Pay for Play: Should Prostitution Be Legal?

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Nicholas Johnson

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Let’s talk about sex.

No, we aren’t going to get into any of the fun stuff. We’re going to talk about prostitution, and the legalization thereof. So let’s get… hehe… down and dirty.

All kidding aside, it’s a serious topic that warrants a serious, grown-up discussion. But if you think I’m not going to throw any stupid jokes into this article, then you clearly aren’t one of the Minnesota Republic’s eight committed fans. Idiotic humor is like my whole schtick.

Even a rudimentary look at the statistics comparing sex workers in places where the vocation is legal to their black market counterparts proves an obvious case for legalization. In Nevada, prostitution is legal under certain (admittedly convoluted) circumstances. A brothel cannot take on a sex worker until the individual has been screened for myriad sexual diseases and infections. Once employed, the worker is subject to monthly blood tests, a regulation which is enforced by the state board of health. The brothels go through rigorous background checks, and legal sex workers retain the same labor rights of any employee. Oh, and there’s the tax revenues.

I know what you’re thinking. “But freedom!” Ugh. Don’t get your libertarian knickers in a twist. Let’s stop locking people up for sex work and then debate the nuances of your weird free-market fantasies.

In countries where prostitution has been legalized, all evidence suggests that sex workers are much safer. But the details get very uncomfortable, so I encourage the reader to look into the data for themselves, so I don’t stick my foot all the way into my stomach.

These are certainly the most important factors to consider in the debate over legalized prostitution, but there are moral considerations in this debate.

To be perfectly frank, the prohibition on prostitution doesn’t make sense. Very few folks would argue that pornography should be outlawed. I think Ted Cruz used to, but that whole incident on Twitter put something of an asterisk on his advocacy. There is no functional difference between pornography and prostitution, save for a camera. Actually, the only real distinction is the legal status of the workers involved. Sex is strange, because it’s one of the few activities that you can do for free, but cannot sell. When, historically, has legislation regarding sexuality turned out to be the morally correct decision? In general, laws governing sexual behavior have only served to limit individual freedom and ruin people’s lives. I can’t see how the legalization of prostitution, in ten years or so, will be viewed any different.

It’s been said before, but the government shouldn’t be in your bedroom.

As a middle-class college kid studying Political Science, I’m certainly qualified to comment on the nuances of the sex work industry. Obviously, take what I’ve said here with a grain of salt. The information for this piece was incredibly hard to find. Nobody seems interested in having this conversation and while taboos prevent an open dialogue, people are getting hurt.

Much like the war on drugs, the criminalization of prostitution causes more harm than good. Even those who have serious moral concerns about the act of prostitution have to recognize the positive factors of its legalization.

Alright, serious discussion over. Now puns. Sorry, this article wasn’t laid-back.

Nah. Just the one pun.

I hope I didn’t screw up any arguments.

Just the one more.