Sex Work

Should Prostitution Be Decriminalized? Watch Elizabeth Nolan Brown Debate at NYU


Last week I had the opportunity to debate prostitution-decriminalization at New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Obviously, I was arguing for full decriminalization—putting me in the ideological company of sex workers from Seattle to London to Taipei to Kazakhstan, as well as global human-rights and health groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the World Health Organization. Arguing for the Nordic model of prostitution law, in which paying for or advertising sex is prohibited but selling it is legal in limited circumstances, was Dorchen Leidholdt, director of the Center for Battered Women's Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families.

You can listen to audio of the debate on Soundcloud, or watch the whole thing below.

If you'll permit me a moment of naval-gazing… I was happy with my debate performance overall, especially considering I've never debated one-on-one before and am much better at arguing in text than in person. Where I think I failed was in getting bogged down in a back-and-forth about statistics. Leidholdt was armed with a bevy of them, mostly from disreputable studies carried out by anti-prostitution activists, and my impulse was to push back on these.

But for those who know little about sex-work issues, there's not much to latch on to in a she-said/she-said over facts and figures. And without any frame of reference, "facts" showing that countries with legalized prostitution are plagued by terrible spikes in sex-trafficking seem more immediately credible, given that people are prone to believe all manner of horrors about anything related to sex. People seem to want to believe prostitution is inherently harmful, and studies and statistics are rarely powerful enough to overcome people's implicit biases. But the concrete harms that criminalizing prostitution has on vulnerable people's lives—the individual tales of hardship and horror that women and girls face under a system of criminalization—are harder to dismiss. Obviously different arguments work better or worse with different crowds, but in the future, I'd probably do better to avoid the stat-trap and stay more big picture when talking to general audiences… yes? no? Genuinely interested to hear what people think.

NEXT: Trump Official Misuses Term 'Voter Suppression' and Media Headlines Are Happy to Run With It

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Is there still a contextual difference between “decriminalized” and “legalized”?

    1. Yeah, although they’re used interchangeably in general, those invested in the issue always differentiate. Decrim would simply be to remove all criminal penalties for adult prostitution; legalization refers to a system like in some parts of Europe where it’s legal to sell sex but only in certain venues or with a state permission slip.

      1. Ok, so in your debate context (which I haven’t watched yet) you’re arguing that the laws making prostitution a crime should be struck from the books, as opposed to a regulatory framework which calls out prostitution as a unique and special business, and comes with licensing and government-mandated zoning for storefronts?

      2. You need that permission slip, otherwise prostitues would purposely give all their clients STDs because capitalism.

      3. legalization refers to a system like in some parts of Europe where it’s legal to sell sex but only in certain venues or with a state permission slip.

        I would think this is the only way it would become “legal” in the United States, because if we won’t let our kids outside alone, we sure as frick don’t want them hanging around bordellos.

    2. Yes.

      Decriminalized -> you don’t get arrested, but you get fined.

      Legalized -> you can do whatever you want.

      Decriminalized still means not legal. You aren’t a criminal for exceeding the speed limit. Fail to pay the fine, and they arrest you. Refuse to pay, they jail you. Resist being arrested, they use force, up to and including deadly force, to affect the arrest.

      Thus, decriminalized merely means you can bribe your way out of trouble legally and only the poorest of the poor will be strangled to death on a street corner.

      1. poorest of the poor will be strangled to death on a street corner.

        Yay! Libertopia!

      2. since the Nordic model legalizes selling it, that sounds preferable to decrim.

        1. Outright legalization is the default libertarian position (derived from the core principle of self-ownership), but decriminalization is more easily achieved in the short-term and can lead to eventual legalization.

          1. Outright decriminalizaiton means removing all criminal penalties. Legalization isn’t the most libertarian, b/c those not selling sex in the state-approved system could still be arrested.

            1. OK, I was using those terms as traditionally applied to drugs. There should be no laws whatsoever regarding prostitution or any other transactions between consenting adults.

              1. Yeah, it’s silly, but they’re used completely backwards wrt prostitution as the drug decrim debate

                1. Confusing, which is worse than silly. But thanks for the education and I’ll be more careful in the future so as not to accidentally give aid and comfort to prohibitionists (is that word used in this debate)?

      3. Tarran, ENB defined it above, but that’s a drug distinction.

        Good way to frame it:

        Decriminalized: removed from the law books entirely, it is just a thing that’s not criminalized or regulated specifically.

        Legalized: legal framework built around it (ie licensing regulatory boards etc etc etc.)

        1. These definitions are crap.

          Generally, “decriminalization” means converting criminal violations into civil violations (as tarran says).

          This does not mean that ENB is wrong in that those in-the-know are using these definitions.

          But it means those in-the-know are using crap definitions.

          1. Yo dawg, shit be contextual and to deny the contextual nature of language is to tilt at windmills.

            Next you’ll be arguing against it’s illogical nature and strange turns of phrase, and asking questions like “how does one turn a phrase”?

            1. On a lathe?

              1. Oh dear, I’ve been using a potter’s wheel to turn phrases.

                I’m doing it wrong!

