The Business of Pleasure - An Objective View of the Positive Factors of Prostitution

The Business of Pleasure - An Objective View of the Positive Factors of Prostitution

Albeit inaccurately, prostitution has been referred to as “the oldest profession” due to its references in the bible. Despite the fact that prostitution is generally a criminal activity, most citizens of major cities could readily list at least one location in their town known as a harbor for such professionals. However, the laws regarding prostitution are driven by self-righteousness and personal belief as opposed to human rights and the welfare of society. Once the personal perspective is removed and an objective view is taken, the many positive factors of prostitution and various supporting elements can be identified. Prostitution should be made legal in recognition of constitutional rights, to improve marital status, to help control the spread of AIDS and other diseases, to minimize or prevent the objectification of women, and to protect the American citizens.

Part-time Freedom
Some argue that prostitution violates women’s rights, yet this claim is completely contrary to the truth. Prostitution, by definition, is a chosen profession. The violation of rights occurs in the sense that individuals are denied the right to sell the wares that are uniquely their own. It is unconstitutional to call prostitution a crime. The constitution supports the rights of the citizens of the United States to be free to pursue whatever profession they choose, provided it is legal. There are many professions that are, understandably, against the law. Selling drugs or guns, stealing, etc. are clearly harmful to others, sometimes the buyer, sometimes the buyer’s enemy, and other times the prior owner of the property. However, it seems unfeasible that the selling of one’s own property would be considered illegal. Prostitution is quite simply the selling of property that solely belongs to the seller – no other could lay claim to the item being sold. Germany acknowledged this fact and passed a law legalizing prostitution, as well as allowing prostitutes the right to unemployment benefits, pensions, and sick pay. Consequently, brothels have also been legalized in Germany, although the law preventing living off of a prostitute’s earnings is still in effect. Sweden publicly opposes Germany’s decision, however, Sweden does not criminalize purchasing sexual services (Aviva.org). The dispute concerning prostitutes’ rights is clearly not limited to the United States, and the views of the people are as varied as their origins. Nonetheless, the simple truth is that prostitution provides a desired service based on natural behavior and should, therefore, be made legal.

Procon.org contains extensive information regarding the controversy surrounding the legalization of prostitution. Those in opposition to the legalization of prostitution claim that it “violates the right to physical and moral integrity by the alienation of women’s sexuality that is appropriated, debased, and reduced to a commodity to be bought and sold (Hoffman, 1997, paragraph 1).” The Prostitutes’ Education Network, an organization devoted to the publication of the prostitute’s perspective, believes that an individual’s rights should not be violated based on their profession (Prostitutes’ Education Network, 2009, paragraph 1). Furthermore, the Prostitutes’ Education Network states, “Prostitution is the provision of sexual services for negotiated payment between consenting adults. So defined, prostitution is a service industry like any other in which people exchange skills for money or other reward (Prostitutes’ Education Network, 2009, paragraph 2).” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (2007) also contends that laws against prostitution violate the right to individual privacy by imposing sanctions pertaining to the private conduct of consenting adults (paragraph 3). Regardless of whether individuals are using sexual activity for recreational purposes or for business purposes should not be a concern of the government, but rather should be the choice of the individuals involved (American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 2007, paragraph 3).

Sacred Vows
Many staunch opponents to prostitution claim that it negatively affects marriage. Dorn Checkley, Director of the Pittsburg Coalition Against Pornography, stated in “Legalized Prostitution?” which was last updated on Jan. 22, 2007 on Wholehearted.org, that no one enjoys sexual competition or being cheated on and that such actions will always hurt. However, prostitution does not automatically imply that adultery is involved. Unmarried individuals are at least as likely to desire prostitution as married individuals. Also, some spouses might perceive benefits to their spouses engaging in relations with prostitutes. John Ince, an attorney and the leader of the Sex Party, stated in The Politics of Lust,

