. Still, the situation is much better than in some countries.

And of course, the illegal sex trade, where workers are exploited and abused, is not good. But the prostitution laws are designed to discourage that sort of activity.
So, why the stigma? The usual objections, I guess, arise from people concerned about morals, family values, religious edicts and so forth. None of these are really convincing. There is some evidence to suggest that having a sexual outlet allows people to experiment with other partners in a safe, discreet way. Sure, a partner cheating on their spouse with a sex worker is still cheating, but that’s something for individual couples to sort out. The sex worker isn’t going to say anything, or expect the cheating spouse to get a divorce or give them gifts or hold them to blackmail.
Lisa deserves more praise than she gets. She works hard and fulfils a vital service. She won’t do it forever. She has other things to be getting on with. It’s just a job.
So cut her some slack. And pay her a visit. Or her, friend, Jim. He’s available too, ladies. Or guys.

– Russell Proctor http://www.russellproctor.com

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Crime and Punishment

There is ongoing controversy about the punishments handed out by Courts, especially to juvenile offenders. The Courier-Mail had something to say about this today:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/teen-criminals-laugh-at-court-ruling-after-eight-month-crime-spree/story-e6freoof-1226586344837

But it’s not just offenders under 18. People are complaining that many offenders seem to be getting off lightly. The judges seem to be reluctant to hand out prison sentences, or anything at all like a “real” punishment.

There is some sense in their reluctance. Keeping someone in prison costs money, and the emphasis on punishment these days (at least here in Queensland) is rehabilitation rather than retribution. Both of those reasons make sense. Of course, really serious offenders may be exceptions to the rehabilitation rule, but surely teenagers just being immature and making mistakes should not have the full weight of the law thrown at them? Especially given that most of us could probably remember stupid things we did at that age and didn’t get caught for.

But it’s a complex problem. At what point does a bit of teenage stupidity become punishable by something more than a slap on the wrist? There are millions of possible scenarios and millions of people to make judgments and that means that no punishment will ever be able to satisfy everyone.

We can all feel distress when some kid walks out of Court figuratively (or even literally) thumbing his nose at the law, smiling because he avoided any real punishment, and not deterred in the slightest from breaking the law again. That’s understandable. But the judges have an enormous – some would say impossible – and certainly onerous task before them.

You can’t satisfy everyone. Does punishing one person deter others from doing the same thing? Does the punished person learn from their mistake? Does setting up someone as an example to others work?

Yes and no. Sometimes. Not in all cases.

And that’s the problem. I don’t know what the answer is; I don’t even know if there is one.

I used to be a lawyer. I saw a lot of punishments handed out to my clients and to other people. And I know that each time the Judge or Magistrate thought long and hard about what to do. They are bound, too, by the rules laid down by the government. If anyone should be targeted for being too lenient, it should include those making the laws, not just those enforcing them.

As a lawyer, too, I saw the effect punishments had on my clients. Some were genuinely affected by it. Others not so. That’s only to be expected. No one solution works for everyone.

Social reform may be the answer. Maybe we should be tackling the reasons crime occurs as well as handing out punishments when it does.

I remember when I was a full-time teacher seeing a sign on a Deputy-Principal’s wall: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get the same results.”

Something needs doing. But just what exactly is a hell of a big question.