Contemporary Prostitution

So why is pornography legal? Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying that it should become illegal. However I am curious as to why it is completely legal in the United States and prostitution throughout the majority of America is completely illegal. When you think about the two, they are really not that different. The definition of prostitution is: the act or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money. If one adds “and is videotaped” to the end of the sentence they would have the definition of pornography. Just to say I did my due diligence, the definition of pornography is: obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit. It seems that the definition of prostitution is a better fit for pornography than its actual definition, at least as far as the videos go.

Now, there are different types of pornographic videos, some with plots that are completely original, and some story driven pornos are parodies of notable films/tv series/ current events. But by and large the majority of hardcore pornography is anywhere from 2-10 people meeting each other (sometimes for the first time) and fucking.

I just can’t rap my head around how this is 100% legal government sanctioned action , yet prostitutes continue to fill up jail cells in metropolitan areas across the United States. The only realistic difference between the two professions (prostitute & porn star) that I can conceive of is that in porn, both sides get paid, leaving the possibility that neither side wants to engage in sexual intercourse with the other.

So, hypothetically, could I cruise the strip for a male and a female prostitute, pay them to have sex with each other, video tape it, then distribute said tape for a marginal to large profit? Seemingly I have just made pornography, so is that legal then? To me that seems somehow worse than just fucking a prostitute. With that mindset, what would happen if someone were to pick up a prostitute on a sting, and when being arrested simply explain that one was in fact going to purchase another prostitute and film the act….do they have to let him go? And could the undercover cop be in breach of contract if she doesn’t go through with it?

That does bring up contracts, which I assume are necessary in the porn world? There must be some sort of regulation that makes it different right? I’m not trying to harp on porn for being horrible. I think porn can be an excellent tool to enhance lovemaking with others, or one’s self. I also think it’s great that it employs a lot of women with let’s face it, no other marketable skills. Some of whom get paid exorbitant amounts and receive a certain amount of self gratifying fame. I cannot attest for the quality of their lives after porn, or how they spend their money, hopefully they invest it, or have some sort of savings. If I were to stereotype whores, I’d say they are probably not the smartest investors.

I would assume that once the porn industry is done with you, ones left with more negatives then positives, but that is neither here nor there. No matter the situation, porn actors are much better off than prostitutes. Sure, your booty-hole isn’t being broadcast to anonymous millions via the internet, but I’d wager people you meet still know you’re a prostitute. And prostitutes aren’t banging huge dick, muscle clad pros, (though I bet prostitutes prefer smaller members with quicker release) they have well…different clientele. Point being that prostitutes (commonly held as the oldest recorded profession) have no refuge in America.  They have no safe-work place, and no standard pay. Apparently new girls in the porno industry make a $500-$600 for a standard boy/girl scene, and more notable contract girls make $2,500-$15,000 a week, which is considerably more than pimps give their bottom bitch, or top bitch, I don’t know the pimp/ho scales.

Porn Actresses have it considerably better than prostitutes. This isn’t because their employer’s care for them, it’s a safe assumption that their boss’s care level is comparable to that of a pimps. But actresses in the adult film industry, while having the exact same job description, have standard salaries, required health check up, and legitimate taxable work. Whereas Prostitutes earn what they can, risk violence and STD’s, and routinely get thrown in jail.  And what’s responsible for this gaping discrepancy in treatment between two professions that are more or less the exact same?  It’s all in how the government chooses to view the two jobs. Though I can’t tell the difference, even when I see it. Now, I would say that there is a fairly large social injustice here, one that merits actual consideration, but really…who gives a shit about prostitutes?

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One Response to Contemporary Prostitution

  1. I think you are missing the point on both counts: pornography and prostitution. Although I think it is a good thing to look at the perception of prostitution from the point of view of liberating it from a discourse of illegality, especially as a means of improving the conditions of those who are forced into that form of market. But the question isn’t why one is legal, while the other is illegal. You can get into reductive arguments like that about anything – why are some substances legal, while others, just as ‘natural’, are illegal? etc etc.

    The real point behind this is the extent to which sex takes the form of an openly discussed (as your post shows), healthy activity, sanctioned and encouraged by a liberalised society, whilst at the same time somehow retains a subversive, dirty, ostensibly ‘wicked’ content – submerged within the form of the other.

    It is this constant, fraught negotiation between the two that continues to cause a kind of cultural psychosis or schizophrenia: we are encouraged, even commanded (in the Zizekian sense, for example, where the contemporary capitalist command is to ‘Enjoy!’), to be open about sexuality, to confront it and be comfortable with it, in all its forms. But then its content continues to challenge us in its very earthliness, its carnility: fluids and stains and scratches and bites: we are at once, on some level, compelled and repulsed.

    So, when it comes to your point as to where to draw a dividing line between one form of sexual practice and another (where one is an industry providing vicarious stimulation – through the image, and the other is an industry providing direct stimulation – in the back seat of a car), the truth of the matter is that the forms of that practice are essentially the same. Thus whether we legalise one, or the other, or both or none – we are still nowhere nearer to coming to terms with the underlying problem that causes a ‘civilised’ society to subject women (and it is without doubt overwhelmingly women who suffer by these practices – although the ideological entrapment of all sexes should not be ignored) to the dehumanising status of a vessel: one which is fashioned to accept society’s own conception of its ‘corrupt’ nature. The underlying problem is, I would venture, a misguided conception of our sexuality: one that is still perhaps routed in a historical, even traditionally ‘biblical’ narrative. This narrative is woven of a complex matrix of guilt, frustration, and shame and these feelings are hard-wired into our conception of sex (along with the more positive meanings that liberalised society has, over time, revealed). These feelings, so intimately connected and attached to our deepest, most intimate thoughts, also form the perfect ground in which a dominant, authoritarian conception of society, or government can take hold – and as such, they underpin and form the basis of the hegemony of western society.

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