Prostitution. It’s not called "the world’s oldest profession" for nothing. I think it’s safe to say that as long as there have been people desiring sex without entanglements there have been prostitutes to meet the demand. And it’s no doubt equally safe to say that prostitutes have always been reviled by those who think that sex without entanglements is wrong. Few societies have seen fit to allow the free practice of prostitution, and yet I can think of no society in which it did not flourish in one form or another. In fact, while there will always those who condemn the prostitute, there are also those who think that society couldn’t function without them.Prostitution thrives in many forms in America today, from the illegal street hustlers and high-end call girls (and boys), to the legalized form practiced in Nevada. Services are advertised in every form of media from the classifieds in your local paper to the Internet. Prostitutes work as independent contractors and as associates in varying sized organizations. Indeed, they come in all flavors and promise to fulfill any desire. So where is the harm? Why hasn’t this profession been given the respect that other professions get? Just what is the public outcry all about? Man! That’s a tall order. Where do I begin?
First there are the religious objections. Sex outside of marriage has always been wrong to those who practice the most popular religions. So sex-for-pay, to them, is an outright outrage! Next there are the criminal and public nuisance objections. Those who take this stand argue about the added crime that comes with the sex-for-pay trade, such as robbery, drug abuse, and abuse from pimps and johns. They also argue about the nuisance caused by prostitutes plying their trade in areas that should be kept clear for ’decent’ purposes. And then there are the public health concerns. Those who argue from this position point out how prostitution spreads sexually transmitted diseases, some of which are potentially fatal.So in light of all this evidence against prostitution, and considering that none of it has helped to eradicate the practice, what would a more reasoned approach entail? Perhaps an attempt to untangle some of the imagery and confusion associated with the issue would be a good place to start. I’ll try to do so by listing a few facts.
1. Sex outside marriage is a fact of life. Deal with it.
2. We will never eliminate prostitution. Deal with it.
3. There are legal arrangements that work.
4. Expanded legalization can also work because:
a. Licensed professionals earn a decent wage and don’t need to commit robbery.
b. Licensed professionals don’t need a pimp’s protection because they have recourse to the law.
c. Licensed professionals don’t need to walk the streets because they can advertise their services and/or join organized businesses.
d. Licensed professionals can be routinely tested for sexually transmitted diseases and drugs.
I have known quite a few prostitutes during my life. Both from my childhood when my father was a pimp with his own brothel, and from my adult experiences living in the underground ’drug’ culture. I don’t think that anyone, other than the prostitutes themselves, can truly understand why they choose to be prostitutes knowing the contempt and abuse that comes with that lifestyle. But it’s a fact that their profession is not alone in having to deal with such questions.Because of my ’vast experience’ with prostitutes, I have never been comfortable using their services because I feared being seen as just another aggressive, and potentially abusive, man they’d have to deal with. And the fact that both sides of that equation has been forced on us by the arrogant and irrational manner in which society has dealt with the issue thus far only serves to enhance my discomfort.
I’m not saying that society will become ’Heaven on Earth’ if we choose another way of dealing with prostitution, or that it will ever become a comfortable topic to discuss at social gatherings. But it is clear that the approach we have taken has not led to our society being lifted to a higher moral plane. If anything, the inhumanity of the current approach has pushed us all in the other direction.Perhaps, if we are sincere when we proclaim our intent to rise above the example of Mankind’s history, all we really need is the courage to get real and the compassion to care more about actual people than we do about being politically correct.
And don’t we have enough real criminals to deal with?I want ice water.