Schematically, the abolitionist presents an argument like this:
Conclusion: All governments should adopt the Swedish Model.
Now, nothing about this form requires the abolitionist to make bad or incomplete arguments. Nothing about it requires her to deal in hyperbole or resort to rhetorical gambits.
One abolitionist, Michelle Madden Dempsey, quite obviously knows what arguments are and relishes making them. She sets out her premises clearly, takes up and defuses possible objections to them, and connects them plausibly to her conclusion. I want to lay out her defense of abolitionism and look at its strengths and weaknesses.
Dempsey’s full argument attacks prostitution by linking it to sex trafficking and by faulting both sex trafficking and prostitution for “sustain[ing] and perpetuat[ing] patriarchal structural equalities.” The second conjunct represents the “feminist” strand of Dempsey’s argument but, in making her main case for abolitionist policies, she brackets this dimension and centers her analysis on the harms done to individual women by prostitution and sex trafficking.
Dempsey takes the abolitionist mantra, “prostitution is violence against women,” not as asserting a conceptual identity but as emphasizing an empirical regularity: what is “typically or often the case” about prostitution. Thus, Dempsey avows that “[a]s a social practice . . . prostitution is subject to feminist critique because violence is typical of its practice.” Sex trafficking, of course, is even more thoroughgoingly bad as it always involves force or threats of force, deception, kidnapping, and a laundry list of other harms inflicted on the trafficked victim.
According to Dempsey, legally prohibiting the purchase of sexual services can be grounded, first of all, in male buyers’ complicity in the violence, loss of liberty, and other harms that afflict trafficked victims. Her argument goes like this:
1. “[P]urchasing sex creates market demand for prostitution.”
2. This “encourages traffickers and pimps” to meet the demand.
3. To meet the demand, “traffickers and pimps often engage in harmful conduct against” their victims, using “for example, force, threats, coercion, etc.”
4. By purchasing sex, buyers encourage traffickers and pimps in their violent and coercive ways; they are thus complicit in the wrongs committed on prostitutes and trafficked women.
Those who seek out the services of prostitutes are “indirectly responsible as accessories” to the abuses committed directly by traffickers and pimps; “they are complicit” in those moral wrongs. The users of prostitutes are “not so naïve as to fail to realize that their conduct generates a market demand” fueling “trafficking and abusive pimping.”
[E]ven if the typical buyer recognizes the risk that his conduct contributes to trafficking and abusive pimping, he may wish that this were not so . . . But, given the realities of the world as it is, he nonetheless purchases sex, aware of the risk that he may indeed be contributing [to]. . . . Where buyers realize that their market conduct creates the risk of trafficking and abusive pimping, they possess the mens rea of recklessness and are thus culpable in their complicity.
Mens rea refers the mental state of an offender. Reckless disregard of known consequences satisfies this condition in legal proceedings. Thus, prostitute users are, by and large, morally accessories to a very large assault on women in prostitution and may justifiably be made subject to criminal penalties. This is the argument from complicity.
The argument from endangerment – the second of Dempsey’s arguments – goes like this.
[T]he direct harm at issue is the sexual conduct with a person who has been forced, threatened, coerced, etc., into submitting to the commercial sex act. The purchaser is no longer merely an accomplice to the traffickers’ or pimps’ directly harmful conduct . . . rather . . . it is the purchaser himself who is the principal. He directly inflicts the harm – or at least takes the risk that he may be directly inflicting this harm.
In cases where force, threats, coercion, or deception used by the trafficker are sufficient to vitiate the prostituted person’s consent to engage in commercial sex, the harm inflicted by the purchaser in the act of prostitute-use is not simply risked, it is actually inflicted. This harm, inflicted directly on the prostituted person, is tantamount to the harm experienced in the paradigmatic sexual offenses of rape and sexual assault.
If sex purchasers could distinguish prostitutes working under threat of force from those not and confine their sex purchases to the latter, the argument from endangerment wouldn’t apply. However, men seeking the use of prostitutes are not able, by and large, to distinguish those forced from those unforced, nor are they motivated to do so.