                1. I heard you were turning tricks, not phrases, UnCivil.

                  1. Don’t be silly – no one is going to pay to sleep with me.

                    1. They’re paying you to leave.

                2. I use a turntable, but as a filthy millennial I have to use turntables and mason jars for everything.

            2. With a cloth ?

          2. Unfortunately, I’ve heard it both ways, which is why I asked, and the discussion I’m seeing here suggests that there are differing definitions.

            In the drug context, I’ve heard that decrim means it remains illegal, but it’s no longer vigorously enforced and, in the case of drugs, you might get pushed into rehab or treatment. Drug selling is certainly vigorously enforced, just not possession or use– so in the case of prostitution, this might actually be reversed. The sellers aren’t arrested or sent to jail, but the buyers might be.

            1. @Diane — same — totally opposite context the way it’s used in drug talk and prostitution talk

              1. We can’t get the English to recognize the proper word for an elevator. How can we expect the international community at large to use American English properly?


                1. No, it’s that they are all short and wear those special shoes.

        2. Decriminalized means can still be a civil infraction. Take small amounts of marijuana for example. Where it is a criminal offense you go to jail. Where it is decriminalized you pay a fine similar to a traffic ticket. Either way it is not legal.

          1. Then prostitution should be unregulated, the scariest option.

            1. It would still be regulated. But not by government.

              1. There is NO way the government is gonna let you sell with a pimp’s protection.

                The government only does it cause they love you, Etta Mae.

                1. *without* a pimp’s protection

        3. Yes — MikeT’s definition is how the terms are almost always used in context of sex work

          1. Someone just agreed with me on the internet, I’m not sure how to respond…

            1. Fling poo.

              1. I mean this is my instinct, in all contexts.

            2. Leave no while you are ahead LOL

            3. I can follow-up by calling you a cuck who should delete your account, if that helps?

              1. A little bit, yes.

              2. MikeT is an actual cuck, so he would take that as a compliment.

                1. I prefer “martially flexible” thank you very much.

                  1. So, both sword and pistol?

                    1. Euphemistically?

                    2. Snark over a common typo.

                    3. I know, but I decided to go with the joke.

      4. that’s pretty much it

      5. Decriminalized -> you don’t get arrested, but you get fined.

        Legalized -> you can do whatever you want.

        In the context of prostitution, this isn’t how anyone is using the term. It’s pretty standardized (in countries around the world) the other way.

        Under “legalized” sex work, those who are selling sex outside of the narrow framework permitted by the state can still be arrested, jailed, etc. Under decriminalization, no criminal penalties for (consensual, adult) prostitution in any capacity. A state-based permit or brothel system could still exist, but those working outside it wouldn’t be arrested.

        I know the terms themselves might mean other things in other contexts, but this is the way in which it applies to the prostitution conversation

        1. But when it’s merely decriminalized, can police still interfere with the action legally, even though no penalty be imposed afterward? Can injunctions be gotten against it as a nuisance or something? Can parties to prostitution who claim they were cheated get their cases adjudicated in court?

          1. Absolutely. A client or a provider could bring forth a case. Under decrim in New Zealand if a client fails to pay the worker calls the cops and the cop will give them an option- go to jail for theft or go to an atm get money and pay. Such a case happened. There was another case where a client was charged with removing a condom. Another case where a brothel worker complained of sexual harassment on the part of the brothel owner and won her case. Under decrim erotic service providers have rights. Clients would also have rights. It’s time.

      6. I’m just queer so I don’t get fined.

      7. No no no. Nevada for instance is one of the top three US states for the highest rate of prostitution arrests.

        Legalization: regulatory schemes that put the power in the hands of the state and state approved brothels. Allows Regulatory schemes which are vastly justified by myths and stigma. Arrests continue. Erotic service providers are at the mercy of failed policy being legalization and its regulatory schemes and is another form of criminalization. Brothels take over half of earnings and control our working conditions. Exploitation of our labor is rife under legalization. We are treated as infants who can’t handle our own work. We are still hammered by the stigma intertwined with failed regulatory schemes.

        Decriminalization: the power is put into the hands of the workers. WE have complete control of negotiations pertaining to our wages and working conditions. No arrests for simply buying or selling sexual services. Prostitutes have access to equal protection under law. Prostitutes have access to their human rights. Erotic service providers can more effectively organize to improve working conditions.

  2. what sources and stats provided were disreputable?

    1. the big one was she kept citing studies from Melissa Farley

  3. “My body, my choice” – agree or disagree? It doesn’t make any difference to what people are going to argue, but it is fun to watch the expression on their faces as the cognitive dissonance roils through their brain for that few seconds.

    1. But it’s not your choice in the case of prostitution. You’re coerced into it by the patriarchy.

      1. I hope you’re being sarcastic. I’m an erotic service provider I love my work and the so called patriarchy has no place or function in my life. It never has and never will.

    2. ^This. But feminists are generally ok in theory with prostitution, but in practice want it illegal because human trafficking, the patriarchy, etc.

