I’ve been ruminating about this ever since a debate about whether prostitution should be legalized arose in “Why prostitution is an affront to human dignity”
, and the more I think, the less sense it makes. Legalizing it means bringing it into conformity with the norms of our society. But such a thing is absurd. If you advocate legal prostitution, I invite you to consider my arguments and answer them if you can.
Consider a hypothetical legal prostitute’s work-day. Let’s give her a name to humanize her-how about Amanda
? Let’s also ignore typical prostitution, and pretend Amanda works like any other professional. She owns her own business, and she works an 8-hour day with a 30-minute break and two 15-minute breaks, just like anyone else. Like anyone else, she wants to maximize her earning power and see as many “clients” as she can fit into her day. Let’s say Amanda “sees” one man an hour, for forty-five minutes, and takes a short break to clean herself and tidy up the room in between. Amanda has sex with seven men a day. 5 days a week. 50 weeks a year. In a single working year, Amanda has sex a total of 1,750 times with strangers.
Even if we assume that every single one of these encounters was a “safe” one with a healthy, un-diseased man, what is her job doing to Amanda’s mental health? There is no way to make the most intimate, emotional experience a human being ever has a commercial transaction with no repercussions. Amanda’s sex is not a cup of coffee or a gallon of milk or a massage or a yoga lesson. Amanda is a human being with emotions. If Amanda has a tremendous inner strength, and she can have that much sex with strangers and retain an apparent outward sanity, it will be by mentally detaching from herself, the men she is with, and the acts she is engaged in. It’s not mentally healthy to disengage from your emotions and your body. It’s a great way to lose your soul.
How can it be legal to employ people in such a job? One that drives them insane? There’s no way to make this job safe for Amanda’s mental health. Even if she gets out of the business and starts a dry cleaning business or becomes an accountant, will she ever be able to have a normal relationship with a man?
That’s leaving aside the fact that on this scale, there’s no such thing as safe sex.
Forget Amanda’s mind. What about her body? How many of those men have a disease? “Ah, but we’ll require the use of condoms”…sorry, that doesn’t help. At all. Condoms break and tear. They slip off. All men dislike condoms. Some will find a way to get rid of the condom. Maybe by pressuring Amanda or offering her more money. Many diseases are transmitted by skin contact, not bodily fluids. Condoms do not cover the entire penis. Many sexually transmitted diseases cannot be cured. “Ah, but we’ll require prostitutes to have regular testing, and if they test positive, they’re out.” That’s not fair! You mean, Amanda can scrupulously insist on using a condom every time with every man, catch a disease through no fault of her own, and suddenly lose her livelihood?
Would you want your daughter to have a job like that?
“Ah, but we’ll test all the clients too, and the industry will ban any customer who tests positive.” Many diseases are transmissible before they are detectable. HIV is one. It doesn’t show up in lab tests for the first six months after infection. How would you like to give Amanda the news that she has HIV? How would you like to have to be the one to tell Amanda that she has cervical cancer from human papilloma virus?
How would you like to be in Amanda’s shoes when she hears the news that she is going to die early? How can you advocate legalizing such a dangerous trade, one that cannot be made safe?
Think of herpes. If one has herpes and the other doesn’t, the statistics are grim even for monogamous married couples. Even when they use a condom every time, avoid sex during outbreaks, and the infected partner takes antiviral drugs to suppress viral shedding, the transmission rate between monogamous couples is still around 5% a year. Which means the transmission rate over a lifetime is going to be pretty darn close to 100%.
What about Amanda’s uninfected clients? What about their wives and girlfriends? How many of the 1,750 men Amanda has sex with every year will catch something from her before the disease is detected, and how many people will they in turn spread it to? No other legitimate profession is such an uncontrollable public health hazard to its workers, customers, and unsuspecting third parties. She is going to need a lot of liability insurance.
What if Amanda has read about the “down low
”, and decides she doesn’t like her chances, and she doesn’t want to take the risk of sleeping with black men? Before she was a legal, regulated business, she could do that. Now she can’t, because businesses are not allowed to discriminate against protected classes. Now we’re looking at a court forcing Amanda not to discriminate. In other words, forcing her to have sex she doesn’t want to have. In other words, judicially sanctioned rape. This is Taliban territory. Amanda can either go out of business or obey a judge’s order to have sex with clients without prejudice. This way lies madness. Gender-based discrimination is illegal too. What if a man wants to work as a prostitute, but does not want to have sex with men? What if a woman wants to pay Amanda for sex, but Amanda is straight? Let’s say Amanda has become a madam and owns her own whorehouse. Can she be forced to hire a male prostitute if she has a job opening and a man applies, even if none of her customers want a male prostitute? Maybe Amanda has a conscience and doesn’t want to participate in ruining another woman’s marriage. Can she legally discriminate against married men?
What if Amanda gets pregnant? If prostitution is a legal profession like nursing or photography, then Amanda can’t be considered an unfit mother and the courts will not take her child away, but the child will likely never have a father, because few men are willing to marry a prostitute. It’s just too bad for the kid, I guess.