This is a very sketchy outline of Dempsey’s defense of abolitionism. Let me flesh it out a bit more.
Start with the claim of complicity. Dempsey is aware that we are all parts of causal chains that prompt some people to act in morally or legally repugnant ways. Merely being part of such a causal chain doesn’t make us complicit in the wrongdoing. Indeed, even being a knowing part of such a chain doesn’t generate complicity. For example, our shoe purchases may create incentives for third-world manufacturers to engage in abusive labor practices, a fact we are aware of. Yet we are not complicit in these abuses.
Dempsey needs to show that the sex buyer is not like the shoe buyer. She does so in a manner that alters her construction of complicity:
In buying shoes or carpets, one does not inflict any additional, direct harm on the person who was forced to manufacture the goods. In buying sex, however, this additional harm – or at least the risk of it – is directly inflicted by the purchaser in the sexual act of prostitute-use.
This way of distinguishing the shoe buyer and the sex buyer effectively collapses the argument from complicity into the argument from endangerment. Sex buyers aren’t simply contributing (by creating market demand) to the wrongs of others; they aren’t just “indirectly responsible as accessories,” as Dempsey puts it earlier. They inflict further direct harm in the sex act itself.
Now, Dempsey eschews a common abolitionist tactic of making sex with a prostitute an act of violence in itself. She grants that
it is possible . . . that people can genuinely consent to selling sex, that their consent negates any wrongful harm they might experience, and that in fact some people do consent. . . . [A]bolitionist arguments need not establish that all instances of prostitution are harmful; rather, it is sufficient to motivate these arguments that often prostituted people are harmed in prostitution, that the harm is substantial, and that the value of prostitution is inadequate to justify that harm.
The “endangering” buyer is inflicting “further direct harm” on forced prostitutes, or running the risk of inflicting such harm, itself a wrong.
How much risk does the sex buyer take? Asking this question focuses us on a central assumption at work in Dempsey’s defense: that most prostitutes are under the control of traffickers and abusive pimps. Thus, any sex purchaser runs a substantial risk that he will engage in an act “tantamount to rape.”
The case that Dempsey makes hinges on what percentage of prostitutes is trafficked or forced. As she herself concedes, consent vitiates harm. If the ratio of forced prostitutes to unforced prostitutes is, say, 1:1, then any sex purchaser runs a substantial risk of inflicting a harm tantamount to rape (assuming purchaser’s incapacity to distinguish between the two kinds of prostitute). The argument from endangerment would stand on solid ground. However, if the ratio is 1:5,000, the average sex buyer runs a very small risk of inflicting harm. In this event, the argument from endangerment would not stand on such solid ground. Dempsey doesn’t tell us where the ratio lies but she obviously thinks it lies closer to 1:1 – or even to 5,000:1.
Dempsey’s defense of the abolitionist policy of criminalizing the purchase of sex is tentative. Even if the numbers support her endangerment argument, we need more. We need, she says, to have a reasonable expectation that criminalizing sex purchases (a) will diminish prostitution and, more importantly, (b) will not produce undesirable side effects that make prostitutes worse off. Madden Dempsey is not able to settle these matters though she thinks there’s reason to be hopeful on both counts.
MORE ON DEMPSEY’S ARGUMENT
My very spare rehearsal of Dempsey’s argument doesn’t do justice to her rich explorations of notions like complicity, her efforts to clarify what the abolitionist means, and her willingness to proceed on uncontentious premises so that she can appeal to a broad range of readers. Because her argument is harm-based, everything turns on how much harm prostitution causes. And that question depends upon how much prostitution there is and what forms it takes. These are matters that remain opaque, as I emphasized in Essay 1, despite the confidence with which abolitionists throw around numbers.
