Amnesty International, the leading human rights group in the world, has recently announced that it supports the decriminalization of sex work. There is an important distinction to be made between making prostitution and related sex work legal and decriminalizing those activities. According to Donna M. Hughes, PhD, ‘[l]egalization would mean the regulation of prostitution with laws regarding where, when, and how prostitution could take place. Decriminalization eliminates all laws and prohibits the state and law-enforcement officials from intervening in any prostitution-related activities or transactions, unless other laws apply.’ Under decriminalization, individuals would be free to carry out prostitution related services, while under legalization, the government would intervene to direct how and under what conditions such services may be provided, as is the case in Australia.
The decriminalization of prostitution would be good for men, on a number of different fronts.
Decriminalizing prostitution would lead to a boon in entrepreneurialism for men, particularly young men, who could command higher prices in a demand sensitive market. Escorts between the ages of 26 and 30 earn an average wage of $280/hr, and if they follow Sheryl Sandberg’s exhortation to ‘lean in’, they can pull in an yearly income of $582,400, placing them in the top 20% of income earners in the US, roughly equivalent to households in which the head holds a Master’s degree. Over the four year period of prime earning, escorts stand to earn $2.4M at current market rates. Decriminalization will likely result in an excess of supply, but that if is met with increasing demand as clients begin to realize they face no legal repercussions for professional services rendered, it’s plausible the rates could go up, and not down.
High end prostitution has many related brideing and body maintenance costs, but is essentially skill-free. A pleasant escort who maintains conventional beauty standards is likely to realize his full income potential. Other industries as lucrative as prostitutiongenerally require advanced educations often involving sophisticated quantitative skills, pursuits men have little interest in. The decriminalization of prostitution would permit men who lack higher mathematical abilities to match the earnings of women, who currently dominate in these fields.
Partnered men who find themselves with a declining interest in sex will be able to outsource that aspect of their relationship, just as cooking, cleaning, childcare and other tedious duties are outsourced, generally to other men. Unlike cooking, cleaning and childcare, however, prostitutes are well paid for their services, which will help to assuage the guilt many men feel at the the low wages paid to other men to care for domestic responsibilities. Decriminalization of prostitution will not only free men up from an essential domestic duty, but will permit them to do so in a morally acceptable way, by compensating sex workers fairly.
Decriminalization of prostitution has been shown to lead to lower rates of rape and sexual assault over all, as women eschew dangerous hookups with men they do not necessarily know well, and turn to professional service providers who offer contractual, clearly spelled out services for a specified amount of time and compensation. The legal provision of sex services creates an environment in which both women and men are safer, by removing all ‘blurred lines’.
Decriminalization of prostitution is the embodiment of the masculist mantra ‘his body, his choice’, and is long overdue in a society that recognizes men’s fundamental right to determine the course of his own life, free from prurient interests that seek to control his actions and choices. Amnesty International supports men’s rights to choose, leading to a safer, more productive, fair society for all.
[Ed. note: This article originally appeared at Examiner.com and is reprinted here with permission.]