History is repeating itself, and I doubt a single sex worker is surprised. It was common knowledge that Backpage would become the next political target after it absorbed the tremendous spillover of adult advertisers when Craigslist shut down its “adult services” section. Now, given The Village Voice’s willingness to take the fight to those who want it, the Advertising Service Provider vs. Abolitionist battle has a good chance of replaying in the near future.
Virtually all of the defenses for Craigslist apply to Backpage, too—most relevantly the fact that shutting down the service won’t end trafficking or pimping, but it will most definitely make it harder to find and prosecute those who do. It will also put consenting sex workers in danger in the process. But don’t tell that to the Kutcherites advocating an irrational and worthless scorched earth policy when it comes to escort ads: ban them all regardless of the repercussions for consensual sex workers, and then pretend the trafficking problem is solved. If you don’t believe me, check out the way in which these deeply concerned citizens handle the opinion of an actual sex worker.