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January 26, 2006



I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. Prostitution should not be illegal and the law is written the way it is for the very reasons you suggest - how can one distinguish between a commercial transaction and one that occurs in a relationship. If I were to give my wife cash from my wallet and later have sex with her, is she a prostitute. Madness.

To be clear, I am talking my own book. I don't mind admitting (though realising that I do so covered by the comfortble cloak of anonimity) that I have visited many, many prostitutes over the years (though I frequented the "Chelsea horizantales", as you so elegantly put it).

My tongue-in-cheek reasons were laid out here:

A little different to your - "can't get sex any other way". But a near sexless marriage was a primary cause and an unwillingness to be unfaithful emotionally to my wife. I had plenty of opportunity to get it for "free" with secretaries and in bars but there is too much emotional expectation in there. I wanted sex and then to walk away, no strings attached.

There is a saying that you are paying an escort as much to leave the room as to enter it.


Robert Jubb

There are at least two things to be said here. The first is that just because all relationships involve exchange, that doesn't mean that they all involve exchange of services for cash. Exchange can take different forms, and be take place on different bases. The second is that making prostitution illegal (under certain circumstances) hasn't wiped it out. Anyone who wants to get a prostitution presumably can, given enough determination. Making it criminal has made it more difficult, not impossible, so the burden criminalisation imposes on those who use prostitutes is hardly huge.

Larry Teabag

Well said.

Make it illegal, and you force it underground and increase the associated problems 100 fold, just as has happened (as you say) with drugs.


Bang on with prostitution, but you couldn't be wronger on Cameron's compulsory "volunteer" force.



"All men pay for sex, often with ear-ache, or with dinner, dresses, jewelry or just jobs around the house."

Not all of them. But some -- men usually -- do like to see social interaction as a market transaction. They can't help themselves, it's their culture.

Neil Harding

I agree with you that drugs should be legalised. This would reduce the desperate situation of a lot of women (or men) forced into prostitution (or crime) to afford their next fix.

Legalisation in any form usually increases availability. With drugs it is easier to control the quality (which is the biggest killer) and discourage the use of drugs when they are legal and the state has some control over supply.

I agree that the selling of sex shouldn't be illegal, but we should target the buyers of sex. Prosecuting the prostitutes (who are already victims) is not the best strategy. Sweden has shown how much more practical and effective it is to target the clients.

I also don't think you are right to say that a lot of men who visit prostitutes are sad loners who can't get a girlfriend. Prostitutes will tell you that most of their clients are married or in long term relationships. I dare need to tell you what risks are involved for all sorts of people here.


"Make it illegal, and you force it underground" says Larry.

Kinky or what ?

You realise that 'all men pay for sex' is prtty much the radical feminist 'wholesale prostitution' argument.

I think married men are paying for more than 'just' sex. Otherwise it would surely be the only market where wholesale unit prices are more expensive than retail.


I suppose I'd better chip in my two pennies'rth.

First, let me congratulate you on finding a point of agreement between me and Harding. I hadn't thought it possible.

Re the Walzerian argument (as you describe it), and your point that all sexual transactions involve exchange. True, but I think Robert's right here, that these fine differences still have substance; and Laban too is right that these relationships aren't always (typically?) exchanging goods-for-sex-alone anyway. I also think, because I know some good women (all attached...), that they're not all subtle whores, whose only interest in men and sex is what they can get out of it. So I don't think that point holds. Call me an old romantic.

To the four supply factors:

1. Maybe - then again, it may simply legitimise drug use and promote addiction on a wider scale. But even if true, the problem here is that not all drug addicts turn to prostitution (or burglary, for that matter); there remains some - however distorted - agency in this.

2, 3 and 4. All fair points - but again, agency holds here. There are also lots of women who do shit jobs for no money, and think that that's better than breaking the law and selling their bodies for sex. Maybe they're dupes - or maybe we should use the law to support what is a tough old life.

As for the final point about enforcement - it depends whether the state should give a shit about poor men's hope of sex. The state surely has more of an interest (for sociological and demographic reasons) of those men being tied in to relationships; to allow prostitution would probably work against this, by allowing them to procure sex without consequences. As Robert points out, criminalisation doesn't stop the trade, just impedes it; surely then, the state achieves its goal of discouraging its use without ruining the sexual aspirations of the men concerned.

Sharon J

First of all, I think you spoiled your own arguments by winding up with the case for men who are unable to find sexual gratification elsewhere. I think you're an intelligent enough person to know that the vast majority of men who pay for sexual favours through regular prostitutes are actually able to get sex elsewhere; they simply choose to pay because it's a quick and easy solution that's preferable to a solo hand job. A lot are already in a relationship but y'know how it goes: even your favourite foods can become boring if you eat nothing else.

BUT, having said that, I do agree with most of what you're otherwise saying. God knows how many times I've argued that the majority of women prostitute themselves in one form or another, but that arguments usually sniffed at and frowned upon. I know for sure there have been times when I really didn't feel like sex but went along with it because there was "something in it for me". Be nice to him and... blah blah. It's not only done for diamonds, furs and frivolities, but also to get out of a beating!

Jeez, the whole of life is based on trading, isn't it? You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours? You have sex with me and I'll make sure you're financially secure in a nice home with nice children? Unconditional love? Poppycock! The only place it exists is between a woman and her children... most of the time.

Sex will always be a commodity; it's up to us to develop a society where those selling it can do so out of choice and in a safe environment.

cotterall and adams

It is a waste of time to arrest prostitutes and worsens their conditions. If some have drug problems and mental illnesses they should be treated. Legalization would mean regulation and testing, which would lessen the spread of STDs. It is also enforcing a double standard against women.

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