Feminist attitudes towards prostitution vary. I used to believe in the legalization of prostitution and its regulation to contain public health risks and to ensure the consenting participation of all involved. I may have to rethink that position in light of the many intelligent feminist critiques to the contrary. I don't have much personal knowledge of prostitution because prostitution was not an issue in the rural county where I prosecuted. But the topic (which I was thinking of relative to the prior post) reminded me of a brief incident from my youth.
When I was 19, my parents lived in New York City. That summer, I went for a jog along a jogging path on the East River in the middle of the day. The path was dotted with benches where homeless people would sometimes sleep. After I finished my jog, I emerged from the jogging path area at a stroll, wearing my old sweatpants, a t-shirt, and my hair tied up in a rubber band. I wasn't carrying anything because I had put my key and some identifying information in my shoe. I guess I must have looked pretty ratty. Anyway, as I stood at the cross-walk, a shady-looking guy approached and asked me if I had any place to stay. I told him no thank you, I was just fine. He assured me that he could give me a place to stay and a way to earn lots of money. I looked at him full in the face and told him firmly, "No thank you. I live here and I have a job." When the light changed, I walked with a brisk and determined stride towards my parents' apartment building.
I guess it's no surprise that those recruiting girls and women into prostitution would often choose the most desperate. I often wondered what it would have been like if I had spent the night on a bench on the East River without a penny to my name. I wondered what would have happened if I had told this helpful man that I needed a place to stay and a way to make money. Where would he have taken me and what would have happened next?