wow, those are some tough questions! It might take me a while to be able to answer all of them.
You can drive down some busy streets in my city and see them any time of day, clearly completely cracked out and unaware of the rest of the world while the rest of the world pretends to be unaware of them."
Is the sad part the drug addiction or the prostitution or that they're women in a really tough situation all around?
Well, just seeing them would be enough to answer your question. The sad part isn't a political idea or concept about society, the sad part is them, as humans, being in that situation at all. The fact that they're all screwed up on drugs whether they're there to feed the drug habit, or whether they developed the habit because they're there, or whatever, it's sad to think that this
is the life a person is leading. It's sad and sickening to think that this
is what sex is about to some people, this is what women are worth. It's sad that I've known men and women who just kind of laugh, as if these women somehow deserve it because they're just sluts or something.
"I don't have much of a problem with the idea of prostitution in theory, but as it exists in reality, it is in almost all of its forms, even the consensual ones, exploitative and abusive of women."
How do you come by that conclusion?
I did say most, not all! Like I said, I don't find the idea of sex for money immoral, provided everyone is on level ground, everyone consents, no one's getting hurt, and the women (or men) doing the work are actually receiving the money being paid. I know there are a lot of women working out of their homes in Alberta, they are even able to advertise in the weekly entertainment magazines without being shut down, and they seem to have control over what they do, and if they are happy and safe, then I certainly don't think that's an exploitative situation. But thanks (in part) to restrictive laws and societal judgement, that doesn't always happen. I think that a lot of consensual prostitution is still exploitative, though, based on who is making the decisions and the money for the women actually doing the work. Here's where I admit to lacking any details to back up my ideas, I don't know any statistics, but when there's mass volumes of human trafficking, sexual slavery and semi-consesual prostitution in the world, I don't see how that can't be exploitative. Look at Las Vegas. Men are out on the street basically hawking girls to anyone who passes by, handing out flyers with naked young girls all over them. And these flyers end up on the street with people's dirty fotoprints all over those girls bodies and faces. Billboards are up that say "Girls delivered to your door within one hour!" I don't care if those girls are consenting to be there, I don't see how mass marketing of women's bodies like that is not exploitative, of the girls who are working and of women in general. Its the attitude that women can be bought that is exploitative. There is a difference between buying sex, and buying women, and the idea that you are buying the whole woman is scary and promotes abuse. Even though it's consensual, I wonder what exactly leads these girls to be there, not individually (because there could be as many different reasons for being there as there are girls), but more generally, our society's attitudes towards sex and women's bodies that creates such a situation in the first place.
Whew.. that probably just raises more questions than answers!
The thing I feel very strongly about is that fact that prohibition in general, whether of alcohol or drugs or prostitution, only causes more problems by driving things underground. When there could instead be government regulation of the business..."
This is going to sound bad, I really don't mean to be crude, but do you really trust the government with regulation of your vagina? I sure don't.
No, I don't. It's not that I want the government to be in control of it, but prostitution needs to be recognized because the government does require businesses to adhere to health and safety codes, worker's rights, etc, and if it is an underground business, then that isn't regulated. If your job isn't recognized as existing, you don't have access to worker's compensation or employment insurance, and you can't complain to the government if you're fired unjustly or not paid for overtime (or not paid at all!), and you lose your right to refuse unsafe work. Again, I know that there are women who are in control of their own bodies and businesses, but that doesn't mean we can assume everyone has that power. I don't think it is disparaging to the sex trade workers who are successfully running a consensual business to recognize that there are a lot of women who are flat out exploited by brothels, pimps, and their customers, that there are prostitutes beaten, raped or murdered while the police look the other way. I don't think that recognizing that in many of these cases, drugs are used to control women, or used by women to numb themselves to their situation, is disparaging to the women who wouldn't need protection from drug addiction at all. Leading to:
"..and protection of women from exposure to violence, drug addiction, and human trafficking, everything goes hidden and unregulated."
Okay this also didn't totally compute for me. Do prostitutes need more protection from drug addiction than most people already have? Do they need that protection before they start working or during, or after?
I see what you're getting at. But I don't think I said, "protection of all prostitutes from drug addiction." If it sounded like that's what I meant, I apologize, because it certainly isn't. I should have maybe said, "protection of vulnerable women (because there are women in our society and every other society who ar more vulnerable) from exploitation through violence, drug addiction, and human trafficking." I'm not saying legalization of prostitution would solve these problems, either, but pretending they don't exist at all is much, much worse. I'm saying that these facets of prostitution exist, but if legalized, safe & accessible forms of protitution were allowed and socially sanctioned, then there would be far less demand to fuel the scary side of it.
OK, that took a long time to write, and I know I just opened up a huge can of worms. So please take into account - This is all my opinion, I know I'm not fully informed, and I know there are so many different possible viewpoints on an issue like this. And I would really like hear your opinion now, g_l!