John Palfrey, a Harvard University law professor and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said the move from Craigslist was still a victory because it moved the ads off a highly visible location.
“Will people be able to find these ads online? The answer is almost certainly,” he said. “Will they be able to find these on legitimate sites? I think the answer is probably not.”
Taken from here.
On Saturday, Craigslist took down its public listings for adult/erotic services and gigs under incredible pressure from governmental agencies and their representatives. However, everyone seems to know that sex work is still going to happen on CL as well as a myriad of other places on the internet. No one has missed this fact. That’s because the problem isn’t sex work in and of itself. The problem is talking about it on, as John Palfrey would say, a “legitimate site.”
“Legitimate” is a tricky word. It’s a really widespread cultural belief that sex is not “legitimate.” It doesn’t matter how talented, skilled, or brilliant you are, once you start working in the field of sex your “legitimacy” goes out the window. This seems to go along with the popular trope that “sex sells.” Sex is viewed as the cheap trump card you can rely on to carry you when talent, merit, and skill have failed you when this is simply not true. Sex work is legitimate work. It does take talent, merit, and skill to succeed.
I’m sure many other people were uncomfortable with the notion that you could buy sex alongside other goods and services. Many people are OK with sex so long as it is confined to a ghetto where it won’t bother “legitimate” people, but the minute that it tries to enter the mainstream people freak out. The thing is, the mainstream (despite its many problems) also offers a great deal of safety for providers and consumers. Meanwhile, just as predicted, the sex work just moved into other sections on CL. Instead of being in its own category (the way that medical jobs are separate from non profit jobs are separate from customer service jobs) now adult work is being blended into “talent” or “therapeutic services” as well as finding their home in the free sex casual encounters category.
Everyone who tried to shut it down knew that it wouldn’t. What they shut down is the ability to call it by name on one website out of many.