In perusing the Economist online the other day, I was more than a little surprised to see an article entitled, “Prostitution, A Personal Choice”(http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21611063-internet-making-buying-and-selling-sex-easier-and-safer-governments-should-stop#). As anyone that reads the Economist will know, this is not this magazine’s typical reading fare. Further surprising was the stance the author took in analyzing the internet’s influence on the industry and flat out endorsing full decriminalization of prostitution.
This is supposition on my part but I believe the recent attention from the media to prostitution is due in large part to the book Superfreakonomics. The book includes a case study on the economics of prostitution since the advent of the internet. Naturally the media, being the media, has latched onto this as a sensationalist topic and it is mentioned in nearly every interview I have seen with the authors. Stemming from this attention to the business, news organizations are examining prostitution in a more analytical light. Of course not all the coverage is positive and some of it is simple regurgitation of the social stigmas that have been perpetuated for years (whores = crack addicts, prostitutes = controlled by abusive pimps, etc.). It is refreshing to see the Economist take a non-traditional stance and actually look at the industry as an actual business – just like myself and most of my colleagues do. In doing so, they acknowledge that in criminalizing sex for money, governments are increasing the odds that rapes, assaults or other acts of violence will go unreported. With the integration of the internet in the business, prostitution is becoming more available to more people in a dramatic way. By decriminalizing it, governments would not only gain revenue from the men and women working in the industry, they would also allow for safer work environments and better protection for both providers and clients.
As a note, being that prostitution is still illegal in the state of Washington, I would like to be clear that I am not a prostitute. I have not and never will accept money for sex. As one provider in a documentary I saw memorably put it: You buy my time. The sex is free.