In 2013 New York State set up a series of courts to treat prostitutes as victims instead of criminals. "Our clients in these cases are the victims of crimes," said Steven Banks, then attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society of New York City. "They've been branded in many cases on their bodies by people treating them as if they are nothing more than property," he said.
Property, chattel? They are... and will remain so, as long as pay-for-sex is a criminal act. And in these weinsteinian days of sexual harassment and inappropriateness, prostitution (pay to play) is a banner that is spreading over more than sex industry workers.
In many countries, prostitution is legal. In many, it is "look-the-other-way" illegal. It's also evident that when prostitution is decriminalized the crime by-product is substantially diminished, just as decriminalizing drugs squelches the promotion of crime. The American society learned this the hard way before it finally did away with 'prohibition' and made its No. 1 drug, Alcohol, legal. It’s the Number One Drug worldwide! America still finds it hard to practice what it learned from that 'prohibition' experience. Pity America's roots in Puritan definitions of dirty and clean.
Pay-for-sex is almost as old in human history as the evolution of language. There are thousands of writings from ancient texts to contemporary commentary on the acts, commerce, morality and social impact of Pay to Play...you get what you pay for, sexually speaking. It's all about sex, isn't it? Someone (probably Lenny Bruce) once said, "Everything is 90% about sex and 10% about nothing else."
As this history evolved, a pyramid of classes developed. The broad base comprises the denizens of the street, the saloon, the club, the brothel, the telephone, the internet and now the office after five and the hotel room whenever. At the top are the Courtesans, the Gigolos, the Mistresses and 'Manpanions', and maybe, the Concubines. Each group has its customs, its traditions, practices, rules and cultural brouhahas. Interesting (and titillating). After all, it's a big part of the 90%.
One of the relationships that intrigues me is between the very rich and the "hookers" that they buy. These "johns" (why not "joes" or "tommies"?), these johns (mostly men) can afford and keep the most exotic sexual trophies they can find. Yet many of them pursue the dangerous, the unknown, the ping-pong of pay today gone tomorrow sex. And they generally run after it and catch it in both hooker-legal and illegal countries, with money-talks-impunity, except for non-dudes, the dudeless like Elliot Spitzer who gamed for call-girls in hotel rooms and was hounded out of office as Governor of NY because prostitution was illegal and he broke the law and marriage was sacred and he cheated on his wife. Think DJT today... not yet hounded.
I wonder what the difference is between paying for sex and cheating on one's spouse, and cheating while not paying for sex? Pity the founding of the U.S. in Puritan definitions of dirty and clean.
The millionaire and those 50% below and certainly those above the seven-figure level can do whatever they want. That's an irrefutable historical fact. Are the hookers they pay top dollar for victims or criminals? Are the joes, sorry, johns criminalizers or victimizers? Is sex good? Is monogamy healthy? Is marriage gay, straight or otherwise, genuine? Are the Christian bible, the Muslim koran, and the Jewish old testament the words of an angry alien in the sky or just the mutterings of disenchanted self-appointed moralizers and meddling printers' apprentices down through the centuries?
Doubt can be a terribly eroding thing, especially if you're covered with that other bright blinding, mind emptying eroding thing called: Faith.
Pity you if you're a Puritan.