I actually worked in the softcore end of the porn industry for about 15 years as a photographer, and one of the things I learned would be counterintuitive to many people: Most of the models I worked with enjoyed the work.

I'm sure many in "the straight world" would assume that only sheer desperation would drive an attractive young woman to pull her knickers down and show off her breasts and vulva. However, most shoots were quiet chit-chatty affairs with a lot of laughter, about 80% of it from the model. And not that nervous laughter, but just the laughter you hear anytime a girl is having fun.

It was fun.

I didn't work with girls who were being run by a pimpish boyfriend or agent. They were almost always college girls or girls of college age, and many in the latter group were saving up for college. The college girls would tell me that they loved the porn work because they could make money in an afternoon that it'd take them weeks to make serving up food in a restaurant or espresso at Starbucks.

But of course, I'm actually writing about prostitution, which is a somewhat different case. 

Unlike the sort of models whose time I bought, many prostitutes are sex slaves run by violent and exploitative pimps. And many of them are actually imported from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America. 

HOWEVER—and this is what I'm writing about—there are two sides to prostitution. First, you have the girls (and sometimes boys) I just referred to. However, you also have the true escort or call girl. The first is a victimization, the second is freelance work.

Feminism falls into two general schools when it comes to prostitution. The conservative school of feminism sees all prostitution as the product of predation and sexual exploitation. The more liberal school of feminism is focused on protecting and empowering sex workers, which includes everyone from strippers/exotic dancers to independent escorts and call girls, to the poor streetcorner hookers.

In Canada, the conservative feminists want to criminalize the customer side, which makes initial sense because in the past the injustice has been that the prostitute has been treated as the criminal and the male customers have got off scot free.

Following a Supreme Court decision, legislators have passed laws criminalizing the customer and brothel-running side and making the marketing of their services illegal, which seems more fair on the surface, but it still leaves them in a quasi-illegal underworld where they are more easily exploited.

However, as I pointed out, not all prostitutes are victims. Some are just businesswomen working in the sexual field of their own free will, and if anyone is being exploited there, it is the customers.

So, how do you feel about prostitution and what should be viewed as criminal and what not? And why not?

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@Tammi:

"we need to decriminalize sexual behavior between consenting adults"

Yep.  I have never understood the difference between spending money wining and dining to hookup for sex and the more honest approach of simply paying for sex the result is the same.  The difference being one woman got a good meal and her buzz on and the other woman has the cash in her pocket to do what she wants to do with it.  I'm against taxation it will just fuel an already corrupt bureaucracy.  The sex worker trade could form it's own union and lobbying efforts just like any other labor group. 

 I have never understood the difference between spending money wining and dining to hookup for sex and the more honest approach of simply paying for sex the result is the same.

Is there never the possibility of a deeper relationship in the former?

You're going way beyond the facts he presented. Wining and dining because one would like a deep sexual relationship (LOL) is just one reason for the wining and dining. One can also be falling in love. And one can be falling in love AND want to end the evening with sex, too!

I like how you try to read our minds and then propose to us how we're thinking... it's a sign of empathy and thinking ahead (not to mention evidence of emotional intelligence), but often steers tangentially instead of ahead.

You're going way beyond the facts he presented.

I wasn't excluding the motives you pose there. I was just poking at Gregg for clarification. I'm not naive about these things. I've read some books about it!

Define deeper relationship, please. I think there's a lot of pressure on a type of relationship, namely monogamous and marital, against which all other relationships are judged inferior. 

I'm not trying to speak for everyone. I just know there are a lot of lonely people out there looking for relationships for their own needs, not just to achieve a norm or be judged in a better light.

I agree that the pressure's there in a lot of cases to play some kind of societal role. I wish everyone could be more introspective, and skeptical about those roles.

And in the case of most other crimes involving an exchange, you can't get out of the crime by arguing that you were paid in goods or services rather than cash. For example, it's illegal for a public official to take consideration of any sort in exchange for doing something in disregard of public interest. That "I didn't take money from the Don in exchange for hiring his construction company to build the new office building, but rather I let him renovate my house" wouldn't pass the giggle test normally. However, if you take someone out on the town with a sort of "understanding" between you that it might be a good night for sex, well we turn a blind eye to that sort of tit-for-tat.

Also, while we all would agree that it's wrong for a boss to demand sex in exchange for a promotion, why isn't it illegal for a secretary to offer her boss a blowjob in exchange for a raise? It's wrong, of course, but we have no law against it.

Without taxation, it opens up the door to further deeply exploitative practices. Or do you mean making it nonprofit work. I could get behind that. :D

Kidding. No, seriously, in a society in which "paying your taxes" is akin to "good citizen" I don't think taxation is out of this issue.

Oops, correction: if it's commerce, safety and tax regulations should apply. As in all other labor groups, coercion, violence, and intimidation should be treated criminally.

Well, they can't even take coercion, violence (depending on how you define it), and intimidation out of normal and legal business relations.

For example, I had a job where the employer required everyone to be on call and able to get into work on 2 hours notice even during off hours. We were not considered "employed" during this period. We would have received overtime had we been called in, which we never were, and yet we were effectively still being employed without pay when we were (very) theoretically "off." We were coerced and intimidated by the threat of a poor performance review and/or termination if we didn't comply.

One guy's children lived with his ex 2 hours drive one way (so a 4 hour R/T). The rest of us couldn't even take a long afternoon drive into the mountains on a nice day. It was ridiculously inconvenient and presumptuous, but our employer wanted the exploit us as fully as possible and didn't shrink from doing so, obviously.

We complained to the labor relations board, but they said that requiring workers to be on call was a reasonable requirement for employment. I remember the bureaucrat saying, "They could even require you to come in within 1 hour and comply with the law, if they so wished."

Legalizing prostitution will go a long way toward lifting many of them out of the dangers of the underworld, but their lives will be no more perfect then than the rest of ours.

Excellent points. Decriminalization would mean giving sex workers the chance to hate their bosses and customers and income just like the rest of us.

To wit, back to work for me! :D

Some high end escorts enjoy their work and love their clients a lot more than the rest of us enjoy our work and bosses/business associates/clients.

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