I seem to have been bumping into sex a lot lately. Not, I hasten to add, in person, but as an industry. A “research” trip to Peter Stringfellow’s ‘Cabaret of Angels’ (paid, too!), plus the recent three-part series on ITV about prostitution, and now Chris informs me of a clampdown in Arizona on “sexually oriented businesses”.
My position on such things is, unsurprisingly, stoically libertarian, and largely parallels my views on drugs. You can’t legislate natural human interests out of existence; the best you can hope to do is control them, but I personally strongly believe that it’s not the role of government to legislate on such things. What people do behind closed doors is entirely up to them — end of story. Just as I support the legalization of *all* pharmaceuticals, even though I’ve never tried any, I am entirely in favour of legal prostitution without actually wanting to visit one [well, not until they develop cloning techniques a bit further, and apply them to certain German actresses…] And, also like drugs, I suspect that what people generally object to about prostitution is less the act itself, more the related nastiness: indeed, even in Britain, actual prostitution isn’t illegal. Virtually everything related to it is – pimping, brothels, soliciting, kerb crawling – but not the selling of sex.
Yet again, most of the nastiness would go away if decriminalization was chosen over legislation. Firstly, prostitutes inevitably spend half their time on the streets trying to earn money to pay off fines imposed on them for soliciting. How effective is a punishment which forces the victim to repeat the crime? Next, the problems of STDs would be a lot easier to control with legal, regulated, inspected brothels. As it is, everything is now left up to the hookers who, with all due respect, may not always be the most conscientious of people, though plenty of them practice far safer sex than your average stoned E-head.
Finally, the prevalent problem of “respectable” women being mistaken for prostitutes would end. This can’t be a very nice thing to happen, but the reason why it happens is obvious: punters can’t distinguish one from the other, because if someone in a red-light district here looks like a prostitute, they get arrested. The only way to survive is adopt a low profile, which inevitably leads to confusion. You go down the Rue St. Denis in Paris, and it is patently bleedin’ obvious who are the hookers and who are the local residents. Each gets on with their live, without interference.
Even closer to home, this can be seen to happen. Westminster try to stamp out the sex shows in Soho, and get over-run with all manner of dodgy gangsters running rip-off joints. Okay, fleecing tourists may not be SUCH a bad thing, but when strip-clubs are outlawed, only outlaws will run strip-clubs. Meanwhile, up in the East End, more enlightened councils have led to a number of respectable, above board strip clubs. They still crack down on those that breach the rules, but on the whole, it’s a lot less of a problem than in Soho, because they take a more sensible attitude.
This would all seem to me patently bleedin’ obvious, but those in power (especially the squeaky-clean Labour government we’ve now got — and don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for the fuckers) can never be seen to do something that goes so against the family, even if it is common sense. And so, AIDS and other diseases will continue to spread, prostitutes will still get beaten up by their pimps, and women will still get stalked by confused kerb-crawlers, to the massive embarrassment of all concerned. How’s that for “family values”…?