Suppress prostitution, and capricious lusts will overthrow society.
– St. Augustine
Here’s another response to a reader letter which, I felt, merited its own column.
I’m in late middle age, but when I was in my twenties I was what those people you wrote about in “False Target” would call creepy, too. If there was anything wrong with me, nobody would tell me; they just found “polite” reasons to always want to be somewhere else. If the trade had been legal, it would have made both my life and theirs easier; I would simply go there, and get what I needed. Lacking that, I had to carry on as “Creeper” did, hoping that some woman would decide to have a heart. I would never have forced anyone, but I think I would have taken advantage of someone who’d had a little too much to drink. I do not consider this rape; many women go along with it on purpose, either because they feel more comfortable or because it makes them feel less responsible. Any adult who chooses to drink and then does something he/she will regret afterwards is morally responsible for that choice, whether the “something” is to fight, to drive, or to have sex. If the woman was actually unconscious or drugged against her will, obviously that would be a different story. But why can’t women understand that most “creeps” are just frustrated, not dangerous?
There are several reasons most women don’t understand the relationship between male creepiness and lack of sex: inattention to detail is the most important one (it’s obvious if one simply pays attention to male behavior), but another is ignorance about evolution and the biological reasons for the existence of the sex drive. Oh, I’m sure nearly everyone over the age of ten knows that sex makes babies (even in our prudish, hide-the-truth culture), but society, religion and feminism pile so many layers of romanticism on top of that (especially for girls) that people lose sight of it, and the lies that sex is only a want rather than a need, and that men and women are exactly the same, convince naïve girls that the raging male sex drive is as easily thwarted as their own mellower version. When a person is starving or eating only poor food he suffers from malnutrition, and when a man’s only sexual release is his own hand he begins to sink into a kind of sexual malnutrition that results first in increasingly extreme fantasies, then really off-the-wall and even grotesque fantasies, then creepiness, and finally (in some cases) proto-rapist behavior or actual rape. I’ve seen this time and again both in personal life and work; a man who hasn’t had any in a while might talk about or even suggest all kinds of weird stuff, but the moment he achieves release it evaporates. That’s why some men want to kick a whore out as soon as they’re finished; in the mind of such a man, hiring her in the first place was something “weird” and perverted, and as soon as the pressure is gone and hormone levels have returned to normal he is repulsed by what he did and wants her out the door as soon as possible.
Sex workers of all kinds, but most especially whores, perform a vital service to the community by allowing men to “blow off steam” before they get to the “creepy” stage; even men with less money can hire lower-priced streetwalkers or go to inexpensive massage parlors, so that only the truly destitute will have no recourse (and that’s no different from them lacking food or shelter, anyway). So, though most men won’t commit forcible rape no matter how frustrated they are, many men will (if frustrated enough) begin to suffer a kind of cloudiness in their moral vision that allows them to rationalize that taking advantage of drunk, incapacitated or even sleeping women is “not really” rape, just as a desperately-hungry man will steal to fill his belly. It still doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make such a man an incorrigible monster who deserves imprisonment for decades, either.
I am deeply committed to the principle of harm reduction, which holds that it’s futile and even destructive for society to forbid the various things people do to feel good, and that the proper response of government is to take measures to reduce the harm which results from these things. Nearly everyone who espouses harm reduction considers prostitution a subject for the philosophy (in other words, they want to reduce the problems associated with the sex trade by eliminating criminalization, providing shelters for teen runaways, helping streetwalkers to exit if they wish, etc), but many of them don’t recognize it as part of the solution for the social problems which result from the disparity in the sex drives of men and women, such as marital infidelity, rape and the kind of sexual exploitation which feminists insist is rape, MRAs insist isn’t and most governments tend to go back and forth about.
For some taboo behaviors, the only harm (or at least the overwhelming bulk of it) results from criminalization; simply put, if the thing were not illegal, little if any harm could be attributed to it (marijuana and many sexual behaviors fall into this category). For others, the majority of the harm comes from criminalization, and harm-reduction laws and/or free-market solutions would take care of the rest (IV drug use spreads disease, but that can be mitigated by needle exchanges; gamblers can become obsessive and ruin themselves, but this happens far less in legal casinos than in gangster-run backroom gambling). Activities which involve unwilling participants must obviously remain criminal (in fact, they are the only things which should be), but common sense and harm reduction principles demand that the government should stop obstructing businesses which have been shown to reduce their prevalence. A number of studies have demonstrated that availability of sexually explicit materials reduces rape, and others uphold the millennia-old wisdom that ready availability of prostitutes does the same thing (one predicts a 25% reduction in the US rape rate were prostitution to be decriminalized here).
If prostitution were decriminalized everywhere, the stigma surrounding it would eventually begin to fade in those whose minds are not warped by anti-sex belief systems, and more men will feel comfortable availing themselves of the services of sex workers before they started to get “creepy”; freed of the frustration and desperation which distorted their personalities they would probably be far more able to attract girlfriends, and the legal system would see far fewer cases of men who had stepped across blurry lines because their mental states had caused them to misread cues or to allow their own compelling needs to obscure the rights of others. This would not entirely solve the problem of “he said-she said” situations (which will exist as long as the human race does): young women also need to be taught to behave sensibly and to reject foolish neofeminist notions of absolute female entitlement and any unwanted sex being equivalent to gun-to-the-head aggravated rape by a stranger; the law must return to the presumption of innocence and stop accepting statements as fact without physical evidence; and society needs to stop preaching the ridiculous, childish, patronizing dogmas that sex is magical, that women are fragile little flowers who must be protected from our own decisions, and that any rape, no matter how iffy or nonviolent, is absolutely the worst thing that can happen to a woman.