Buying Sex Documentary Review


The documentary, “Buying Sex,” focuses in on the controversy of sex work and prostitution in Canada. Many members of each opposing viewpoint share their history, credentials in regards to the argument, and why they believe sex work should be legalized or not.

The entire argument begins based of a 2010 court ruling protecting sex work and then progressively leads up to a second court decision. Lawyer, Alan Young, and three sex workers spearhead the fight against legislation making sex work illegal. They argue that many laws actually create a more dangerous environment for the women, and that simply, a woman willingly selling her body is acceptable, much like New Zealand legislation. On the other hand,

Trisha Baptie and many other former prostitutes, challenge the possible legalization of sex work by sharing their first hand experiences and the consequential damaging affects of the work. They dispute Young’s argument through evidential support of Sweden law, equal rights, and by shifting the criminalization from the women, to the perpetrators—the men, the “John.” Many other societal viewpoints, whether it be from accredited specialists or regular citizens, are interwoven throughout the film as well.

Pornography connects to buying sex, because sex is not pornography. Pornography is written, scripted, and acted. It is not “real life”. Sven-Axel Mansson depicts the all too common story, where a husband or boyfriend often feels that their sex is boring or “too vanilla,” in comparison to the pornography they watch. As a result, these men seek out prostitutes in hopes that their services will satisfy their fetishes and “kinky” sexual desires. Many of these acts men wish to receive, based off what they have seen in videos, are perceived as degrading to the majority of women. So, men exploit other women with no emotional or relational ties. If porn ceased to exist, men would not watch fake videos and fantasize about something they don’t have.

Swedish law refuses to tolerate the purchasing of sex, and ultimately women. They even employ teams with special surveillance to put an end to “underground” operations. Their entire plan is centered around taking down the customers instead of the women, and aimed at promoting gender equality. The criminalization of the men rather than women, encourages women to leave prostitution and destroys the demand. Detective Superintendent, Kaisa

Wahlberg, explains that, “often the women in prostitution are socially marginalized.” She also goes on to explain that the average buyer is a middle aged man with a steady income. So therefore, there is massive discrepancy between the buyer and the woman, which creates an unhealthy, unbalanced power dynamic. The Swedish law empowers women equality socially, economically, and in all aspects of life, by getting them off the streets and into the workforce.

Sven-Axel Mansson also reports that in Scandinavian countries, only 13 to 14 percent of the population buys sex. This statistic is far lower in contrast to countries like

Germany or Thailand. Prostitution and sex work is widely unaccepted in Scandinavian countries, and becomes clear as the producers interview multiple men and women. Many of the citizens acknowledge the detrimental consequences of buying sex from women. Also, a huge reason why sex work isn’t tolerated is due to systemic laws put in place to promote gender equality. Women and men are both expected to “make the same amount of money for equal work or work of equal value.” In addition, sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace, especially because they believe it may lead to further exploiting other women. Lastly, the laws around parental leave highly impact the dynamics of prostitution. The documentary states: “In Sweden, a minimum of two out of thirteen months of parental leave is reserved for the father.” This promotes the idea that men are expected, just like women to take care of the family. This eliminates “gender roles” and encourages unity of the family.