No disrespect to the other Trib columnists or other activists, but a lot of times I just don’t care. I will, however, gladly delve into economics, philosophy or politics when I am motivated, usually for selfish, hedonistic reasons.
One of the most repugnant things our government does, however, is tell people what to do with their bodies. I was reminded of this Friday while reading an article about a group of college students from Virginia who visited the Chicken Ranch brothel in Pahrump. According to the article, the students were there as a field trip for a class on American culture.
My first thought when I read the article was, “Where was this class when I was in college?” My second thought was, “Exactly how in depth did their research go?” And my third thought was, “That would be really interesting.”
Two of the prostitutes at the ranch agreed to let the students interview them. The others declined for fear of having their families and friends find out what they do. This fear is a symptom of the larger problem our society seems to have with “the oldest profession.”
Let’s take a closer look at a sexual business transaction. Bear in mind my analysis will use opposite genders only for the sake of explanation. Our capitalist society is, by and large, based on supply and demand. Those who are entrepreneurial at heart will see a demand and try to make money by supplying the goods or services to satisfy it. This translates to goods like cars or clothes.
But those demands are invented by our human, superior (?) brains. They are extensions of our so-called “basic needs” — food, shelter, clothing, all of which are perfectly acceptable to exploit for monetary gain. What about the “basic need” to propagate the species? One could argue that the human desire for sex is not tied to reproduction, yet we have connected people’s sex lives and ability to be sexually expressive to mental health. Could we not, then, qualify sex as a basic need legitimately provided for on the open market?
In completely technical terms, how many of us have said about someone else, “They just need to get laid” as a formal diagnosis of a visible ailment, such a stick-up-the-butt-itis?
Aside from the free-market argument, there is the public health argument. Prostitution is an unnecessary contributor to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. This line of thinking brings to mind a woman I once knew in Southern California. This young woman was attractive and fun to hang out with, but had this notion that having sex with men ensured that they would fall in love with her and marry her.
Let’s just say that this woman fell in love many, many, many times. Knowing her and hearing some stories direct from her, you can be sure she was not a model of safe sex. And let’s just say that the cost of the drinks it took to get her to fall in love would have been far less than the cost of going to a legal brothel in Nevada. My point is: I’d rather risk the health of my manhood to a hooker than to some of the women who give it away for far less.
Finally we come to the “moral” issues. Being that this is largely a gender-specific issue, there are many who say prostitution (and to a lesser degree stripping) is degrading to women. As a man who has spent his share of evenings eagerly tossing my hard earned money at naked, writhing women, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the women are not the ones being degraded in that scenario. They’re not the ones slobbering as they frantically dig in their pockets or scurry to the ATM for cash so they can get just one more glimpse at forbidden flesh. It is the women who are the powerful ones in strip clubs or brothels. They have men in the palms of their hands and, for just a few minutes, get a bit of balance in a world where the scales of economy have throughout history been tipped against them.
In the story about the students visiting the brothel, one of the prostitutes, who only identified herself as “Alexis,” responded to the question, “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” this way: “Most women in this business wear the pants in the family.” She also talked about the flexibility the job provides allowing her to have time to write a book about her life. Isn’t flexibility something we all look for in a job? I know that if I found a job that gave me benefits important to me, that matched my particular skills and that I enjoyed doing, I sure wouldn’t want some up-tight white male telling me I couldn’t do the job — especially when that same up-tight white male is likely to end up on my client list.
What am I saying with this? As if it isn’t obvious, I’ll spell it out plainly: If I want to pay some woman (or if some woman wants to pay a man, or whatever combination you want to negotiate) to sleep with me, nobody should have the right to tell me or the sex peddler that we can’t do so. I am allowed to drive a car and skydive and various other activities that are a lot more dangerous than sex but are perfectly legal.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ... well ... none of your business.
Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.