Archive for December 12th, 2010

A democratic despotism is like a theocracy: it assumes its own correctness. –  Walter Bagehot

I’m sure it cannot have escaped your notice that as soon as some prohibitionist law seems to be in danger of being struck down, the Chicken Littles who support it will invariably claim that the jurisdiction considering the change “will become a Mecca for” whatever it is the law prohibits.  Oregon was going to become a “suicide Mecca”, California was going to become a “Mecca for marijuana”, and now Ontario is going to become a “prostitution Mecca”.  Of course, it never happens, but why doesn’t it?  And more importantly, why would anyone care if it did?  Tourism is big money, so why wouldn’t people want their city, state, country or whatever to become a Mecca for something and thereby bring in lots of cash?

In the United States, Nevada was the first state whose leaders asked themselves the question, “Why don’t we want people coming here from all over to gamble and visit whores?”  After all, their money’s as green as anyone else’s, and it isn’t as though Nevada had much else to recommend it to anyone other than miners.  So the leaders legalized gambling and prostitution there, and now this largely-desert state is the 16th richest in the US despite being only the 35th most populous; considering that it’s one of the three without a state income tax, I’d say most Nevadans are pretty happy that their state became a Mecca for gambling.

It is not, however, a Mecca for prostitution, nor is New Zealand despite similar dire predictions when it was decriminalized there seven years ago, nor was Rhode Island despite prostitution being legal there for three decades (until an unholy cabal of cops, politicians and trafficking fanatics succeeded in recriminalizing it last year).  There is no evidence that the number of prostitutes per capita increased in any of those places (obviously, the absolute number increased in Nevada as the transient population increased), nor that unusual numbers of working girls from nearby prohibitionist states have flocked to those areas; as I’ve mentioned before, the biggest hooker glut in the US is in the Dallas, Texas area, despite the fact that Texas is staunchly prohibitionist.  To be sure there are a good many non-Nevadans working in Nevada brothels, but there are also plenty of non-Nevadans working in every other part of the state’s vast hospitality industry; it is not the legality which has attracted these prostitutes but rather the money.

That’s certainly not unusual; workers in any industry go where the money is.  So if the number of customers (and therefore the demand for whores) had increased in Nevada or New Zealand or Rhode Island, obviously whores would have come in from surrounding areas to answer that demand.  Yet that did not happen; even the high transient population in Las Vegas (which supports a proportionately large number of escorts) is overwhelmingly drawn there by the gambling and other entertainment, not the prostitutes.  The reason for that is obvious to any intelligent hooker, but obviously not to the Mecca-prophets:  Quality escorts are not cheap, so most of our clients are established men; such men are generally married, and most wives are less than understanding about their husbands’ need for sexual variety.  In other words, most men who could afford to travel to another state or country just to go whoring have wives in tow, and most men young enough to be unmarried lack the funds for such adventures.  Yes, of course there are exceptions to both rules, but these are not common enough to sustain a higher volume of business.  Most men employ hookers surreptitiously, in their home towns during work hours or in other cities while on business trips.  In other words, not even ambitious harlots have the luxury of operating only in places where it’s legal; we have to work where the customers are, and that’s all over.

Another reason prohibitionist predictions about hordes of gypsy hookers following sporting events or migrating to the newest “Mecca” never materialize is that whores are, as I have said hundreds of times, no different from other women, and most women dislike moving far from family and friends.  To be sure touring escorts travel extensively, but they generally still have someplace they call home.  And yes, some women are indeed willing to permanently relocate for a job, and hookers are no exception.  But the idea that vast numbers of prostitutes will move someplace they might not otherwise wish to live merely because their trade has been decriminalized there is based in the tired old propaganda about our not being like other women; it assumes most of us would be willing to leave home and family for parts unknown merely to chase a buck, and in most cases that simply isn’t true.

Furthermore, statistics show that when prostitution is decriminalized in an area even the number of local prostitutes remains relatively constant; indeed, in New Zealand it seems to have decreased, though that’s probably due to zealous overestimation by cops and prohibitionists when it was still illegal.  In other words, women who are going to be whores do so whether it’s illegal in their region or not; criminalization doesn’t deter women from entering prostitution, and decriminalization doesn’t inspire girls who would not otherwise have entered the trade to do so.  Prostitution laws therefore have no demonstrable deterrent value whatsoever, because the illegality of the profession has no observable effect on women’s choice to practice it.  The fact that so many men fail to recognize this demonstrates how little they understand women; though we are generally less physically aggressive than are men (which is why so few of us commit violent crimes), we are usually far more pragmatic and are therefore less likely to obey arbitrary laws which make no sense to us.  A few men understand this aspect of female behavior quite well; Robert A. Heinlein once wrote “Most males have an unhealthy tendency to obey laws,” and Montaigne wrote “Women are not altogether in the wrong when they refuse the rules of life prescribed to the World, for men only have established them and without their consent.”  But Rudyard Kipling expressed it best in “The Female of the Species”:

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for tact or jest.
These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells.
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

Kipling points out that since it is ultimately on women’s shoulders that the future of the species rests, Nature has made us more pragmatic – and often more ruthless – than men.  Put more succinctly, a woman with two children to feed, clothe and house and no husband to help her does not have the luxury of obeying a stupid, arbitrary law written by men which says that she can’t get money to support them in the way which works best for her and doesn’t hurt anyone.  The Judeo-Christian tradition has used this observable female tendency to argue that women are “morally inferior” to men, but which sex commits the majority of actual crimes (theft, assault, rape, murder, etc)?  It certainly isn’t us “morally inferior” females.  A woman is more likely to rely on her own internal moral compass than on laws imposed from outside, which is why the vast majority of the female prison population in any country are incarcerated for consensual crimes such as prostitution, drug use, etc – in other words, things which are arbitrarily defined as “criminal” but are not in any real sense evil.

Essentially, prostitution law punishes women for not being men; the whore is an outlaw because she will not submit to external, paternalistic authority which forbids her using her natural advantages to improve her situation.  And if one considers which culture is nowadays most closely identified with the brutal subjugation of women to a law-obsessed patriarchy, it’s a bit ironic that prohibitionists are so fond of predicting that any place without such tyranny will turn into a “Mecca”.

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