Sex Trafficking and Feminists…Seriously?

By Megan Lehman

It is no secret I am not a major fan of the Women’s March. From their association with, to put it nicely, unsavory individuals, and their lack of acceptance, a good idea and movement has turned into a divisive tool. And now, their stances and the appropriateness of those stances are being called in to question.

Last week, the website Backpage was seized and its headquarters raided by federal law enforcement. For those, like myself, who have never heard of Backpage before, it is a classified advertising website which launched in 2004. Since its launch, however, the site has gained notoriety for the advertisements for sex workers. The site charges just $1 to post an ad in the dating section. Fox News reported that many women are know to report their listing every half an hour.

Federal law enforcement agents completed this raid after many months of pressure from lawmakers and others who believe the webpage does nothing more than facilitate the sex trade, including participation in the trafficking of young women and girls.

In response to this raid, the Women’s March had some surprising things to say. “The shutting down of #Backpage is an absolute crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients,” they posted on Twitter. “Sex workers rights are women’s rights.”

Yes, these women, and men, placing these ads have rights. However, these men and women, though they prefer the term sex worker, are prostitutes. Last time I checked, prostitution was not legal in the majority of the United States, excluding some parts of Nevada.

Also, who is to say that posting an ad on Backpage is any safer than meeting a John or Jane on the streets? Unless Backpage is requiring background checks for those who post or respond to posts, I fail to see how this form of negotiation is any safer than what some would do in other circumstances.

The Women’s March has once again missed its mark to speak on behalf of a group they claim to represent; exploited and abused women and girls.

In his latest in Commentary, Sohrab Ahmari quoted Julie Bindel, a feminist and U.K. journalist from her article in Spectator just last year: “Women and girls in prostitution are overwhelmingly from abusive backgrounds, living in poverty, and otherwise marginalized. They are not free or empowered: they are abused and trapped It is not ‘sex work.’ Most of the time, it is modern slavery.”

Using terms like “sex worker” and “happy hooker” do nothing to change what is driving this industry: abuse. Whether it is in the form of drug abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse, something has pushed or drawn these men and women into an even more deadly pattern of abuse.

Instead of defending a site that allows them to maintain their life of abuse acceptance, we should be fighting for more opportunities to serve these women and men. We need to find ways to fix the problem at the heart of the sex trade and not encourage the growth of such an immoral, unhealthy, and deadly industry.

Ahmari ends his article by stating, “Anti-Trump women who have so far ignored or tolerated the group’s ideological extremism now have no excuse.” This message, however, should not just be targeted at “anti-Trump women.” This is an issue which affects every side of the aisle, every skin color, and every part of this country. If we care about the men and women who populate this country, we will use this opportunity to make a change.

So long, Backpage, and good riddance.

About Megan Lehman 21 Articles
Megan Lehman is a graduate of the University of Iowa, where she studied Communications and Spanish. After an internship in the Senate in Washington D.C., Megan decided to pursue two of her passions: writing and politics. She currently works and lives in the Iowa City area, where she is a member of the young professionals leadership council and hopes to run for office.