John Oliver can’t understand why “sex work” is illegal in the United States.
The “Last Week Tonight” host laid out some arguments in favor of decriminalizing prostitution, pointing to how this move would make it “safer” for sex workers, and saying how it could even reduce instances of human trafficking.
The 44-year-old host noted that sex is “a topic that historically we’ve not been very good at talking about” and claims that “sex work” is mishandled in America due to the laws we have in place banning it.
“Basically, consensual sex for money on camera is legal porn, and consensual sex for money off-camera is illegal sex work,” Oliver said. “Makes sense, right? Wrong? Well, exactly. Everything about the way we regulate sex work in this country is confusing and counter-productive.” He claims it’s either “demonizing, patronizing or just plain wrong.”
The HBO host comes down hard on law enforcement during the segment. He says police “position themselves as saviors for sex workers” but are mostly “arresting and jailing them.”
He criticized police who have had sex with sex workers during undercover operations, plus pointed out that between 2016 and 2020, almost everyone arrested by the NYPD for selling sex was a person of color.
“I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture here,” Oliver said during the segment. “Sex work can be dangerous and we need to be talking constructively about how to make it safer in every possible way.” But the British host insisted that sex trafficking and “the implicit suggestion is that no sex worker has ever entered the trade by choice” is untrue.
He also noted how prostitutes are less likely to report crime for fear of getting in trouble themselves. “It is no surprise that many workers who have been robbed or abused by clients report that they feel they can’t turn to the police for help,” he said.
Oliver’s solution for all these issues? Decriminalization of prostitution. He points to other countries who have done it as examples of success, such as New Zealand.
The comedian’s opinion is becoming more and more popular. Last year, a University of Ottawa adjunct professor said on Twitter that doing “sex work on the side” is the “best thing” young people can do early in their careers.
“Unpopular opinion: the best thing young people can do early in their careers is do #SexWork on the side because your early career prospects will be unstable, unpredictable, low pay, likely contract work and very much exploitative,” she wrote before comparing prostitution to capitalism.
“That’s how capitalism works… People out here saying young people can be exploited in sex work. Literally, that’s capitalism. Lol. And quite literally, that’s any kind of work,” she continued.
Meanwhile, far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also used Twitter to promote prostitution, repeating the popular phrase: “sex work is work.” This was in response to a paramedic being “shamed” for creating an OnlyFans account.
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