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Proposition K in San Francisco: Will They Legalize Prostitution?

November 1, 2008


Carol Leigh, Prostitution Advocate and Former Prostitute (phone: NYTimes)

This morning’s NYTimes included a solid article on Proposition K, a motion on the upcoming ballot in San Francisco that would not only legalize prostitution, but would also include many barriers to police intervention, especially regarding racial profiling.

When Proposition K was added to Tuesday’s ballot, many people likely snickered at the possibility that San Francisco might take its place alongside such prostitute-friendly havens as Amsterdam and a few rural counties in nearby Nevada. But this week, it became readily apparent that city officials are not laughing anymore about the measure, which would effectively decriminalize the world’s oldest profession in San Francisco. – Read the source article here

Unless I missed it, this article makes no mention of male and transgender prostitutes and I wonder if their voice is a part of the debate. Instead, it focuses on select main points: will legalization allow for greater freedoms among sex workers, including increased access to legal aid, or will it spur an unchecked and dangerous sex trade in the city? The urban myth of the Pretty Woman prostitute is invoked and disputed, of course, while the others note the financial burden to tax payers of chasing down sex workers and their johns/janes.

More (including Margaret Cho) after the jump…

In the back of my mind I can hear Margaret Cho telling me that being monogamous and living together is akin to prostituting one’s self for very, very low rates.  “I’ll do oral and anal, if you take out the garbage. I’ll lick your balls, if you open this jar. Do I have to eat your ass to get you to mow the lawn?!” Those with a passing familiarity of feminist and/or economic theories will recognize that her argument harkens back to 70’s feminist arguments on marriage and institutionalized prostitution of women, and more recent publications asserting that sex workers and wives are interchangable goods. When Cho says it with humor (and a colorful outfit) we laugh and nod in agreement. When feminists and economists say it, we boo, spit, and cast nervous glances at our spouses.

Let’s go back to Prop K in the great state of California. I’ve yet to work as a live prostitute, although I share the increasing wave of fascination with the field that has fueled a boom in sex work themed nonfiction books. That said, I’ve also been too nervous of legal and reputation repercussions to hire one for more than a private dance at a legal club. Instead, I continue to hope that Heidi Fleiss will someday, somehow grace us with her legal brothel of intimately generous men for financially generous women. Sadly she is currently focusing on her laundromat and parrots, but I have faith that she’ll eventually return to her brothel idea. I’m so easily side tracked, I tell you.  Prop K.! Legalizing prostitution!

My thoughts? Go read Sin in the Second City and then tell me what you think about human trafficking crusaders vs. well executed prostitution. Sure, it’s idealistic, but no more so than the idea that a few cops and some lopsided busts (no pun intended, I swear!) of prostitution will somehow make our neighborhoods safe for politicians kids and their frightened parents. Furthermore, incidence counts demonstrate you’re FAR less likely to catch a disease or unintentionally procreate with a licensed prostitute in NV than with that hottie in the “department of erections” prison costume you were flirting with at the bar last night.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 17, 2008 4:14 pm

    Update: It didn’t pass. 😦

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