I remember talking once about prostitution on my old blog, and coming down hard against it:
I’m familiar with all the “rational” arguments in favor of prostitution: freeing the police, freeing up jail cells, monitoring the health of prostitutes, whatever. They all have to do with saving money, but they all suck compared to the damage that would be inflicted on our society through legalization.
As you can see, I used to be quite judgmental about this kind of thing, and I still don’t agree with prostitution per se, but as I’ve got older, I’ve become more tolerant about it, with a few caveats.
The problem is that there are in essence three kinds of prostitution: the age-old “selling yourself on the street kind” — i.e. to all comers [sic] — and the more formal transactions, whereby women contract for sex on a more formalized basis, or marry for money. In all cases, the motivation is the same: women are trading themselves to men for financial support, only the first kind is frowned upon by society, the second kind winked at, and the last is pretty much the glue whereby society is held together. (As my friend Patterson* once commented: “All women fuck for money if they’re going to be honest about it, but they seldom are.”)
And, of course, as with all things, there is a murky area between these two extremes: the “contracted” kind whereby young women (and it seems to be mostly the young ones, for obvious reasons) rent their bodies out to wealthy men in order to pay off college loans, or get through some other adverse financial circumstance — hence the popularity of websites like Sugardaddy. This is what I call a “part-time prostitute”, and the exchange is quite cynical — as are most transactions of this kind. But this is different from the “brief encounter” or street-corner type of prostitution, because older men (usually older, because younger men don’t have the financial wherewithal to pay a young woman thousands of dollars a month just for “companionship”) set up an ongoing financial support system, buying Little Miss Hotbody expensive clothing, jewellery, cars and even sometimes a condo. (Note that I’m not saying that this is better than the street-corner kind of prostitution, just that it’s different. The process is the same — women having sex for money — but the terms of congress, as it were, are dissimilar.) If I’m going to be really cynical about it, I’d call this kind of prostitution a “halfway house” between street-corner sex and marital sex.
Of course, wealthy men have always done this kind of thing, but in the modern world, where shame and social opprobrium seem to have disappeared, these transactions are now conducted quite openly. We can argue all day about the morality (or lack thereof) of such an action, but I have to tell you, there is absolutely no way of ever stopping it.
In fact, if I become a part-time Marxist for a moment (shuddup, let me finish), one might almost view this as a “class” issue. Poorer men, who can’t afford to be sugar daddies, go for the “brief encounter” kind of prostitute because that’s all they can afford, and the street-corner prostitutes, who most likely are not candidates for the attentions of the Sugardaddy Set, offer their services. Needless to say, this is the kind of activity which attracts the greatest attention from legislators and morality guardians (e.g. the church, back when anyone cared what that institution thought), which means of course that the police become involved. It’s easier to crack down on street prostitution because the transaction is out in the open.
Now imagine a Vice Squad trying to crack down on the women and men who use Sugardaddy.com to arrange their sexual / financial transactions, and I think we can all agree that their efforts would result in resounding failure. Take it a step further, and imagine a Vice Squad going after someone like the late Anna Nicole Smith marrying a septuagenarian billionaire — even though the transaction is precisely the same as both the other two kinds of prostitution — and the task is impossible, because at this end of the prostitution index, the transaction has become accepted by society and is even blessed by marriage vows. As with most things, the wealthier the people involved, the less law enforcement will be interested. [/Marxism]
We can argue all day about the morality of the activity of women selling their bodies for sex, and about the disappearance of public morality which allows Sugardaddy.com to exist, nay flourish, but this is where we find ourselves today, for better or for worse. As the modern idiom goes, it is what it is, and it seems like we pretty much have to live with it.
Fine. Let us at least acknowledge that street-corner prostitution presents a greater danger to women — slavery, forced prostitution, human trafficking, violence and murder — than does the Sugardaddy- and Anna Nicole-style prostitution. (We can leave class out of it because, as with most Marxist thought, that’s just an overlay of political theory on an age-old situation, and no class warfare is ever going to “solve” or end street-corner prostitution.) I do think, however, that in this regard there is a real need for law enforcement attention, simply because of the many dangers to which poorer women are exposed. Honestly, though, I think that the law should go after the management of the street-corner prostitution industry — that would be the pimps and procurers of women — rather than the actual participants (the women and their clients), because the former are the ones who generally cause real harm to the hapless women under their control. I’m not advocating State-run brothels because both the concept and likely execution are going to be foul. (To put it in perspective: imagine a State-run restaurant, e.g. managed and staffed by the same kind of people at the average DMV office, and you’ll see why I think State-run whorehouses are a bad idea.) Nevertheless, they are the lesser evil than those managed by the (illegal) private sector, who as a rule do not have the interests of their employees at heart.
