Witness for the Prostitution

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Ten years after getting busted for pandering, Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss lays it on the line in Legal Affairs:

Prostitution should be legalized throughout the United States. The laws are currently written by and for men. I've been out of the business for 10 years, but I still hear stories of men who hit women, walk out without paying, or write checks to hookers and then stop payment. It's outrageous. Here's a woman who has performed a service to the best of her abilities and to her client's satisfaction. But nothing will happen to that client because he knows he won't be prosecuted for refusing to pay for sex. They go after the women in those cases, not the men.

There is no downside to legalizing prostitution. The government would benefit by collecting taxes on the industry. And regulation would clean up a lot of crime and help to protect women. Now, there are hotshot guys who beat up prostitutes and smack them around because they know they can get away with it. I remember some girls who approached me after working for illegal sex houses, "pussy factories." You wouldn't believe what went on in these places. A girl would stay at the factory and have sex with 5 to 10 guys every day for anywhere from $300 to $700 a pop. Some of the people running the factories would threaten the hookers and force them to stay. One girl told me that some guy gave her crack every morning so that she wouldn't make a fuss.

[Link via Arts & Letters Daily]

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  1. Hear, hear.

  2. Hear, hear.

  3. Plus, legalizing it should make the prices come down.

  4. I do believe this type of trade is older than any form of government. Prohibition leads to crime.

  5. Prostitution is older than our species. There have been observations of male chimpanzees killing monkeys then giving some the meat to females in exchange for sex. At least the female chimps are smart enough to get paid first.

  6. Who comes up with these subject headers at Reason, anyway?

    You had me in stitches, Nick.

    Do you guys consult with staff at Readers Digest before you write your headlines?

    (Uuuh! That was bad! Sorry! I oughta give you more credit than that.)

  7. Isn’t traditional marriage a form of institutionalized prostitution? A young lady agrees to provide sexual and reproductive services to a man, in direct exchange for financial support. Am I wrong?

  8. The laws in both Britain and Canada are far
    more sensible than in the U.S. in this regard.

    In Canada, street prostitution and pimping are
    illegal – the former due to the externalities
    it imposes who live and work on the relevant
    streets. Outcall prostitution – where the
    woman comes to your home or hotel room – is
    legal, which makes sense, as there are no
    externalities here. Incall prostitution and
    “massage” parlors are tolerated as long as
    they do not cause too much ruckus.

    Seems very sensible to me.

    Jeff

  9. Brad S.: I often think that myself, especially since I can’t get a date to save my life.

    Legalized prostitution would give dumpy, unattractive geeks (like myself) a sexual outlet rather than praying against all hope that some woman would actually WANT to go out with them without financial inducement.

    Sadly, the JEEZ-us freaks and the Feminists won’t go for it.

  10. Jeff-

    But, if we just let consenting adults do whatever they want in private, why, it will lead to, um, people doing whatever they want. We can’t have that! Next thing you know, somebody will want to be able to run a business without a whole bunch of regulators harassing him, or own a gun without a waiting period. Perish the thought!

    (Have I made my libertarian credentials clear enough? People keep accusing me of being a leftist, hopefully that little bit of sarcasm made it clear.)

    Brad-

    Marriage is far from prostitution. Who says she’s going to have sex anyway? 😉

  11. “A young lady agrees to provide sexual and reproductive services to a man, in direct exchange for financial support.”

    No, you give them financial support so that they’ll stop yelling at you.

  12. Legal prostitution would be a very good thing for radical feminists.

    It would create a large number of very wealthy women with a bad attitude towards men.

  13. Jeff – The Canada law sounds agreeable, but how does it distinguish “pimping” from other third-party agencies like call houses or massage parlors?

  14. Legalize prostitution, and you know what’s next — legalizing man-on-dog sex. I know. Rick Santorum told me so.

  15. As long as the dog consents and is paid!

  16. About feminism and prostitution: Here in Montreal, there are feminists who work hard on the rights of prostitutes, including fighting for them to be allowed to work on the streets, and publishing bad-john lists so the girls can try to avoid the cheap assholes and rapists. It’s nice to make broad generalizations about the groups you hate, but there are more than one kind of feminist out there – some of them actually like sex and believe in a woman’s right to make money.

  17. Yeah, but the “Bad John” list has to be in French, or they’ll be hell to pay.

    Or imagine if the ladies would have the temerity to put up a sign in English advertising their services. They’d be shot on sight.

  18. Interesting conundrum, isn’t it? Law is a blunt tool to use against declining morals, and in the long run probably an ineffective one. Yet declining morals undermine the stability of society without which liberty cannot be defended.

    There are a lot of libertarians who talk a good game, or at least a loud game, about liberty when it comes to drugs and sex. I don’t think they could effectively defend real liberty against a well-led troop of Girl Scouts.

  19. Zathras – Not to be flippant, it depends what you mean by liberty. Libertarianism is not anarchy, but the belief that social pleasure is maximized when citizens are given as much control as possible over their own lives.

    Going back on-topic, even if one does not oppose prostitution on moral or legal grounds, one may easily oppose it on grounds of slavery, i.e., the general restriction of personal liberty. Note how the Canadian law, described by Jeff above, allows prostitution to exist under controlled circumstances, but restricts pimping, which can be interpreted as a form of servitude, antithetical to liberty.

