The World’s First Profession

Leave it to Iceland to break the mold yet again. Apparently our frigid friends to the north have decided to outlaw stripping following a successful ban on prostitution. They are the first to do so in the world. Johanna Sigurðardottir, Iceland’s prime minister and the first openly gay head of state in the world, believes that stripping and prostitution propagate sexism and go against the fundamentals of feminism, and that Iceland “[recognizes]  women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale.” The law’s a really nice sentiment, although totally unrealistic. I agree that stripping and prostitution are fuel for misogyny; and despite there being male strippers and prostitutes, the “male escort” industry doesn’t seem to be nearly as widespread or prominent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a male prostitute in Toronto, but I’ve seen plenty of female ones (there was definitely a lady who very much could have been hooker on my corner last night- a rarity in my neighborhood). Maybe male hookers are classier or more discrete? Either way, I don’t think  Iceland’s ban of stripping will eliminate stripping. As was true with the prohibition and whore houses today, when the government bans something people want, it simply goes underground. At least if stripping is legal, it’s regulated. In the case of prostitution, government legalization would allow mistreated prostitutes to go to the police without the fear of being arrested themselves. It would offer these women a new level of protection and take some of the power away from their pimps or their clients.  Although Iceland’s intentions are good (and their push for equality applaudable,) their program may be imprisoning women, instead of liberating them.

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