Committed relationships have intrinsic rewards to both men and women. Most people report that sex within a committed relationship is superior to casual sexual contact. Further, such emotionally bonding sex costs no money. Commitment also offers continuing companionship, emotional security, and an opportunity to pool economic resources and share the responsibility for children. These positive outcomes will always make committed relationships appealing to most people, even those who have access to prostitutes. Further, sex workers can provide committed couples a way to gratify needs for sexual variety without risking the emotional attachments arising from sexual affairs. (2003, paragraph 1)
Paul Abramson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles, Steven Pinkerton, PhD, Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Mark Huppin, JD, PhD, co-author, wrote in their 2003 Sexual Rights in America that the excess sexual energy men experience can be channeled away from such actions as adultery and rape with the availability of these commercial sex partners. In his book, Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life, David M. Newman notes that prostitution fulfills the desires men experience without the emotional attachment that otherwise would destroy marriage, harm family, and overall threaten society (2008, page 45, paragraph 1). Deviant behavior does not stem from external circumstances, but rather from internal inclinations. Legalizing prostitution is not likely to increase adultery, but is more likely to lessen adulterous behavior and strengthen spousal relationships.

Social Diseases
Another argument against prostitution is that it increases the spread of AIDS. John Bambenek (2007) claims that support for the minimization of AIDS cannot be maintained while simultaneously supporting the legalization of prostitution (2007, paragraph 1). In fact, the opposite is true. Carol Leigh, the founder of Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network (BAYSWAN) and also a former prostitute, announced in a segment entitled “Justice Talking” on National Public Radio (NPR) that bringing prostitution out of the underground would enable us to more effectively combat such issues as forced prostitution, juvenile prostitution, and other such abuses (2002, paragraph 1). So long as prostitutes remain in hiding, disease will spread. However, if prostitution were legalized, as with the act itself, sexually transmitted diseases would be able to be monitored. Much like the pornography business, prostitutes would be required to maintain documentation proving they are free from illness. Furthermore, since prostitution would no longer be illegal, advertisements could discreetly encourage the buyers to ensure they “protect” themselves.

Man’s Inhumanity
Many in opposition to the legalization of prostitution claim that it dehumanizes and objectifies women. Kathleen Barry (1995) claims that prostitution reduces women to sex that results in violence and makes commodities of women. However, Lenore Kuo, PhD, a Professor at Women Studies at California State University at Fresno, CA wrote in her book Prostitution Policy: Revolutionizing Practice Through a Gendered Perspective that the normalization of the sale of sexual activity is the key to making sex and, consequently, women, unremarkable (2002, paragraph 1). In other words, so long as prostitutes are identified as obscene and taboo, they will continue to be perceived as objects of desire. The only way to change that perspective is to make the profession legal and commonplace, thereby eliminating the element of mysticism and bringing prostitution back the level of everyday employment.
The fact that prostitution is considered a stigma is the greatest factor in its negative effect on society and its participants. If prostitutes are no longer viewed as filthy and unworthy of respect, they can begin to respect themselves. With self-respect comes concern for one’s own welfare. A prostitute who considers herself to be no better than a rat in a gutter is not likely to care for her own safety, much less the safety of those she interacts with. Contrarily, a prostitute who recognizes that she is as much a member of society and as worthy of respect as an accountant, administrative assistant, or chemist is far more likely to ensure her own safety and protect against the threat of disease.

Psychological Psych Out
The most consistent argument against prostitution is the psychological and physical damage it causes for the prostitutes. Here again is where the stigma cloud comes into play. Nursing Standard published an article addressing the health issues prostitutes experience due to their fear of discrimination at the hands of the nursing staff. They are convinced they will not receive the care they need due to the perceived prejudice in the medical community, and instead choose to deal with their medical and drug problems on their own (Harrison, 2005). The Journal of Political Philosophy recognized the detestable conditions regarding health and security for prostitutes stating,
Prostitutes who work in regulated houses of prostitution are less likely to be raped, killed, infected by venereal or sexually transmitted diseases, and to transmit them to Johns. If one tries to abolish prostitution rather than regulate it, it does not actually get abolished. Instead, the medical control, the legitimation of condom use, and the security provisions created by a bouncer downstairs are what are abolished. (Stinchcombe & Nielsen, 2009)
Stinchcombe and Nielsen understood the plight of the prostitute and her consternation in seeking public assistance in times of distress or danger. Harrison’s analysis confirms the observation that the public treatment of prostitution ensures their continued health issues and the spread of disease, not to mention the fatalities they suffer, which is directly linked to the criminals’ knowledge of their fear to seek protection.

