Oh, to be alive when Deep Throat's Linda Lovelace, not car-bomb suspects, brought the FBI to Times Square. The porn star was likely less menacing. Given reports Lindsay Lohan is slated to appear in a biopic about the celebrity with a clitoris inside her neck, it's a interesting time to discuss why one of the original flick's actors was arrested and revisit whether it's time to legalize sex work.
Although I'm a sex and relationships writer, I've likely watched less smut than the SEC. I've not yet seen the 1972 classic in question in its entirety because it isn't available on Hulu or Netflix. Yet, I recently streamed Inside Deep Throat -- the 2005 documentary about, among other things, legal difficulties the film's director, distributors, producers and actors encountered. In it, co-star Harry Reems asks, "Do I belong in jail for five years for acting in Deep Throat?"
Reems was indicted on federal obscenity charges, though the conviction was eventually overturned.
Films that aren't coy about coitus reveal much about society. I don't believe the actions of sex workers -- such as prostitutes, escorts, many hardcore pornographic films actors or others who exchange sex for pay -- should be prosecuted like those who, for example, premeditatedly park vans with wired propane tanks in the heart of Midtown.
Speaking of violence, criminalizing sex work also renders those employed in the industry nearly defenseless in the workplace. Although laws exist to protect bartenders from secondhand smoke, coal miners from unsafe working conditions and construction workers from asbestos, we offer little protection for sex workers.
"More people have been victimized who never come forward, because the fear of arrest prevents them from reporting crimes, including violent crimes, against them," says Melissa Ditmore, editor of the Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. "The fact that sex workers have been ignored, and even arrested, when they try to report violence encourages predators."
So, here's a question: Is it time to legalize sex work? Please feel free to use the comments section below to share your thoughts.
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