Prostitution is one of those things I waver on. It’s not that I’m “all for it” per se, like I would be less than thrilled to find out my husband paid for services rendered, and it’s certainly not a vocation I would ever ever ever ever ever (ever ever!) want my daughter (or son, for that matter) to enter to earn a living.
But it happens, on the general principle of supply and demand. There are women (and men) willing to service for money. Whether it’s money to survive, or feed a child, or feed an addiction, or maintain a luxury penthouse like Eliot Spitzer’s party favor. And there’s certainly no shortage of men (and a smattering of women) willing to pay money or favors or drugs for these services.
The legislation of morality generally leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. We have one of the highest prison populations per capita in the world, largely due to our legislation of morality (i.e. The War On Drugs). I’m not saying I think drugs are cool and everyone should do them; far from it, actually. But I do think alcohol is a more dangerous substance than marijuana (or they are at least equally dangerous)… there’s just a certain arbitrariness, to me, to outlaw certain substances but allow others. And there’s other stuff, like sodomy laws, or Alabama, wretched state it is, where it is illegal to sell sex toys. Yep, that’s right… you have to scurry over to Georgia or Mississippi to get yourself a vibrator.
I just have trouble with telling a consenting adult what they can do with their own body.
So, prostitution has me generally uneasy. By and large, these people are consenting… most women are not forced into prostitution. Granted, it’s a dangerous, thankless, demoralizing job… but so are lots of other jobs that are perfectly legal. Some women are trapped in prostitution because it’s the only thing they can do to make any sort of decent money… but lots of people are trapped in awful jobs they hate. But some women ARE forced into prostitution. Women become targets for victimization and disease because they are prostitutes. I wonder though, if keeping it illegal is helpful, or only exacerbates these problems.
Anyway, let me get to the actual point I was aiming for in the first place here. You may have already read the latest prostitution scandal. Specifically, a gentleman named Thomas Athans has admitted to paying a woman for sexual services. The troublesome part for him is that he happens to be married to a U.S. Senator, Debbie Stabenow from the great state of Michigan.
To sum up what happened, he paid $150 to a woman to give him a blow job. Cops stopped him outside the hotel where the tryst took place, he admitted to what he did, they let him go (but did ticket him for driving with a suspended license), and then arrested the woman. (You can read the full story here.)
The awful, glaring, nauseating part of this, for me, is that he wasn’t arrested, and she was. I completely totally hate that about prostitution enforcement. And it’s not like he played the “Do you know who I am card?” because if you read the story, the guy didn’t name drop or anything. But the cops just let him go. Boys will be boys, perhaps?
Not only is it sexist and unjust and unfair, which is in itself enough to completely piss me off, but what is it doing to stem the tide of prostitution? It’s a simple matter of economics – supply and demand in its most basic form. If the law enforcement in the area really want to be effective, they need to go at this from both ends. Arrest the johns! You can try to cut off the supply, but do nothing for the demand and you just end up with fewer, higher-priced, busier hookers working an area. What additional deterrent is there for a man to decide against seeking out these services, if he can be reasonably assured he can get off with just a warning and an “aww, shucks” from the investigating officer?!? Arrest the johns, publish their names, shame them. Make sure they know that if they do the crime, they’re going to do the time. Or at least have them pay a fine and be subject to the modern day stockade of public information disclosure.