In Defense of Prostitution
A recent article in the New York Times stated that “buying sex should not be legal”. The author entered the sex trade at age 14. She states that decriminalizing prostitution “will simply calcify into law men’s entitlement to buy sex” while she also states that “there are some advocates who argue that women in prostitution sell sex as consenting adults. But those who do are a relatively privileged minority — primarily white, middle-class, Western women in escort agencies — not remotely representative of the global majority.”
I beg to differ.
Let me begin by clearly stating that no-one should be forced into the sex trade, and no-one under the age of 18 should be allowed to participate, regardless of their consent.
Setting those two caveats aside, what is wrong with women over the age of 18 voluntarily choosing to sell sexual favors?
Any why should these women be criticized, stigmatized, or ostracized?
I cringe when I read submissions to this site referring to women who work in bars as “whores”.
I have participated in the “pay for play” industry in 13 countries in Asia for over a decade, and have always found the women to be people trying to get ahead and make a living in the way they know best.
David Ricardo in 1817 postulated the Theory of Comparative Advantage demonstrating how countries gain in international trade by producing goods or services more economically than others, and that countries should produce those goods where they have a comparative advantage. Likewise, people succeed in life by doing those things that they can do better than others.
Some people are born smart. They apply themselves, and can succeed in a profession such as medicine or law, but while one can appreciate their success there is also no denying that they were born with smart genes and used that nature of birth to get ahead. Other people are more articulate, and are better salesmen or politicians. Some women are born more beautiful, with better bodies. Why should society deny them the use of what they have been given?
Last week, I went to the most prestigious members only club in Bangkok with a Thai friend of mine and several Asian business partners who I wanted to show a special night. We had a private room where we drank whiskey and discussed politics and international trade. We had a delicious dinner. After an hour some women were brought in, who we invited to join us for drinks and eating. Eventually each couple went to the private bedrooms adjoining the main sala.
In my room, I sat and drank my whiskey while the lady I was with prepared a bath. She undressed and encouraged me to do the same. After the bath, I lay on the bed while she neatly arranged various creams and lotions. She inspected me and then chose a condom designed for my size, and we began what was to prove to be a most delightful time. Afterwards, she told me that she was a trained masseuse and offered a massage, which I accepted. During the massage, I asked for her back-story.
She was born and raised in Bangkok. Middle class, her father was a lawyer, and had his own firm. She had decided to follow in his footsteps, get a law degree, and become his junior partner. Midway through law school he left her mother to be with another woman. Her dreams dashed, she was forced to leave school. She started a coffee shop but it was close to army barracks and they took over the land. She trained as a masseuse, and eventually ended up where I met her.
She was 24. I asked her for her future plans. She was very clear. She would work 3 more years. She had a 6-year old car she wanted to replace; she wanted to buy a house for herself and her mother who she was living with and supporting; and save a million baht. When those three goals were complete, she would start her own cosmetic salon.
I had a wonderful time with this lady. She was significantly less than half my age, and more beautiful any woman I could ever hope to attract. She was refined and graceful.
She was a whore, plying an illegal profession, lying to her friends and family, but doing what she had to do to feed herself and her mother.
I believe she, and her sisters and brothers like her, have the right to do what they choose to do, in a dignified and legal way, free from society’s condemnation.
I walk into a shop. I take off my clothes and lie down on a bed. A young woman comes in and runs her hands over my naked body for an hour. I pay her 400 baht for the massage and leave. This is legal.
I walk into a shop. I take off my clothes and lie down on a bed. A young woman comes in and runs her hands over my naked body for an hour. I insert my penis into her vagina. I pay her 2000 baht and leave. This is illegal.
I believe prostitution should be legal.
I believe people who choose to sell their body should be licensed and registered by the state.
I believe they should pay taxes.
I believe they should have protection under the law.
I believe they should live their lives with dignity.
I too believe that prostitution should be legal and the girls afforded the same rights as other workers. At the same time I think we have to acknowledge that – especially in Thailand – many of the women who work as prostitutes don't really get ahead and that the money is pilfered away on silly things. I think we also have to acknowledge that many resort to alcohol and drugs to deal with what their demons and what they do. In an ideal world they would have other opportunities and would not need to do as they do, but we don't live in a better world.