Today is another joint post by jmb275 and Hawkgrrrl. Some of the comments in the post about decriminalizing pot also referenced the possible implications of decriminalizing prostitution, an even more divisive issue. The underlying arguments seem similar: these are “illegal” activities that inevitably crop up in society, it could be argued that consensual sex (involving an exchange of money) is a victimless crime, and regulation can lead to safer working conditions for the prostitutes. There are already some states and countries in which prostitution is legal and regulated.
So, for or against?
jmb275: I come down on the legalize it side, for reasons similar to the Marijuana issue. I think it’s an interesting discussion because LDS members, on the whole, generally believe that having something be illegal is the way to indicate its immorality (also explaining why those nasty ‘ole democrats are so immoral). I noticed this is encouraged by leaders as well. In GBH’s talk on gambling he explicitly encourages us to vote for laws that discourage immorality. That really represents a Republican point of view. I’m also not in favor of people practicing prostitution, but I’m also not in favor of having it be illegal.
Hawkgrrrl: I am against legalizing it (as well as illegal prostitution). What is truly truly sad to me is the poverty and lack of choices that leads some women to have no other viable means of sustaining her own or her childrens’ lives as well as societies that create a situation in which the only commodity women have that is of value is their own body. While legal prostitution is certainly safer than illegal, it’s all, IMO, pretty damaging to both men & women and society at large. It’s not a victimless crime IMO.
And of course there’s the somewhat valid argument that some marriages are essentially the man paying and the woman providing sex and maid service. I kind of want to make those illegal, too, but it’s clearly impossible to legislate.
jmb275: I saw that Onion article. Hilarious!
Hawkgrrrl: I could argue pro due to the safety issues, but even so, it’s a profession that pisses me off because it’s not like there are a bunch of men out there whose only choice to get by is selling their bodies for sex. And yet I acknowledge that there are some women who consider themselves professional sex workers and enjoy doing that work. Pimps and johns are really the people I can’t stand.
jbm275: Well, I’m afraid I don’t understand your position. We need to be clear what we’re talking about. I agree with everything you said, but it seems like you’re talking about prostitution in general (which I’m against morally). If we’re talking about legalizing it, then I am in favor for the exact reasons you specified (safety issues). My friend lives in a country where it is legal. He said it’s very clean, and the part of town where it occurs has many family establishments and it is not considered a dirty, or otherwise bad or unhealthy culture (even though he doesn’t agree with prostitution morally).
I have two problems with prostitution: 1. Illegal prostitution makes for a very bad and unsafe culture that usually involves violence and disease. This problem is taken care of in large measure if prostitution is made legal and participants are protected instead of treated as criminals. 2. As long as we continue to view women as objects, sexism will abound. I view prostitution and porn as two of the largest contributors to the status of women in today’s society (I know there are many women who would argue against that though).
- Morality and legality are not the same thing. We are both against prostitution on moral grounds. Legality is about how society is regulated, not morality.
- Making prostitution illegal has been proven to be an ineffective deterrent.
- Prostitution being illegal only makes it more unsafe for women who are often already being victimized and exploited.
- If it is legal and regulated, the suggestion is to require prostitutes to prove that they have other forms of gainful employment available to them. Create qualifications other than the right plumbing.
- To provide the right kinds of incentives, we should make it illegal to pay for sex (being a john), illegal to collect money for services provided by others (being a pimp), but legal to accept money for sexual services personally rendered (being a prostitute).