I watched an interesting documentary on Netflix over the weekend about sex workers: American Courtesans.
The notion of sex workers is an interesting thing. There’s the people that are forced into it, and there’s people that do it because they want to.
On one hand there’s the women down the hill from us at the Everspring Inn whose residents seemd equally split between prostitutes and drug dealers. On the other hand there’s people I know that were sex workers who weren’t like that. The movie interviewed plenty from both sides of the fence.
The problem, as I see it, is that it’s not legal. When you have something that’s pushed to the margins of society you force the people in that profession to have a double whammy — you force them to get protection, however slight, in the form of pimps, and you ensure they have no recourse if something bad happens to them at the hands of their pimps of clients.
A few hours after I watched the documentary about the sex workers I was driving down Aurora to get some house supplies — dryer duct cleaning if you have to know — and there was a procession of people walking down Aurora telling the women they don’t have to be trapped by their pimps and other types of human traffickers. I would posit that many of these women are trying to provide for their families or to get out of a pre-existing bad situation. Is it better to be trapped there but provide for your family or be trapped in jail? It’s a hard choice if you’re forced to make it.
The thing is that sex work has been around forever. The old saw goes that it’s the oldest profession. It likely is. You can’t legislate it away from existing. As long as there are folks who are willing to trade their body for profit you’ll have a market. And the way I see it it’s no different from many other male dominated professions.
So, take coal miners for instance… men take the job, work hard, and essentially trade their health (far more than most sex workers I might add) for money. Or football players. Same thing. One set of jobs is praised, the other denigrated. Why is stripping bad while, say, wrestling is good?
Why is it that we say you can’t trade something associated with sex for money? But you can give it away from free — or in trade for a house and kids?
I think much of it is from the idea that sex is bad in some way. Hell, if you look at most societies, women’s reproductive freedoms in large part belong to society instead of herself. This possessiveness of reproductive rights by society is a hinderance to all of us. We each own our own bodies and we should be allowed to use them to our greatest advantage, whatever that might be. Not just that, but legalizing it would serve to push a wedge between those who are trying to support themselves and their families from those who are doing it simply to support addictions. As a patron would who would you rather patronize? Legal and clean or on the margins and dangerous?
When we were in the civil war, prostitution was at first a plague on the troops. After it was regulated and healthcare was made available to the women suddenly it was a different story — STDs went down, and the proceeds from taxing them were used to pay for the free healthcare. Everyone won.
We have this happening in some ways in Nevada. Society hasn’t fallen apart.
TL;DR: We should legalize, regulate, and tax the oldest profession. Make it safer for the service providers and the consumers of their services. If you don’t like it, don’t do it or use their services.