Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Prostitution, as Treated by Glennzilla et. al.

Glenn "Glennzilla" Greenwald has written a scathing post on prostitution consisting of a long list of short arguments. It's a catalog of ships that's perhaps less poetic than Homer's original but infinitely more convincing on the question of prostitution.

I already thought prostitution shouldn't be a crime. But as with so many things that fall prey to Glennzilla's keyboard, he puts the matter so forcefully that I feel like a fucking idiot for ever entertaining any doubts on the subject. Here's a taste:

Sometimes, adults make choices for their own lives that other adults perceive to be bad choices. When that happens, the adults who know better have the right to step in, pass laws to restrict the bad choices, and even make the bad choices criminal -- all for the good of the adults who don't know what's good for them.
And another:
People who work at an unpleasant job in order to support themselves, rather than because they enjoy it, are the functional equivalent of brutalized, exploited slaves and therefore should be barred by others from choosing that job -- when the job in question is prostitution, but not when it's factory work or fast food cashier or large corporate law firm associate or massage therapist or porn actor.
As I was writing up this paean to Glennzilla's rhetorical prowess I came across another good argument or two by Kerry Howley at Reason, a bite of which follows:
Anti-prostitution laws add a layer of legal sanction to all of our worst intuitions about the treatment of sexually independent women; they strengthen and validate the idea that women who bed men with any frequency are sick, marginal, pariahs. Even decriminalization, which treats Johns as outlaws and sex workers as victims, assumes that all sex workers are damaged, that no woman would ever love sex enough to make a career out of it. And why not? Well, because every woman knows that she is her sexual purity rating. No sane woman would ever choose to mess that up.

In sum: If we are ever going to introduce a conceptual distinction between the moral character of individual women and the integrity of their hymens, it seems extremely important not to criminalize aberrant sexual behaviors.
I'm semi-libertarian so I think I'm immune, but for your sake, I'll say beware the libertarian cooties if you follow the link to the Howley post.

Anyway, prostitution should not be a crime.

1 comment:

mikesdak said...

It is pretty silly. It's a leftover from religious-based laws that criminalized any sex outside marriage, for pay or not(which at least was consistent). I think the main reason such laws still exist is that supporters of the laws are more intense than opponents. I can also imagine a legislator facing domestic trouble for supporting repeal ("you just want it to legal so you can fool around")