I want to dwell further, though, on a formulation of the issue Dempsey shares with all abolitionists. Dempsey writes that for her purposes it is enough to show that “often prostituted people are harmed in prostitution, that the harm is substantial, and that the value of prostitution is inadequate to justify that harm.” This formulation contains an ambiguity. A more precise way of putting the point is this: it is enough to show that in illegal prostitution, which takes place in a black market offering no legal protections to its participants and creating strong incentives for deception, secrecy, bribery, and violence, often prostituted people are harmed, etc. When the point is put this way, our attention is drawn immediately to black markets and their nature. We think straightaway of the law of the jungle and are not surprised that weaker jungle inhabitants get preyed on by the stronger. Abolitionists don’t want us to think this way. They don’t want us to think that pimps and procurers arise because of the functions and immunities that black markets make available to them. They don’t want us to notice that traffickers flourish in the shadow-land of illegal smuggling. They don’t want us to think that prostitutes are victimized because they are the weakest creatures in a jungle we have created by law.
Indeed, abolitionists insist that the evils they rehearse inhere in prostitution. They are intrinsic to it.
Intrinsic to prostitution are numerous violations of human rights: sexual harassment, economic servitude, educational deprivation, job discrimination, domestic violence, racism, classism (being treated as if you are worthless because you are poor), vulnerability to frequent physical and sexual assault, and being subjected to body invasions which are equivalent to torture.
Like prisons or concentration camps, prostitution often does not require overt physical coercion or verbal threat since the system of domination perpetuated and enforced by sex industry businessmen and buyers is intrinsically coercive. Women and girls who enter prostitution are seasoned into it; they are in the parlance of pimps, “turned out.” The sex industry entrepreneur “turns out” a woman or girl by eradicating her identity, erasing her sense of self, especially any belief that she is entitled to dignity and bodily integrity.
Acknowledging the enormous social injustice and harms intrinsic to prostitution, the Swedish legislation criminalises punters, pimps and traffickers.
There’s no concession here that the illegality of prostitution has anything to do with its harmful effects. By contrast, we might much more plausibly contend that economic servitude, vulnerability to assault, violations of dignity, subjection to torture, and the like are inherent in black markets. But abolitionists don’t go in this direction. They instead point to the failures of “legalizing” prostitution – for example, in the Netherlands. However, the failures they point to are cases where changes in legal regimes have merely displaced a black market, not eliminated it.
If a researcher from Mars had landed in the United States in 1930, she might have reported back that widespread murder, corruption, thuggery, and deception were intrinsic to the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The researcher would have missed something: that these features arose out of a black market for alcohol created by Prohibition.
Abolitionists don’t explore the characteristics of black markets and their tie-ins with current features of prostitution. They are content to repeat over and over that the evils of contemporary prostitution are intrinsic to it. Still, the fact remains that everywhere in the world, almost, prostitutes operate under the shadow of illegality (including in Sweden). This fact has to be significant.
Suppose in her 1930 visit here our researcher from Mars had seen a change in law: the United States made it no longer illegal to make alcohol but made it a very serious crime to transport, warehouse, distribute, or sell it. The researcher would still find ample evidence to support her thesis that violence, deception, corruption, and related evils are intrinsic to the use of alcohol. She would still be wrong.
A MODEL FOR A WAY OUT?
Like all abolitionists, Dempsey is enamored of the Swedish Model. In Dempsey’s words, an exemplary abolitionist policy
includes social-welfare policies that assist people in exiting and avoiding prostitution; public education campaigns to raise awareness of the harms experienced by prostituted people and to change social norms that support sex trafficking and prostitution; and criminal law reforms that penalize trafficking, pimping, and the purchase of sex, while decriminalizing the sale of sex.
Lying behind this view is an assumption: that countless prostitutes want to escape but are unable to because of the lack of social services. This assumption may be unsound. True, abolitionists like to quote Melissa Farley that 89% of the prostitutes she studied in nine countries wanted to leave prostitution. This seems to indicate a considerable pent-up demand. However, this “leaving” datum from Farley’s study was one response to a broad question, “What do you need?” The respondents listed a lot of things they wanted, such as child care, counseling, legal assistance, and so on; but they were not asked what specific economic conditions would draw them out of prostitution. This is an important matter. As we saw in looking at the “CSEC” and “8 Cities” studies in earlier essays, many of the prostitutes interviewed were ready to leave prostitution for some alternative – if the alternative paid as much as they were making in prostitution. The following is from “CSEC:”
When the youth were asked if they would like to leave “the life”, an overwhelming majority, 87% . . . stated that they would like to exit if given the opportunity.
