Monday, April 02, 2007

The Storyville Concept

If prostitution is one of the longest-lasting professions (i.e. work involving some kind of skilled sexual activity in exchange for goods, protection or money), how should a given society respond to it? Compare with two other ancient still-going professions: priesthood and warrior (i.e. killing or imposing the will of above on the bulk of a society in exchange for the same payback as prostitution, plus a degree of power and prestige). In other words, a profession that offers sexual pleasure vs. ones that extol threats of violence, extortion, and rules to be obeyed or else.

The US in general holds particularly bizarre attitudes toward sex and gender issues, exploiting sex for marketing and entertainment and anything that fuels spending on the one hand, moralizing about indecency and obscenity on the other. The result is maintaining how things are now, completely dysfunctional and, frankly, crazy.

From time to time, experiments have been made with nodding and winking at prostitition districts, the idea being to contain and regulate such exchanges to certain areas only, presumably balancing protection of minors and Puritans with the reality of "adult entertainment." Such areas in Amsterdam exist, for instance, and in the USA from 1897 to 1917, such a district was created and tolerated in the Storyville section of New Orleans. It was shut down during World War One, part of the "reforms" that led on the one hand to adult women being able to vote but on the other to Prohibition. And we all know how well Prohibition went. When legalized booze was brought back, prostitution was kept under the rug and has never, for the most part, really been dealt with in a serious, rational manner again.

Now what? More don't ask, don't tell, bribe officials and try not to get caught with one's pants down in a seedy nexus of organized crime? It's the American way, but it doesn't have to be.

Today's Rune: Protection.

Todays's Birthdays: Charlemagne, Giacomo Casanova, Hans Christian Andersen, Émile Zola, Marvin Gaye, Linda Hunt, Rodney King.

C'est O!


Sheila said...

Prostitution has been around since humans started having sex for pleasure, not just reproduction. I think it will outlast everything else.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I say legalize it and regulate it and tax it. What better way to put more money in our state coffer.

Charles Gramlich said...

Down here they just do police raids that move the prostitutes from one seedy area to another. A pointless waste of money and time. I agree with JR.

Lana said...

Consentual "crimes" like this should be decriminalized immediately. Prostitution is the "world's oldest profession" for a reason. Making it illegal has proved a complete travesty. Take the power away from the pimps & use the money for universal health care (or any number of alternate, worthwhile exploits.)

Laura said...

Prostitution should be a moral issue, not a legal one. If someone wants to sell their body for money and they don't have a problem with it, why should anyone else have a problem with it. After all, it is their life and their body.

Anonymous said...

American culture is at odds with itself in regard to sex. It is both puritanical and prurient. Sex for pleasure and sex for reproduction, sex toys and viagra, prostitution and brothels. The other side of the coin, no sex as in the Catholic church for the priests and nuns but reproductive sex for the congregation. How odd that the ones who do not play the game get to make the rules. Pornography is a big business in this country from the street pimp to the highest echelons. Sex sells. I doubt if our culture will ever come to grips with this enigma and solve it sensibly.