Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lifetime Glamorizes Prostitution

I don’t need to watch the forthcoming Lifetime television series, “The Client List,” to know it glamorizes the sex trade and dismisses the harm prostitution causes to women and girls. All I needed to do was click on the preview page on the website, which has a giant photo of Jennifer Love Hewitt in her underwear and a 15 second voice-over with seductive music, describing how she’s recruited into the sex trade in a small town massage parlor:

The series follows Riley balancing these two worlds - one that revolves around her kids and family - and the other that revolves around the massage parlor and it’s [sic] special clientele. These two worlds couldn’t be farther apart, yet she’s totally comfortable in both.

To us, this sounds like a john’s fantasy, which is to say, entirely delusional. Johns (men who buy sex) want to see things like this on TV because it legitimizes their behavior. The sad truth is that prostitution in massage parlors is happening here in Illinois and harming women and girls in our own community.

Just in the past year, several Illinois massage parlors have been shut down because of prostitution and, more to the point, for sex trafficking. A recent conviction of a pimp in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, shows how traffickers recruit and keep women in the sex trade through massage parlors.

Unfortunately, law enforcement’s approach to addressing these harms is usually to simply arrest the women working inside and to let the owners and johns go (as happened this week in Ottawa, Illinois). So the plot point that Riley should be worried about being arrested is certainly accurate, but that wouldn’t be her only concern. She would, most likely, live in fear of violence.

If the accounts of johns chatting with each other in online message boards is any indication, being prostituted in a massage parlor is not fun work. Johns describe groping, assaulting and denying pay to the women working in Illinois massage parlors. Most women in prostitution experience fear, threats and violence at the hands of pimps, johns and traffickers. More than 20% of women working in escort services and exotic dancing report being raped more than 10 times.

Lifetime says it’s “committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming content that celebrates, entertains and supports women.” Tell Lifetime you don’t think The Client List does any of those things by sending them a message, boycotting this show and asking your friends to do the same.

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1 comment:

  1. This is an embarrassment to an industry, which should pride it’s self on televising material that is more enlightening, inspiring and thought provoking. If you could reach hundred of thousands of people what story would you tell? How would you do a due diligence to your fellow human being? Sadly this industry is blinded by the false perception that sex sells. Indeed it does, but our society will not embrace flat-out immorality. It needs to be wooed, seduced. It must be real, feel real. I believe telling the real story of sex workers will probably lend greater ratings as well as educated people of the dangers. Cut out the lies the fairy tales, the veil of glamor. This is disgusting it’s like watching someone do drugs everyday and come home to friends and family as if all is well. The writer’s suck they give no complexity to the characters and as some have already mentioned it’s really just a big joke, and the punch line is the young girls/women who watch this will believe that this is how it really is. That sleeping with countless men for money will leave you healthy, beautiful, admired and loved by your friends and family. Let’s all laugh, how hilarious.