3 articles on women, thoughts on prostitution

On women and the recent sub fetish.

On the failures of the sexual revolution and issues of dating in the internet era

On financiers and sex traficking. This Nicholas Kristof article details that Goldman Sachs owned 16% of a media company that owned a website largely used for sex traficking of minors. Goldman Sachs sold its shares when they realized Kristof planned on going public with a list of the company owners. Leaving aside what this says about the way that trafficking is enmeshed in so many segments of our society and economy, this article made me think: Traficking minors is unique, in that the perpetrator (ie traficker) is the one who gets in legal trouble. Why is it however, that when it comes to prostitution, it is the prostitute, not the customer, who gets in trouble? With drugs, for example, both dealer and customer can be tried – but when the product is a woman’s body, selling it is criminal, while buying it is not.* Why is that? Sure, adult women have more freedom than children, so I understand having different laws – but men are just as free to buy sex, as a woman is to give it. We come from a society however, that sees men as both entitled to sex, and unable to control their sexual urges – a society where for years, even in the Victorian era, known for its sexual prudery, visits to prostitutes were something to be whispered about, but ultimately, put up with.

Furthermore, while prostitutes do have freedom of choice, many of them did grow up in backgrounds that severely circumscribed their agency: Many come from broken homes or experienced extreme poverty**. They are also women, a fact which unfortunately, sometimes still circumscribes agency even in today’s world. A lot of men I speak to will say, “Oh, even if she hasn’t graduated highschool, she still could have chosen to serve fries at Mdonalds.” Well, if you have a kid to feed and the nearest Mcdonalds isn’t hiring, maybe you could take the bus to the next one, thus spending precious money just in the hopes of a job. But luckily for you, society has been trading in women’s bodies for years, so there’s an industry waiting for you, that always has a job opening.

Sure, I might be exaggarating, and every prostitute’s experience of prostitution, as well as the reasons behind it, are different, but most women don’t grow up thinking, “When I get older, I want to be a prostitute” – and for many, it really is dire poverty that is the main factor in their decision.

Let’s assume you think prostitution is a social ill, and not just something immoral (since if you merely thought it were immoral, without being a social ill, what right do you have to legislate your moral values?). Do you really think that putting a woman in jail and fining her is going to make her switch professions? If anything, it will make her more destitute, pushing her right back into prostitution. You are much more likely to stop prostitution if you criminalize the clients: If there is no demmand for prostitution (and demmand will surely shrink if your blowjob comes with a side of a night spent in jail), then supply will shrivel up as well – its basic economics. Of course, in order to really stop prostitution, we would have to ensure that women from impoverished backgrounds or broken homes received the resources they needed to rise above those upbringings, it’s much easier to simply criminalize women.

 

* There are male prostitutes, but because prostitution is thought of as a female profession, I am focusing on female prostitution, they type of prostitution these laws had in mind.

** There are exceptions in some high-class hooking agencies, but such agencies generally are discreet enough to avoid the laws, which are generally aimed at street prostitutes or brothels.

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