Janice Raymond, in her “Ten reasons for not legalizing prostitution” reveals some of the (ostensible) mindset behind the drive to dictate the private behavior of individuals. Here is her list:
10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution
Janice G. Raymond
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW)
March 25, 2003
The following arguments apply to all state-sponsored forms of prostitution, including but not limited to full-scale legalization of brothels and pimping, decriminalization of the sex industry, regulating prostitution by laws such as registering or mandating health checks for women in prostitution, or any system in which prostitution is recognized as sex work or advocated as an employment choice.
As countries are considering legalizing and decriminalizing the sex industry, we urge you to consider the ways in which legitimating prostitution as work does not empower the women in prostitution but does everything to strengthen the sex industry.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry. It expands it.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution.
- Legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex industry increases child prostitution.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women’s health.
- Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not enhance women’s choice.
- Women in systems of prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized.
Of course, there are some obvious flaws in her arguments*. Firstly, she describes decriminalization and recognition as “state-sponsored” while it can just as easily be described as “state-neutral” or “laissez fair”. Reason #1 doesn’t even begin. A pimp earns his money; it is not a “gift” and, even if it were, this is not a valid reason to make it illegal. Reason #2 also does not begin; it is a circular argument that assumes all sex-trafficking is evil. The same applies to reason #3. Reason #4 is basically saying that making something legal will increase “illegal” versions of the same activity. This is like saying alcohol prohibition was a good idea because it reduced the “illicit” use of alcohol. Reason #5 may have some validity to it – but one can use this argument to make work at fast food joints illegal as well. Since it is legal for adults to work in fast food, it stands to reason that it is more likely that the labor of children will also be utilized. Since it is legal for adults to smoke, it stands to reason that more children will also smoke. Since adults drive cars, naturally there are better odds that children will also drive etc. etc. Reason #6 is vacuous because it assumes that no act should be legal unless a clear benefit is derived from it. Would Raymond argue that poker should be illegal because the game of poker does not protect children from the harm of gambling? Or perhaps she would criminalize unhealthy sexual practices since such practices do not protect children. Like the others, this argument makes no sense. Reason #7 is circular; it assumes that prostitution is immoral and, therefore, anything that increases it is also immoral. Furthermore, it assumes that anything that is immoral should also be illegal. Reason #8 – see reason #6 above. Furthermore, we would be in a sorry state if every risky or unhealthy behavior was illegal. Reason #9 – same as above but also, how can she state that allowing women to choose prostitution as a career does not enhance their choices? That some women resort to it for lack of a better alternative does not help her case; the same could be said of janitorial work. Reason #10 claims to speak for prostitutes themselves. It makes the ridiculous claim that these women prefer that their clients live in fear of the police, of arrest and fines. No doubt, this prostitute would disagree. It seems to be saying that private conduct between individuals should be subject to the approval of a majority. It also fails to take into consideration that, just like “illegal drugs”, prostitutes can charge more money due to the fact that their trade is illegal. It is like saying we should require a license to cut hair because most hair stylists are in favor of this measure. Of course they favor it; it limits their competition and drives up prices. Furthermore, Raymond makes the common error of describing prostitution as women “selling themselves” or “their bodies”. They are not selling themselves or their bodies. They are selling a service. Does a brick-layer “sell his body”? Does an engineer “sell his brain”?
No, I don’t think any of those ten reasons amount to anything. The real reason prostitution is illegal in most of the U.S. is that most Americans find it distasteful. It goes against their traditional religious beliefs – and it lowers the premium on sex that women can leverage against men. More to the point. Americans find prostitution to be distasteful because they perceive it as a social evil. Prostitution in the neighborhood lowers property values. People try to hide the practice from their children. They view it a cheapening of a special act that is supposed to be reserved for loving relationships. They consider it to be a degradation of the ideal society that they envision. In other words, they view it much the same way most of us view miscegenation.
