If you’re looking for confusion, please continue reading

So, I was talking to my mom the other day and ranting about how prostitution should be legalized. I thought it would make a great blog entry.
I try to do a fair amount of research before publishing each blog post, which means that some of my blog posts are actually days old before they hit the press.

In this case, what began as a blog entry for prostitution is now a blog entry very confused about prostitution.

Prostitution is kind of a broad topic. To narrow it down, I was planning on responding, point by point, to this NY Times articles by Nicholas D. Kristof, possibly one of the greatest news columnists of all time. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/opinion/13kristof.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

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Kristof is a persuasive writer, enjoyable to read and easy to understand. I agree with many of his writings; I didn’t agree with all of Kristof’s reasoning, however, on this particle article. For instance, according to Kristof there is an abundance of evidence stating that almost half of all (US?) prostitutes have attempted suicide.

  • Many junior high students have attempted suicide. Therefore, junior high should be illegal.

Yeah, you see the problem.

Kristof also mentions the mortality rate is awful, women fear for their lives at times, 89% of prostitutes apparently want to find a 9-5 job, and a lot of prostitutes have drug dependencies/mental illnesses.
Yes, that’s right; you’re sleeping with a crazy chick, but she’s the one getting paid. Sounds like she’s not the one needing medication & therapy, but okay.

Still, all of Kristof’s reasoning at this point wasn’t impressing me. Of course prostitutes are going to fear for their lives, of course their mortality rate is obscenely high; they can’t go to the police or other authorities without revealing that they are breaking the law. If you’re a prostitute who trusts the cops, chances are it’s your first day.
But Kristof is nothing if not thorough, so his next point caught my attention: he brought up my argument, the idea that if prostitution is legalized, then we can regulate it.
Then he mentioned the Netherlands. Just about everyone knows that the Netherlands legalized prostitution. Any pro-prostitution activist will cite that info. What most won’t do, however, is talk about what’s happened since then.

According to Kristof, “Legalization nurtured a large sex industry and criminal gangs that trafficked underage girls, and so trafficking, violence and child prostitution flourished rather than dying out.”
Uh, what? Had to Google that one.
Unfortunately, although I browsed Google, Google Scholar, WorldCat, JSTOR, and more, I couldn’t find any evidence to back up Kristof’s claims. The evidence must be out there; he’s not exactly the type to put a blatant lie in print. Maybe I was using the wrong string of search words, so if anyone has more information, I would love to see it.
Of course, this wild goose chase wouldn’t be a problem if Kristof had cited his information on his article or on his blog. Maybe journalists don’t often tell their readers where they obtained their information when they’re writing articles for the New York Times; however, there was no reason not to do so on his blog. It makes the whole thing seem kind of sketch.

Well, no matter. Kristof then wrote of Sweden. Evidently Sweden put into practice an entirely different law: prostitution is legal, but it’s illegal to buy sex.
I’ve read that statement, like, 50 times over the past 24 hours, and I still don’t understand the logic behind that law. Prostitutes are safe, but not their customers, which is…odd. For one thing, if I was a prostitute, I would appreciate it if my customers could keep returning to me. Apparently, however, this policy has reduced sex trafficking (again, Kristof doesn’t say how he found this out).

On his blog entry (http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/) Kristof suggests experimenting with the Swedish way of doing things, which doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but who can know for sure?

I don’t know about you, but the whole thing thoroughly confuses me. I have gone from knowing exactly what I believed about prostitution to being immersed in doubt. I think that might be a good thing.

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To sum it all up, here’s what we’ve learned today:

  1. Cons of not legalizing prostitution: prostitutes are less likely to go to authorities if they suffer any type of violence. The government has no way of making (legit) money off the practice. And I suspect prostitutes are less likely to wear condoms if nobody’s making them. Ah, and there’s the double standard of allowing women to get paid to have sex, so long as they’re on camera (yes, I’m referring to porn).
  2. Cons of legalizing prostitution like they did in the Netherlands: sex trafficking, violence, and child prostitution might go up.
  3. Cons legalizing prostitution like they did in Sweden: some Swedish prostitutes complained that demand was reduced (which makes sense). Also…I really, really, really don’t get how it can be totally legal to sell sex, but not buy it. Could somebody please explain this concept to me?

I hope you’re feeling just as confused as I am.

Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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