Modern Slavery
Pimps are commonly identified as chief sources of abuse for prostitutes. Those opposed to prostitution often refer to pimps as supporting evidence of the need to abolish prostitution. I do not disagree concerning the negative aspect pimps can have on prostitutes, I merely disagree with the concept that legalizing prostitution will cause this situation to worsen. Pimps derive their power from the fear the prostitutes suffer, a fear generally originating not only from the pimp, but also from society. Pimps offer prostitutes protection from other prostitutes, violent johns, and other pimps (Christou, 2008). Legalizing prostitution will give the prostitutes a legal protection option and will also decrease the chances of such abuse as the attacker would be at greater risk of being caught. Committing a crime against a criminal is far easier than committing a crime against a law-abiding citizen since criminals are far less likely to seek legal assistance.

The relationship between pimps and prostitutes is generally regarded as being similar to the relationship between a master and his slave. It is for this reason that even in societies where prostitution is permitted, a stipulation is often added preventing an individual from using a prostitute’s earnings to fund their existence. Williamson and Cluse-Tolar define a pimp as someone who manipulates and makes their living off of the earnings of a prostitute (Williamson and Cluse-Tolar, 2002).

In actuality, it is the pimps that help to increase and simultaneously degrade prostitution exponentially. Like the drug dealers who steadily work to increase the quantity and dependency levels of their customers as they increase their supply, pimps take pride in the quantity and quality of the women they prostitute. Celia Williamson and Terry Cluse-Tolar writing for the University of Toledo in Violence Against Women, Vol. 8 No. 9, September 2002 did a study on prostitutes being controlled by pimps. The article analyzed the methods used by the pimps as well as the perspectives of pimps and prostitutes. The article states, “A pimp offers hope for the future, and women see this as an opportunity to be financially successful. During the time a prostitute is entering the profession of street-level prostitution, the pimp is said to be ‘turning her out’ or has ‘turned her out’ on the streets to make a profit (Page 7, paragraph 4).” The women analyzed in the article were enticed with compliments on their beauty and told that they were wanted, so much so that men would pay for them (Williamson and Cluse-Tolar, 2002). In this manner, pimps create prostitutes, utilizing them for their own benefit while providing only as little as needed to keep the women working for them. Legalizing prostitution would greatly decrease the creation and abuse of prostitutes.

Any relationship built on a foundation of complete control, particularly through abusive means, is not a healthy relationship. Willaimson and Cluse-Tolar compare the pimp-prostitute relationship to that of domestic violence, with the largest exception being that victims of domestic violence most often claim that they could sense when the abuse would occur due to behavioral changes signifying an increase in emotional disturbance, whereas prostitutes may have no method of gauging the pimp’s behavior and would therefore be caught by surprise (2002). Since pimps use proposed protection as their primary selling point to convince prostitutes to join them, legalizing prostitution would greatly lessen, if not completely eliminate, their ability to control the women as public protection would become accessible.