But, what did “opportunity” mean? Here is a revealing passage.
For many youth who wanted to get out of “the life”, there were deep concerns about finding a job and making money, especially a job that paid as much as they were making and that could support their lifestyle.
In “8 Cities,” the sex workers interviewed tell of the money they made — $300-$400 a night, $800 a night, $900 a night, $6,000-$7,000 a week. The study sums up: “[C]lients continue to serve as reliable and lucrative sources of income for sex workers, making sex work a viable vocation for many.”
Sex workers stay in or return to the sex trade for largely economic reasons. Several of the sex workers reported returning to the work even after leaving, primarily because they needed money: “[I] stopped in 2001. Put myself in a program … After 2001, I was still going out [to trade] and working” . . . . One sex worker described it as her “only way to survive; I didn’t know how to have a job after that” . . . . Another respondent explained that her dependence on sex work was not only for money, but even basic necessities, such as food and clothing for her children, highlighting how difficult it is for some sex workers to stay away from a dependable source of income, even if they have been absent for some time. Other respondents returned to sex work because they needed to support their drug purchases or found it difficult to refuse regular clients since it was steady and reliable income.
It is pretty clear here that the “steady and reliable income” was an important draw – and that feeding a drug habit was important, too. The respondent who claimed her “dependence on sex work was not only about money, but even basic necessities, such as food and clothing for her children,” raises a red flag by her comment. In the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, a woman with minor children is eligible for income support, food stamps, subsidized housing, and other benefits. No woman has to choose between doing sex work and providing for her children – unless she has rendered herself ineligible for welfare support by not complying with social service rules. Drug-taking could lead to ineligibility.
A leading Irish “survivor,” Rachel Moran, gives us further context for understanding what Melissa Farley’s 89% may be thinking. Moran, a fervent abolitionist herself, notes that “countless studies” show women want to leave prostitution. She then offers the results of a Dublin survey: 29 out of 30 prostitutes interviewed indicated they “would accept an alternative job with equal pay.” She doesn’t seem to notice the kicker: with equal pay. A job cleaning toilets or flipping burgers is not going to supply these women the income they were making from prostitution. Moran herself exhibits a not unusual pattern. At some point in her life as a prostitute she had a child and began receiving benefits from Irish social services. Yet she continued in prostitution. Why? Not to feed her child but to feed her cocaine habit.
Thus, the assumption that but for lack of supportive services, countless women are “trapped” in prostitution may be considerably off the mark. In “8 Cities” two of the sex workers interviewed praised prostitute service organizations for helping them out; but most of the others left the life on their own, for a variety of reasons and at a pace of their own choosing.
Two studies in the United Kingdom show that leaving prostitution takes many paths and most prostitutes leave without the intervention of service agencies. Moreover, compulsory exit services imposed by courts confront a substantial clientele that does not want to exit. Evidence from Sweden, likewise, undercuts the picture of pent-up demand to exit and the idea that most prostitutes are “trapped” and need “rescue.” Some are and do, but they are a minority. I will discuss the Swedish case in the next essay.
