Last year, Iceland – the country best known for Bjork and bankruptcy – banned prostitution. Now, they’re going one step further and banning strippers. According to the Guardian, these actions make Iceland the most feminist country on earth. Yes, it’s awesome that they have an almost 50-percent female representation in government, but that’s not enough for me. Simply banning an industry doesn’t actually end an industry. After all, I grew up in a state where sex toys were illegal, but it didn’t stop people from obtaining them in other ways. If Iceland really wanted to be feminist, I’d suggest they go the way of the Dutch – legalize prostitution, and then regulate the industry in order to protect sex workers and make all women feel more safe. Considering that they’re broke right now, they might want to consider taking a hefty tax off of things that people will willingly pay for when times are tough. Here’s a hint: sex is one of those things.
“It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold,” said Prime Minister Johanna Sigurðardottir (who, as Salon points out, is the world’s first openly gay head of state). Hey, I’m on board with that sentiment, but it’s wrong to assume that everyone who works in the sex industry is an indentured servant. If you want to get really technical, do film stars selling their images for commercials and product endorsements count as a form of selling themselves? How many of Iceland’s sex workers are trafficked women, and how many are women who entered the profession willingly as a way to make money?I don’t know if banning stripping is about protecting women or about imposing one group’s morals on another.
I’d like to close with a joke that a Finnish friend told me about Iceland.
Q: What do you do when you find yourself in a forest in Iceland?
A: Stand up.