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Dating Mating Sex and Reproduction, Politics

Prostitution Isn’t Just About Desperation Anymore

Contrary to assumptions that women enter the prostitution market only because they are desperate – that they need money to pay bills or buy drugs – the study indicates that many women, especially educated, affluent women, are making a rational decision to enter certain segments of the prostitution market. (LINK)

This is the finding of a study conducted by Jennifer Hafer of Arkansas University, in which she examined all the major sex markets in the U.S. — from legal brothels to high class escorts to streetwalkers.  The results run contrary to the “common sense” notion that women only “resort” to prostitution when they have no other options. Hafer found that women with high “opportunity cost” — those with good educations, affluent backgrounds and family support were joining the sex industry willingly.  In fact, they were choosing based on the same criteria as any other job.

“The findings suggest that these women are not forced into the prostitution market but rather choose to enter it for many of the same reasons that people enter the conventional job market – money, stability, autonomy and even job satisfaction.”

One of New York's Upscale Escorts

Notably, the women choosing prostitution for “career reasons” chose very specific kinds of sex work.  The high end escort industry, while illegal, has a lot of up-sides.  Clients are generally screened beforehand, reducing the possibility of police stings and weeding out shady characters.  The business is usually handled in a nice hotel, or an apartment rented for the purpose.  In a few hours a day, an attractive and enthusiastic escort can make more than in a 40 hour work week — and since it’s illegal, it’s tax free.

Street-walking, on the other hand, does appear to be a last resort option for most women.  The risks are much higher, pimps are abusive, and disease is rampant.  High opportunity cost women avoid it the same way they avoid cashiering at Walmart.  It’s just not worth the time and effort for the return.

Ms. Hafer recommends the legalization of “escort” prostitution based on her findings.  First, her primary finding indicates that escorting is not the horrible and exploitive industry it’s been made out to be.  Second, legalization would allow two very important government functions:  Taxation and regulation.  Like the legal porn industry, sex workers could be required to provide proof of recent STD screening.  They would pay taxes on their earnings.

Advocates for the sex industry have been saying it for years:  Sex work is not for everyone, and there are unsavory characters — just like in any other industry.  But lots of women enter the market of their own volition.  It is a career choice that they can leave if they want, but they choose to stay.  Especially in the escort industry, there are women who genuinely enjoy the sex and get paid for it.  They get paid for doing what they love.

The morality police have been calling for harsher sentences, publicly exposing Johns, more sting operations, and other enforcement measures for years.  It hasn’t done a thing to slow the industry.  Men who want to pay for sex can always find women willing to do the work.  As a result of morality legislation, women are being hurt, getting diseases unnecessarily, and avoiding paying taxes.  It is yet another example of how the religious moral agenda does more harm than good.



6 thoughts on “Prostitution Isn’t Just About Desperation Anymore

  1. I bet you were anticipating my response to this so here it is.

    I don’t even think prostitution even can be regulated. Sure, the girls can get tested, but what about the guys? Would you need a negative STD test to buy the goods rather than window shop? The article you linked to also said street walking should be illegal and I agree.

    You may suspect that I think prostitution is degrading and objectifying and you’d be right.

    Though I do admit there are flaws in the prostitution laws, such as I can go to a bar, pick up a guy and do the naughty and it’s legal as long as I don’t charge money, where as a prostitute could do the same thing and risk jail for the simple distinction that she charged money.

    But with all those said, I don’t think this is a religious moral agenda unless jebus strangled the hooker for her sinful ways after he washed her feet.

    Posted by cptpineapple | May 20, 2011, 3:06 pm
  2. Pineapple,
    As long as the girls are making sure the johns wear protection, the risk of STIs is brought down to levels approaching incidence in the general population, and you can be certain that professional escort have a zero tolerance policy on barebacking, so it seems to me that testing for the girls would be sufficient.
    As for objectification and degradation–welcome to human sexuality! I hope that you enjoy it for yourself someday!

    Posted by Clint | May 20, 2011, 4:53 pm
  3. As for objectification and degradation–welcome to human sexuality! I hope that you enjoy it for yourself someday!

    LOL! Well spoken, Clint. Well spoken.

    Or… typed…

    Or… whatever…

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | May 20, 2011, 5:17 pm
  4. As for objectification and degradation–welcome to human sexuality! I hope that you enjoy it for yourself someday!

    ok, so women SHOULD be degraded and objectified in order for human sexuality to work? And I’m suppose to enjoy being objectified and degraded?

    I have erm….objections to that

    Posted by cptpineapple | May 20, 2011, 6:34 pm
  5. Not should be objectified. Will be objectified. That’s how erections work. Degradation doesn’t have to set in, but given how badly so many people are introduced to sex, there’s going to be a certain amount of that as well. It’s one of those hazards of living on a planet with other people, and the damage that it can do is somewhat defined by how you react to it.

    As for enjoyment of objectification, I like being complimented on the squareness of my jaw and the breadth of my shoulders. The fact that I can be sexually objectified by another person means that it’s more likely that I might have sex, which is something that I enjoy in responsible doses.

    Posted by Clint | May 20, 2011, 6:52 pm
  6. Clint, sorry I didn’t respond for a couple days I was thinking about what you said.

    Yeah I’ve been re-thinking some things. I don’t think prostitution should be illegal because I think it degrades women, the Pussycat Dolls parading around in their undies do that, and that’s legal.

    As for “how erections work”, yeah some form of objectification is needed. I admit to finding the PCDs dancing around to be homo-erotic.

    HOWEVER, the mere fact it brings pleasuriable thoughts, doesn’t mean it’s anyless degrading, see as those thoughts come at a price.

    I just think sexuality is getting way out of control. We’re letting it control us and I don;t think that’s a good thing.

    Posted by cptpineapple | May 23, 2011, 11:21 pm

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