Be Careful What You Don’t Ask For

PremierTweetNot even three full years after enacting moderately sexist “Frat House Legislation“, Premier Brad Wall announced that his government had “reversed our mistake to allow strip clubs in SK.” With a rather smug nod to the reason being related to human trafficking, without any …whattayacallit… proof or supporting documentation whatsoever, without any public consultation other than the irate moral majority who have nothing better to do than call in to radio talk shows to rant about how watching someone get nekkit on stage at a bar is going to cause their children irreparable damage, and without any, it would seem, common sense.

Leaving for a moment, our senses behind, as is the wont of the government currently in power over us, let us contemplate all of the *actual* dangers of people getting nekkit while alcohol is being served:

  1. Boners
  2. Uncomfortable boners
  3. Spilling drinks (although it can be argued that people in any stage of dress or undress could cause drink spillage; we put this here simply to acknowledge potential dampness)
  4. Labial dampness unrelated to drink spillage
  5. Did I mention boners? Oh. I did. Right.
  6. Having God revoke your get-in-to-heaven-free card because it states quite plainly in 2 Abyssinians how “The Lord Shall Smiteth anyone whososever shall gaze upon the nekkit flesh of dancing dancers while consuming the wine of the grape or the beer of the barley plant”. Oh wait. That’s not in the bible? Really? Well who WROTE that thing? It should be. You know what? I’m just going to pencil that right in there. What do you MEAN Abyssinians isn’t a book in the bible? I’m penciling that in there too. THERE. Now there’s BIBLICAL PROOF that strippers are, like, evil and shit when there’s alcohol being served. TAKE THAT, ALBERTA. You’re all going to hell. Except Taber.
  8. Boners

Women and men who choose to dance, I can’t believe we have to go over this again, nekkit or mostly nekkit, choose to do so for many reasons. In some cases, women (primarily) and men are being forced in to the ILLEGAL SEX TRADE (of which, I’m sure, a side-line is perfectly legal, regulated, and inspected nightclubs) for a multitude of reasons, including *but not limited to* poverty, substance abuse, mental health challenges, abusive histories, and a shameful and general lack of support for any of those things.

This may be a naive and simple view of the issue, because I don’t have any of the details the provincial government used to base their wishy-washy reversal of their own legislation on. They haven’t chosen to make that information public yet. I would like to see the statistical numbers from police across the country that will show me a positive causative relationship between dancing with your clothes off while alcohol is served and a rise in human trafficking.

The assumption that this legislation ONLY affects “young women” shows a fairly common (but maddening) dismissal of what’s actually happening in the sex trade.

This legislation isn’t going to protect young people at risk (regardless of their gender). It will serve to drive those activities further underground and will put the people working in these trades at further risk. You want to talk exploitation? Let’s talk about whether someone who chooses to dance partially nude (remember, the previous legislation prevented women (and only women) from displaying the “ends of their breasts” (nipples) and all dancers from displaying their genitals) is being exploited, or whether someone who’s had to, for a multitude of reasons, turn to the streets to earn their living and who is forced in to dancing partially nude (or fully nude, since the reversed new legislation doesn’t care about nipples OR junk) is being exploited. I know some folks will say both people are being exploited. I think that choice is, at its core, fundamentally empowering. And if you freely and without coercion, understanding all the risks and benefits, choose to shake your booty at a bunch of people who are simultaneously consuming liquor, THAT SHOULD BE YOUR RIGHT.

Making sex illegal does not stop the sex trade. It never has. What it DOES do is put sex workers at risk. There IS empirical evidence to support this.

Now. We’ve left our sense behind long enough. Let’s look at what else this asinine decision does.

