A Cry for Justice:The Abuse of Prostitutes

BordelloOne of the few remaining unjustified restrictions on the freedom of women–one of few remaining barriers to equality in the workplace–is the prohibition of prostitution.  No other service industry is forbidden to women on the basis of gender. Other sexist obstacles have come down. It is time this one did.

Treating prostitution as a crime represents an unconscionable restriction of a woman’s right to control her body. This right is legally recognized, allowing her to have an abortion, and must certainly extend to allowing her to decide with whom to go to bed. Any rational feminist (I know, I know) must favor legalization. So must libertarians opposed to governmental interference, conservatives favoring free enterprise, and advocates of free-markets. Keeping prostitution illegal smothers initiative and prevents capital formation.

Note that America’s attitude toward prostitution is not the norm among civilized nations. It is legal in Spain, Germany, Holland, Finland, Austria, Denmark, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, and many others. Canada, idiotically, makes it legal to sell sex but not to buy it. (It gets cold up there, and I guess sometimes they forget to wear hats.)

Feminists, most of whom are in little danger of sex with a man, have for mysterious reasons regarded prostitution as exploitation of women. This is like saying that piano movers exploit musicians. A prostitute offers a service for a fee, like a barber. We do not penalize barbers, most of whom are men, but do penalize prostitutes, most of whom are women. It is a clear case of disparate impact—in a word, of sexism.

Typically feminists, pathological reformers, and married women oppose prostitution. That is, they want the government to control the sexual lives of women. This is an outrage, and little better than purdah. Can suttee be far behind?

Note, though, that feminists are not disinterested parties. They regard heterosexual sex as miscegenation, and heterosexual men as poachers. With them it is a matter of competition for resources. Married women, moving on in years, putting on a bit of weight, and perhaps not erotic thunderstorms in the first place, yearn not for houses full of young, luscious, available and—Hallelujah!—feminine women within hubby’s purview.

Reformers argue that because prostitutes are mostly women, somehow the trade represents discrimination against that sex. How so? Piano movers have almost always been men. Does this imply that a woman who has her piano moved is exploiting men? This would seem to imply that pianos by law should be stationary.

The Predatory Good insist disingenuously that prostitution is bad for women. In particular, they tell of the miserable lives of prostitutes working in filthy brothels and dark and dangerous streets, of the pimps who beat them and of occasional brutal customers. These, they say, show that prostitution is a great evil. But these great evils—and they are great evils—exist because prostitution is illegal. That is, moral uplifters force women to work in sordid cribs and back streets. They leave them no choice. It is legal oppression and obvious misogyny.

But it is the illegality, not the prostitution, that that engenders tragedy and ruined lives. If piano-moving were illegal, it also would quickly fall into the hands of shady characters and occur in the dark of night by unlicensed and perhaps incompetent movers. They might drop the piano. Corruption of the police would soon follow. Injuries would occur as movers took pianos up rickety back stairs to avoid being seen. And if the moving itself were illegal, possession of a piano would be prima facie evidence of the crime of felony solicitation of piano moval.

As sit turns out, more-or-less normal women now use prostitutes. Irrational feminists (I know, I know) disapprove of prostitution almost as much as they do of housewives and marriage, but chiefly I think because both involve—ugh!–men. Unfortunately for them, heterosexual—ugh!–women apparently are using the services of heterosexual—ugh!–men—ugh!-for reasons resembling those of men who patronize prostitutes. Headline:”More women than ever are paying for sex because they are too busy for conventional relationships….” Given the nature of businesswomen, female lawyers, and such, this may be a service to the rest of us. However, if these brave men laboring in the trenches (so to speak) of social progressivism are not being arrested, why should female prostitutes be? It is sheer vindictiveness by the matriarchy.

Of course prostitution does not have to occur under the sordid conditions associated with unregulated piano-moving. Just as the illegality of abortions resulted in death and trauma, so illegality of commercial sex results in the grim conditions of the unregulated trade.  It is not the merchandise but the banning that creates problems.

By contrast, legal bordellos, inspected as restaurants are, can be safe, clean, and elegant with bars, smoking rooms, oil paintings, crystal chandeliers, and other elements of a theme park. A well-run bawdy house would allow the women to dress and behave as ladies and require that the men so treat them, thus elevating public manners. In the United States, such houses would constitute almost the only places where men could be alone with each other and agreeable women.

For reasons beyond my ken, Doers of Good believe that the customers of prostitutes hold these women in contempt, and enjoy degrading them. Perhaps some do.  Some hold piano-movers in contempt. (“They are not our sort of people, dear.”) I know many men who have spent long years in Asia and patronized countless prostitutes. These men do not at all speak of the girls with contempt, and indeed often remember them fondly. The disdain seems to come from the Doers of Good, not from men.

A bargirl Thailand once told me approximately, “I can work in an electronics-assembly plant twelve hours a day, barely make a living, and almost never see my little boy, or I can work here where it is comfortable and I have my days off.” So you see: Illegality consigns women to sweatshops. And it is bad for children.

In the past, and in many places today, women were and are forced by physical threats to work as prostitutes. This is utterly reprehensible, as immoral as forcing men to fight wars in which they have no stake, or forcing them to pick cotton. Again, it is the forcing, not the prostitution that is an evil. Picking cotton is not in itself a moral disgrace.

Under today’s economic conditions, compulsion would be nonexistent, especially in licensed houses rigorously inspected. Any prostitute who became dissatisfied could simply walk out the door. Today, a girl of eighteen can make her living without selling sex, and almost all do. If she chooses voluntarily to work in a brothel for whatever reason—better money than Starbuck’s, and less boring—why is that not her business?

Illegality? I say unto ye, brothels and sistels, herein lies a great evil, and it should not stand.

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