A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hot child in the city.

A couple weeks ago, I pondered briefly "Should prostitution be legal?". I'd like to say first that I'm not endorsing prostitution, nor do I approve of it. I couldn't do it myself. Like many women, I've already put myself through a lot and cemented my status as "a little different" by managing to recognize my sexuality as a part of my identity, while disentangling and holding it as far apart from my self-worth as possible. Much easier typed than done, and any woman who's ever let a sexy flirtation gone awry make her wonder what's wrong with her or ever used sex in even the teeeensiest way to get what she wanted is encouraged to sit and shush for a second, rather than rolling her eyes and saying, "Um, I've never based any of my value on my sexuality." Yes, you have.

So now imagine what it would be like to throw a paycheck into the mix!

I'd also like to add the disclaimer that none of this topic has to do with the (largely bull) concept of promiscuity. What people choose to do with their private bits, with what frequency they choose to use them, and with whom they choose to use them is entirely up to those people and no one's business but their own. So this is not about preferences or frequency or multiple partners. It's about selling one's private bits for money, and whether that occupation should be protected by legislation in the same way that, say, banks are, and what types of monitoring ought to be enacted to protect the working, the buyers, and the public.

Until I started looking into this subject, I had a misconception about the legality of ho-ing in Nevada. I thought it was this big open thing where a soiled dove could just set up shop anywhere she pleases, or not set up shop at all and just stroll the streets (in platforms and with an odd crossover gait that I, for some reason, tried to emulate after seeing Leaving Las Vegas in middle school. Wait. Real street prostitutes aren't really like Elisabeth Shue? Whatever.). Anyway, I was incorrect. Wikipedia informs me that selling one's ladycharms is legal there only in highly regulated brothels. Also, the ladies have to have weekly exams for assorted STI tests and monthly tests for HIV and syphilis. Condom use is mandatory for everything, and none of the brothel girls has ever tested tested positive for HIV. That's out of aallllll the brothels, since mandatory testing started in 1988. Pretty impressive. (Interestingly, it's very common for the customers to request that no condom be used. This request is denied, but it leaves one to wonder: what is wrong with these guys?? Why would any man intentionally have unprotected sex with a woman who has serviced literally hundreds of men? People are so weird.) An argument can clearly be made that with proper monitoring, legalized prostitution is tremendously safer than the illegal kind for both the prostitute and the customer, at least as far as disease control. In fact, upon my first foray into this halfassed investigation, I'm surprised to find myself more in support of legalized prostitution than I was when I first started thinking about it. From what I'm seeing, it's so much safer for everyone involved, and I dig that brothel prostitutes report their earnings to the IRS like the rest of us (workers, that is). However, I have a feeling that as I continue reading and perusing, I'm going to encounter the dark underbelly of sex-for-money. (That's kind of a no-brainer. I just wanted to type "the dark underbelly".)

To be continued...


histrionicsdotzip said...

In Europe prostitution is legal. The prostitutes submit to testing and have some sort of card signifying their disease-free status.

Our Puritan-fed government does like to stick its law books in our bedrooms. In many states positions other than missionary are illegal. This doesn't mean it doesn't take place.

What's your take on the issue? You say you don't endorse it or approve of prostitution - why not?

And what kind of prostitution? All prostitution? Or just good ol' Biblical straight prostitution?

Our states' laws would have to change so dramatically to legalize prostitution. The laws forbidding certain sexual positions need to go anyway, but imagine the hassle of passing new legislation to govern such acts. And all the anti-gay legislation - like making sodomy illegal - imagine trying to legislate who can petition sexual services from whom and what constitutes not only marriage but sex. Again.

And to what end would legalization bring us? Would prostitution become the new waiting tables, where it's always there to fall back on if you quit high school and have a couple of kids at 16?

The most troubling aspect of "sex services" to me is the dehumanization of the act - the turning it into a commodity to be bought and sold. Eventually everything has to boil back down to capitalism. Sex is an emotional act, in my opinion, and one that is best practiced as an expression of love. It has never struck me as a "need" or an "itch to be scratched," and maybe I'm in the minority there.

