Want a more thoughtful, smarter approach to sexuality and culture? Tune in on some Sundays at 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific.

Is sex a human right? (via early to bed)

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Early To Bed has a great rundown of a recent controversy:

In England, a 21 year old man with learning disabilities is receiving government funding to take a trip to Amsterdam for the purpose of losing his virginity to a prostitute. … This is just one of the many people receiving sexual services funded through a £520million scheme introduced to empower those with disabilities.

[A social worker] claims, "Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights." Jezebel points out the sobering point that this is similar to language used by misogynists to defend rape. … [D]oes any one else find it odd that a country where prostitution is illegal has no problem sending a young man to see one elsewhere?

So, is sex a human right? No, but sexuality is. … Should taxpayers foot the bill for a 21 year old's sex holiday? Hell no.

This sheds some much-needed light on debates over acceptable sex and, more importantly, personal sexual responsibility.

Read brief source…

6 Comments on “Is sex a human right? (via early to bed)”

  1. 1 penwing said at 12:19 pm on August 29th, 2010:

    Just listened to Ep55 where you discussed this and was sat there going “wrong” through most of your discussion on the basis for this story (but not necessarily the conclusions).

    The article you link to above uses The Daily Mail as it’s source – The Daily Mail is like the UK equivalent of Fox News – extremely right wing moralising. It’s based off the original Telegraph piece (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/7945785/Councils-pay-for-prostitutes-for-the-disabled.html) which is another right wing paper (although not to the same extreme).

    Firstly, the scheme is (I believe, although the news reports don’t seem to mention it directly) Direct Payments which allows disabled people to select their own care. Care includes, for the most part, home help, meals on wheels, certain mobility aids etc. For some people, sexual services are a part of this. It is the individual taking responsibility for paying for their care rather than the local council providing it (which is a debate in itself). As such the trip to Amsterdam to visit a prostitute is not typical nor is it a Government scheme. Also, the £520million is for the whole scheme, not a pot to pay for sexual services.

    Secondly, prostitution itself is not illegal in the UK. What is illegal is activities around prostitution solicitation (advertising), paying for sex with a woman coerced into prostitution and running a brothel (which would include two prostitutes working out of a single building providing additional safety and security to both – yet another debate). Also UK political discourse has been very much that prostitution is entirely women forced into it or trafficked and therefore criminal (no men, Belle du Jour is a figment of our collective imagination etc.). Prostitution is therefore very complex, but not, itself, illegal…

    Naomi Jacobs writing for the Guardian (a left wing paper) argues from the disabled person’s side about sex and disability but I’m not sure I agree with her on prostitution. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/23/disabled-people-sex-lives-equality

    There’s lots of good stuff to be debating on this, but the idea that the government has a scheme to take people to Amsterdam to help them have sex is flawed and comes from a moralising, reactionary press, not the realities.

    x x

  2. 2 maymay said at 12:54 pm on August 29th, 2010:

    Thanks for the awesome set of nuanced clarifications, Penwing!

    You’re correct in presuming that my info about this story came from the Daily Mail piece, via the Early 2 Bed blog post cited in the post above. The Daily Mail does mention (fleetingly) the legal distinction between soliciting sexual service and prostitution itself, and while I’m aware of that distinction, for the sake of the conversation on Kink On Tap 55 and in deference to the wider political context that you describe and that I’m aware exists in the United Kingdom, I chose to remark that “prostitution is illegal.”

    In my (admittedly outsider’s) view, there is little practical difference between that reality and a reality where prostitution is flat-out criminal. It’s a bit like if driving weren’t (as it’s not) illegal, but advertising driving schools was (which, for obviously beneficial reasons, it’s not). Feels similar, to me.

    That said, perhaps the choice I made caused an unhelpful omission in the end. I’m not sure.

    As for the other details about the distinction between who and how the money of that program gets spent, thank you, because despite reading some of the news reports, I was not aware of that nuance and really appreciate you bringing that to my attention (and the attention of others through your public comment here).

    Thanks again!

  3. 3 Emma said at 12:57 pm on August 29th, 2010:

    Penwing, I want to thank you for such a thoughtful and well researched comment. This is the sort of feedback the show desperately needs.

    I also wanted to say that I, at least, was aware throughout the show that the program was aimed at empowering disabled people more generally. The story we covered was not about the rightness or wrongness of that program (generally, I think it’s a pretty cool idea); what we were trying to get at was whether or not sending this young man outside of the country to meet his sexual needs was a good use of the money the government had put aside for, as you point out, a wide variety of things that might improve the life of this young man and others like him.

    As hosts, we should have made the background of the program and where the funds were going more clear. And, clearly, neither of us was quite up on the state of legality of sex work in the UK; again thank you for setting us straight.

    It means a lot that you took the time to improve the accuracy of our show; please keep listening, and let us know if we slip up again!

  4. 4 penwing said at 3:35 pm on August 29th, 2010:

    I should explain – I work in advising people on benefits so get annoyed when I read these stories which are as much about attacking welfare claimants generally as they are attacking sexualities.

    My second bit about prostitution is more me in pedantic “Someone is wrong on the internet” mode (and a chance for me to complain about our legal system in this area 8-). Although I would argue there is a difference between prostitution being legal and not – someone operating legally still has the ability (if they are determined enough) to complain about official harassment etc.

    Certainly though the environment we have is sufficiently similar to “illegal” to potentially make it very difficult for the services being sought to be found in the UK.

    x x

  5. 5 Shaded Spriter said at 5:07 pm on August 31st, 2010:

    This made me stop the episode at work because of your calling it illegal.

    I am a friend and Accountant for a indoor prostitute “Krystal Champagne” so when you mentioned that I Remembered about something she mentioned to me about this issue Earlier. There is a charity The Tender Loving Care trust which specialists in helping disabled people well have better sex lives.

    so the thing which actually put me off of the story was why the person was going to Amsterdam When there are so many UK Prostitutes who would be willing to help.

  6. 6 Emma said at 9:04 am on September 3rd, 2010:

    Hey Spriter;

    Again, my apologies for our insinuation that prostitution is illegal in the UK. We were misinformed, and we’re darned grateful to have such an attentive listenership to set us straight when we need it. We had actually heard of the Tender Loving Care Trust, though it would ahve bee smart of us to bring it up again when we spoke of this story. You can listen to us talking about it on Kink On Tap 29.

    I have to admit I quite agree with you on the last point. It just doesn’t make sense to me that the UK government would want to outsource this issue when it could so easily be handled within their own nation. I’m assuming, here, that if prostitution is legal than money made off of it is taxable income, yes? That just compounds the silliness, to my mind.

    Thank you for your comment!