This proposed prostitution law is going to run into the same problems as all the other attempts to deal with the subject because it’s fundamentally not amenable to logic.
I personally find the notion of prostitution revolting, but that’s not a reason to ban it. I also find Youth Defence, Bono and Fianna Fáil repulsive but I have no right to call for their abolition and in any event, this isn’t about my feelings. It’s about the rationale behind the anti-prostitution movement. I don’t have a view on this one way or the other because I don’t have a dog in the fight, as the cliché goes. It just seems to me that there’s an element of prostitution in just about every facet of human existence and it also seems that those who are against sexual transactions bring up issues that might be related, but are not intrinsically part of prostitution.
Human trafficking is a bad thing.
Pimping is a bad thing.
Walking the streets is a bad thing.
But none of these are intrinsic elements of prostitution, if we define prostitution as engaging in sex for reward. After all, let’s be honest, what exactly is the motivation behind the bulk of casual sexual encounters these days? Is it emotional involvement? Of course it isn’t. People are just having a shag and that’s fine, so let’s break it down a bit more.
Are we proposing to make random, unengaged sex a crime? No, unless we want to jail the whole country.
Are we talking about making sex for reward a crime? Well, if we are then we need to think seriously about what sort of reward constitutes prostitution. Is it a crime to marry an ancient, soon-to-be-dead billionaire? Is it prostitution to shag somebody who bought you a slap-up feed in a fancy restaurant? Is it prostitution to have sex with someone who agreed to pay your electricity bill even if you don’t like them? How about if you get on well and have fun while engaging in that kind of sex?
I’ve often heard people boasting about their activities on holiday in places like Thailand and been revolted by their talk, but I also have to be honest and say what exactly repels me. It’s the pimping, the human trafficking, the desperation, the poverty and the abuse of people who need money by whatever means they can acquire it. I can’t imagine paying someone for sex, ever, under any circumstances, and yet I’m not disgusted by people paying for sex, even though I don’t understand it.
But at the same time, let’s be logical.
Just for a moment presume that some woman was so overcome with lust for me, as many are, that she felt driven to offer me money, would that in itself be a bad thing? Needless to mention, I’d refuse the offer, but that hypothetical situation there and then constitutes prostitution. Everything else is an attendant evil: trafficking, slavery, abuse and all the rest of it.
And let me ask this. In the absence of all these evils, if one person offers sex and another person accepts in return for payment is this any business of the State? It happens all the time, you know, and nobody calls it prostitution.
Let me reiterate. I’m not advocating prostitution. I’m simply trying to draw attention to the logical fallacies attendant on the debate, and yet it’s quite certain that someone will accuse me of promoting the sex industry, because that’s how people are. Clear thinking is not high on the agenda.
So what should the law be about?
Pimping? Without doubt.
Street walking? Definitely.
Having sex for reward? Well, maybe not, since we’d have to jail half the country one way or another if the sex detectives did their job properly..