“Man isn’t a noble savage, he’s an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved—that about sums it up. I’m interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it’s a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure.”
– Stanley Kubrick
Criminalising ‘the world’s oldest profession’ has to be the most comically socialist thing a society could do in the name of public safety and morality. That is, short of permitting the offering of such services but criminalising their organisation and purchase, of course.
Socialist because it confers upon the State the privilege of robbing an individual of ownership of their body, while at the same time outlawing a profitable enterprise, and comical because…well, it’s called the world’s oldest profession, for crying out loud.
I have always considered the various avatars of socialism a revolt against nature (in contrast to philosophical conservatism which is built around an understanding of the unpleasantness of human nature); and the attitude of Marxists, feminists, Tories, clergymen and populist moralisers to the subject of prostitution is a case in point in this regard.
Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession for two reasons; because there are enough men out there who want sex all time and because, in a free market (whether this be pre-state or black markets), a situation will always exist where someone is willing to take advantage of this and trade the most basic things they own – their time and their body – in exchange for profit.
Now, I don’t actually approve of either of those things. I’d be horrified if anyone I knew was selling themselves like that and the idea of paying for sex is a concept both baffling and rather disgusting to me. I’m the kind of person who finds it hilarious that strip clubs even exist and get very bored very quickly if I ever find myself dragged into one. But, as I am often at pains to point out to people, disagreeing with something isn’t a good enough reason to forcibly stop everyone else from doing it.
The Institute of Economic Affairs has recently released a paper arguing for the decriminalisation of prostitution on the basis that, contrary to feminist myths, the available evidence points to a ‘a substantial gap in sexual desire and motivation between men and women’ which, if nothing else, ‘help[s] women to reset the rules in their own favour in developed societies.’
That is, of course, if the trade is out in the open rather than being pushed underground. Which is possibly the most important point here – not only does banning third party involvement and organisation in prostitution prevent ‘girls working together in a flat for their mutual protection’, but it actually hands this inevitable organisation to some of the most unscrupulous people in society.
Doesn’t sound particularly moral, does it? But perhaps it doesn’t have anything to do with morality. Perhaps the reason we’re so eager to outlaw sexual activity, whether it’s buying sex or watching “extreme” pornography, is because this primeval desire, this animal craving, reminds us we’re little more than advanced apes – the accidental product of billions of years of evolution, hopelessly struggling to carve a rational view of the world from primitive, emotionally-driven brains developed to serve one purpose and one purpose only; to propagate the species.
For its entire existence, popular music has been largely about romantic liaisons and, latterly, sex for a good reason. A Marxist would call it false consciousness; a ploy by the ruling classes to use sex and romance to keep the masses passive in their slavery. A realist would call it the human condition, unfettered by the embarrassing truth that any nobility, rationality, or higher purpose in humankind is at best a genetic accident which has been captured, preserved and expanded by social and civic institutions for the minority of people interested in them.
Casting judgements upon human nature, behaviour and the choices people make by criminalising them is not only morally flawed and the cause of much of the world’s misery but also, as Stanley Kubrick identified, doomed to failure. The sex trade is no exception.