The other day, while I was doing the dishes, one foot stuck in the Ether, I started mulling over an article I’d read online about a Liberal Democrat across the pond asking “why it is that schools don’t teach prostitution as a viable occupation” and that got me thinking: what would become of the dark, dingy world of sex work if the practice was legalised, here, in the U.S.?
THE FIRST THING THAT COMES TO MIND IS
This could only boil to the frothy surface of the mainstream after having been thoroughly sanitized with requirements of business licenses, meticulous bookkeeping, and strict health and safety standards. Some of you may scoff at the absurdity of the thought, but just consider this: a few years ago Cal/OSHA ruffled a lot of feathers by announcing new health and safety standards in the pornographic industry. And while the measures ultimately failed, by attempting to ensure the safety of the actors in the industry, our bureaucracy had taken a positive step towards normalising, and legitimising this line of work. So I foresee that, if legalised prostitution was a reality, it would go down like this:
PROSTITUTION WOULD HAVE TO BE RE-MARKETED: “”WE’RE NOT HOOKERS, WE’RE CONDUCTORS OF THE CONSENSUAL ARTS”
While the endgame for the students would be to obtain certification and licensing for their practice, the endgame for the industry as a whole would be to get their students to actually believe in what they were doing. Much like the way in which instructors at massage therapy schools drill into their students that “we’re not masseuses, we’re massage therapists/a masseuse is a whore, a massage therapist is a healer“, instructors in the consensual arts would instill within their students a keen sense of superiority when regarding their predecessors due to their strict adherence to health and safety codes, and their broad training on the various arts of sensual activities. They may even adopt a sense of pride in their work.
THE COST OF GOING SOLO WOULD BE HARD TO KEEP UP
Prostitutes would have to use prophylactics and/or birth control and provide it to their clients; log the number of clients and services rendered unto them; purchase and keep current liability and health insurances; and pay weekly visits to STD clinics, all just to keep the board of health, the IRS, and frivolous lawyers from tapping their assets. That said, chances are pretty high they would take the path of least resistance and opt to join a brothel.
ANYONE YOU CAN SCREW, WE CAN DO BETTER
Once it went mainstream, you can bet some ambitious Yuppie would realise that any whorehouse worth running could only be made all the more profitable by being bought out and run by a clean, efficient corporation. And then, upon news of its success, a thousand more would spring headlong into the market. Over time, all brothels would be owned and operated by corporate masters. But eventually those thousands would sell out or buy up their competitors, and then it would be down to a few hundred, and then dozens; but, inevitably, all brothels would be clenched in the fists of but a few, tightwad corporate entities.
Naturally, the wages would start off competitive, benefits would be fair, and many would even offer to cover the costs of training and licensing. But like all other industries, once competition was systematically eliminated to just a handful of parent companies, wages would eventually begin to stagnate; making just enough money to get by, but not enough to live comfortably. Many would permit or even promote tipping, while others would discourage this practice in favour of higher ratings on services such as Yelp!. And like so many businesses these days, upward mobility would be hindered by a lack of higher education. So if one ever had dreams of striving for the position of Pimp or Madam, they could keep on dreaming unless they had an MBA tucked into their G-string.
SPEAKING OF PIMPS AND MADAMS
The handful of CEOs running the industry would inevitably try to collude with one another in stabilising the market, agreeing on fixed rates for various services, benefits offered to their employees, &cet. But like every other industry, they would be subject to the same anti-trust laws as everyone else. So if they ever got caught, class-action lawsuit settlements like this would likely manifest in a requirement of free services of a predetermined value, and for a limited time.
“IF YOU’RE OPEN FOR BUSINESS, YOU’RE OPEN TO EVERYONE”
Not long after the stigma had been lifted, clients who felt they got rubbed the wrong way would feel free to openly challenge prostitutes in court. And thanks to progressive public accommodations laws, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, gender-identity, religion, nationality, race, &cet, the court would likely rule in favour of the plaintiff. That said, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suppose that, quite literally, a client could sue the pants off of a prostitute just to get a rise, lest she face her imminent demise.
THAT’S ABOUT THE SIZE OF IT
It might seem like a good idea at the time, and certainly the consumers will be the first to come out ahead, but if the hookers of tomorrow aren’t savvy enough to reach around these little hangups, it won’t be long before they find themselves in too deep to come out on top.