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What’s so bad about prostitution anyways?

Opinion Columnist

Published: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2010 11:02

Isn't it time for the world's oldest profession to become legal? In a world of religious activists fighting to end abortion, crush the thought of gay marriage, abolish birth control and put religion into the schools and take sex education out, though, prostitution will never stand a chance.

Christian America will die before considering the arguments behind legalizing prostitution. Because it's gross right? It's immoral! It's disgusting!
In our modern world, pornography is legal, as is stripping. Both involve nudity and sexual content, and rely on the internal sex-drive in both men and women. Neither serves a positive role in society, other than a gateway for horny America to release their collective hormones. The same can be said for prostitution. What negative trait does prostitution have that porn and stripping doesn't?

The most common argument behind the legalization of prostitution is taxes. But the issue goes much deeper than that. While the country could benefit from increased income, there are humane issues that are much more crucial to our modern society than dollars and cents.

Opponents to the legalization of prostitution seem to care more about morals than health and safety. Looking at Nevada, where prostitution is legal (in brothels in counties with less than 400,000 people), it is reported by Reade, Richwald and Williams in their AIDS prevention study, that the AIDS rate among workers, more than 350, was zero in 1990, while illegal prostitution was measured to be above 25 percent infected. If prostitution were legalized, measures could be made to have regular health checks, and prevent diseases such as AIDS from spreading. Mandatory use of condoms and birth control could help fight disease and lower unplanned pregnancies, and thus, abortion rates.

Such health checks, however, would require the centralization of prostitution. For it would be pretty difficult to regulate the health and contraception use of hookers spread across inner city Chicago. In Nevada, for instance, prostitution is only legal through proper Web sites or brothels.

This helps to reduce the overlap of prostitution and everyday life, relegating the act to essentially an alternate world, much like strip clubs. This world could then have governing rules and regulations, and provide both workers and clients with health, safety, and protection.

What are truly important, however, are the girls. It is a sad fact reported in the study by Estes and Weiner that many prostitutes, up to 300,000, are forced into prostitution against their will, either by force or deceit. Rather than shaming prostitutes and condemning their actions, it is important to look at the social circumstances surrounding their life.

As reported by Silbert and Pines, the average age of entry into prostitution is 13. Is it wrong to think that not many girls want to live their life being paid for sex? By legalizing prostitution, we are protecting girls. Innocent girls.

By legalizing prostitution, the prostitutes would have the same protection from the police that ordinary citizens, even porn stars and strippers, do. In a study by Hunter and Reed, about 80 percent of prostitutes were victims of rape, most being raped 8-10 times per year.

But what is a prostitute supposed to do when she is raped? Going to the cops would simply result in her arrest. Is this the society we live in? A girl is forced into prostitution by a heavy-handed pimp and then can't be protected once she is constantly raped? Everyone deserves that basic protection. Being paid to have sex with someone shouldn't forfeit your human rights.

Legalizing prostitution would help to reduce the number of girls put in that situation to begin with. Modern day prostitution is fueled by an aura of fear and manipulation. By legalizing the act, prostitution would move off the streets and into safe zones protected by our justice system.

Am I the only one that finds it strange when the government controls the sex-lives of two consenting individual people? If two people want to have sex, no matter what is exchanged, and assuming both consent willingly to it, who can stop them? People do lots of "disgusting" things in the bedroom, but I have never seen Congress debate over an anti-Bondage bill. Some things in life are gross. Porn is gross (in my opinion). But some people love it. Let them.

If we "moralize" this country and eliminate sexual acts completely, we are going to have bigger problems on our hands. What is so WRONG about prostitution anyways (assuming it is involving a willing prostitute)? Two people want something the other has. The guy wants the girl's body; the girl wants the guy's money. They exchange. Both are happy. Seems logical to me. It's nothing to pride a nation on, but it sure isn't the worst we could do. Without these "immoral" things we are a ticking time bomb of testosterone. We need filth. It's human nature.

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7 comments Log in to Comment

Thu Mar 4 2010 15:00
Anna! You used my favorite argument against legalized prostitution! IMMORAL! Oh man how I love morals in this country. If only I had some. But now to your argument.

How does legalized prostitution protect 13 year old girls from rape: If a prostitute is raped, and studies show that most are, she would be able to contact the police and report the incident. But right now, she must suffer in silence, for if she reports it, she will be arrested for being a prostitute.

Child predators aren't interested in women, i.e. prostitutes, of legal age: You're right. Hence the name child predators. By regulating prostitution, we would help reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the number of underage girls participating in prostitution. If child predators weren't interested in the older prostitutes, which they wouldn't be, it would simply mean they wouldn't participate by purchasing the services of prostitutes, thus reducing the prostitution rate (which I'm sure you would love). I never said that legalizing prostitution would eliminate creepy men being attracted to young girls. But hopefully it would eliminate means for them to practice their fantasies.

My arguments contain a lot of flaws: Like what?

The Nevada case is an exception to the rule: Or it's evidence to support my argument? I don't know how to dispute that...I mean it is the only case in America where prostitution is legal, so it is hard to empirically cross check the findings. But if you hypothesize that it is an exception to the norm, go for it.

It would be a headache to regulate prostitution: Good point. If the stress of potential laws and regulations is to be considered, we definitely shouldn't do anything serious. I mean it's a hassle housing prisoners and obviously a draining source of state revenue, so lets just stop.