 By hyperbole, I mean this: abolitionists consistently speak of prostitution as “buying and selling women’s bodies.” This can’t be a literal description of prostitution because no bodies are literally “bought and sold” in the sexual transactions between client and sex worker. Once having declared that prostitution involves the “buying and selling of bodies,” the abolitionist hardly needs to break a sweat in making an argument that prostitution is morally or legally unacceptable; she’s already built that conclusion into her description. By rhetorical gambits I mean this: abolitionists love the retort, “Would you want your daughter to be a prostitute?” That’s supposed to shut up those silly enough to defend sex work. Abolitionists might take a step back and consider the history of this kind of gambit. In the 1950s and 1960s as liberal “do-gooders” were lending political support to the undoing of racial apartheid in America, Southern defenders of segregation had a ready retort to shut them up: “Would you want your sister to marry one?” In the 1970s, as the nascent gay rights began to gather force, the retort by opponents of the “homosexual agenda” took this form: “Would you want your son to be one?” In each case the retort was meant to break through the surface principles to which white, straight liberals gave lip-service and evoke their deep-seated visceral revulsion to intimate contact with blacks or to anal sex between men. In a similar fashion, the abolitionist ploy draws on the deep stigma that attaches to prostitution; using it instead of defusing it.
 Michelle Madden Dempsey, “Sex Trafficking and Criminalization: In Defense of Feminist Abolitionism,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 158 (May 2010), p. 1733.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1748. Emphasis added.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” pp. 1752-1753.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1754.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1755.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1761-1762.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1768. Emphasis added.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1758. Dempsey goes on to write: “The infliction of this additional harm (or risk thereof) establishes another key normative link between the purchaser of commercial sex and the harms of trafficking and abusive pimping” (emphasis added), as though other normative links have already been established. But, in trying to distinguish the shoe buyer from the sex buyer, Dempsey is trying to make good on her initial claim that the sex buyer is complicit in wrong-doing, a claim that has not yet been successfully established until the sex buyer is distinguished from the shoe buyer. Madden’s discussion of complicity is lengthy and complex and I do not do it full justice here.
 Dempsey, “in Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1746.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” footnote 98, p. 1763.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism, p. 1746.
 Dempsey’s “non-naïve” view of the “realities of the world as it is” rests on a slender research base. Indeed, almost all of her information about prostitution – the prevalence of trafficking, the effects of sex purchase laws, the behavior of men who purchase sex, and the like – derives from strongly abolitionist writers. Here are her principal hardcore sources: Julie Bindel & Liz Kelly, “A Critical Examination of Responses to Prostitution in Four Countries: Victoria, Australia; Ireland; the Netherlands; and Sweden,” London: Metropolitan University, (2003); Rachel Durchslag & Samir Goswami, “Deconstructing the Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights from Interviews with Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex,” Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation,2008; Richard Poulin, “The Legalization of Prostitution and Its Impact on Trafficking in Women and Children,” http://sisyphe.org/spip.php?article1596; Mary Sullivan, “What Happens When Prostitution Becomes Work? An Update on Legalisation of Prostitution in Australia,” CATW (2005); Melissa Farley et al., “Prostitution & Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update,” Journal of Trauma Practice, Vol. 2, nos. 3-4 (2003), 33-74; Jan Macleod & Melissa Farley et al., “Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland: A Research Report Based on Interviews with 110 Men Who Bought Women in Prostitution,” Glasgow, Scotland: Women’s Support Project, 2008, http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/ChallengingDemandScotland.pdf; and Donna Hughes, “Men Create the Demand, Women Are the Supply,” Lecture on Sexual Exploitation, Queen Sophia Center, Valencia Spain (November 2000), http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/demand.htm. (Dempsey concedes in passing that getting reliable numbers on prostitution and trafficking is hard [see footnote 145, p. 1776] although she appears to be no agnostic on the “realities” of the world of sex work.) For her theory of patriarchy and prostitution’s place in it, Dempsey draws on Catharine A. MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1987); Catharine A. MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989); and Catharine A. MacKinnon, “Prostitution and Civil Rights,” Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 1 (1993), pp. 13-31. See also Kathy Miriam, “Stopping the Traffic in Women: Power, Agency and Abolition in Feminist Debates over Sex-Trafficking,” Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 36 (2005), pp. 1-17.
