Four and a half years ago, San Francisco had the chance to make history as well as eliminate a major social problem. Measure K would have eliminated the prosecution of sex workers in the city. Sensible, sane and prudent, this ballot initiative would have finally given some legal recourse to one of the city’s biggest underground businesses. Because it is sex-based, however, hysteria ruled the day and the measure was defeated.
The arguments against it are the same arguments one hears when one discusses recreational drug legalization. That if legal, street walkers would spring up like so many weeds on heels in every neighborhood and that pimps and hookers would flock to San Francisco en masse. Never mind that the exact opposite would have been the result–no longer in the shadows and with their business legitimate, sex workers could part ways with the parasitical pimps without recourse and also if legal, a “red light district” could exist anywhere (I opt for City Hall myself, as it has been home to courtesans for centuries now). Lost tax revenues reclaimed, better public health for the workers and clients and a win for all.
One would think in the supposed progressive and free-thinking capital of America, this would have been a slam dunk. It lost resoundingly. Which proves that for all of San Francisco’s bluster, at heart it is a provincial city filled with a lot of sexually uneasy residents. That our next door neighbor, the generally “red” Nevada has had legalized prostitution for years speaks volumes about what “liberals” really believe. “Not in my backyard” times ten. Prostitution is called “the world’s oldest profession” and yet it is rarely legal anywhere–why?
As human beings are one of only a few species to have sex for pleasure, you’d think we’d clearly admit same. And that sex between consenting adults is already legal anyway, why does it become illegal when money is involved (unless filmed and sold)? These are incontrovertible facts. I suspect that the real reason prostitution is illegal and has been for eons is that it empowers women at the expense of men (the male escort being about 1/10th as popular as the female, sexual ratios being what they are). A woman that can negotiate the price for her “favors” directly now has some say in her destiny. Yes, it would probably be better for her physical and mental health if she chose another line of work, but in a capitalist system where money talks, a 300 dollar an hour escort is higher up on the ladder than a nine dollar an hour barrista. A couple of grand a day and a person whose educational and class background placed them at the lowest rung on the ladder now has say–it’s the same reason that gambling and drug dealing are decried by moralists. Folks with no options are now equal to the privileged at birth and that upsets the so called “natural order of things”. So, they have to be denigrated.
I got to thinking about that paradigm and realized that in reality, a hooker is part of a much more honest profession than someone that runs or ran an equity capital group. Namely Willard “Mitt” Romney. When a john makes contact with an escort or sexworker, they negotiate a fixed price for a certain act or acts. Upon consumation (or at some time during or before), payment. Both sides happy. Compare that to Mr. Romney’s manner of acquiring businesses. Putting 10% down, leveraging the other 90% as tax free debt larded onto the acquired entity and then tacking on enormous fees paid to backers. Usually what happens with these companies is massive layoffs and often bankruptcies. One side very unhappy. Yet this perfectly legal version of a Mafia bustout is applauded by Wall Street–the same Wall Street that poo-poos sex workers as a moral scourge (while utilizing their services).
Taking advantage of the human tic of discomfort when it comes to acknowledging the sex drive has kept the church alive for centuries and jackasses like William Donahue and L Brent Bozell in cash. Simply recognizing biological normalcy would end a lot of misery. Next time this comes up, be sane San Francisco, be sane.