I heard a radio talk show this morning discussing prostitution practices in Hawaii and the broadcast had me thinking (and getting very upset) all day. Apparently law enforcement in Hawaii is urging lawmakers to make it legal for undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes before arrest. I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t possibly be a thing. It is. I am not even sure where to begin with this.
First of all, what the Hell? Granted I have never been a prostitute and have never met a prostitute (to my knowledge), so my opinions are completely speculative at best, but the first thing that came to mind was a quote from Pretty Woman. Vivian (played by Julia Roberts) tells Edward (Richard Greer), that she was thankful he had never treated her like a whore. Yes, that movie was a highly romanticized version of prostitution, and unfortunately in real life a lot of women in the profession do get treated like whores, but this appeal to lawmakers in Hawaii just seems cruelly unjust.
I will be one of the few to state that I am not entirely sure why prostitution is illegal. Yes, I understand that it is not something you want springing up on every corner, and by legalizing it you don’t want actual storefronts advertising this sort of thing. Ok fine. So keeping it illegal keeps it under the table. Once in a while you get people enforcing the law. Whatever. However, it seems to work just fine for the other 49 states to prosecute prostitutes before degrading them. And no, I am not of the mindset that they were degraded beforehand. For whatever reason, for better or worse, they decided to enter that type of work (I am in no way referring to chains of women forced into this; that is an entirely different matter altogether). Maybe their work isn’t as fulfilling as mine, and for some, maybe it is. Again, I don’t know. But that is what they do, and it pays whatever bills they have. So it is perfectly fine to pay to go to strip clubs, and fine to pay for porn, but touching a consenting woman (or man) for money is somehow illegal? What about the women who date men just so they can pay for things? At least in prostitution no one is pretending otherwise.
Aside from the morality arguments, the most common assertion against prostitution is that it will remove men from wanting to be with regular women. I take this to mean that the people arguing this don’t think men want real company or to have someone who actually wants to be there. Maybe some prostitutes do like some of the people they see, especially on a regular basis. Some people do enjoy taking their escorts out. I don’t know the dynamics of the situation, and they probably vary across the board. But I would think spending time with someone who always wants to be with you would be far better than paid services, so I can’t buy this argument.
But prostitutes aren’t oblivious to the situation. They understand what they are getting into, and proceed expecting payment for their services. Does no one understand that these are people, giving up a part of themselves during the course of their profession in order to gain whatever it is they think they are getting out of it? For officers attempting to entrap them so that they may be arrested, actually using their services beforehand is the ultimate act of degradation. These officers go into it knowing that they will not pay, take advantage of the situation, use these people’s bodies, and then arrest the individuals. That in my opinion is degrading, humiliating and disgusting. Far more so than what prostitutes may have been doing otherwise. Talk about using someone and treating them like a whore.