      1. This is it’s easy for anti-prostitution “feminists” (like the woman I debated) to sell people on the Swedish or Nordic model, because they frame it as “women don’t get arrested for selling sex” but the bad, patriarchal johns who are driving demand for sex trafficking do. Of course, a) in practice, women get arrested for selling sex all the time in Sweden and other Nordic countries, because all sorts of things associated with selling sex–like soliciting, advertising, streetwalking, working with other sex workers in a group house, etc.–are still illegal, and b) the real goal of most Nordic Model advocates is the eradication of all prostitution, something they are deluded enough to believe possible and smart enough not to say publicly very often (though they do say as much, from time to time)

        1. So, how does the Nordic model deal with Male/Male prostitution?

          1. Kill ’em All.

          2. Is one of the males named Mohammed?

      2. That “forced into it by the patriarchy” thing is so silly. It could be applied to almost anything.

        Why don’t we see them arguing that abortion should be illegal, because — while choice is good in theory — in practice, most women who choose to not become mothers after becoming pregnant do so due to economic/lifestyle pressures, which are brought about by the patriarchy/corporatism/consumerist society?

        I’m not saying I think that at all — far from it. I’m just saying that if you deny adults their agency, and chalk it up to “protecting” them from hidden societal forces that distort their free will, why not at least be consistent about it?

        1. That “forced into it by the patriarchy” thing is so silly. It could be applied to almost anything.


      3. I’m not entirely sure that it’s all about the patriarchy with this issue though. I would bet there are a fair bit of women that call themselves “feminists” but are opposed to prostitution due to the competition it would introduce to them. That’s probably not said out loud by them too much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s part of the reason.

        1. “Honest women” (non-prostitutes) have traditionally resented the competition, which is why those women have traditionally demeaned prostitution so as to make it socially unacceptable for men to publicly consort with them. Also, they hated sluts (those who gave it away with no expectation of a long-term contract). The marriage racket really was the first example of cartelization.

          1. Agreed.

          2. This “competition for dick” talking point… Has anything ever supported this? I feel like it’s the ultimate conventional wisdom shtick that has no scope beyond the half-assed, flippant, observation of the commentator. I also don’t think I’ve ever the sentiment made by a woman.

            Also can we really believe this while simultaneously holding too the proposition of ‘Pussy Power’? Which men also often claim as something along the lines of: females being in total control; i.e., men do work to get laid, while a girl could get laid whenever, if she so desired too.

            1. It wasn’t competition for dick, it was competition for financial support. Traditional service providers wanted to restrict the market to lifetime contracts with a single service provider. Pay-per-service providers were a threat to that business model.

              No, I don’t have a citation for that. But my ass is bilaterally symmetrical within the normal limits.

            2. …. a girl could get laid whenever, if she so desired too.

              I learned that in my youth, but it had one more line:

              All she’d have to do is lower her standards enough.

              Theoretically, that will work for guys, but it still takes a woman, however unappealing, to say “yes.”

          3. I am an honest whore I guess. Honesty is a very important part of my work and life. I am an erotic service provider.

    3. Agency, doesn’t work when fucking.

  4. yes? no? Genuinely interested to hear what people think.

    Check to see if there is a local debate club and get some practice/pointers. I’ve thought about doing this myself, since I never took debate in college.

    1. Also, NEVER take advice from the commentariat.

      1. *unless it involves men’s clothes

        1. Personal aside: my wife complains now that I’m dressing nicer, that she feels obligated to dress nicer too, so it doesn’t look like I took the nanny out to lunch.

          1. Personal aside: my wife complains now that I’m dressing nicer, that she feels obligated to dress nicer too, so it doesn’t look like I took the nanny out to lunch.

            This is a feature, not a bug. STOP WEARING SWEATS OUT OF THE HOUSE PEOPLE!

            1. No, keep dressing like slobs so that I look good by default.

              1. Never! It’s finally cooling off. Time for sports coat shopping.

                1. Actually thinking it’s about time I got some new suits. It’s fascinating to watch how differently people treat you based on how you’re dressed.

                  1. Mike, here is the link where I get a bunch of good men’S fashion advice. Thanks again for all who contributed, especially Gilmore.


                    1. I’m already in the process of rebuilding my work wardrobe, increase in income, decrease in body mass by a significant amount for both (40% on income 30% on body mass).

                    2. Congratulations on both.

                    3. Bright side: more money and generally being lighter.
                      Down side: my shirts could now fit a second me in them.

                  2. I used to go to an old school auto parts store (wooden floors, greasy metal counter, dusty blister packs). On weekends in my grubbies, no problem. I stopped in once on the way home from work while wearing a suit and tie…..i almost thought the guy wasn’t going to wait on me.

                    1. Had the opposite trying to buy my wife’s car. Showed up the first day in shorts and a tee shirt because we’d been going to the park, got treated like crap. Came in a few days later in a dress shirt, sports coat, proper slacks etc, and they took me seriously when I said I was paying cash, thank you very much.

