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10 September 2009

Why Prostitution Laws are Sexist

There are quite a few laws in the United States which have no real underpinnings other than moral grounds. Which is kind of absurd if you're aware that morals change from one country to the next. Some people, such as myself, don't really believe in morals at all. To us all situations are unique and some shade of gray (although, to be honest, some of those shades are pretty damn black and white). People from India think we're barbaric because we eat cows (we are); they of course consider cows sacred. The Germans have brothels and I think we can all agree they're pretty okay post 1945.

What I really want to talk about is the idea of a commodity and its time value. It's a very proletariat, capitalist, alienation type-talk that is pretty common with me. Regardless of how you feel about these things they exist. I mean, I don't necessarily like UV radiation but I acknowledge its existence. There's nothing inherently wrong with them either. It's just the context in which they operate that upsets people.

Take for example me. I just turned 25, I'm about 180 pounds, in good shape, and know my way around industrial construction. Thus, I get paid to lift heavy things into place and weld them there. It isn't exactly what I'd like to spend my brief time here doing, but c'est la vie. I need money and would prefer to make more as opposed to less. Sure, I'm good at drawing, taking photos, cooking, riding a bike, shooting people, etc. but no one is going to pay me even close to that amount of money I can make as a mechanical contractor. Here's the thing. That skill only lasts so long. I won't be able to do this kind of work in 30 years. I have a window of "opportunity" in which I have the option to capitalize on my knowledge and physical ability. I could take a pay cut and do one of those other things and hopefully the difference I experience in well-being would make up for the lost wages, but that is my choice to make.

Enter a young pretty female (or male I suppose) with few economic opportunities. She could go work at a bar or restaurant and make more than any male there because old creepy guys give young pretty girls creepy stares, stories, and excessive tips. In this way she is exploiting her looks in some way. I would argue that female beauty is worth more than most people realize. Think of the wars, social, and personal problems that arise over female beauty, or even the amount of money that gets allocated to it (models, plastic surgery, etc.). The same girl could also go work at McDonald's or some other job in which her looks played no significant role in her earnings. She would essentially be rejecting the idea of profiting off of her looks. Again, this is a personal choice to be made by that individual.

So why is it that women aren't allowed the epitome of profiting off of their looks; that is, prostitution? I know I know... "it's wrong." Assuming no skulduggery or human-trafficking - both obvious no no's - what's the problem? I'm not saying it's perfectly okay, but if both parties willingly agree then why does anyone else care? Is it degrading? I think so, but not to the woman. A guy who has to pay for sex is to my mind shamed more than the female who takes advantage of that situation. Religious arguments are moot here as we're supposed to be a secular state (yeah, right). So again, why do we deny women the ability to profit off of their looks? Isn't that in some way kind of sexist? I'm not not allowed to work blue collar labor because I'm strong. And of course you could argue that that skill is more necessary to the world's well-being, but I think a lot of unsightly lonely men would disagree.

Like many of the unconventional things I support the legalization of; regulate it, tax it, and make it safer for everyone involved. Prostitution isn't going away. It's something we must live with, so why not try to mitigate the negative effects it can have on its participants. Make drugs legal - drug dealers become extinct. Make prostitution illegal, human-traffickers involved in the sex trade go extinct (if you disagree post a comment and we'll debate).

Disclaimer: Please view this as some sort of economic commentary. I'm a firm believer in everything economists propose being vetted by a philosopher before being implemented as is done in Norway, Denmark, etc.

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