The argument, spurious as it may be, is that the Sex Offender Registry is justified as a means of alerting people to the child molester or rapist next door. Not “fair enough,” but still, that’s the rationalization. So Florida has taken the “sex” part, ignored the rest of the reasoning, and run with it.
Florida lawmakers just voted to create a public registry of people caught paying or attempting to pay for sex.
After an initial defeat in the Florida House of Representatives, the registry—arguably the worst part of a new Florida crime bill capitalizing on human-trafficking propaganda—was revived and reinserted before the measure’s passage in the Florida Senate. The final version, approved last week, creates a database of convicted prostitution customers, targets strip clubs, and mandates that a slew of state workers and businesses jump through new hoops to accommodate a few politicians’ latest attempt to get their names in the press.
Whoever came up with the phrase “human trafficking” to apply to any sex work was brilliant, recognizing that stupid people would have a visceral reaction without ever laboring to consider whether there was anything, anything at all, that connected the conduct complained of with actual human trafficking.
But this list? On the one hand, it’s a hat tip to those pols who want to pretend to be woke about the rights of sex workers, women who choose to earn their living by having sex for a fee, while simultaneously shaming their customers by putting their names on a list. Human trafficking is the mantra to fill the gap, because people are still as susceptible to mindless visceral belief when the phrase is uttered as before. Whether this is particularly true in Florida isn’t yet clear.
This is a shame list. It’s not the first time some media-whore politicians played that game, as now-congresswoman, then district attorney, Kathleen Rice tried it. Shaming men who patronize prostitutes doesn’t distinguish between women who are kidnapped, held against their will, forced into prostitution, as the “human trafficking” cries suggest. It’s just about shaming men for sex, while pretending that women who elect to exercise their agency and engage in sex work shouldn’t be criminals.
Do we fear that these men who patronize prostitutes are going to break into your house and offer to pay for sex from your wife, your daughter? Do they cruise around in white vans, asking random god-fearing women with strollers whether they want to go on a “date”?
But what about men who are dangerous and abusive to prostitutes? No, this isn’t the list of them either.
“This isn’t creating a list of bad or dangerous clients; it’s just a list of clients who got caught by the police,” Kaytlin Bailey of Decriminalize Sex Work told Filter. “It’s impossible to tell the good guys from the bad if you lump them all together. Men who pay for sex aren’t predators. Predators who pose as clients are. When you make potential clients scared of giving sex workers the information they need to screen, you make it impossible to tell the difference between men who are scared and men who are scary.”
It’s almost as if there’s a stealth war on men and sex happening all around us. If volitional sex work is fine, why would their customers deserve to be shamed? Because they can and we remain every bit as susceptible to the vapid rationalizations for why men are the problem, even when they pay for sex from women who exercise their free will to sell it. For shame.