Playing a sex worker on TV gave Maggie Gyllenhaal a new perspective on the industry.

'The Deuce' actress echoes activists' push for decriminalization in a recent interview.

Fresh off her role as a sex worker in Showtime's 70s-era drama "The Deuce," Maggie Gyllenhaal thinks it's time we decriminalize sex work.

In an interview with Elle, Gyllenhaal shared her thoughts on the industry portrayed on the small screen, saying, "My instinct is to say decriminalize it and make sure everybody's safe, healthy and taken care of."

Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images.


It was a passing remark in Gyllnhaal's interview, but for many activists, the fight to decriminalize sex work is central to their own well-being and human rights.

In 2015, human rights organization Amnesty International came out in favor of decriminalizing sex work, noting that the continued criminalization of the industry fosters a culture of a sort of permanent societal underclass filled with workers who are regularly assaulted and discriminated against in housing and healthcare.

The following year, Amnesty International published a full policy recommendation, stressing that they support decriminalization of sex work that doesn't involve coercion, exploitation, or abuse — this is key, given that opponents of decriminalization often conflate willful, consensual sex work with human trafficking.

"We want laws to be refocused on making sex [workers'] lives safer and improving the relationship they have with the police while addressing the very real issue of exploitation," wrote Tawanda Mutasah, senior director for Law and Policy at Amnesty International. "We want governments to make sure no one is coerced to sell sex, or is unable to leave sex work if they choose to."

In 2012, the World Health Organization came out in favor of decriminalization, arguing that existing anti-sex work laws prevent workers from accessing necessary healthcare, and in effect, contribute to increased risk of HIV/AIDS within that population. This conclusion was later backed up by a 2014 study published at The Lancet, which suggests that decriminalization could "have the largest effect on the course of the HIV epidemic."

Blogs like the sex worker-run Tits & Sass and groups like the New York-based Red Umbrella Project and Canada's Safe Harbour Outreach Project shine a light on the struggles and injustices faced within the industry — many of those injustices coming as a direct result of criminalization.

There are a lot of really good reasons to decriminalize sex work, and it's good to see that Gyllenhaal is on the right side of this issue.

She may not be a sex worker (she just plays one on TV), but at least that's helped give her the perspective and empathy necessary to lend her voice to support those who are and have been.

More

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Words matter. And they especially matter when we are talking about the safety and well-being of children.

While the #MeToo movement has shed light on sexual assault allegations that have long been swept under the rug, it has also brought to the forefront the language we use when discussing such cases. As a writer, I appreciate the importance of using varied wording, but it's vital we try to remain as accurate as possible in how we describe things.

There can be gray area in some topics, but some phrases being published by the media regarding sexual predation are not gray and need to be nixed completely—not only because they dilute the severity of the crime, but because they are simply inaccurate by definition.

One such phrase is "non-consensual sex with a minor." First of all, non-consensual sex is "rape" no matter who is involved. Second of all, most minors legally cannot consent to sex (the age of consent in the U.S. ranges by state from 16 to 18), so sex with a minor is almost always non-consensual by definition. Call it what it is—child rape or statutory rape, depending on circumstances—not "non-consensual sex."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture