Money for sex

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Let’s talk about an aspect of the cover story that we don’t discuss directly. I don’t know whether I believe prostitution should be legal. I was a bartender for 13 years, and I’ve known many prostitutes. In those years, I dated two ex-prostitutes.

Those relationships make me feel that I am at least qualified to discuss the question. I mean, when you date somebody who was a prostitute, you spend some time thinking about all those men, all those acts. As a couple, you certainly spend some time discussing such things.

At any rate, there are two sides to the argument: Prostitution should be legal because it empowers women, who should be able to decide what they do with their bodies. Prostitution should be illegal because it exploits women. Forgive my sexism; I’ve known a guy or two who’s turned a trick or two, but I think the bigger issue is licensed prostitutes in Nevada.

I can say without hesitation that I’ve never known a prostitute, legal or illegal, who was emotionally well-adjusted. I’ve known some who were more “normal” than others, but I’ve never known one who became a prostitute as a career choice. Even the top-dollar call girl got into the business out of desperation. The problem in my morally relativistic world is that those women, by taking that road, may have been saved from something worse, like abusive, murderous husbands.

I guess that’s the quandary in a nutshell. The prostitutes I have known were both exploited and empowered. In this world where the power structure spends more time moralizing than giving people tools to avoid those most desperate acts of survival, I’m not going to suggest the final shred of net be removed because I don’t really know what happens to people who hit bottom and keep going. Seems like there should be a higher safety net, though.

RTV No. 11: You could vote for somebody who could help keep mothers and other women from seeing prostitution as the only option.