Occasionally the Modern Language Association (MLA) actually does look at language, and makes a valuable contribution to the sum of human knowledge.
At the MLA conference this year, Kate Day, a law professor emeritus at Suffolk University, pulled no punches on the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking. She was critical of Amnesty International’s definition of these subjects, which includes language such as “consensual” and “adult,” when the undisputed victims of these crimes “are women and children [who are] overwhelmingly poor.” Day pointed out that “globally, millions are exploited each year” by these crimes and it plays into her “sex equality analysis, which mirrors my own thinking and own work.”
She continued, “Amnesty [International] uses the word adult…undisputed that most people enter prostitution when they are children or in their teens.” She continued, “Upon reaching 18, it would place the burden on the child becoming an adult to establish non-consent.” However, this “could be used to perpetuate violence” and it is a major flaw of the organization’s definitions of these crimes and practices.
Arguably, Day’s pronouncements fall outside the parameters of the study of literature. Nevertheless, so do most of the topics examined at the MLA’s annual convention.
Also, Day is a professor emeritus. One wishes that her peers would also truly question authority.
Photo by Steve Rhodes