Imagine there are no prostitutes

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What would happen if all sex was consensually free?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

We consider it the oldest profession, but such a claim creates an illusion that what is happening now and has been happening since the dawn of men and women is okay. Now, I’m all for people doing whatever they please with their bodies, and should they decide to sell it for sex, neither I nor anybody else has the right to stop them. Not even the law, right?

Yet I also know that a large number of women, and many we can only refer to as girls, who enter the trade do not consider what they do empowering. It’s slavery. Many are taken from their homes, trafficked to different countries, and sold like products on the streets. So the people who choose to take on prostitution as a career are in fact crippling those that don’t.

There is no honest way to stop prostitution. It’s not a company. It’s an industry. You can close down Safeway, but people who want groceries will simply go over to Superstore. Same goes with illegal sex. You can get rid of a drug dealer, but another one will just fill in the gap and fulfill the demand. It’s a business, and like all businesses, as long as there is demand, there will be suppliers.

So the question when it comes to stopping prostitution isn’t how to stop prostitution, but how to stop men from paying for illegal sex. After you utter such a question all you can do is give a big exhale, because even the most optimistic of folks can agree that such a mission sounds impossible.

The thing about prostitutes is that many of them aren’t offering sex exclusively; they are offering companionship. They are “escorts.” If it’s just horniness that drives the male desire for sex, then a few minutes alone with the Internet should be enough to suffice. But loneliness is a whole different beast. The longing for physical touch is not something that every person is blessed with. If we want to end prostitution, we must find a solution where we can give people the satisfaction of human contact and emotional intimacy, while preventing them from falling into drugs or other abusive habits.

When you peel away the skin of the problem and look at the core, you can see that the need for prostitution is continued due to the fact that some men are just bad at interacting with women. These men are so undesirable, or they feel so undesirable, that they cannot imagine woman spending time with them without having to pay. I believe we live in a world where people can rise above that shitty attitude—the attitude of self pity and shame from people who want something but aren’t willing to work for it. They take the easy route, and that is what prostitution is. Instead of driving around the block looking for free parking, the driver will just pay for a spot in the parkade. It’s easier.

I don’t like the people who approach prostitution as lusty entertainment for a stag or stagette party. I think that tradition needs to be wiped out. However, no matter how much I’d like to believe that we can find ways to seek other companionship, prostitution as a source of comfort and cure for the lonely is something this world cannot be without for now.

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You might like me when I’m angry

Rage Room

Why the ‘rage room’ is a therapeutic blessing

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. September 16, 2015

We live in a society where we have to walk in line, talk politely, and eat with our mouths closed. We put so much pressure on ourselves to stay civilized that often we forget that we are animals. The way we bottle up our rage, stress, and frustration is one of the reasons why we have such an internalized, yet explosive, brand of suffering. When we erupt we do it in the most self-destructive ways: we burn bridges, sabotage ourselves, and mostly likely hurt our loved ones. Talking only does so much, writing in our journals only does so much, and even drugs and alcohol can only mute the pain temporarily. What we need is a safe environment to let it all out.

The rage room is the latest trendy stress-relief activity and I think it’s about time. Toronto has its very own, and I think Vancouver should venture into that market as well. Basically, the rage room is a confined space where you, the paid participant, can release your anger on inanimate objects. The same way dogs love to chew and cats love to scratch, humans have an innate desire to see things break and go boom.

Why not go to yoga, relax in a hot tub, or get a nice massage? If you like trendy, why not go lie down in a float spa? Why not go exercise for an hour or two to get the sweat out? While those activities will relieve stress, it offers a solution from one side of the spectrum. Relaxation has a certain flavour and destruction has a different one. It’s like wanting a White Castle burger and settling for a hotdog from Hot Dog Heaven.

Let’s say your favourite hockey team lost and you feel pissed. You don’t want to go do yoga. You want to smash this lamp here. Let’s say you found out that your ex-girlfriend is dating a richer, nicer, better-looking guy, you don’t want to read a nice book in the bathtub, you want to smash this lamp here. Of course we—controlled, well-mannered humans—never actually follow through with our destructive thoughts, but the fact that many of us have them makes me believe that we need a place to release it.

While a rage room is a fairly new concept, and may only be advertised as a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon, I believe that there should be a rage space for every coffee shop. Just a place where we can walk into, bring something we want to destroy, and leave with the satisfaction that we can still make an impact in this world. We can still alter the outcome of a physical entity, without hurting another human being, of course.

Not everything in life will go your way. Sometimes the Canucks will lose. Sometimes your boss will not acknowledge your efforts. Sometimes your partner will belittle you at a party. Sometimes your life will seem like it’s spinning out of your control. That’s because we are forced to place meaningless objects on pedestals. We worship objects. We shouldn’t. Smash it. Smash it before you find yourself downtown smashing the window of The Bay or flipping over a cop car.