Miscegenation does not directly harm anybody outside the relationship. It is a private choice made between individual adults. It has been going on for all of human history. Not long ago, it was lumped together with prostitution in that both were illegal in most of the U.S. If anything, there was more tolerance for prostitution than for miscegenation. Now the reverse is true. People have been swayed by the relentless propaganda promoting miscegenation – but there is no such propaganda that promotes prostitution. The acceptance of miscegenation has intensified competition for women. It has driven up the cost of sex and given women far more power than they ever had. It used to be that black men competed for a roughly equal number of black women. White men competed for a roughly equal number of white women. Today, many black women remain unmarried. For the remaining (mostly white) marriageable women, there is fierce competition. Women enjoy this power. It is only natural that they would not want to allow men an alternative (real or perceived) such as prostitution. So I think there is a connection between the promotion of miscegenation and the increased condemnation of prostitution.
This being said, I do believe that widespread prostitution can damage society. It can undermine relationships and make casual that which should be special. But it does not destroy the heritage of a society in such an irreversible way as miscegenation does. The product of miscegenation my euphemistically claim to have “two heritages”. In reality, he has none. Over time, such admixture may dilute itself and a society may recover. But this is not the agenda of the powers that be; they demand that it become the rule, not the exception.
Behind the condemnation of both prostitution and miscegenation lies an important principle: the union between a man and a woman is not strictly a private matter. All of society has a stake in it. Perhaps one reason anti-prostitution authors, such as Raymond, find it difficult to express this principle is that they refuse to acknowledge “society” as a legitimate entity. A “society” can also be called a “nation” or a “culture” or a “tribe” or a “people”. I cannot be certain of Raymond’s position on immigration (she seems to be a one-issue activist). But she is very much a part of academic America. She is a professor of “women’s studies”. As such, it is virtually guaranteed that she is pro-immigration and, therefore, anti-white. It is ironic how collectivists cannot recognize the most important collective among humans : that of a common heritage, culture, religion and language – that is to say, their own race, heritage and culture.
*Yes, she does elaborate on them more fully on her (linked) site, but I couldn’t resist giving my concise objections to her concise reasons. Much more could be said about this.
I would argue that the real reasons are grounded in the fact that legalized prostitution would encourage men to put a discount on marriage and therefore eliminate the feminine legal monopoly on extorting profits and property from men in exchange for sex.
As we have seen from the reduction in sex crimes due to the easy availability of online pornography, and the reduced stigma attached to pornography — similar to the reduced stigma from marijuana in California under partial legalization — I am fairly certain that the stigma attached to prostitution would also erode, and would force women to compete openly, rather than create an artificial scarcity of sex in order to entrap men into marriage.
This is simply an economists analysis of the behaviors at hand. I’m not advocating anything. I’m simply stating that if women had to compete for men using sex, the world would develop a much more manly and masculinely biased culture.
Monogamy is not natural to man. Serial monogamy may be. But marriage is not a good bargain for the majority of men. It decreases their quality of life, and almost guarantees that they will retire poorly. Just because it’s a habit, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. For the minority who marry stable rational women, and stay married long term, it works, but that is a minority proposition that would not be affected by more contractual sex exchanges, so they are not threatened by it. Although, I would suggest that long term marriages would decline in social status.
The logic behind Griswold v. Connecticut has essentially legitimized all sexual contact between consenting adults. Eventually, the courts will legalize prostitution and polygamy just as they have legalized contraception, miscegenation, abortion and sodomy.
It’s also interesting that while the left has promoted homosexual rights (at least in the Western world), they are rarely to be heard when it comes to prostitution. Why the double standard? Is it that homosexuals can be mobilized as a political force while prostitutes can not?
If one has a right to one’s sexual preference, what if that preference is prostitution? All the arguments used against prostitution could just as (il)logically be used against homosexuality.
Is it simply that the left wants to hang on to some kind of puritan hypocrisy? Or is it that maybe legal prostitution gives heterosexual males more options, and thus must be opposed?
Very good post. I will surely be thinking about this one all day.
Reason #2 also does not begin; it is a circular argument that assumes all sex-trafficking is evil.
