"It's not about sex, it's about power." That's how Trisha Baptie, a prostitution abolitionist and former sex worker, reframes the issue in Teresa MacInnis and Kent Nason's documentary Buying Sex and how easily the complex issue can get bare-boned.
Interviewing a range of people from pro-decriminalization lawyer Alan Young, brothel owners in New Zealand, sex workers both past and present and a task force in Sweden–Buying Sex is basically a crash course on the prostitution debate that will have you questioning everything, no matter where you might have landed on the issue when you walked in the door.
"It's about what's at stake for Canada," says MacInnis. "The reason to have that debate." Framed by Alan Young's charge to supreme court in 2012 with cherry-picked sex workers Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott, MacInnis is mostly concerned with how Canada is uniquely poised to go either way–embrace a decriminalized system like in New Zealand or amped up, strictly enforced, buyer-focussed criminalization like in Sweden–
each which have their impassioned advocates and detractors. "We found that after three screenings in Toronto that young people were really interested and conversing," says Nason, whose crisp filming style made transitioning through critical ideas fluid and engaging. "Every individual has a different experience," adds McInnis. "I hope that happens here in Halifax, that the conversation continues, that it won't be polarized and that people will be talking about this issue and this subject."
With overarching critiques on power, economics and ethically and socially marginalized women, Buying Sex takes your dinner party opinions and puts them on blast–
unearthing as Baptie puts it, not just the act of prostitution but "what gets you to that point–Canada's laws or the systematic problems that push women into prostitution...[and how] johns get lost in the noisy argument of women's choice."