There is nothing romantic about prostitution

Back when it first came out in 1990, many of my friends swooned about how romantic Pretty Woman was, while I alternated between gagging and fulmination.  I thought it was a truly disgusting movie insofar as it encouraged prostitution as a reasonable line of work to meet a sensitive millionaire.  My intuitive sense was that prostitution isn’t charming and romantic, it’s degrading.

I knew that what the movie didn’t show was that, the day before Julia Roberts showed up at the hotel to meet Richard Gere, she’d given blow-jobs to seven men, four of whom were weak on personal hygiene; and had unprotected sex with another eight men, two of whom had sexually transmitted diseases.  One of them liked his sex rough, and she was sporting a large bruise on her lower back, and one of her teeth felt a little loose.  For these emotional assaults, physical pains and life-ending risks, she earned $100.  But all that my friends saw was Julia, shopping on Rodeo Drive and dissing the snotty store clerk.

Frankly, I thought less of those friends who liked the movie and, to the extent some of them had moved out of town, I made little effort to maintain those friendships.  They saw the tagline “Who knew it was so much fun to be a hooker?”  I saw the human cost.

Even in 1990, when I was still an unthinking liberal, I had an intuitive sense of the real price of prostitution.  Over at American Thinker, Janice Shaw Crouse spells out the actual numbers, and they are appalling — and all the more appalling because of legalization.  We are not talking about college girls who engage in hook-ups, although that’s bad enough, both in terms of their own well-being and in terms of societal health.  Instead, we are talking about a world-wide industry that systematically degrades and abuses women, all the while serving as a conduit for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases:

Prostitutes call their work “paid rape” and note the friends who “didn’t make it out alive.” Nearly half of the women in prostitution attempt suicide.

Most (90%) desperately want out.

Any discussion of prostitution must center on a basic fact: Control and exploitation of another person is slavery. Pimps control 80%-95% of all forms of prostitution. Nearly 70% of those in prostitution entered before age 16. In the U.S., the average age of entry is 12. Twelve!

In Amsterdam, 80% of prostituted women reported that they were there by force. In Germany, over 60% of the prostitutes are foreigners; in Spain, it’s 80%, many coerced by gangs. In Germany, legalizing prostitution hasn’t improved conditions for prostitutes. The women do not want (or are not allowed by their pimps) to register, get health checks, pay taxes, or adhere to rules that might affect business. For example, johns are willing to pay extra for sex without a condom. Further, Germany found that legalization did not increase tax revenues like expected — mafias don’t pay taxes.

One study found that 80% of prostitutes were assaulted by their pimps, and over one-third receive death threats for themselves or their families. Nor does legalization end corruption — laissez-faire Amsterdam closed one-third of their legal brothels because of ties to organized crime while acknowledging that the illegal brothels are thriving outside the official zone. Neighboring countries call the Netherlands a “failed experiment.”

Legalizing prostitution increases sex-trafficking because demand exceeds supply. So traffickers fill the demand with girls and women from other countries — lured, tricked, or sold, they end up without their passports, assaulted and forced into sex slavery. After legalization in Australia, illegal brothels increased 300%, pulling thousands more vulnerable women into prostitution.

We’re not going to get rid of prostitution any time soon.  To the extent that woman have something to sell, and men have something they want to buy, there will always be a black market.  Efforts in legalization operated on the erroneous belief that getting rid of this black market would empower women and equalize the transaction, thereby doing away with the abuse.  What a wrongheaded idea that was.  This is sex we’re talking about, not widgets.  This is a job most women do when they can do nothing else, so they start out downtrodden.  This is a job that has an incredible imbalance of physical strength.  I can type just as well as the next guy, but when it comes to the drug-ridden, demoralized 120 pound woman, and the drugged-out, lust filled 200 pound man, all the legalization in the world won’t create an equal balance of power.

If legalizing prostitution ever comes to the ballot, I will do my bit by voting no.  I will also try to run out of office any politician who backs such a plan.  But politics isn’t everything.  When it comes to protecting those around me, I also do my bit by using my carpools with the older children as a forum to talk about personal integrity, self-respect, decency, and morality.  So far, none of the other moms have called me to complain (so either the kids aren’t talking or the moms are okay with what I say).  One mom I know is most appreciative of the fact that her daughter has been enfolded into my family.

Honest to God, you really can’t go wrong by selling old-fashioned morality.  It’s definitely not one size fits all, and there are people who, sadly, slip between the cracks, but a few thousand years of Judeo-Christian trial and error have left us with the least harmful system imaginable.

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  • HappyAcres

    I get a sinking feeling when I come across these arguments.  It’s not because I dispute the horrible toll of prostitution (or drugs, or …) but because I see the principled stand for individual freedom compromised.
    This path is untenable.

  • Bookworm

    I’m definitely a small government person, HappyAcres.  That said, there are certain normative behaviors and rules a society has to have in order to function.  Subject to caveats, the big operative rules tend to be no murder and no stealing.  The experiment with legalized prostitution seems to point to another rule:  no government support for women selling their bodies.  One could argue that they should be free to do so, but the societal damage is so great (since drugs, sexually transmitted disease, abuse, etc. go hand in hand with burgeoning prostitution), that freedom probably has to draw back a bit.

  • suek

    How about Nevada…any info on how prostitution fares with the law and society there?