                  3. ^ definitely amusing

                    1. This was meant for above ” It’s fascinating to watch how differently people treat you based on how you’re dressed.”

                1. Looking at pictures of Eva Mendes is the #1 cause of divorce!

                  1. Getting caught pulling the Johnson lever while looking at pictures of Eva Mendez

      2. Huh, I was going to suggest starting every rebuttal with the phrase “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

    2. Isn’t debate these days pretty much who can bitch the most about slavery, regardless of the question?

      1. Shut up Slavemaster General!

        1. I like that name. Freedom is slavery. Derp is peace.

    3. ENB seems to be doing pretty well here…

      Some might even call her debating, ‘masterful’?

      /Man that low hanging fruit has been out there for a long time… Where’s Crusty?

  5. Where I think I failed was in getting bogged down in a back-and-forth about statistics.

    Yeah, that’s always a death-trap

    (haven’t seen the debate yet)

    I assume the best sort of judo move with that sort of thing is to simply point out that – at best – statistics about something like sex-work are going to be highly suspect because of the

    – unrepresentative samples that any data-gathering will involve
    – the inherent disinclination of any participants to provide full disclosure
    – the obvious bias/interests of the people conducting the studies in the first place

    Many of these same anti-prostitution activists are the same people who handwave aside data on “actual completed rape-statistics” and insist that the reality is in fact that those figures represent nothing more than the tip of the invisible iceberg, and therefore we should take very-dubious, self-selected, anonymous polling more seriously because of that…. etc. These ‘social crusaders’ are routinely either over-emphasizing the significance of their self-generated ‘studies’, or discounting official-sources as unreliable, as they see fit for their messaging purposes.

    1. Ah, Gilmore, they aren’t anti-prostitution activists, which would make them icky moral scolds; they are noble anti-trafficking activists, and the pesky problem with prostitution is that there is always trafficking which would only get worse if we were to legalize that.

      1. And the pesky problem is trafficking will get worse?

        Behold!! canned response #522. Same is said about decriminalizing or legalizing pot. Is it based in reality?

        That doesn’t seem to matter.

        The REAL ISSUE?
        There will MOST definitely be an increase in human rights and Liberty.

        THE HORROR!!!!!!

  6. I hope you gave them hell. Of the plethora of horror doled out in the world, the shit done to prostitutes and johns might be the worst. Lives destroyed for nothing. FFS only the powerfully corrupt or the inanely stupid stand firmly opposed to: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the World Health Organization.

    1. And don’t forget our own Eddie who thinks prostitution ought to be illegal because it would encourage married men to commit adultery with prostitutes.

      1. Well and that only married men in monogamous relationships would use prostitutes (in fact all men are married) and that you should be able to sue a prostitute for sleeping with your husband.

      2. I thought his deal was that the harmed spouse should be able to sue the philandering spouse for engaging in extramarital sex. He may have evolved to that position from a more ridiculous one, but I don’t see anything particularly galling about that stance.

        1. sue the prostitute for banging the philandering spouse*

          (edit button plz!)

  7. Genuinely interested to hear what people think.

    You’re going to regret this line.

    1. As much as she regrets sending that resume to Nicky G?

      1. But not as much as exchanging phone numbers with Anthony Weiner.

    2. I think it was clear from the context she meant on this subject – nobody without a death wish really wants to know what you’re thinking about at any given moment. It’s bad enough just thinking about what you’re probably thinking about.

  8. Winning the debate? As opposed to persuade to a point of view? That doesn’t make a lot of sense.
    I need to finish this later because your opponent was such a pompous idiot I couldn’t continue to listen halfway through. My guess is she has zero understanding of economics and would have been in favor of prohibition back in the day. You on the other hand were speaking common sense and facts according to the actual participants in the industry.

    1. yeah, they actually voted on who won at the end (not me — thought it was close! 46 to 54 percent I think), but they never took a poll at the beginning so no base of how people felt about prostitution

      1. In modern politics, that’s called a landslide. Back to the drawing board.

      2. Damn shame. For what it’s worth I feel like this chick is getting REKT!

        1. Damn shame. For what it’s worth I feel like this chick is getting REKT!

          Thank you. My friends all thought I won. 😉

          1. “In my mother’s unbiased opinion…”

      3. New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

        Considering the baseline is probably a combination of “everything not explicitly permitted by the state is illegal” and “people need elites to tell them how to live properly,” you probably won handily to get it to 46-54.

      4. I’d say you won, because I found your arguments more compelling and rational than your opponent’s — and that’s apart from my own view of the issue (for decriminalization).

        For all her statistics and lurid examples, your opponent seemed to miss the point that the whole problem of poverty/exploitation that added the “shock” factor to her argument is predicated upon sex work being part of the criminal black market in the first place.

        You emphasized the point that the issue is not about ideal situations, or social-signaling, or appearances of morality — the very fact that it’s part of a criminal underground is the reason why there is exploitation. In a legal business, there isn’t much exploitation because people who are mistreated have plenty of recourse.

