Sex Workers of America Unite!

Leftist academics in America must be salivating over the current “socialist option” emerging in politics. The indoctrination they have imposed on students is paying off as we see in the example of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who proudly calls herself a “democratic socialist.” But Ocasio-Cortez is not the only millennial who espouses a socialist political agenda.

Enter Julia Salazar, a 27-year-old candidate for the New York State Senate, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, who aims to lube the machine of socialism as a major part of her political platform.

Salazar appears to be even more evolved, or shall we say “woke,” than Ocasio-Cortez because she has taken the usual socialist tenets—labor and redistribution—and applied them in the most unexpected ways: rights for sex workers. These include “escorts, prostitutes, pornography actors, and phone sex operators,” or really any “willing exchange of money or goods for sexual labor.” Her proposed plan for how to address the concerns of sex workers is outlined on her website and in a recent article that reveals Salazar’s reasons for giving a voice to this apparently neglected community.

What Kind of Services Are We Talking About?
Salazar’s aim is to legalize prostitution. In practice, what does that really mean? She may call herself a “democratic socialist” but let’s dispense with the euphemism. Her platform is socialist and addressing the concerns of sex workers means the creation of “a network of optional services to address the workers’ needs, such as housing, child care, syringe access, and job training.” The problem is that somebody has to pay for it.

For whom would these services she wants made available be optional, though? Sex workers or the taxpayers? Syringe access? Does this mean that, as a society, we should pay for someone’s addiction? And job training—for what? Does Salazar mean training for acts of prostitution? One thing is certain: the implementation of such proposals can only mean redistribution.

Unsurprisingly, Salazar has the support of sex workers, at least in the New York City area. Many events have already been organized in order to promote Salazar’s agenda. A community organizer (read: Alinskyite agitator), Lola Balcon, has been working actively with Salazar to address sex workers’ concerns. According to Balcon, Salazar is “so far ahead of everybody else” in regard to truly understanding the depth of issues sex workers face every day. “Whatever Lola wants Lola gets?” Maybe not in this case.

Social Justice Clichés
As with any current iteration of leftist approaches to politics, the rights of sex workers is also connected to social justice. Salazar uses the word “justice” in relation to most of the policies she aims to change, such as “reproductive justice” and “climate justice.” She takes her fight seriously and is a proud social justice warrior, who sees nothing wrong with creating her political platform around identity politics. Speaking to The Daily Beast, Salazar emphasized the need to decriminalize prostitution by focusing on what she calls “marginalized groups”:

We know that black women especially, but women of color, immigrant women, certainly in the case of massage parlor raids, are disproportionately affected by this. So when we speak about rights for all immigrants, for all people of color, for all women and gender non-conforming people, we need to consider what is actually affecting their lives, and the decriminalization of sex work certainly is…

Salazar may be correct about some of these facts but she misses a major point and a question here: why are women led into prostitution to begin with? If she is going to fight for anything, shouldn’t she fight to end the deplorable conditions for women who find themselves in such circumstances? Shouldn’t women be members of productive society and have authentic responsibilities and power to do good instead of destroying their lives, losing self-respect and the respect of others, facing objectification by men who avail themselves of such “services,” and worse, experiencing rape and ultimately, destitution and possibly death?

Human Dignity, Rightly Understood
Salazar’s fight and perspective rest primarily on a false understanding of human dignity and blinkered thinking that recognizes sex work as real work. According to her, “sex workers are workers and they deserve to be treated with dignity, including protections and decent working conditions, rather than the abuse and criminalization that they currently face.”

Does everyone deserve to be treated with dignity? We ought to acknowledge that every human being has an inherent dignity by virtue of belonging to humankind. As observers of others, we should aspire not to dehumanize others, but recognizing an inherent dignity in others doesn’t mean that we ought to accept a behavior (in this case, prostitution) that is inherently undignified.

Philosopher and bioethicist Leon Kass makes a crucial distinction between inherent human dignity and the dignity of being human. “The dignity of being human,” he says, “depends not only for its existence on the presence and worth of human vitality; our dignity’s full realization in admirable human activity depends for its active pursuit and attainment—the second aspect of their relationship—on human aspiration.”

We are always called to become better human beings, and when we answer that call, we contribute to the flourishing of our communities. Prostitution, by its very definition, depends on objectification, utilitarianism, and a rejection of the dignity of the human body and the negation of the human soul. It doesn’t contribute to the growth of an individual (be it a woman who is selling her body or a man who is buying it—or any other combination of exchange). Society-at-large is affected as well. In fact, like a virus, it attacks the “vitality” of life that Kass mentions, and it spreads until a society itself becomes diseased.

Salazar by contrast treats prostitution as just another career option. Her perception of reality is skewed. And her politics are absurd because she misunderstands human dignity and thinks sex work is liberating and worthy of society’s recognition as something honorable. This is what the tenets of cultural Marxism get you: a crooked belief that everything, including the human body, is a commodity that needs to have an appropriate division of labor and union representation that demands redistribution of resources.

Life isn’t just about politics. It’s also about the ways we relate to and encounter each other. If our only reference to how we should behave is the current modern reality, then how can we expect to have a society that will flourish? Without recognition and understanding of the difference between order and disorder, we will float in transient definitions of society that are wholly based on various ideological trends, which by nature change frequently. It is precisely because of this fluidity that we need to affirm the order of things if we want to see growth and creation of both an individual and community.

Photo Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

About Emina Melonic

Originally from Bosnia, a survivor of the Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, Emina Melonic immigrated to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in 2003. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her writings have appeared in National Review, The Imaginative Conservative, New English Review, The New Criterion, Law and Liberty, The University Bookman, Claremont Review of Books, The American Mind, and Splice Today. She lives near Buffalo, N.Y.

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