    Note in Heidi Fleiss’s original article the abuses she illustrates. The irony she is trying to demonstrate is that harm is occuring despite the laws, and that if one of society’s goals is to minimize harm to its members, prostitution laws are having the precisely opposite effect. Thus, it may be argued that “morality” is better served by removing women from abuse than removing sex from society. In the final analysis, libertarianism may find itself the most moral system of all.

  20. Zathras: And what, pray tell, is “real liberty?” The freedom to do what you are told when you are told to do it by whomever proclaims themselves to be in power (e.g. a state, a religion, a corporation, etc.)? Or is “real liberty” just the very short list of activities that YOU think we can have and demand that the state force upon the rest of us?

    Spare us the social conservative Chicken Little scenarios about how “The culture is decaying! The culture is decaying!” Legal abortion isn’t responsible for all child and infant deaths since Roe V. Wade. Jeffery Dahmer and John Wayne Gasey are no more examples of the homosexual lifestyle than Adolph Hitler was indicative of Austrians. And allowing consenting adults to define the terms of a sexual relationship, be it for “love” or for profit will not turn America into another Sodom and Gomorra. (Two cities that have got a seriously bad rap thanks to those prudish Canaanites got to write their history.)

    Our culture is evolving, not decaying. We are tossing away the “morals” that have been proven to be foolish superstitions. The only way our society will truly decay is if we stupidly cling on to the myths of the past by writing them into law thus leading to the stagnation of civilization.

    Freedom doesn’t destroy culture, freedom invigorates it.

  21. Heidi says: “Prostitution should be legalized throughout the United States. The laws are currently written by and for men.”

    That’s an interesting debate, i’dn’t it? You’d think that women would be most opposed to prostitution since the customers are men (their husbands), and the merchants are women (their hated rivals).

    Yet, on the other hand, women seem to be less concerned about flesh than family. If infidelity happens she asks “Do you love her?”, while the man might ask “Did you do it?!”

    But, just as women might be more forgivng of infidelity than men, they are also more appalled by it. ‘Trust’ is a test that’s equally important among wives and husbands, but they have differant final exams;
    Women want to know: Do I own your heart (and your refusal of all others but mine)?
    Men: Do I own her body (and refusal of all others but mine)?

    So, prostitution might — in the end — be a feminist issue after all: Their final Liberation from sentimental ideas about devotion and trust!

    All hail the Age of Fuck-It-I-Don’t-Care-About-Anyone=Who-Isn’t-Me.

  22. No, you give them financial support so that they’ll stop yelling at you.

    What planet do you live on?

    It would create a large number of very wealthy women with a bad attitude towards men.

    Doesn’t our current marriage & divorce system already do this?

    The main reason legalized prostitution would never fly is the local monopoly would be very upset. The sorority already uses the social stigma of “slut” to disuade women from giving in too soon. If men could safely and easily rent it by the hour can you imagine how much more the incentive for marriage would drop?

  23. Nero: No, it didn’t.

  24. “I’ve been out of the business for 10 years, but I still hear stories of men who hit women, walk out without paying, or write checks to hookers and then stop payment.”

    And I thought paying the hooker with a check was the punchline to an old, bad joke.

  25. I wish I could pay the IRS with a check and then stop payment; that’d be nifty.

    Nero, about Roman culture: Not even remotely close. Even Marcus Aurelius, if I recall correctly, persecuted the early Christians for their beliefs. Certainly not for religious freedom.

    Given their endless wars of conquest, they weren’t much on freedom there either.

    When I think “The Roman Empire”, the word “freedom” or “liberty” just doesn’t pop up.

    Of course, this didn’t apply to Senators and Emperors – you could have all the drunken feasting orgies you liked, even if you were a Christian Emperor, or have your slaves fetch ice from the mountains to make ice cream (actually the first instance of ice cream in history, if I recall correctly), or slaughter some troublesome group, or assasinate a political rival, or impose all sorts of taxes and census’ and such…you know, all hierarchies offer a tremendous amount of freedom to those at the top; once again, “It’s always the bottom that gets fucked.”

    Truism, my friends, truism.

  26. Bill: I don’t think the incentive to marry would drop much, if at all. Look at some of the Euro-cultures with their tacit acceptance of the mistress. The leap to accepting dalliances with a pro does not seem too far.

  27. “Honestly, after Lawrence v. Texas, there is no legal ground to ban prostiution. ”

    Wouldn’t this also apply to to the “Mormon lifestyle” (should I say former “Mormon lifestyle”)?

  28. Bill: I think you’re confusing sex with love and a desire for family. It’s already pretty easy for most men to get a willing partner for a one night stand. Getting someone your compatible enough with to actually establish a home and family is something else. Marriage isn’t going anywhere.

    I think there is enough room in America to have legal prostitution, which would at least take the edge off some of the Reason posters who are not looking for a long term relationship!

  29. Honestly, after Lawrence v. Texas, there is no legal ground to ban prostiution. The case clearly held that morals and tradition are not a valid basis for laws.

    It makes you wonder whether the state is therefore allowed to recognize any marriage – and if so, on what basis.

  30. Outcall prostitution is defacto legal in the US. Other than stings on call girls and the money laundering problem, that is.

    Just open the Yellow Pages to ‘Escorts’ in any major city, and personal ads looking for ‘mutually rewarding relationships’.

  31. Mr. Siefert, wasn’t the Roman culture steeped in freedom?

  32. “Isn’t traditional marriage a form of institutionalized prostitution?”

    No, it’s a sacrament. Don’t you read the papers?

  33. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://www.1st-host.org
    DATE: 01/20/2004 08:22:27
    Genius hath electric power which earth can never tame.

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