For those involved in the sex trade, the mainstream discourse around decriminalizing sex work has never felt like much of a debate — largely because sex workers have been excluded from the conversation. Those directly impacted by laws related to the buying and selling of sexual services have time and time again told lawmakers that criminalizing their livelihood puts them in serious danger — especially black women, trans people, and undocumented immigrants, who are disproportionately targeted by police. But politicians have continued to push forward punitive policies that they mistakenly claim will protect people in the sex trade, many of which have done the exact opposite.
Lest I be misunderstood: In an ideal world, no woman would be a sex worker. No man (and 99.9% of the sex work clients are men) would ever seek the services of a sex worker.
I’m a traditionalist at heart. I wish everyone could have a lifelong, monogamous relationship, a fulfilling and remunerative (conventional) career, white picket fences, Sunday picnics, all that stuff.
But we do not live in an ideal or perfect world.
Moreover, we have differing ideas regarding what constitutes the ideal and the perfect. Interviews with women who are employed at legal brothels in Nevada indicate that some women prefer this line of work, and have no desire to be “saved” by do-gooders from either the left or the right.
Moreover (I hate to disillusion some of you), not all men want romantic relationships–long-term, short-term, or otherwise.
To put it crudely and bluntly: Some guys just wanna get laid, and have no qualms about reducing the act to a transaction.
Now let me ask you: Would you rather have these guys going to willing sex workers, or would you rather have them bombarding your inbox on an online dating site? (Or perhaps hitting on your daughter?)
Sex workers and their clients are the last legally penalized sexual minority comprised of consenting adults.
What is legal to give away should be legal to sell to a willing buyer. There is a logical contradiction in the current laws. Some basic change in the way the US treats sex work–whether it takes the form of legalization or decriminalization–is probably inevitable.