  1. Removes any sort of credibility the governing party might once have had. The initial legislation was introduced in the fall of 2012, and it wasn’t until two years later that licensed establishments were beginning to pop up. There were discussions about where strip clubs could and couldn’t be located (not within 50 feet of a bowling alley, that’s for sure), and local business owners were just starting to really take advantage of this new and somewhat progressive (if sexist) legislation. But then, in March 2015, the Premier announced that nope, sorry. No titties. Specifically, no titties while you enjoy a brew.
  2. Proves to the people of Canada that Saskatchewan is pretty much a laughing-stock of a province. Because no matter how much you trumpet that this decision was “not motivated by the morality police”, NOBODY IS GOING TO BELIEVE YOU. We’re already considered the bible belt of Canada, for God’s sake. Hell, just try being brown. Or even off-white. WE ARE THE OZARKS OF CANADA.
  3. If you don’t care about what the rest of the country thinks about us (and if you’re willing to stop comparing us to Alberta), then maybe you care about what kind of precedent this move sets. The government brings in progressive legislation, and then, a week after it releases a somewhat shady budget (in which it borrows rather a lot of money in order to “balance the books”), it reverses the progressive legislation. That kind of move screams “SHELL GAME! SHELL GAME!”. Where SHOULD you be looking?
  4. By re-criminalizing (partially) nude performances in licensed establishments while alcohol is being served, the Saskatchewan government has re-linked burlesque performances, strip teases, and exotic dancing with the illegal sex trade. Philosophically and realistically.
  5. We’ve just called every woman and man who chooses to do burlesque, strip tease, and exotic dancing a prostitute. How? We’ve just said, by repealing this legislation, that nude performances in licensed establishments when liquor is being served is pretty much the same thing as people being sold against their will for sex acts. We haven’t said that overtly, but that is absolutely one of the connotations. Classy.

This could turn in to a much longer rant about how the only real way to combat the illegal sex trade is to legalize (or at the VERY least decriminalize) all aspects of the sex trade, but I’m not going to go there. That’s for another day.

I would like to hear from the parents of children in places where strip teases, exotic dancing, and burlesque are legal and regulated at licensed establishments. I want to know how, exactly your children have been IRREPARABLY DAMAGED. I would like to know how much the crime stats have risen in regard to human trafficking, and how much of that can be directly related to topless (but with pasties) dancing women, and not to OTHER organized crime activities like, oh, I dunno, drugs and weapons.

I will admit I don’t know a whole lot about organized crime, so I don’t know if it’s a common practice for, like, the Russian mob to make under-the-table deals with legitimate, law-abiding business owners to provide underage or coerced/unwilling strippers for their shows. The guy who ran that strip club in small town Saskatchewan seemed pretty okay with what sounded like a fairly dodgy practice, and I’d like to see business owners have an incentive to hire Saskatchewan performers over imported talent in general – not just in the thong-and-pasties categories. I think that’d go a long way to combating human trafficking in strip clubs.

Ultimately, I have to trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan is operating on some very compelling, very provable, very reliable statistics that without a shadow of a doubt prove that women (particularly) and men shaking their mostly nude booties in establishments where patrons consume liquor are at risk of human trafficking. Sadly, I don’t trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan has any such information, because if he did, he’d release it for public scrutiny. And if the Premier of Saskatchewan will backpedal so fast and so completely on this issue, what else is he going to backpedal on?

I’m disappointed in my province once again.



11 responses to “Be Careful What You Don’t Ask For”

  1. ravensmarch Avatar

    Thinkin’, eh? We’re trying to encourage people around these parts to do less of that.

    Of course, I’m in trouble now for saying “these parts.”

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      No, no, ravensmarch; your use of “these parts” is completely allowed (and encouraged) on posts in which we point out that we are DEFINITELY sliding backward into the slack-jawed yokel style of jackwagon governance.

  2. christianedwardgruber Avatar

    I though it was “these parts” that the premier was objecting to…

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      I love you, Christian.

  3. Bel Avatar

    Did I ever tell you about my work permit, that I need to do an ‘onest day’s graft in this ere cuntry?
    I now have an Open work permit, meaning I can work for any employer, or for myself etc. instead of being at the mercy of my rather exploitative former bosses… (a different story altogether). It still has some restrictions on it though, namely, it says the permit DOES NOT allow me “to work in the sex industry or associated trades, ie: escort services and exotic dancing”.
    Because EVERYONE intent on trafficking women into Canada for these industries is OBVIOUSLY going to apply to the Canada Immigration and Citizenship office for the correct permits before they start, right? I bet they even looked up the right Occupational Code for the skilled workers program and everything.

    More confusingly, however, is that *it doesn’t say the same thing on my husband’s permit*
    So apparently he can strip off, dance provocatively in public and make money from it, (god help us!) and not only can I not join him, I now can’t even be a bar wench in the same establishment.