 At the conclusion of her case, Dempsey comes to a somewhat surprising conclusion: “The arguments made regarding complicity and endangerment would not justify a harshly punitive or condemnatory response to the purchase of sex.” Why not? If the harm inflicted on forced prostitutes is “tantamount to rape,” why shouldn’t the penalties be “tantamount to the penalties for rape”? This is a question not only for Dempsey to answer but all the fans of the Swedish Model, where the legal offense of purchasing sex typically results in a small fine.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” p. 1746.
 Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire and Ufuk Sezgin, “Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Feminism & Psychology, Vol. 8 (1998), p. 421.
 Dorchen A. Leidholdt, “Prostitution and Trafficking in Women: An Intimate Relationship,” Journal of Trauma Practice, Vol. 2, No. 3/4, 2003, p. 169.
 Jan Macleod & Melissa Farley et al., “Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland,” p. 30
 Dempsey tries to defend the “intrinsic” claim but her defense misses the target.
[Weitzer criticizes Raymond] by seizing on [her] . . . use of the word “intrinsic” in her claim that “violence is intrinsic to prostitution.” Weitzer, presumably, took Raymond to mean “intrinsic” in the sense of “by its very nature. . . .” If that was her intended meaning, then her account of prostitution differs from both Weitzer’s and mine. Of course, it is entirely possible that when Raymond claimed that “violence is intrinsic to prostitution” she meant “intrinsic” in the sense of “situated within” the practice of prostitution. Indeed, given that the point of Raymond’s discussion was to illustrate the violence that often occurs during the very performance of commercial sex acts, the latter definition seems more plausible” (emphasis added).
This is not persuasive. If “situated within” is sufficient to underwrite the notion of “intrinsic,” then we are perfectly justified in asserting that “violence is intrinsic to marriage.” I don’t think Dempsey wants to defend that. See also Mary Sullivan and Sheila Jeffreys, “Legalising Prostitution Is Not the Answer: The Example of Victoria, Australia”, Melbourne: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Australia, 2001, p. 1, http://www.catwinternational.org/content/images/article/95/attachment.pdf (“Legalisation in Victoria has perpetuated the culture of violence and exploitation that is inherent in prostitution. The new liberalised climate has facilitated the expansion and diversification of the industry”); and Donna M. Hughes, “Combating Sex Trafficking: A Perpetrator-Focused Approach,” University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 6 (2008), pp. 34-35 (“He [President Bush] based his policy on the human rights principle that prostitution was ‘inherently harmful and dehumanizing’ and should never be regulated as a form of work. This directive set a far-reaching vision for all persons to be free of commercial sexual exploitation. It was historic and unprecedented. A conservative Republican president of the United States had issued a policy consistent with both radical feminist theory.”)
 The one exception may be New Zealand, which I will talk about in another essay.
 Dempsey, “In Defense of Abolitionism,” pp. 1731-1732. See further: “feminist abolitionism advocates a multifaceted approach to abolishing sex trafficking [and prostitution]. The touchstone of this approach is providing realistic and valuable alternatives for prostituted people or those who are at risk of being prostituted. In practice, this involves decriminalizing the sale of sex and providing social welfare such as adequate shelter, nutrition, healthcare, drug rehabilitation, education, childcare support, employment opportunities, and other resources and support depending on circumstances” (p. 1749).
 Melissa Farley et al., “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries,” p. 56 and elsewhere.
 Ric Curtis et al., “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City, Volume One: The CSEC Population in New York City: Size, Characteristics, and Needs.” A Report Funded by and submitted to the National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice, September 2008, p. 103.
 Meredith Dank et al., “Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities,” Washington, DC: Urban Institute, February 2014, pp. 222, 224, 227, 229, 234.
 8 Cities, p. 249.
 8 Cities, pp. 249-250.
 Rachel Moran, Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution (Dublin: Gill & MacMillan, 2013), pp. 175, 119, 237ff.
 8 Cities, p. 250.
 See Linda Cusick, Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Rosie Campbell, & Fiona Edgar, “‘Exiting’ Drug Use and Sex Work: Career Paths, Interventions and Government Strategy Targets,” Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, Vol. 18 (April 2011), 145–156.