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by Peter Moskos

September 4, 2010

War on Prostitution


Does anybody really think the problem is Craigslist?

Don't we have better things to do?


IrishPirate said...

Dumbass move by a bunch of dumbass politicians and activists.

By keeping prostitution illegal you lose the potential to adequately regulate it. Also by regulating it you can offer the hookers help in getting out of the field and becoming politicians or conservative preachers.

It's really very similar to drug prohibition. All it really does is empowers criminals.

A little known fact is that the Boston Tea Party was actually the "Boston Tea Bag" party. British Politicians in London attempted to limit hooker and sex club ads on PaulReverelist and the American Revolution ultimately resulted.

That whole dressing up as Indians thing was merely a large group of gay men on their way to the Pilgrim Village People Party over at Harvard.

Even Howard Zinn was afraid to cover that.

Now I have no problem with law enforcement focusing on stopping "sex slavery". However, if a woman is 18 and wants to earn a few extra dollars by offering some wayward pirate a "rub and tug" I say "vive la revoluction". Actually, I'd probably be moaning too much, but you get the idea.

Living in a free nation means that adults get to make choices about what they do with their money and bodies. The state has no business prohibiting prostitution between consenting adults or the electorate and politicians.

Anonymous said...

I fully support Craiglist's ads priovided the categories are titled as follows, and Craig actually enforced proper categorization of the advertisers:

1- Destperate, drug-addicted girls pimped out by thugs for your pleasure
2- Illegally-trafficked sex slaves kidnapped from other countries available for your abuse
3- Smart, progressive, college-educated girls trying to make their way in this tough economy

PCM said...

Would you mandate that list for construction, gardening, and most minimum wage jobs, too?

It's interesting to me that in two out of your three categories the prostitute are not to blame for their situation. It's the fault of those evil thugs or sex-slave kidnappers. Do you really believe that? For the majority of prostitutes on craigslist?

Desperate, drug addicted, girls? Sure. That's a big part of prostitution. But really desperate drug-addicted girls aren't call girls putting adds on craigslist. They're sucking c*cks in crack houses for $10 a pop.

Most prostitutes do, at some level, chose to be prostitutes. Is it a real choice? You don't have to be smart, progressive, and college-educated to try and make it in this tough economy. I'd bet the choice for most prostitutes is what they do versus dead-end minimum wage jobs. When is work ever a real choice?

Why not just legalize it?

Anonymous said...

To be clear, I believe that about Craigslist girls specifically. If you asked me about the lot of girls who discretely trade the phone numbers of corporate lawyers, movie stars and bankers--or should I say, the girls who are traded between these rich and powerful men--then I would agree there is a fair amount of choice behind their line of work, and they can spend their free time buying the type of high-end consumer goods that confer value and worth on people in our society.

The women on CG are mostly dirty, desperate, flea-ridden substance addicts who are pimped if not via outright slavery, then certainly by coercion, subtle or explicit, and enforced dependence. They are simply not treated as decent human beings by the people who manage them, and who seek only to maximize the profit they wring from their bodies. They are often in a town for two or three days, then trucked to some other place. Rotating stock sells better. Once they get too haggard for this type of work, they'll be cast off to make room for younger, fresher a** and you'll find them doing the less itinerant $10 work you describe above. Or unemployed, with no skills, and a huge gap in their resume.

Even if prostitution became legal, it would still be a sad, miserable job. The legalized trade in Europe is especially sad because you get to see all these girls trucked in from Eastern Europe begging for a few bucks, all of it taking place with some air of legality because it happens to be legal. Very, very, very few of those women want to be there; they simply thought this was their most viable option at some point. I wonder how many would take it back if they could.

For sure, people give away their self-respect for a lot of reasons. Fame is one, money is another. Sometimes they don't realize they're doing it until it's gone (think Lohan and Spears), and suddenly other people are treating them as less than people because they haven't treated themselves like a person since before they can remember.

I guess I'd be amenable to legalizing prostitution. In that case, I'd be even more for banning the types of ads the run on craigslist.

And it's possible for construction workers and gardeners to work on terms of slavery and coercion. There's also no stigma, and a lot of dinity, to doing that type of work rather than something more degrading. Granted, much of the degradation sex workers face is because of an unfair characterization of them as people. Human beings take courses in their life that are not the best for many reasons, and we can't fault them for that. But many people all over the world are repelled by the nature of the acts they undertake in the same basic way we are repelled by the sight and smell of poop. Something inside us, something primoridal, tells us that paying for a sex act with a desperate stranger that she would otherwise not do for free is smelly, and despite the fact that there may be an allure or a desperation or curiositiy on our part as a John in any case, we're entitled to take that smelly feeling at face value.

The artifice that has to be constructed around prostitution to make it not smell like poop is immense: it has to be voluntary to begin with, and consist of only consensual acts when underway, and the woman has to be free to leave at any time, and she has to secure a decent wage, and she has to choose the job from among a range of comparable jobs, not out of a lack of choice. The act has to take place in some clean and decent location, and handled with discretion.

And this is just to bring it to the level that a person who gets $5 an hour on a construction site because he has no other choice is at just for showing up to work in the morning.

So I end with a simple test: would you want your mother to have been a gardener, housecleaner, a construiction worker, fast food worker, or am itinerant craigslsit hooker, even if one leaves her slightly less poor than the others? Are they really all equal? No, of course they're not. Saying they are fails the smell test.