Should Prostitution be both Legalized and Professionalized?

 

I cannot think of a safer nor more benign use of our politician’s time than to have them occupied with drafting legislation to turn prostitution into a profession.

It seems quite reasonable to require prostitutes know all sorts of things, from advanced sexual techniques to first aide, hygiene and disease prevention.   From a bit of psychology to a bit of financial management.  I envision requiring the equivalent of an associate’s degree to work as a prostitute.

Of course, my reforms would not stop there.  I’d not only require that a prostitute have a degree (or at least a certificate), but that he or she belong to a professional association, in the manner of the Bar Associations.  And then layer onto all that the regulation and monitoring of working prostitutes.

Naturally, the only thing that prevents my suggestion from being the most ridiculous thing that I have ever heard of is the plain fact that the current system — the one actually being used — is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of.

So, what do you think?  Would my scheme be an improvement?  And how would you deal with the problem of prostitution?

17 thoughts on “Should Prostitution be both Legalized and Professionalized?

    • Hi Alan! Welcome to the blog.

      I’ve written about prostitution at some length. There are certainly some problems associated with it. A remarkably high percentage of street walkers, for instance, would prefer to be doing almost anything else. I figure it’s not enough to merely legalize it. It needs to be both legalized and professionalized.

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  1. Prostitution will exist for as long as there is economic inequality.

    I’ve done a bit of research on prostitution in Wyoming. There were some very explicit revelations of a prostitute’s daily routine. In the more “reputable” houses, the workers were obliged to bathe at least the involved parts of customers, if not the entire customer — if you can imagine the stench of a cowboy or miner who hasn’t bathed in years…. then to perform a cursory exam to make sure that no STDs were involved, charging the customer a nickel for a French envelope — often customers tried to get away with a used condom that they had with them — and all of this had to be done within an allotted time in order to keep the stream of customers moving.

    It was a demanding and destructive profession and, unfortunately, many prostitutes were not very successful at building nest eggs for retirement. Most of them had been emotionally destroyed by cultural disparagement of the entire sex of women and didn’t have enough self esteem to vigorously look after their own interests.

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    • Most prostitution is a sorry-ass business to be in. And I agree with you that, “Prostitution will exist for as long as there is economic inequality.” From everything I’ve read, the most common motive people have for prostituting themselves is that few or no other ways of earning a living are available to them.

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  2. Would regulating the so-called “profession” have any impact on the violence that prostituted people experience from pimps and johns? Would it have any real impact on trafficking? I highly doubt it. Full regulation isn’t going to prevent the violence and exploitation that occur.

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  3. Don’t legalize it. Decriminalize it. Like drugs ought to be. Then regulate where and how if necessary (zoning laws). I think it would cut down on violence because assault could be reported without fear of the police turning on the complainant.
    I just added you to my reading list. I have appreciated your comments on CDs blog.

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  4. I have talked to several prostitutes and it is such a varied business that it doesn’t make sense to lump it all under one title. The women I know personally got into the profession as children. They were sexually abused at a young age, were escaping violence, and needed a community that accepted them and a way to survive. What resources does an 11 year old have when she is justifiably terrified of police? When her family is not necessarily a better place to live than the streets?

    That sort of thing should never happen. The root issues for that type of prostitution are complex and can’t be dealt with by legalization of decriminalization alone.

    On the other hand, I’ve read articles by women who do sex work that are as different as rape and making love. Other women choose the profession because of the opportunity to use counselling skills and to promote sexual health. And the empowerment it gives them. These women come from a position of power already.

    However, while legislation needs to change, it is the power unbalance and how our society treats sex workers that I think is the key. Legislation is a great first start but we need the stories of the sex workers to be heard.

    I would also like the clients to be regulated. A person would have a record that could be checked so that they could be screened for STI records, violence and bad credit. Like Inara did on Firefly 🙂 And I would love to see a prestigious academy for teaching the arts of companionship.

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    • Now, you’ve got me excited! You shouldn’t have done that, Nymph. I’m going to be mulling over what you’ve said for a while now.

      Off hand, I think you make a strong case for a multi-tiered approach to the problem.

      Your academy is a potentially revolutionary idea.

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  5. I used to be an enthusiastic proponent of legalizing prostitution. With the passage of time, however, I have become merely a pragmatic proponent. You see, there would still be illegal prostitution. Underage children and teens, people being pimped “under the table” by family or strangers and so on, would fall between the mesh safety net that should result if prostitution is legalized. The black market, being unregulated, would presumably be less expensive than legal prostitution. This would not make legalization pointless. Some customers would be prepared to pay more to avoid a criminal record. Add in some privacy requirements (“Hooker’s HIPAA”?) and many customers would consider the extra cost worth it. Health regulations would attract customers with a healthy fear of sexually transmitted diseases. Some might argue that “safer” prostitution would attract customers who might have steered completely clear of sex for pay, as well as some prostitutes who would never have engaged in the work My suspicion is their numbers would be outweighed by people who would be buying and selling sex under any circumstances. Why not, then, make the circumstances safer? Legalizing prostitution would not make every prostitute safe from pimps. Legalizing prostitution would not guarantee against contagion. Legalizing prostitution would not free the police from the burden of coping with illegal prostitution. However, police resources could be concentrated on what one might term “heinous prostitution”. Some prostitutes and some customers would be safer from violence and disease. The burden on our prison system would be somewhat relieved. These all seem good enough reasons for legalization to me.

    I do not feel that prostitutes should be required to undergo a great deal of education prior to obtaining licenses. After all, prostitution is often the resort of individuals who had difficulty in the education system, quite possibly because of learning disabilities. Raising the bar too high would only force men and women who could otherwise practice legally into the black market. Successful public health education can take place without taking more time than a person has to spare and it can take place in ways that can accommodate dyslexia, for example.

    The Dutch might beg to disagree, but I would prefer not to see “street prostitution” legalized. How could a “whorehouse,” open to regulatory inspection, not be safer than the streets. I would certainly be interested in hearing from people who are truly familiar with the sex industry who could tell me whether some customers would only do business with a streetwalker and never with a “house.” If this is a widespread phenomenon, then the argument for legalization as a protecting to at least some customers and workers.

    One last thought: If prostitution were regulated, I would dearly like to see a requirement that “management” be culled from the “rank and file”. This is one occupation in which there could no substitute for an “apprenticeship” period if we expect management to understand the minute considerations of safety of the men and women who report to them. This isn’t so very different from requiring police officers to serve a minimum number of years in the lower ranks and pass additional exams before they can be promoted. I believe this would prevent managers from becoming mere pimps.

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  6. I have been enlightened both by the post and the thoughtful comments. It would seem that perhaps the first goal is to empower women, treat them as adults, and create an environment where they are valued and free to make their own healthy choices.

    Perhaps prostitution is humankind’s oldest derided profession only because the various manmade gods prefer male domination and female exploitation. The gods of those who balk at legalizing the profession seem to prefer self-righteousness, lying, hypocrisy, and hurting women over empowering them.

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    • I believe politicians have set the standards for prostitution and the sexual prostitutes have not managed to even come close to those standards, Stephen. It’s good to see you commenting again. I miss it when I don’t get my regular dose of you, my friend.

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