It is evil.
It does profound harm to the women who are trafficked.
If she is being trafficked. But some women do it of their own free will. Even if it harms them, this does not necessarily make it evil. I once worked at a convenience store. I feel that the experience brought me harm. It certainly put me in danger. But it is not evil because it was choice I made and, at the time, it seemed preferable over other options.
Would you rather your daughter grew up to work at a convenience store or grew up to become a whore?
The answer is obvious and demonstrates which career choice is far more harmful than the other.
Using money to tempt people into harming themselves is an activity which should have some limit on it.
To me tempting people with money to work in convenience stores doesn’t pass the point where there’s a need to limit it, but tempting them with money to become prostitutes does.
Since we hardly live in a society where moral shaming or such things work any more, there’s no means by which to impose limits on the masses other than the law.
Would you rather your daughter grew up to work in a convenience store or grew up to become a whore?
The answer is obvious and demonstrates which career choice is far more harmful than the other.
Also I see no reason why the Government doesn’t have the right to proscribe forms of economic activity judged to be unacceptably harmful to even voluntary participants.
If the Government wants to stop people from selling their toddlers on the theory they’ll regret it later, or that the transaction would harm them in ways they cannot properly understand, then what’s wrong with the Government banning the practice?
I see no inalienable right to sell your toddler, and I certainly see no inalienable right to engage in the contemptible practice of prostitution.
The kind of society capable of seeing becoming a prostitute as an inalienable right is the kind of society which is too inflexibly Libertarian to have even the slightest chance of survival.
You are right that I would rather my daughter be a convenience store clerk than a prostitute. In our society, it is considered shameful to trade sexual services for money (but, for some reason, not so shameful to marry for money) – and that is why it is harmful. The shame and social stigma make it harmful. Other than that (and the risk of disease/abuse if there is no oversight) I don’t see that it is innately harmful. Since the act itself is not harmful, there is room to be neutral toward it, as I am, and support the right of some societies to prohibit it and others to allow it. If you could point me to some studies that show sex-for-money is harmful even in societies where there is no shame or stigma, then I’ll be happy to change my mind. Until then, it seems to be a circular argument: It is harmful and therefore society should punish it. Society punishes it and therefore it is harmful.
So you’d have me believe that only reason you wouldn’t want your daughter to be a prostitute is because other people would consider her behavior shameful?
That’s awfully bohemian of you.
The shame and social stigma make it harmful. Other than that (and the risk of disease/abuse if there is no oversight) I don’t see that it is innately harmful.
I do see it as innately harmful
The act of prostitution dilutes the prostitute’s ability to feel anything better than the basest of emotions, creating serious opportunity cost.
Obviously some women are such animalistic and unfeeling savages that they wouldn’t suffer that much opportunity cost from whoring, but you have to look at the big picture.
If you could point me to some studies that show sex-for-money is harmful even in societies where there is no shame or stigma, then I’ll be happy to change my mind.
The only studies on prostitutes have been in societies like America where sex-for-money is still widely considered shameful.
The societies where it isn’t considered shameful are primitive enough that they have no serious science programs.
In the immortal words of Hyman Roth: “What does that tell you?”
Until then, it seems to be a circular argument: It is harmful and therefore society should punish it. Society punishes it and therefore it is harmful.
The fact that I think whoring is harmful in itself isn’t the only reason I think society should punish it.
There’s also the fact that it contributes to the dissolution of civilization, which is and has always been based upon the sublimation of basic instinctual drives.
There’s no meaningful sublimation of the sexual drive in using a prostitute, and too much of that sort of thing contributes to civilizational decay.
it is considered shameful to trade sexual services for money (but, for some reason, not so shameful to marry for money)
That “for some reason” is that to marry for money involves sublimation of basic urges, and is therefore consonant with civilization.
Also it’s more consonant with Darwinian fitness than whoring is.
The reason it’s illegal is because men don’t want their women having sex with members of other races, especially for money. It’s distasteful.