Just imagine the new generation of dead-eyed girls we bring up in this new environment who - through the emotionless repetition at work - grow into humans who can't enjoy sexual love at all, all because they grew up poor and were out of other legal options.

I'd like to think that our society is heading in a higher-minded direction.

sarah saint said...

"You say you don't endorse it or approve of prostitution - why not?"

For the reasons we discussed in text, and more. Increased infidelity, decreased stigma associated with infidelity. And I just can't wrap my head around it. I can't see how the sale of live human bodies for pleasure can benefit our society.

"In many states positions other than missionary are illegal."

I wish they'd change that. I get so bored.

"The most troubling aspect of "sex services" to me is the dehumanization of the act - the turning it into a commodity to be bought and sold."

Indeed. Maybe if anything, I'd be more in favor of decriminalizing it, like pot, where you just pay your fine and go about your business. To make it straight-up legal and encourage it (and you know that shit would be advertised everywhere and revoltingly), to market and sell a person's sex like a board game you can just pick up...well that's sucking all the humanity out of one of the things that separates humans from most animals: our ability to enjoy sex and use it as a means of showing affection and love. I'm of the opinion that if you're really down with paying a woman (or man) to have sex with you, you're not even seeing that person as a human anyway. Just a life-sized doll that's warm and makes noises at the right times and will never say no. There's nothing human about it.

You know I've given a lot of thought to different kinds of sex in these pages here. I've looked at most kinds, and while most of them aren't for me, I think I'm pretty open-minded about what kind of sex other people are having. As long as everyone's a consenting adult, have at it, you know? I really believe that some people are really capable of emotionless, no-strings sex, and that's either their good fortune or misfortune and not for me to pass judgement on. But there's such a wide chasm between emotionless sex and turning that sex into a source of income, it makes me feel very uneasy down in my belly to think about it. I really need to do some more reading, look at some more statistics, because I don't wanna be talking out of my tail. But right now, I can't see how legalizing prostitution can benefit us as a society.

"I'd like to think that our society is heading in a higher-minded direction."

You should continue not watching tv!

theogeo said...

I struggle constantly with my thoughts on this question.

On the one hand, I bristle at government regulation of activities that fall squarely into the realm of the morally vague, but that happen between consenting adults.

On the other hand, I can't view prostitution in a contextless vacuum. I find the sex trade in all its iterations (from human trafficking to stripping to porn and everything in between) to be one of those profoundly fucked-up bits of our culture that we have decided to accept and, by and large, avoid thinking critically about, because we have decided that getting off — consequences be damned — is some sort of right.

It reinforces women's designation as the sex class, and it reinforces rape culture.

I have no doubt that there are women who feel legitimately empowered by sex work. That doesn't mean it's legitimately empowering. For every high-powered prostitute who services congressmen for $5,000 a BJ, there are 20 young women and girls who put their lives in danger on the streets for a pittance because dark circumstances drove them there.

I hate seing women bought and sold like chattel. I hate the idea that women are disposable. I hate the idea that fucking is a commodity. All those things contribute to a culture in which women's needs and rights are routinely delegitimized and pushed to the fringe.

So while I wish to see prostitution sort of evaporate from this world, I still think it's important to recognize and bolster sex workers' rights. A shocking number of people out there would classify the rape of a prostitute as "theft of services" and not rape. Hell, Memphis had a cop rape a prostitute a couple of years ago and that asshole didn't even spend a year in jail.

The system, ladies, is fucked.

sarah saint said...

"A shocking number of people out there would classify the rape of a prostitute as "theft of services" and not rape."

I was completely stunned by this when I first looked into it after reading your post about the cop. I'm still stunned by it and absolutely cannot wrap my head around such an idea. Hopefully, I'll never be able to understand it.

I've also had one of your posts on my mind the last couple of days, as I've been reading up more on human trafficking and forced prostitution. I was reading about the Chinese sex slaves of the Old West and it triggered my memory of this:


I've read that post maybe three or four times, and it breaks my heart all over again every time.