It's immoral: That made me smile.

Anna Schumacher
Mon Mar 1 2010 13:09
This article is disgusting. How does legalize prostitution for adults help protect 13 years and women from rapist? The individuals who have sexual contact/fantasies with little girls aren’t interest in women of legal age. Your arguments contain a lot of flaws. You seem to be basing your facts from one isolated area in Nevada, which may actually be an exception to most rules. I personally believe it would be a headache to regulate prostitution and the act is completely immoral.
Fri Feb 26 2010 16:29
Conservatives and liberals don't agree on prostitution, but they both oppose it. Conservatives crusade against it because it's immoral and liberals crusade against it because it "exploits" women. Both positions are BS and both want to force people into social conformity under threat of prison. The fact is that in the U.S. people still don't have the very basic human right to choose for themselves when, where, with whom, and under what circumstances have sex. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't simultaneously brag about being "the land of the free".

And I wouldn't be so quick to swallow all the statistics from the anti-trafficking activists. They conflate all forms of trafficking for the purpose of inflating the numbers and then focus almost entirely on prostitution (especially child prostitution) as if the numbers were all about that single aspect. They also declare that all prostitution is involuntary as is all other forms of sex work such as dancing and acting in porn. The public and media gobble up their claims (most often nothing but heavily biased guesses) uncritically and report them as if they were fact.

It's all part of the war on sex, folks. It's like the war on drugs. It's becoming an industry unto itself and it gets a free ride because they pass themselves off as helping women and children. It's stunning that women aren't outraged by the way they are portrayed as being so weak willed and vulnerable that they are completely defenseless against those who would exploit them. What ever happened to that part of the women's movement where they celebrated their own self determination and ability to decide for themselves how to live their lives? What ever happened to the "My body, my choice" mantra? Is it only their choice if they decide to use their bodies in politically approved ways?

The fact that prostitution remains illegal is proof positive that people will persecute other people if they can get away with it and prostitutes have been declared by Americans as fair game. They're portrayed as sluts and treated as if they were subhuman, not deserving of the same rights and legal protections as everyone else. Prostitutes are the new Jews and those who condemn them are the new Nazis.

Fri Feb 26 2010 13:51
I think you missed my point. You were very thorough in your assurance that feminist groups are anti-legalization of prostitution. But I never doubted that. They are very against it and surely would stand in the way of any attempts at legalization. So need to show quotes to prove something I already believe. I never said christians were the MOST against prostitution, just that they were.

But I don't think it's necessarily a sweeping generalization to say that christian america is against prostitution. Is it a generalization to say that christian america is anti-gay marriage? You could say yes considering that is applying an opinion over every person in the group, or you could say no because that is what the group teaches. Either way, if you consider me saying that christian america is anti-legalization of prostitution is a generalization (and sloppy writing) then you would have to consider you saying that feminist groups are against the legalization of prostitution is one as well. Sometimes generalizations are needed to communicate.

And besides, I never said EVERY christian is against it. Just that the group as a whole would most likely lean that way (can't find any stats to support or argue that so it is simply an opinion...but a logical opinion considering it follows christian teachings). And also, where did you find the stat saying that the nation is about evenly split on prostitution? Because that seems untrue to me. I'm just curious what the source is because I would love to see it and change my perspective.

Joe Blow
Fri Feb 26 2010 12:58
The nation is about evenly split on prostitution. That means some Christians would support legalization, so your statement that "they" would never go for it is at the very least a sweeping generalization and sweeping generalizations mean sloppy writing.

Do some research on groups opposed to prostitution and porn. You will find the loudest and most sex-negative comments come from feminist groups and it has been that wya for years. It wasn't Pat Robertson theorizing men enjoy oral sex because they want women to shut up--it was the leader of a women's rights group (look it up) saying something so stupid. When Tucker Max speaks at college campuses, evangelists don't protest and clamor for censorship--members of women's studies groups do.

Here is a quote about feminist icon Andrea Dworkin.

"(Her) essential impulse when seeing human beings living freely is to try and control or stop them — for their own good. Like Dworkin, they are horrified by male sexuality, and see men as such as a problem to be tamed. Like Dworkin, they believe in the power of the state to censor and coerce sexual freedoms. Like Dworkin, they view the enormous new freedom that women and gay people have acquired since the 1960s as a terrible development for human culture."

My criticism stands. I believe you picked on Christians because they are a safe and easy target. Your fellow left wing travellers--not so safe and easy.

Thu Feb 25 2010 17:46
But I never said christians are the most against the legalization of prostitution. I simply said they would never go for it...which, disagree if you'd like, I think is fairly accurate. And considering christianity comprises over 75 percent of this nation's population, they have more say over the laws and policies this country implements. I'm simply pointing out a strong cause underlying the reasons why prostitution will most likely never be is not feminist groups preventing it. It is largely caused by religious-based "morals" and the voters and politicians influenced by those morals.
Joe Blow
Thu Feb 25 2010 14:57
"Christian America will die before considering the arguments behind legalizing prostitution."

You should do a little more research. Feminists and women's groups are much more sex-negative than your average Christian, and would complain louder than "Christian America" were prostitution to be legalized.

You probably consider yourself a brave bearer of truth. You're not. Go take on a women's studies program and a strident feminist professor if you really want a fight ( you don't) instead of tired old Christian bashing.

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