Sex for money, should it be legal? Some protest youth and women being treated as objects of exploitation, and others object to government, taxes, and regulation exploiting private lives. There are sound arguments on both sides.
Does prostitution exist because sex is a commodity to be bought and sold, or because it is a lucrative high profit business that exploits the vulnerable? It seems to be both. Legalization should be considered, but we have to reach a level of maturity that accepts sex is not equated with filth and perversion, in order to safely legalize the trade.
Sexual slavery exists. The question about whether to legalize, and thereby regulate prostitution, becomes largely about how most men and women view other men and women on the planet. Are we equals, or are we prey to be exploited? When children are involved, which is almost always the case in sexual slavery; the question of regulating “the trade” seems like a no brainier. But it is complex.
When women have a say, or when children, both boys and girls, have freedom from sexual exploitation, we have a more enlightened society. Is this what we would obtain with legalization? There is evidence we are not yet mature enough to regulate prostitution.
When prostitution is hidden, ugly, dirty, and involves minors, and or sexism, as is now the case, one would think legalization is clearly the answer. The issues are more complex than that. In the past owning people was considered the norm. Now we have laws against it. Still, a stigma is very attached to the idea of sexuality, especially for women.
One way to weigh human attitudes is to make lists of disrespectful words. There are many more words for an allegedly “loose” woman than there are for her male counterpart. When a rich old man marries a young, attractive woman she is more likely to be called a gold digger, than he is to be called a dirty, old pervert.
Sex is still considered dirty. Never mind that sex is used to sell everything from cologne to cars. Only when sexuality itself is considered normal and natural in every sense, can we escape the exploitation of sex trafficking. We are not yet to that point.
We already know that strip clubs and pornography are legal and accepted almost everywhere. Although silently judged harshly, most of us ignore that there are such places. We accept the judgment as sex as something dirty. Most people do not want to know that such things exist in their community. It is interesting to note that sex shops and movies are not considered disrespectful near ground zero in New York City, but that a place of worship and devotion is considered unacceptable by many.
What does this tell about our values? What does it say about how we think of sex in general? It tells us that people do not wish to face the ugly reality about sex, and about exploitation. We only care about it when we perceive a very personal threat, such as when a sexual offender moves into the house next door. Then it becomes very real to us. We seek someone to be a scapegoat, and we wish to vent our confusing conflicted views about sex, by blaming someone. We put a face upon “perversion.”
We are extremely contradicted about sex. When a mature woman, (or man) agrees to exchange use of her body for monetary gain, why is this any body else’s business? When it happens to a child, we usually ignore it until it is our child. When we try to have an enlightened conversation about homosexuality, we end up passionately on one side of the issue or the other. Few people are undecided about homosexuality, and even some homosexuals condemn themselves more harshly than others do! So bringing the issue of selling one’s body quickly becomes extremely divisive.
Personally, I think it will eventually be made legal in most places. Those places usually have a more liberal attitude toward sex in general, and find it less filthy then most locales on earth still do. Religious attitudes and enforced morality are issues that are best examined by looking at where those views came from, and to where they lead us. In some parts of the world women are stoned for adultery, maimed by circumcision, and still thought of as “owned”. Males too, suffer from enforced morality, they also suffer when taught to expect submission from women, because now women fancy the idea of liberation.
When we look at how Nature treats sexuality, we find nothing like prostitution, In fact, if we observe biology, there are clues as to how to have a healthy, even beautiful and non exploitative perspective on sexuality. Look at the birds and the bees, they have much to teach.
Looking at how the Bower bird sets up a nest, or how mammals compete in non-lethal challenges to breed, we see that nature may be able to guide us into more mature ideas about sex being natural.
Is sex a natural commodity for capitalism? Clearly, it is known as the oldest profession. Does this mean we should encourage the trade? Only when we are mature enough as adults, and as a species. We will get there very slowly.