    I guess my point is, RAAAAH sexism!! RAAAAH bureaucracy!

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      That. Is. Shocking.

  4. Bel Avatar

    p.s. – you might like this: They used to rehearse in my coffee shop in the UK, for the first year of my daughter’s life. I even joined in for a while. You’ve met the offspring, you can see how scarred and emotionally traumatised she is now.

  5. fact check Avatar
    fact check

    If Mr.Wall is so concerned with ‘organized crime’ in our province why is his candidate for Regina University married to the lawyer for The Hells Angels. True Story. Ask her.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      It’s kind of not illegal for lawyers to represent criminals. I mean. That’s sort of what criminal defense attorneys are for.

  6. cabrogal Avatar

    I only just got around to reading the Equality Now report you link to.

    While I can’t speak for other jurisdictions I can pretty definitely say its claims about the NSW experience of sex work decriminalisation are nonsense – though to be fair it only quotes the statements of a few NSW cops and I have no reason to doubt they would trot out precisely the sort of self-serving bunkum EN attributes to them.

    I couldn’t help noticing that EN doesn’t see fit to quote any actual sex workers about the effects of decriminalisation or legalisation in any of the jurisdictions it examines.

    NEW SOUTH WALES (AUSTRALIA): One police officer who investigates sex trafficking commented on the effects of decriminalization: “Although the intention was to provide a safe working environment for sex workers the reverse has occurred in that pimps and brothel operators were empowered and enriched.”

    In fact in the bad old days of criminalised sex work a handful of extremely powerful brothel owners (e.g. Abe Saffron and Jim McCarthy Anderson) controlled almost all the indoor sex work in inner and eastern Sydney while corrupt police controlled most of the street prostitution. The workers rarely got to keep even half of their takings and were subject to abusive and dangerous work environments – particularly the ones who had cops for pimps. I’ve known quite a few sex workers in my life and the only one I knew of who was forced into sex work against her will was being violently coerced by police.

    These days most sex workers in NSW work autonomously (often with one or two colleagues) or in relatively small independent brothels. They are protected by the same industrial laws as other workers and can (and do) seek legal redress against abusive employers. NSW sex worker organisations all agree they are much safer and have a much better work environment now while their interstate colleagues hold up the NSW system as the ideal to aspire to. To the best of my knowledge the immensely rich, powerful and untouchable crime bosses who once ran the industry in this state are now out of business.

    NEW SOUTH WALES (AUSTRALIA): Senior police officials have acknowledged that policing of organized crime in legal brothels is “patchy” and the regulation of brothels is “often woeful.” One investigator noted that because of decriminalization “police were cut out of the equation and organised crime infiltrated the brothel and massage parlor industry.”

    One of the main impetuses towards decriminalisation in NSW was precisely to cut police out of the equation. As the Wood Royal Commission into NSW police corruption found, the illegal sex industry was a major driver of police corruption in NSW with cops acting both as pimps and as enforcers for crime bosses. To say that organised crime has now ‘infiltrated’ an industry it once controlled is a laughable reversal of the truth.

    The policing of organised crime in legal brothels is patchy for the same reason the policing of organised crime in the restaurant industry is patchy – because there just isn’t that much of it to police. Brothels are now regulated by local government health and safety inspectors and while it varies from one LGA to another – with many leaving much to be desired – the fact is that the problems are more to do with industrial standards than criminality. Both the sex and restaurant industries are regularly raided by Immigration Department officials searching for illegal immigrants and there is a steady trickle of prosecutions in both.

    There are still unlicensed illegal brothels in NSW and some are still protected by corrupt cops. The Police Integrity Commission Operation Rosella found several illegal brothels with underaged workers in the Georges River area of Sydney about a decade ago. They were being run by a consortium of criminals and very senior police with the connivance of at least two NSW politicians. The head of the Georges River police area command was jailed for his part in the enterprise but one of the politicians went on to become the NSW Attorney General.

    NSW cops once did very well from the illegal sex industry – both financially and in free ‘trade’ – so it’s no surprise there’s still a lot of sour grapes over decriminalisation. I hardly think they’re the people to go to for unbiased information about it.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Thanks for this!

      Not being a resident, I can’t vouch, obviously, for the veracity of the document itself, but I’m really appreciative of your comment.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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