Through The Looking Glass
Alicia D. Cast of Indiana University in conjunction with Jan E. Stets and Peter J. Burke of Washington State University in ”Does the Self Conform to the Views of Others?”, published in Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol 62, No. 1, 68-82 (1999, page 1, paragraph 1), referring to John W. Kinch’s article “A Formalized Theory of the Self-Concept, which was published in the American Journal of Sociology 68:481-86 in 1963, states, “One of the basic tenets of the interactionist perspective in social psychology is that we come to see ourselves as others see us.” The public perception often defines who people become, causing them to pursue the activities and behaviors that those around them seem to expect. This individual’s self-image is also largely affected as they begin conforming to the perception offered, then confirm and increase that perception by following down the expected path.
Prostitution, being illegal, generally attracts those individuals who are in the most desperate state of affairs and have reached the point where they feel they have no other choice. As they see it, they are alone in the world and feel selling their bodies is their only method of survival. Their mental state drives them to pursue activities that are identified as being unacceptable by societal standards. Some are so desperate that they become reckless, determined either to be arrested, thereby receiving food and shelter, or killed. Those who so desire and manage to avoid arrest often feel they are stuck in their environment and see no means of escape. Since the very perception of the act draws those who are already in a sad state of affairs psychologically and often physically, legalizing prostitution would prevent this draw, making the profession more controlled. The young and desperate would not find the selling of their bodies to be quite so easy, given the regulations and expectations of the buyers. Additionally, the forbidden aspect would no longer exist, therefore the draw to prostitution would cease and they would no longer view prostitution as a last resort. Consequently, those having no alternative options would be forced to seek out help, altering the environment of prostitution from one rife with drugs, disease, and poverty to one of healthful pleasure and acceptable relief. Bringing prostitution into the light where it is subject to taxation and legal monitoring will not only help prevent the exchange of sexual acts for drugs and other illegal activities, but the improvement of the public image achieved by the prostitutes no longer remaining in hiding will increase the perception of self-worth prostitutes experience, lessening the desire to commit criminal and/or deplorable acts.
John Bambenek (2007) claims that forced sex will increase with the legalization of prostitution (paragraph 6). The US Department of State wrote an article entitled “The Link Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking” on November 24th of 2004, which it has provided on its website. This article claims, “Where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery…(US Department of State, 2004, paragraph 2)” This has been debated at length in countries all over the world. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote their own article in 2005 entitled “Dutch Policy on Prostitution: Questions and Answers”, which it also provided on its website. The Netherlands found that the best way to counter such abuses was to update the law to the current reality (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2005, paragraph 1). The article further states that, “The legalization of brothels enables the government to exercise more control over the sex industry and counter abuses (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2005, paragraph 2).” The article supports this claim by pointing out that regular controls of the brothels allows them to more easily discern signs of human trafficking (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2005, paragraph 2). The main purpose of the legalization of prostitution is to control such abuses.

If the efforts the police forces currently exercise patrolling and arresting prostitutes were redirected towards such regular visits to the brothels to verify their status, not only would they not lose any effort, they would save themselves the trouble of hunting down the murderers and traffickers by staying in control of the situation, not to mention the lives and minds that would be saved in the process. Williamson and Cluse-Tolar asserted in their article that,
Many factors prevent women from pursuing legal assistance. Often, women are fearful, intimidated by what may happen as a result of reporting, and may love their pimp despite his abuses. It is likely that she may buy into the rules of the pimping game and blame herself for violating them. Women who have previously experienced the reluctance of law enforcement to take their claims about customer-related violence seriously are reluctant to take such risks where pimps are concerned. (2002, Page 14, paragraph 4)

One of the prostitutes interviewed in the study described an incident where a man had forced her at gunpoint to perform unwanted tasks for him. Afterward, she fled to a gas station wearing only a shirt and called the police. The station attendant let her wear his jacket. When they arrived on the scene, she described the incident to the police and showed them where it had occurred, as well as provided a description of the man, his attire, and the vehicle he was driving. The officers reportedly did not record any of the information and checked to see if the woman had warrants, then, finding none, left without making any attempt to solve the crime (Williamson and Cluse-Tolar, 2002).
In the Harvard Law Review, Barbara Johnson refers to Mary Joe Frug’s A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto (An Unfinished Draft) (1992), stating,