    2. Stop saying you’re sorry too by the way. Nothing to be sorry about! (–:

      1. Yes, don’t say you’re sorry.

        1. Being ENB means never having to say you’re sorry.

          1. Ughhhhhhhhhhhh I know it’s one of my worst (and most stereotypically girly, so especially ugh) verbal tics. I say sorry like some people say um

            1. At least you didn’t say sorry for saying sorry.


            2. Ha, yes very girly. You don’t want to remind people of an Amy Schumer skit when possible.

            3. Ughh would probably surpass sorry on the girly list. Great debate ENB.

              1. Sorry? Use it too much, people will suspect you of being a frostback.

  9. I think the real question is if prostitutes should be disallowed to discriminate, i.e. to take all comers.

    After all, you don’t get to go into business in this country and decide who you will and will not serve.

    1. “Would you force them to have gay nazi sex?”

      1. “Would you force them to have gay nazi sex?”

        Really looking forward to this debate. Of course Slade, Shackford and I will have to duke it out over who covers it…

        1. In that context, the more the merrier I’d think.

    2. Does that make small dicked white men the prime customer demographic or finally a victim class?

    3. That is to say, to take all comers.

      Especially not with something that is consumable and not regulated. The whorror.

    4. All Jews for Jesus must have sex with gay nazis?

    5. take all comers

      no pun intended?

    6. If you’re in business in the United States, you shouldn’t be able to choose what classes of people you will or will not do business with.

      We kid, but i have no doubt this would be a pre-condition of “Legalization”

      I mean, imagine if prostitutes refused to serve cripples. Can’t have *that*?

      1. That was a jab at Liz. Didn’t you link to an article in the last few days where she made that assertion?

        1. yes, I was just saying that its a more-realistic potential-scenario than the comment might initially suggest. Some people might scoff at the idea that prostitution would be treated like a public-accommodation; i actually think its a very-plausible condition that might be added to any debate about its ‘legalization’ – partly, i’d suspect, as a poison-pill.

          i.e. “Allowing” people self-ownership – conditional on the fact that they sacrifice freedom of association in the process. See how that works?

        2. Geezus. I have never responded to comments about this because I’m not in the habit of answering for my writing on demand and I don’t feel like I need to prove my libertarian cred just because someone asks me to, but since it’s going on three years now that Gilmore insists on repeatedly bringing up and linking to this old post of mine… fine.

          1) Do I stand by those sentiments? No. In fact, I have written the direct opposite at Reason multiple times

          2) So why did I write them? At the time, I was a freelance blogger getting paid $25 per post, no benefits, with a requirement to do 4-5 posts per day. Sometimes, by the end of the day, I could barely even remember what I had written about first that morning, and by the end of the week it was almost all a blur. It was a lot of content-aggregation style blogging with a directive to add a quick opinion about everything we posted.

          1. Many of the things I wrote in those years I’m still proud of or at least not in active disagreement with. Probably 75% of what I wrote was non-political, but I infused politics into things I cared about (the women’s “wellness” blog I was with for 2 years got a good deal of anti-FDA, anti-food-regulation tinged posts and, for reasons I can’t quite recall, a couple of anti-Title IX posts, among other things) and had enough sufficiently libertarian opinion posts published from my lady-blogging days to use them as my clips for Reason. Because contra the weird idea that it would benefit anyone career-wise to pretend to be libertarian, I’ve considered myself libertarian for more than a decade. I got my first Reason subscription in 2005 and, when I moved to DC for grad school in 2006, quickly befriended Julian Sanchez (who was then living with Weigel & Kerry Howley) and, thanks to him, just about every “cosmo-orangeline-libertarian” in these parts ’til I moved away three years later. I wrote for all the weird small libertarian blogs and publications that were around at the time.

            1. And at that time, though I was largely libertarian, I still believed in the goodness of minimum wage laws. Because I was young, and some popular myths are very entrenched. I think my instincts are very libertarian?no one had to convince me of its merits (when I learned about it from a Koch-funded seminar I was like holy shit, yes, this is what I am/believe and didn’t know was a thing ’til now). But my knee-jerk responses to certain issues have certainly been off, on minimum wage and religious freedom laws and at least a handful of other things, especially before I was entrenched in libertarianism everyday.

              1. So, yeah, I read very little about that case and formulated a quick & dumb opinion. That’s surely the least dumb thing I’ve ever written that’s still out there. I’ve been supporting myself as a journalist for 11 years now, including the aforementioned years of high-volume daily blogging, and while I’ve never written anything I didn’t believe at the time, I also didn’t have a lot of time (or incentive to invest much time) in figuring out what I believed about a lot of things. [shrug emoji] There’s a reason that many of the people I met in my early DC libertarian/journalist days have remained friends and, as they have risen on their respective career ladders, allies/cheerleaders of mine professionally even when I was slogging through a lot of not-ideal jobs, because I am fundamentally exactly what I purport to be: a true believer in libertarianism, especially of the Reason and Cato Institute etc variety, and bizarre clinging to the idea (despite the fact that it’s been a long-losing battle) that there’s something worthwhile in trying to carve out a space for libertarian feminism.

