Every week, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question:Should Prostitution Be Legalized And Under Government Control?
Bookworm Room: Wow! That’s a seriously good question — and one that’s not very pleasant to think about because, no matter how you frame your answer, the core issue is how we as a society deal with the inevitable fact that people are forced to, or sometimes want to, have sex with strangers in exchange for money.
I think an honest appraisal of facts says that we’re never going to do away with situations in which people use their bodies for sex in exchange for food or money, with some doing it out of desperation, some doing it because they are forced into it through violence, and some doing it because it’s a good money maker. That being the case, the real question is whether we can structure a free society in a way that best protects those people driven into prostitution due to desperation or force.
One obvious thing that limits prostitution is a wealthier society. Wealth means fewer people need to sell their bodies to survive. Donald Trump’s economic policies, by driving down unemployment and driving up real wages, can be seen as a tremendous blow against prostitution. Most people who can earn money in ways other than selling their bodies for sex will do so.
Another thing we can do is have a society that encourages fatherhood — by which I don’t mean the procreative act of providing sperm to create babies. I mean a society in which men marry the mothers of their children, and then stay with and provide for the family.
We know that children raised in a home with a father are more successful. The boys are less likely to get in trouble with the law, which means they’re more likely to earn money, have stable lives, and not need prostitutes. Even more importantly, the girls are more likely to grow up with high self-esteem, making them infinitely less vulnerable to pimps or gangs such as the Rotherham Muslim gang that prostituted over 1,200 non-Muslim girls in England.
Encouraging fatherhood is not a matter for law enforcement. It’s about cultural pressure. This pressure would challenge the Progressive paradigm holding that men are toxic, vile creatures, and that women do better relying on Mr. Welfare than they do relying on their children’s father(s).
Incidentally, having fathers present would also mean that fewer children would be exposed to their mother’s boyfriends. Study after study shows that these boyfriends are exceptionally dangerous to children that are not their own, whether they beat them or rape them. Children who are subjected to this abuse, if they survive, either become runaways who survive through prostitution or, even if they do not run away, their egos are so horribly damaged that they are easy prey for pimps.
Theoretically, then, economic and societal changes can diminish the number of people who seek out prostitutes or who are forced through poverty, fear, or low self-esteem into prostitution. That’s certainly a good start for dealing with a bad problem.
But as I noted above, there are always going to be people who slip through the cracks and end up selling their bodies and there are always going to be buyers for those bodies. (Strange at is seems, there will also always be people willingly earn a living on their backs because, for reasons most of us cannot understand, they want to or even like to.) So, having theoretically used economics and cultural pressure to shrink substantially the number of people buying or selling sex, what do we do with the remainder?
For starters, I would arrest anyone who has sex with an underage prostitute or who pimps out such a prostitute. Moreover, I would make the penalty incredibly harsh. In theory, doing so would make potential customers very nervous around any prostitute, male or female, who looks even remotely within statutory range and make children less profitable for pimps. I’m sure there’s a law of unintended consequences lurking somewhere within this idea, but I’m not seeing it now.
After that, I’d be tempted to go the Nevada route and legalize prostitution, confining it to licensed houses — with any other forms of prostitution being subject to criminal consequences for both the prostitute and the customer (and any pimps, of course). The goal would be to protect women (and men) from human trafficking and violent coercion by placing them in environments with some level of oversight (not that the government seems up to the job of oversight more often than not). It might also slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
An excellent question and one for which I do not see any easy answers. Instead, there are just a lot of incremental, societal steps, plus a little law enforcement to protect the most vulnerable.
Don Surber: My objection to legalized prostitution is we would tax it. Government keeps legalizing vices to collect taxes. Money is power and power corrupts. States are rather slimy in legalizing vice.
Let me give you an example from West Virginia. Our state constitution prohibits gambling.
We voted to allow a lottery in 1984. Within six years, that was interpreted as allowing slot machines at the two dog tracks and the two horse tracks. We turned them into racinos, ostensibly to protect the jobs of track workers.
To promote greyhound dog breedinbg, we set up a slush fund. Freda Tomblin, mother of the state Senate president (and later governor) received $250,000 a year from this slush fund.
Quickly 10% of the state budget came from gambling, even though the state constitution bans it.
There were good reasons we banned gambling, drugs, and prostitution.
But now to make a quick buck, we will legalize sin — if you pay an indulgence.
In 500 years we have gone from popes doing this to the government doing it.
Who says there is no state religion? The religion of the state is the state.
Pit me down for a no on legalizing prostitution.
There is enough vice in the world. We need more virtue.
Dave Schuler: No. I’ve known prostitutes socially (not professionally) and IMO it’s inherently abusive. Most prostitutes are coerced in one way or another. You may be able to find exceptions but they’re exceptions.
Rob Miller: My answer would be a very qualified yes.
As I’ll point it, legal or quasi legal prostitution already exist in America.
But before we go there, here are two examples of legalized prostitution as most people think of it, one that works fairly well and one that works horribly.
The one that works is in certain counties in Nevada in places like the famous ‘Bunny Ranch.’