The solution, of course, is the free market: legalized brothels. Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch (which is a legal business in Nevada) is not the norm in the current prostitution industry, but a statistical outlier. It and others like it may be “safe” establishments for both the prostitutes and their clients, but as a bookie might say, that ain’t the way to bet, in numerical terms. (I’m not suggesting that Hof be prosecuted for pimping, by the way: he runs a good business, everyone gets what they want, and nobody gets hurt. Would that all businesses were run that way.) What I am suggesting is that brothels should be legalized, but treated the same as (or perhaps even more strictly than) restaurants: licenses, frequent inspections, staff protection regulations, the whole enchilada.
Is there danger to the Sugarbabies and gold-diggers? Of course there is, but it’s orders of magnitude smaller than that to which street prostitutes are exposed. Law enforcement has no place in this area, and justifiably so. Is this “fair”? Of course not, but it’s not unfair because of the class of the participants; it’s a concern because of the dangers to those at the lower end of the scale. (Again with the ur-Marxism: the working classes are always exposed to danger in greater numbers and to a greater degree than the wealthy; but that’s not a class issue, it’s just a fact of life: oil riggers’ and Alaskan deep-sea fishermen’s lives are more at risk than those of doctors, architects or small-town bankers.)
Some time back, the prostitution topic was broached at Instapundit, and I made the following comment:
Maybe I’m just jaded, but I see little difference between anyone selling their talents to a willing group of buyers, and someone selling their bodies. If you can throw a baseball accurately at 105mph and end up playing professional baseball, how is that so different from a pretty woman selling her body and/or personality skills for an hourly fee? When I was a consultant, clients had access to my mind and business experience for $175/hour… so how is that different from prostitution? How is that different from a person who sells their time, attendance and skills to work in a corporation, for a monthly salary?
I know, this is about sex, and sex is SPECIAL. Sorry to say, but I don’t think that’s so true, anymore. Or maybe my advancing years have made me more cynical about the whole thing. But I see people like the Kardashian coven becoming fabulously wealthy by selling the intimate details of their lives to the public (via television), and I just don’t see the difference between Kim Kardashian and Air Force Amy [at the Bunny Ranch]. Actually, I find Amy less objectionable, come to think of it.
And yes, I know that prostitution is dangerous for the women — human trafficking being one danger, disease and violent death likewise. But it isn’t as dangerous at Dennis Hof’s places — certainly, the girls/women there seem to be okay — so maybe there’s a lesson there somewhere.
One thing I do know: no laws or police forces are ever going to stop the demand for contracted sex. So… [shrug]
By “contracted sex”, of course, I meant the Sugardaddy and gold-digger kind. I personally find both distasteful — I find all kinds of prostitution distasteful — but what the hell. It is what it is; and frankly, I have better things to worry about.
Finally, no article on this topic would be complete without a completely gratuitous pic of one of the participants. Here’s Amy:
I think she’s magnificent.
*Postscript: Longtime Readers of my scribblings know all about my friend Patterson. Newer Readers may not, so allow me please to post the original introduction to this splendid human being (and by the way, he is a real person and not my alter-ego).
February 18, 2008
4:10 AM CDT
For the longest time, Patterson and I have been friends. He’s a little more politically-incorrect than I am, has (like me) been married three times, to (respectively, from oldest to youngest), Mavis, Agatha and Sheila. Unlike me, he has no sons, only four daughters. Perhaps because he is surrounded by women, he drinks a great deal more than I ever did. Last I heard, he was still married to Sheila, who is actually Agatha’s younger sister (his comment on this piece of frightfulness: “I’d do anything to avoid breaking in a new mother-in-law”). Luckily, he and Agatha had no children (the marriage lasted barely a year), so he’s been spared the “daughters as cousins” mess.
He has a first name, but everyone, even his wives, call him Patterson. He is as funny as the day is long, but with a hint of tragedy always lurking in the near background (and sometimes front and center, as you will learn).
Stories abound. Here’s a quick one.
Back in the day, if a refrigerator had a cold water dispenser in the door, it was not hooked up to a water pipe, but was fed by a reservoir inside the fridge. This meant that one would have to take the thing out and refill it periodically. It was a huge pain in the ass, except for Patterson. What he did was quite brilliant. (This was during one of his bachelor periods.)
He would fill the reservoir nearly to the top with spring water, and then top it off with Scotch: ergo, ice-cold Scotch & water, on tap.
Patterson is mostly drunk, and has absolutely no sense of shame or pride about the several embarrassing things which have happened to him over the years as a result of his many episodes of drunkenness and foolishness.
I am also ashamed to admit that over the years I have stolen from him many sayings and passed them off as my own. (One being: “Women have orgasms? Next you’ll be telling me they have the vote!”)
Anyway, I’ve always refrained from including him in the stories of my youth, because it would have required too much back-story and flashback. No more. Now that you’ve been introduced, he can take up his rightful place in the Pantheon of Heroes, and he will feature in many stories in the future.
He deserves no less.