                1. But I’ve been writing quickly & publicly for a long time. Journalism aside, it’s been almost a fucking decade that I’ve been active on Twitter?which, by the way, I once described as “the Second Life of 2009” for godssakes (a sentiment Conor Friedersdorf endorsed at the pretentious/hip blog he shared with Suderman, Tim Carney, Michael Brendan Dougherty, James Poulous, Reihan Salam, and all sorts of other (mostly) interesting right-leaning weirdos). Clearly, I get things wrong sometimes.

                  1. PS tried to put these links in there but they kept getting messed up and also omg the character limit this comment system really is kind of the worst



                    1. Keep doing what you do, ENB. I love your writing. Don’t worry about commenter nitpicking. Great job on the debate.

                    2. ^ Seconding Wood’s comment. You’re doing more for the cause than any purer-than-thou comment dweller and I can think of few journalists that put out as much consistent, quality work as you do. I hope you keep giving ’em hell.

                    3. “1) Do I stand by those sentiments? No. In fact, I have written the direct opposite at Reason multiple times

                      2) So why did I write them? At the time, I was a freelance blogger getting paid $25 per post,”

                      “I’m a whore” isn’t the defense you seem to think it is.

                    4. tl;dr

                      “I was young and I needed the money”

                      i think the entire life-story is probably unnecessary. Saying, “i’ve since changed my mind about freedom of association” would be more convincing if you actually published something to that effect.

                    5. “I’m a whore” isn’t the defense you seem to think it is.

                      btw – this person here is probably Mary/Kizone Kaprow, one of the trolls here whose objective is to make us actually seem 100x more awful than we already are. So, take that for what its worth.

                    6. Oh God, fuck you you pathetic crying

                    7. GILMORE?|10.28.16 @ 3:10PM|#


                      “I was young and I needed the money”

                      So, your cunt ass says the same thing I say, but you think you can take shots at me for it.

                      Get cancer asshole.

                    8. ENB,
                      We like you, no need to plead to the choir. Now if Robby had defended his past actions like this pitchforks and torches would have been procured.

                    9. I was kidding about Robby, we just like to roast him whenever we can.

                    10. While I agree that you do not need to respond to every barb, jab or callout, I admire you for choosing to do so. Admire you for your integrity if not your prudence, that is.

                      PS tried to put these links in there but they kept getting messed up and also omg the character limit this comment system really is kind of the worst[.]

                      Now you know what the rest of us have been dealing with, like, for-EV-er. [removes newsboy cap] Maybe, Ms. Brown, just maybe, you could have a word with someone? Me and the lads would really appreciate that.

                    11. Liz, I can afford to criticize you because I have never been wrong about anything. Ever.

          2. since it’s going on three years now that Gilmore insists on repeatedly bringing up and linking to this old post of mine… fine.

            For the record, i found out about that piece here in the comments from others here. And other people hammered on it for a long time before i even bothered to look into it. And i think i’ve linked to it maybe 2-3 times since. Cry harassment all you want; its not. If its been mentioned at all its because its been very-pertinent to the subject matter you’re writing about – as it is here.

      2. +1 Coming Home

        1. wow i just had a flashback to that very-depressing movie.

          My original thought was actually the jim jeffries story about his friend with… muscular dystrophy? a very-funny and oddly touching comedy bit

    7. I would actually like to see prostitution legalized so we can have a national conversation about that very issue. At the very least, it would bring to light that we do not allow freedom of association in this country if you own a business. It’s astounding the amount of people that simply do not realize this.

      1. Well if it were legalized (regulated by the state) then I’m sure it would be illegal for service providers to discriminate on the basis of race. I’m sure there would be a carve-out so that people could discriminate on the basis of sex (male/female) but that would also underscore the FoA issues.

        Annnnnd, that is another impediment to getting it legalized or decriminalized – it would raise inconvenient issues.

        1. No brothers, too beaucoup.

          1. “No soul brother…” Yes, people did actually talk that way during the late sixties and early seventies.

        2. Tonio

          You mean discriminate on skin color? Skin color difference doesn’t equate to an entirely different species.

          Businesses should be able to refuse service to anyone they want to. If they discriminate based on bigotry people can boycott supporting them.

          There’s good reason erotic service providers sometimes refuse service. Wish we had accurate data pools to work with but we don’t. would love to see better data regarding crimes committed against sex workers. Who is robbing them? Raping them (cops)? Killing them? Etc.

          As an erotic service provider of over 17 years I can say this- the few blacks who called didn’t follow through with booking. I would be fine seeing anyone provided they meet my vetting process.

          I’m a Dominatrix. you might find it interesting that numerous blacks who called me claimed they wanted to act out a role playing scenario where they are a slave and I’m a slave master; historical context not bdsm context. I refused have zero interest in participating in such a psychodrama scene. I can’t ‘get it up’ for that, same with age play/role play where I’m an adult & the adult I’m playing with is acting like a child. I Don’t care if I’m broke rent is due tomorrow & trust me, I’m not a person of wealth. I didn’t feel they were serious it felt more like I was being punked. If they were serious it strikes me as indulgent in a way I can’t groove with. Had these people experienced it & were using a session as a healing mechanism It still wouldn’t be for me

    8. “I don’t do fag tricks.”