Having never been a patron, I can only go by reports on these places. The workers appear to be treated well and paid well, to be able to come and go freely to their own dwellings when they’re off work, to be protected by bouncers, to be subjected to health checks and and overall, a fairly safe work environment. In other words, willing buyer, willing seller.
Germany legalized prostitution nationwide in 2002, but has found that there were major problems with it. Essentially, a lot of the unsavory characters whom used to pimp and engage in trafficking now import impoverished young girls from Southeastern Europe openly, where they’re installed in ‘cut rate’ brothels under terrible conditions and the pimps who manage the establishments deduct hefty fees from their earnings.
According to the law as originally passed, a ‘manager’ could be considered ‘exploitative’ if he took over 50% of a girl’s earnings, and safe conditions with normal hours were mandatory. However, as the Germans found out, it was very difficult to prove violations since the girls knew what would happen to them if they didn’t keep quiet. Many women ended up being forced to service numerous clients on a daily basis around the clock, earned very little money and were actually made to live in the rooms they worked in…for a hefty rent which came out of their earnings. In spite of the laws, very few of the women appear to have actually signed an employment contract, let alone have it honored.
Frankly, one of the big differences here is that the German brothels are largely run by Muslims – mainly Albanians, Chechens and Turks. Many Muslim men have a certain attitude about women, especially infidel women whom the Qur’an teaches them to regard as booty, ‘what thy right hand possesses.’
Americans, by comparison tend to treat women relatively well, no matter what the usual feminist harpies are screeching. Also, Americans, being better businessmen and businesswomen know that happy, heathy workers have far more productivity and tend to last longer.
If we were to have legalized prostitution, it would be better to follow the Nevada model, obviously, where local jurisdictions could vote to allow it or not. A commission to award licenses would be essential, and like Vegas, people with any history of involvement in pimping, organized crime or human trafficking would be barred not just from a license but from any employment in brothels. The commissions could also oversee conditions to make sure the sex workers weren’t being exploited, which is how it’s run in Nevada today.
My primary interest in this topic comes from my revulsion and disgust at the scourge of human trafficking. Legalized brothels and harsh new laws would go a long way towards curtailing it, at least in America and a few other civilized nations. One reason it’s so prevalent is because the profits are high, in many countries the chances of ever serving any time are low and even when caught, sentences can be fairly low. The UN certainly won’t do anything, since their Blue Helmets and ‘aid workers’are some of the worst offenders, again not a surprise when you find out what countries they mostly come from.Personally, I’d love to see a death sentence limited to one appeal for anyone caught pimping or involved in human trafficking in America. These ghouls steal people’s lives, and only the possibility of losing their own miserable skins might make it worthwhile to them to get out of their ‘business.’
Whether people realize it or not, prostitution already has legal standing in every state in the union, and not just in a few counties in Nevada.
Strippers who want to make more money routinely offer private ‘lap dances’ to customers for a fee, which involves the stripper gyrating in the man’s crotch until he has an orgasm. And many massage parlors offer ‘happy endings’ to customers willing to pay for it.
Both by definition are sex for money, AKA prostitution. And they’re legal, at least de facto in most communities.
My own experience with sex workers has always been social rather than professional, as Dave says, but my overall impression was different.Many of the ones I met seemed to enjoy the money they were making at work if not the overall experience, something they have in common with a lot of people!
That started when I met a cute girl at a laundromat and agreed to meet her for drinks after work at the club she worked at, which yes, was a strip club.
I’ll skip the amusing details, but I thought she was a cashier or waitress or something, not part of the entertainment! We ended up dating for awhile, until I found out that she wasn’t exactly being truthful about our deal that she give up offering lap dances to the clientele since we were seeing each other. Sweet girl, but…
The environment itself was safe, bouncers kept the girls from being treated inappropriately and my friend and most of her buddies seemed perfectly happy, at least at work.
If legalizing prostitution and cracking down on human trafficking can rid the earth of this scourge, at least in America, I say do it along the lines I’ve mentioned. Virtue can unfortunately not be legislated, but practices some of us might consider not virtuous can at least be legislated so as to do as little harm as possible.
This issue is going to take an interesting turn as sex robot brothels become more common.
Laura Rambeau Lee: Trading sex for money will always have a social stigma in our country and the reasons people engage in the practice either as a prostitute or a customer are as varied as one can imagine. Realistically we know that prostitution will continue whether legalized or not. Making it illegal only keeps it in the shadows and makes it more difficult to protect those who are forced into human sexual trafficking and sex slavery, which have reached alarming numbers in the United States. Leave it up to the states and the people of a state to legalize prostitution. If the people agree to legalize prostitution then yes the state government should make laws to regulate it. The laws should protect both parties involved in the transaction. Voluntary sex workers should be monitored for sexually transmitted diseases and should also be protected from abuse by their managers and their customers. Legalizing prostitution would give us the opportunity to monitor sex workers and the places they work, and make sure no one underage is involved or someone is being forced to engage in it against their will.
Well, there it is!
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