If you are the epitome of pure evil, that is to say, a healthy, heterosexual male, you have a couple of options when it comes to dispensing that portion of your income dedicated to sexual gratification.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can treat your significant other to dinner at a romantic restaurant and hope that the combination of exquisite cuisine, candlelit ambience and vintage wine will light a fire in her Ol’ Missus Hunt.
If you’re involved in a long-term relationship, however, there’s a 50/50 chance your efforts will provoke a boozy recital of all the shit you’ve been doing wrong, and the night will end with your beloved shrieking at you through a locked bedroom door while you sit in the den, watching re-runs of the Ali/Frazier fights on ESPN Classic and waiting for her to scream herself out so you can tug it to your secret stash of inter-racial gangbang porn.
If you’re looking for more of a sure thing, you can always order in. For about the same amount you’d spend on dinner, you can hire an enticing young (or not so young) woman who will devote herself with an impressive single-mindedness to satisfying your most intimate desires. If you want to bitch about your day, she’ll fix you a drink and listen sympathetically, wearing nothing but high heels and expensive lingerie. If you’re looking for something more physical, she’ll caress you, massage you, and whisper sweet nothings in your ear, all while guiding you with virtuoso skill to a climax as intense and cathartic as the last glorious notes of a tragic opera.
It would be hard to find a better value for your entertainment dollar, which is why the Fun Police have spent centuries doing their best to disparage, stigmatize, and criminalize prostitution. The times, however, are a-changing. The Canadian Supreme Court’s recent move to legalize sex work is the result of a long and hard-fought battle, but the war won’t be over until we clear up some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the world’s oldest profession.
It’s good for women. Prostitution is an extremely lucrative activity that requires no special skills or training and provides quick, easy money to millions of women. It’s the sort of thing that would normally have defenders of women’s rights dancing in the streets. Unfortunately, when they’re not straight-out slut-shaming (an activity shown to be far more prevalent among women than men), feminists expend prodigious amounts of energy promoting narratives that portray sex work as degrading and exploitative. Apparently, a woman’s right to control her body is sacrosanct when she wants to abort a fetus, much less so when she’s looking to pick up a little extra cash raising some lonely fella’s Christmas spirit.
Feminists’ discomfort with sex work is easier to understand when you consider the way the women’s movement prioritizes the interests of white, upper-middle class females. Members of this core group such as Gloria Steinem — who has relied for most of her life on a series of wealthy older men to support her glamorous lifestyle – prefer to exchange sex for the extended financial commitment of domestic partnerships, marriage and/or alimony. If prostitution were to become a socially acceptable option, it would wreak havoc on their attempts to control the market.
Did I mention it’s good for women? If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard women gripe about the horny guys who bother them when they’re just trying to have a drink with their girlfriends, I’d have enough for a ticket to Bangkok, where women don’t complain about dumb shit and even when they do, I don’t understand a word they’re saying.
Seriously, if men were able to pay for sex without the threat of social stigma, not only would women be subject to a lot less harassment, they wouldn’t have their hearts broken by guys who lie, play games, and twist them into emotional knots pretending to care when all they really want is to get laid. If prostitution were as acceptable as, say, eating in restaurants, a woman would know that when a guy tries to talk to her, it’s because he’s actually looking for a home-cooked meal (though that doesn’t mean she can just serve him the same tuna casserole night after night after night).
It’s good for men. This may come as an earth-shattering revelation to some, but guys don’t really enjoy buying drinks for women – they do it because they want to have sex. If men could just pay for what they want without all the moral finger-wagging, all those hours spent bowing, scraping and begging could be dedicated to more productive pursuits like curing cancer, or making a really funny YouTube video.
Oh, and by the way, it’s good for women. On a side note, is it possible, just possible, that one of the major sources of misogyny is all the humiliating hoops that ordinary men are required to jump through in order to have sex with attractive women? Is it really surprising that countries such as Holland, where prostitution is legally and socially accepted, are among the most open, liberal and gender-equitable in the world?
It’s good for families. The family unit is the cornerstone of civilization but our current models have proven less than perfect. This is in large part because natural selection has favoured males who spread their seed as widely as possible, while women have ensured the survival of their genes by choosing partners more likely to stick around and provide for their offspring. Historically, the response to this state of affairs has been to enforce fidelity through marriage and other legal/social institutions, with about the same effect that the temperance movement had on alcohol consumption. A more practical system would allow men to indulge their need for variety in an environment that deters any deeper emotional bonding.
If a man is going to stray, isn’t it better for him to spend an hour and a couple of hundred bucks with a hooker than to get involved in a complicated affair? Secretaries and fetching young interns have destroyed far more families than prostitutes ever will, and honestly, if the laws against sex work are all that’s keeping your marriage together, it’s probably doomed.
It’s good for public health. I once picked up a streetwalker in a Barcelona alleyway. She took me back to a sketchy rooming house two blocks from La Rambla that made the tenements in Taxi Driver look like the Hyatt. The paint was peeling off the walls, and the bed had seen more action that night than most people get in a year. Clearly the girl’s standards weren’t all that high, but before I could kick off my sneakers, she handed me a condom and made it clear there would be “no negociaciones,” not that I was planning to argue.
Women who have sex for money are aware of the risks they face and the best ways to minimize them. On the other hand, I’ve picked up dozens of girls in clubs and bars who were either too shy or too high to talk about protection. The idea that prostitutes are vessels of pestilence and disease is a cultural leftover from the days when germs and bacteria were still a theory. We’re not living in the 18th century any more. It’s time to move on.
Changing the laws against sex work won’t erase our grand traditions of hypocrisy and deceit, but it will ensure that everyone has a right to earn their living under the full protection of the law. And most importantly of all, it might finally put to rest all those stupid arguments about what to get Dad for Christmas.