      1. I want to see one. Handkerchief, rings, or card trick…doesn’t matter.

        1. OK, take this bright pink hankie, put it into your left pocket and walk into a gay bar.

          1. Ok Tonio, thanks. You’re the best. *puts hankie in pocket, walks into gay bar and yells “I want some MAGIC!”

            1. “I don’t do fag tricks.”

              Magicians doing sleight-of-hand with cigarettes is fairly traditional.


  10. I’d be cool if some body (female body) paid me to have sex with them. Then I’d get laid and have money for a six pack. That’d be sweet.

    1. If you get paid based on performance I’d set your ambitions lower.

      “I’d get laid and have money for a shot glass of beer.”

      1. I don’t know, your (insert female relative/lover) seemed pretty satisfied last night.

        1. Statement of recognition.

          Pejorative regarding Third Person Possessive Noun, snarky remark regarding originality, diatribe comparing the Death of Art with the Death of God.

          Compelling and arousing close. Reinforced statement of arousal in the close. Hitler reference. Sex joke.

          1. OK, folks, we’re done here. Last person turn our the lights and lock the door behind you.

          2. I’ve seen the almighty and it blinded me.

        2. Insert ?

        3. Yeah but their standards are in the basement, that’s a given.

          That’s like spiking the ball when scoring a touch down against a pee-wee team.

          Come on man.

    2. That’s probably the best wet dream you’ll ever have.

        1. I think you’ve found your calling then.

    3. There is a market for that, DenverJ, but I believe you would find it is mostly older women. Rich older women.

      1. I’m OK with that. Not poor older women, though, that’s just gross.

  11. trawled from ENB’s twitter feed.. athena-talks/my-first-virtual-reality- sexual-assault-2330410b62ee#.7hlwo650l

    groped in VR

    *take the spaces out of the URL to work

    1. Or learn how to do this

      [a href=”link”]message[/a] – replace [ with ‘less than sign’

      1. Never mind, I can’t get that link to work at all.

  12. Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why is selling fucking illegal ?

    1. Too much competition.

  13. Watched that awful Richard Gere film American Gigolo from 1980 last week. Awful as in boring, btw.

    Ridiculous character musings by the meat: “I prefer to date older women as they’re more mature and interesting than younger women” ad nauseum.

    The most obvious unreality of the whole thing is that 99% of the male escort business is male-hiring-males: the older women hiring a young stud doesn’t square with reality and only exists in fevered minds.

    1. +1 Midnight Cowboy

    2. It is boring. Why would you watch it?

      My memories of that film:

      -Lauren Hutton looking perfect
      -Hector Elizondo has an Martian-like appearance in a few scenes.
      -A young Crusty was fascinated by the “now slap her – slap that cunt” scene.

    3. If you want to watch man whores then why would you watch anything but “Duece Bigelow, European gigalo”?

    4. “My Own Private Idaho” deals with this. The (male) hustlers service both sexes, but the vast majority of their clients are male.

      First time I watched that on home video a woman friend asked “is that guy paying to give River Phoenix a BJ?” Good times.

      1. Home Video? What are you, 70?

        1. Yes, I believe it was a VHS tape rental. Possibly Betamax. But definitely pre-DVD. I am old, but not that old. But you’re from Florida so should be used to old people.

          1. I like old people. They always have a ribbon candy or worther’s orginal for me.

            1. They’re trying to buy your ‘services’.

      2. “…you GAVE blowjobs to people?”
        “The most people!”

        (Bob Odenkirk is a national treasure.)

        1. What is that from? Yes, he is.

          1. Mr. Show

            A lawfirm that based all promotion and pay raises by a series of blowjobs, if memory serves me correctly.

          2. Mr. Show skit called Weeklong Romance.

            Bob and his gf break up for a week, and we find out that among other things during their break Bob joined and won a blowjob contest.

            1. Did they also do the blowjob skit I refered to or am I getting it mixed with another show or some weird repressed dream I’d rather not reflect on too deeply?

  14. Yes you won by A LOT I don’t care what the vote was and as alluded to above, given the base case of audience I am sure you persuaded plenty. I watched the whole thing and I have one serious question. How did you keep yourself from jumping across the stage and smacking that self righteous whacko? Someone needs to remove the rod that is very far up her ass.

    1. Someone needs to remove the rod that is very far up her ass.

      That costs extra.

      1. That costs extra.

        So can we pay to watch; or is that where the legality turns fuzzy?

    2. Finally got to watch tonight and yes, I’d also say the pro-criminalization woman (I’m terrible with names and at life) did a good job of throwing unrelated buzzwords and horror into the debate.

      “I remember this one time a transgendered woman of color was corporate pimping conspiracy beaten by white nationalist cops”

  15. Actual conversation with my friend last night re: sex/women

    Him: you have to climb out on that limb and reach for that fruit if you want to get some.

    Me: why climb a tree and cross a limb risking my neck to try to grab fruit I might not get when I can just go to the fruit store and buy some?

  16. With regards to stats, much of the content provided by Dorchen was produced by Melisa Farley. Canada’s Supreme Court provided the best insight to Farley’s work and, despite Dorchen’s reference to peer review and esteemed status, gave Farley’s work as little weight as possible. Her conclusions were obvious and structured to fit her ideology.

