Most males have an unhealthy tendency to obey laws. – Robert A. Heinlein
I once posted a comment on Brandy Devereaux’s blog in which I apologized for being like one of those friends who comes over to one’s house, goes through the cupboards and helps herself to the tastiest snacks. Brandy has a nose for news and often posts on sex work stories before I’ve even heard of them; I then get a little email alert from my subscription to her blog, go over and read it and then if I find it interesting enough I steal it. I don’t only take news stories, either; sometimes she just thinks of things which inspire me to write on the same ideas. I excuse this wholesale theft on three grounds: 1) she insists she doesn’t mind; 2) I always give her credit; and 3) since our writing-styles are very different my verbose philosophizing often provides a nice counterpoint to her straightforward good sense (and vice versa).
Anyway, on the 30th of March she posted a very nice column about a subject on which I’ve written before: feminine pragmatism. As Kipling points out in his poem “The Female of the Species” (one of my personal favorites), because the future of any species rests squarely on the backs of its female members, “the female of the species must be deadlier than the male”. In humans, this manifests itself as the well-known female disregard for arbitrary rules on which so many males have commented. As I wrote in my column of December 12th,
…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…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.
That’s the way I expressed it, but Brandy (who, coincidentally, has three children to feed, clothe and house and no husband to help her) wrote about it from her own personal perspective; I wish I could download it directly into the brains of every damned cop, neofeminist and anti-whore politician in America so they could at last grok what we’re talking about:
…This is how I came up with what I call practical prostitution. All the posturing, theorizing, comparing, name calling, etc can be done but it doesn’t make my car payment and it doesn’t put food on the table. We can argue back and forth all day long about why this and why that and we should this and we should that but it doesn’t fix my car should the fuel pump go out. I really don’t feel that it is necessary to go get a part time job, apply for welfare or a loan, or go back to college for a better paying job in the future simply because my vehicle needs new tires or because the plumbing in the bathroom broke…
…a few years back where I was in some serious financial difficulties. I had a full time job that paid my bills. It didn’t leave much if anything for savings but I was able to live comfortably. I forget what started it all…[but due to a cascade of bad-check fees I started to] panic…because I know that this can spiral downhill fast if not taken care of now but I still have two more weeks until my next paycheck…One date, $250, DONE. Caught up and back on track within one day…Did I feel exploited? Honestly I didn’t care, my bill had to be paid. Did I feel raped? Only by the bank.
…I remember reading stories of women turning to prostitution in Haiti after the earthquake. They needed to eat NOW. They didn’t care whether the abolitionists thought they were being degraded, de-humanized, exploited, blah blah blah. They were hungry and dammit you gotta do what you gotta do at the time that you gotta do it. Fine we need more opportunities for women, women need access to better education, women need this and women need that in order to not look at prostitution as a viable alternative for employment. That’s all hunky dorey but in the mean time are you willing to give every girl who needs it $5 for a sandwich to make it through today? I didn’t think so…
Whether a woman becomes a whore due to dire need as in Brandy’s example or merely because it’s the work she’s most comfortable with is immaterial; we all need to pay the bills somehow, and a woman has as much right as a man to use her natural gifts to earn her bread. From a philosophical standpoint anti-prostitution laws are tyranny, and from a practical standpoint they are ineffective because, as I pointed out in the aforementioned December 12th column, “…women who are going to be whores do so whether it’s illegal in their region or not…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.”