The holiday season is a time of gathering with family and friends to share intimate and quality time with our rarely seen loved ones. As a fresh college graduate with a new full time job, time with my family is very limited and as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to appreciate the opportunity. My most recent opportunity was at my grandmother’s house last night, where my grandmother, my mother and I sat around her kitchen table after a two hour lesson of how to bake my grandmother’s famous homemade buns, a recipe she insists on passing down to us to keep alive after she’s gone.
While having dinner, and discussing our tales of domestic abuse, whether personal or not, we somehow arrived at the topic of prostitution and whether or not it should be legalized. Though both my mother and grandmother are very intelligent women, both with a sharp opinion and loud mouth (as all the domineering, alpha females of my hormonally estranged family are) they both stunned me with their claim that prostitution should, indeed, be legalized, as it was A) going to inevitably happen as it’s been happening since the beginning of time and B) it would put the power back into women’s hands as it would provide protection from abuse, pimps, and legal prosecution.
From a surface view, their argument would meet the approving nods from the rest of the females in my family, my mother’s four sisters, all of whom have known no other lifestyle than the comforting bowels of domesticity, lucky enough to have married a somewhat decent man, given birth to healthy adorable children, reside in a house in modern day suburbia while juggling soccer practices, karate classes, play dates, dinner, and house work. All in all, though their stories aren’t all so rose colored and each of them have suffered their own personal hardships and misfortunes, none of them have ever had to resort to the soul obliterating, dignity crushing, painful, dangerous means of prostitution.
In her argument, my mother made it seem like these women were content with their decision to profit from selling their bodies as sexual objects. Her words implied that these women were making conscious decisions to pleasure ten to fifteen men a night, five nights a week in order to make a living. Or that they would choose prostitution over a college education because of the ridiculous amounts of money. The only problem in it, are the pimps and drug dealers that make it dangerous for women. The only way of getting rid of the problem would be to legalize it, and give the power back to the women by allowing them to have female-controlled brothels. Yes, the only problem with prostitution is simply that…if only our government wouldn’t criminalize it; women across the country could look forward to a violence free life of whoredom and autonomous falconry.
However, that isn’t the only problem, is it? Prostitution is the extreme of a successful patriarchal society. Like it or not men, you still hold the reigns and beat the whip on us women in society (and that’s coming from an inflamed feminist). Women are still valued for their bodies as objects and not as autonomous beings. Domestic abuse and rape statistics claim one out of four women as victims in this country every year. Women are paid seventy-five cents to the dollar men are and there is a constant stream of advertising glorifying the thin, beautiful and busty women to sell products. We are judged, valued or devalued, discriminated against and abused for the simple sake of having a vagina and breasts. And for all the men who scoff at this claim, just ask yourself what is the biggest insult someone can call you, the most detrimental threat to your masculinity? Being called a pussy. And a pussy is just another name for a vagina, the sexual part on a woman you love to abuse but hate to be called. And if, as a man, you take offense to being called a pussy, then you subscribe to the commonly accepted principle that woman are in fact weaker, and unworthy of equal consideration to the sperm producing marbles between your legs.
Back to the question of prostitution, it isn’t simply the lack of womanly control over the business that makes it dangerous, but that it is the direct and extreme manifestation of a society that values women for their bodies and nothing more. An occupation that makes a woman out to be nothing more than a sperm depository should not even be considered an option. She has no identity; she has no dreams or ambitions. While there is no demand for male prostitution, when HBO glamorizes the rarity of a male prostitute in a sitcom, the problem of female prostitution speaks only about the cruel and deformed nature of man’s potential.
Dr. Janice Shawe Cross , Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute for Concerned Women for America, former U.N. delegate and member of presidential task forces and coalitions on sex trafficking, Against Abuse of Women, and human rights, denounces the accepted, even glamorized notion of prostitution. She notes how most prostitutes call it “paid rape” and that almost 90% of prostitutes want out of the business completely, furthering my original poignant question to my mother: Why would any woman willingly want to do this?
The question of legalizing it is an entirely different landmine to step on, let alone to ignorantly pontificate about if you’re a cushioned housewife in the Pleasantville of suburban America. Dr. Cross study shows how legalize prostitution in foreign countries like Amsterdam and Germany have not helped conditions but in fact worsened them as many brothels are still controlled by organized crime and how many others work outside of legal jurisdiction.
“Legalizing prostitution increases sex-trafficking because demand exceeds supply.” If the product becomes more available, the demand for it will skyrocket. Her crushing statistics about Australia are frightening: after they legalized prostitution, illegal brothels increased 300%. Not to mention, only two years after the fact, HIV rates in women increased 91%. For these numbers alone, I’m grateful prostitution hasn’t been legalized in America yet!
Let’s not forget the exact role these women are playing for men. They are getting paid to do something these men can’t get anywhere else, or to do something that other women won’t. Just like the booming pornography industry, men like to beat it to the newest and freshest hardcore pornographic violence. The same demand exists in the world of prostitution, where women are expected (and forced) to obey the paying customer’s wishes, regardless of how disgusting and harmful it may be.
If prostitution should be legalized, not only will demand increase, as men who might not have purchased sex before due to fear of legal retributions will now participate, but the demand for younger women will rise as men are often willing to pay more for the cleaner, tighter products. Just like buying a car, no one wants the used, beat up old rusted Buick. It’s bad enough now that 70% of women become prostitutes before they’re sixteen. Legalize it and that age will get younger and younger. The age old question for all you fathers out there, what if that sixteen year old was your daughter? It’s what every daddy ever wanted for his little girl.
To legalize prostitution, well, it’s a slippery slope that can’t be undone: increased sex-trafficking, child abuse, perpetual rape, murder on a national and global level. Let’s not forget how women themselves will be affected: STD’s, vaginal and anal tearing, bruises, miscarriages, abortions, stabbings, broken bones, drug addiction, genital warts, sterility, no self respect, crushed dignity and HIV. All just perks of a fashionable and affluent career in prostitution.
The worst part of this conversation between my mother and grandmother was the mere fact that they are women. They are women FOR legalizing prostitution. And when our society is so driven by patriarchy to the point where women themselves don’t even see the problem in the extreme evil of a gender discriminatory society, there almost seems like there’s no hope. There’s no greater ideological victory than if Hitler convinced the Jews to love the concentration camps.