    The market is underground and not subject to accuracy. One study that cited a relationship between legalization and trafficking made clear that the issue needed to be studied further, accuracy within its own study is in question, and only an agnostic conclusion could be understood with regards to compulsion. It’s a market that is in fact not capable of being studied in its present form because of the dangers of being identified as a sex worker.

    Elizabeth, you were fantastic! You were up against a careerist, someone who helped to establish CATW, one of the biggest marketing agencies for End Demand and the prohibition of sex work. Your tone was raw, almost angry, but you were up against the Big Corporation of Rescue and Save, Inc., and that is what is needed.

    The debate was not easy, you were up against a well-funded ideologue who can forget about the majority of those whose lives are made worse. For every one survivor voice Rescue and Save, Inc. displays there are hundreds if not thousands whose lives are made worse because of their work.

    Thank you for being a voice of the marginalized and oppressed.

    1. Elizabeth, I just want to echo Succor1’s opinion. You were truly fantastic! Well done! You stood your ground against a well funded machinery.

  17. I find it frustrating to have to debate my desire to be free again. Where was the debate when they were taking away my freedom?

    1. The first C-Span.

  18. Elisabeth, a missed opportunity about the much applauded Swedish system: In 2012, according to the report by UNODC, Sweden was quoted as having 66.5 cases of reported rapes per 100,000 population, based on official statistics by Bra. This is the highest number of reported rape of any nation in the report. Nobody made the link between this and criminalizing the punters. This is all in my book “The Sex Tourist”

    1. I apologize for misspelling your name, Elizabeth!

    2. Sweden’s rape rate increased 1400% didn’t it? In recent years? I read that recently but haven’t had time to investigate. If true I don’t think criminalizing sex buyers is the factor there. Sweden is a nation of magical thinkers.

      Sweden is a mess for a multitude of reasons but magical thinking heads them all.

      I think the best argument against the so called Nordic model is that Sweden’s criminal justice (lol) system is NOTHING like the USA’s. That anyone would think you could copy something out of Sweden’s system and it would function within this system is beyond absurd. It’s not rational or logical. This USA system loves arresting people too damn much. doesn’t Sweden have a social safety net to work with? whereas the USA does not, nowhere close. Last I read Sweden was a small nation of 9 million with something like 5000 prison inmates? The USA wins the medal for more citizens in prison than any other nation right?

      Prison is big business in the USA. Criminalizing prostitution is big money here. if they can’t make $ putting you in prison they’ll make $ forcing you into treatment- THAT is the USA version of the Nordic model BUT you still get arrested too and they call it the Nordic model LOL.

      This ain’t Sweden!

  19. A journalist (a real journalist such as yourself) will always remain at an inherent disadvantage in a debate against a lawyer just as surely as Plato would have been at a disadvantage against the Sophist if we had debated them instead of written about them. By profession your statements are anchored to facts while she feels no such restraint in her assertions. Despite that you acquitted yourself incredibly well. Well done Ms. Brown.

    The end demand side has always had a frustrating advantage based on the simple fact that it takes far more time and energy to refute a falsehood than to make one. Dorchen can spend the first 30 second of her time throwing out a handful of discredited Farley bombs and you get to spend the next 3 minutes of your time trying to defuse them. She used that tactic to great affect, but you mostly avoided being pulled into her tactic.

    The reason the end demand folks continue to spew lies like “the average age of entry into sex work is 13,” or “legalization promotes trafficking” or make unsubstantiated claims about the number of sex workers abused as children (I think she said 60-80%) is because despite being incredibly dishonest it’s also amazingly effective.


  20. Look at all the time you needed to remind the audience that you are against child exploitation or human trafficking simply because she insisted on conflating the two? She operates entirely unencumbered by facts and when it comes to the Swedish model she is Lincoln Steffen’s after witnessing the horrors of the USSR in the 1930’s and proclaiming : “I have seen the future, and it works.”

    The only one who was in a position to ask her to source her assertions was the moderator who failed miserably at that, leaving it to you to ask “where are you getting this stuff?”

    You won the debate the moment you agreed to engage the lunatic fringe of the end demand movement. That you made so many effective and salient points was icing on the cake. Well done Ms. Brown.

  21. Geeze, considering the topic, you could’ve at least shown some cleavage. Use those babies as weapons.

  22. Like virtually all prohibitionists, Liedholdt keeps asserting what she believes to be true, even if her beliefs are self-contradictory, and without reference to sources (except her own anecdotal experience). She says, for example, that arresting someone who is paid by a sex worker to help her/him under pimping statutes “is a misuse of the law”, then alleges that drivers are “intimately connected with trafficking”, then asserts that she doesn’t know of any such cases happening. This is why, whenever I’ve argued with prohibitionists, and they throw out figures, I forcefully ask where they’re getting them from. And if they ask why I’m so skeptical, I point to Somaly Mam, Chong Kim, the debunked “average age of thirteen” claim, and ask them: “How could one not be skeptical?”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.