Frug analyzes the ways in which the “random, demeaning, and sometimes brutal character of anti-prostitution law enforcement” exploits, criminalizes, and alienates female sexuality, ensures its continued control by and for men, maximizes the insecurity of the sex worker, and contributes to many women’s fear of “looking like a whore.” (Johnson, 1992, page 4)
Johnson reports Frug’s perception that law enforcement itself is chiefly responsible for the treatment of prostitutes and their continued reliance on the profession and its abusive environment.
So long as prostitutes fear prosecution by those that are sworn to protect them, they are subject to the mercies of the pimps and sex criminals, marketing them like cattle and treating them as such. Placing restrictions on prostitution (such as age, consistently updated disease testing, documentation to be maintained by the head of the brothel of those receiving the “treatments” [such documentation should, of course, be protected by the law, much like patient records, etc. in order to protect the privacy of those individuals, and would only be applicable in legal matters for the protection or defense of the performer], possibly even classes and/or licenses to perform such personal acts, etc.) and requiring certain standards will make it far easier for the law to recognize and control forced sex slavery, not to mention that those in such situations would no longer be afraid to seek legal assistance for themselves. If they are no longer the criminals, then they have nothing to fear from the law.

The Simple Truth
The raw, animalistic nature of the prostitute’s profession, not to mention the religious standpoint, has caused the public to disgrace and humiliate prostitutes. A religious argument cannot be won by either side – it is purely emotional and generally offers no room for compromise. Therefore the matter is best resolved in the analysis of facts.
On Thoughts.com, a blog posting, Bertha (2007) questions how prostitution is any different from expecting one’s partner to help pay bills, etc. One of the readers replied that they did not believe their husband would support them financially if they were no longer physically intimate (DifficultSoul, 2007). Sex in exchange for financial compensation is so common that the term “gold digger” is used to identify an individual, generally female, who chooses their sex partners based on income – the higher the income, the more interested they become. “Kept” women are those whose men are fully responsible for them financially. It is understood in such circumstances that sex is a part of the relationship, although it may not be publicly or even consciously acknowledged as a predominant factor in the situation. However, as DifficultSoul’s statement points out, removing sex from the equation could have a profound effect on both parties. Sex is even recognized as a legal requirement of marriage, with spouses claiming lack of intimacy or failure to “fulfill marital obligations” as grounds for divorce. It therefore seems hypocritical for the state to declare that the acceptance of payment for sexual favors is illegal.
It has been proven scientifically that exposure numbs the effects of a drug – whether that drug be medicinal, visual, etc. is irrelevant. Behaviors formerly considered deviant or taboo (wearing revealing clothing, maintaining and catering to specific interests, pornography, etc.), although still considered distasteful in many circles, are nonetheless commonplace in current society. It has also been seen that as the taboo nature of an act subsides, so does one’s interest. Of course, there are always those whose appetites are inherent and unchanging, but the majority of the public are drawn primarily to the strangeness and forbidden nature of the act. Once the act is no longer forbidden and has become an integrated aspect of life, most will find it no longer interests them. Additionally, for those that still seek out such satisfaction, the business will accommodate them without fear for their safety.

Conclusion
It could easily be argued that prostitution is currently in practice under the label of marriage or other relationship titles. For those in opposition to prostitution, believing it to be a base and loathsome act, standardizing the practice is more likely to limit its frequency than fighting it, and will go far towards improving conditions for clients and providers. Overall, there are many arguments for and against the legalization of prostitution. Such debates could continue for hours, yet what cannot be disputed are the rights of the individuals. American citizens deserve the right to seek out employment in whatever profession they desire, and should not be denied lawful protection from those who would abuse and exploit them in the performance of their tasks. Additionally, the personal aspect should be removed from the equation to enable a more complete and accurate analysis of the matter. In the absence of emotional distraction, the many benefits to legalizing prostitution can easily be seen.

References
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Stinchcombe, Arthur L. & Nielsen, Laura Beth (2009, March 1). Consent to sex: the liberal paradigm reformulated. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=b56c3808-444e-4564-9dc5-dda7519c0ac3%40sessionmgr10&vid=3&hid=21

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Williamson, Celia and Cluse-Tolar, Terry (2002, September). Pimp-controlled prostitution. Retrieved from http://www.pineforge.com/ballantinestudy/articles/Chapter09_Article01.pdf