  • suek

    Just happens to be topical…

  • Ymarsakar

    I got a good intro into the international sex slave trafficking in John Ringo’s novel, Ghost.
    Other Americans had their intro with the movie about an intelligence agent searching for his daughter that got kidnapped.
    I hadn’t yet connected that underworld with the shiny official image of legalized prostitution, however. But that would make sense. Government and bureacrats are the ones that pay the highest prices for exotic prostitutes and non-official snuff sex. Especially European power elites. Their legalization of prostitution is to simply lower the bar for importing or exporting of the luxury goods that they themselves produce. That was always my opinion and the new data on prostitution only reinforces that view of mine.
    The government and its individual slave masters, whether we call them Democrats here or plutocratic aristocrats in Europe, really does not care to protect the human interests of individuals. Their interest is power, the control rather than proper distribution of power.
    I would handle legalized prostitution differently and would attempt to actually gain the purported benefits it has. But I’m that way, and the government is not. Presumably because my methods would eliminate the competition in the form of Arabs, criminals, pimps, Mafias, and everybody else. The red light district would look empty because I’d have most of the important people there eliminated. The armed goons would either work for me and my allies, or they’ll be resting in an incinerator. This then becomes counter-insurgency. The elimination of underworld, unofficial, and insurgent populations through supplanting, replacing, and taking care of the natural instincts those insurgencies prey upon.

    If I was running a War on Drugs, it’d be a real war, like Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than a law enforcement matter that is being continuously upgraded to goon squad tactics and totalitarian police standards due to the inefficiency of applying lawfare to warfare.

    But governments don’t care about running wars when they can increase the supply of their luxury goods via less expensive means. This is true of Obama, Clinton, and Gore as it is true of the patrons of sexual slavery in Europe and Eastern Europe and Arabia and Africa.
    Criminals thus wish to keep what they have and they wish to do business. Politicians wish to keep what they have and they wish to do business. I, on the other hand, wish the complete elimination of enemies of humanity, as the first step in ensuring individual human liberty and prosperity. There’s a sort of inconsistency there, you see. Which is why policies tend to be different when you compare.

  • Ymarsakar

    “hat they themselves produce”
    Correction, that they themselves patronize.

  • Ymarsakar

    It is a simple truism that whenever there exists an imbalance of power, injustice will occur, regardless of what philosophy, what ideal, or what good intentions people have. Bad things will happen.
    The first step is to equalize power through the redistribution, proper redistribution, of power. Power, however, isn’t a material good. It is not money nor is it happiness. Power is the relative difference between capability and deterrence between, say, two parties.
    Two equally matched factions, with equal power, capability, and deterrence, will be almost powerless against each other. If another faction comes into the picture with more power, then the two previous factions must ally to face the new power. This is how power dynamics function and it is an element of the US Constitution’s balance of powers: the triumvirate.

    Legalized prostitution doesn’t work because idiots and plutocrats like Gore and the EU don’t give a damn about applying the law evenly, fairly, and comprehensively. Law does not function properly in pursuit of justice when written and enforced by evil men. Remember that.

    Lose the idealism and face reality. For those that have wished to see Utopia more than they have wished to see the truth, that’s the first step of their 12 step program.

  • Ymarsakar

    Suek, the Left aren’t enemies of humanity for no reason. They claim that Dead White Men, Colonialism, and plantation slavery has been the bane of human existence. I have a different view of the matter.

  • zabrina

    Many years after “Pretty Woman” came out, my husband and I attempted to watch it on DVD, wondering what all the fuss and good reviews were about. We couldn’t make it beyond the first few minutes. Agree totally with your take on it. Who would think that “prostitution is not romantic” (let alone glamorous) would ever need to be said? But evidently it does. Perhaps even more so today with the advent of “sex workers” touting themselves and their industry on college campuses to America’s youth in the name of so-called feminism. And with the realization that, with the help of the internet, prostitution, including tourism prostitution and the prostitution of children, is booming in the U.S. and around the world.
    Thank you for saying this. And thank you for speaking about morality to the kids you haul. This kind of outspokenness and outreach  is what conservative activism is about–and it is much needed these days. I do it now too. One on one. Every day I can. Your blog is an inspiration. Please keep up the important work.

  • Bookworm

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Zabrina.  I really appreciate it.  The thing I have in common with our President is that I believe words count.  Unlike him, however, I don’t believe the words substitute for deeds, or that lies don’t count.  However, I do believe that, when it comes to the world of ideas, what we say, and to whom we say it, matters greatly.

  • suek

    >>They claim that Dead White Men, Colonialism, and plantation slavery has been the bane of human existence.>>
    That’s because it suits their purpose – keeping blacks on the plantation.  If they didn’t have that line, it’d be something else.  Their modus operandi is divide and conquer.  Their version of “diversity” is simply a means of cutting out a group of people who may have similar interests, stoking the fires of discontent based on those similar interests, and then using the group as a political club.  Reminds me very much of the Cutting Class at a western horse show.  The goal is to cut out one particular animal, move it away from the herd and put it in an individual pen.  The animal – being a herd bound by nature bovine – strives to return to the herd.  The skill of the rider and the quickness of the horse determine whether they can successfully cut out the animal and move it to the desired location.
    The goal of the conservatives should be to somehow break up the herd bound instinct.  Ain’t a’gonna be easy.  Probably easier to move the entire herd in a different direction.    “Better” and “easy” are often two very different goals.