Review: Sex, Lies, and Statistics by Brooke Magnanti

I originally wrote this review in 2013 for the UK release of the book in question. I am re-posting it here, because the book has now been issued in the United States. The American title is Sex, Lies, and Statistics while the British issue was called The Sex Myth. Having looked at the new edition, I’m satisfied that nothing affecting my review has changed, although some of the information on display has been updated. My recommendation: go for the new edition.

Throughout this review, I use the UK title for the book.

I’ve been looking forward to this book since the author first announced it a couple years ago, and was greatly dismayed to find, upon its release, that it was only available in Britain (and, I’m assuming, the associated commonwealth).

Then, a few months ago, Dr. Magnanti announced that she had a few spare copies laying around, which she’d happily trade with other authors for mystery novels. I took her up on it, and sent her Down From Ten and And Then She Was Gone in trade.

“Lucky me!” can’t begin to describe my reaction at getting a chance to read and review Brooke Magnanti’s The Sex Myth. “I’m an asshole!” can’t begin to describe my feelings of guilt when I opened the book and saw that she had signed it–something I had completely neglected. Brooke, if you’re reading this, please forgive me!

Now, on to the review!

I opened this book with equal measures of skepticism and excitement–excitement because Dr. Magnanti, as an up-and-coming cancer/edocrine researcher, is a personal hero of mine (I’m a sucker for uncompromising individualists with strong moral courage, who are yet susceptible to argument, but never susceptible to bullying), and that was before she was outed as being Belle De Jour, she of the Secret Diaries of a Call Girl fame (Belle De Jour was also a personal hero of mine, for the same reasons). When I found out the two were the same person? Well, that was a good day indeed.

But when you’re biased in favor of an author, and that author is writing in an area where she has a (legitimate) political axe to grind, you must go in with your skeptical goggles firmly affixed. I did. And I was shocked at what I found.

Over the course of ten chapters and an afterword, Dr. Magnanti takes on nine popular misconceptions about sex and sexuality that drive the creation of bureaucracy, governmental intrusion, prosecutorial malfeasance, civil rights violations, and a multiplicity of unintended consequences. I’ve read this stuff before, and largely agree with her conclusions, but I found something different in the presentation in The Sex Myth:

Dr. Magnanti is a practicing research scientist and a journalist, and she writes from the best of both traditions. The clarity of good journalism, with the integrity, deliberation, and documentation of a good science paper. She explains, in detail, the problems with the “data” supporting the notions that (to cite two of the less incendiary chapters) men are more visually stimulated and more frequently interested in sex than women, or that modern culture encourages the early sexualization of children which promotes teen sexual activity and violence against women. These notions, she reveals (with excellent scientific documentation backing her up), are less credible than that smelly stuff that falls out the back end of a cow. In many cases, predicating policy on these notions creates the problems such policies are meant to solve.

This is a hugely important book–a great example of a species that’s started to appear recently–because it teaches proper process. It argues (rightly) that even if you disagree with the author on the way things oughta be, you haven’t got a prayer of affecting effective change (from your POV) if you don’t start from the facts and work your way outwards. It’s time, the book seems to argue, to rejoin the reality-based community.

But as well as being important, scrupulously documented, and offering very good deep analysis, The Sex Myth is also highly entertaining. Dr. Magnanti’s sense of humor shines throughout, and her appreciation of the humanity even of the most patently dishonest of her enemies is never far from the surface. Thundering throughout is the moral conviction that we children of the Enlightenment should be better than this, and an unwillingness to let the public off the hook for shitty policies enacted on the backs of their moral panic.

Writing as an American, in a country currently enmired in the cesspit resulting from its own moral and existential panics over the last two and a half decades, I can’t help but cheer. This is a hell of a book, and it’s especially important reading for sexual and moral conservatives. If you want a society that’s more conducive to the values of family integrity, chastity, and mutual respect and decency that you proport to hold, you’d do well to get acquainted with the facts on the ground.

If you’re a liberal, libertarian, or libertine, though, don’t worry. There’s plenty in here to knock your worldview around a good bit too, and that’s important if you’re hoping to create a sexually open society that honors the autonomy of all people, maximizes their opportunities for pleasure and play, and minimizes the chance of their assault and exploitation.

Because it’s written in a British context, some of what Dr. Magnanti addresses isn’t applicable to the US in its particulars, but the underlying reasoning is airtight, and well worth wrestling with. Five out of five for style and substance. Bravo!

As mentioned at the beginning of this review, this book is now available to American readers as Sex, Lies, and Statistics, and you can get it now by clicking on the title or going wherever fashionable books are sold.

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25 Comments

  1. I must admit, I am not familiar with Dr Brooke’s work, but it gives me something interesting to look up at the library, thank you for posting this 🙂

    One point though, I find the smelly stuff that drops out the back of cows very credible! Lol, – but the still remains in-tact!

  2. I would check Magnanti’s personal agendas before cheerleading so heavily for her. She has a history of leaving out facts that don’t go along with her mission to make sex work acceptable, she’s misquoted lots of people, and she’s tried to shoehorn in connections between feminism and the conservative right, because she doesn’t like what a lot of feminists have said about prostitution making women’s bodies into luxury commmodities. (The fact that the right doesn’t like prostitution for completely other reasons isn’t very convenient for her.) I’ve heard there are some NAMBLA members who love her work, so if we go along with Magnanti’s rules I guess that makes Magnanti pro-pedophilia? She does not condone questioning of her tactics, and she plays really dirty against even her respectful critics. She uses the same scare tactics that the right uses.
    You can find better information on sex than Magnanti.

  3. I think Brooke is a very smart woman, and I’ve seen her give a talk which was excellent and entertaining indeed. However I think she has done a great disservice in glamorising prostitution the way she has. It’s a pastime for the wealthy, after all who can afford to hire someone for £300 per hour! That’s a more than a months spending money for most families. The reality of prostitution generally is a dirty tacky revolting business which is archaic and should be dispensed with. Unfortunately people like Ms Magnanti and the wealthy politicions who partake in it as a their pastime keep it going for the rest of us to suffer.

  4. JWhedon —

    I know Dr. Magnanti’s personal agendas very well, and have been following her work for some time. If you’d like to make an allegation of a factual distortion, I’d be delighted to hear about it and examine it.

    The tactics which you accuse her of are ones I’ve not caught her out in, with the possible exception of heated twitter exchanges (a medium where folks of all stripes regularly misconstrue each other due to the brevity constraints), and in such situations I’ve frequently seen her stick with an exchange as long as the other party does, and back down when she turns out to be in the wrong. I’ve found her, in such circumstances, to be disposed toward being hyperdefensive as an opening move (a trait common to most polemicists who hold a minority position) but relaxing into substantive dialogue once the communication starts flowing.

    The alliance-of-convenience between certain strains of feminism and the conservative right goes all the way back to the 1970s, and is exceedingly well documented by feminist critics themselves (Paglia in Vamps and Tramps, Betty Dodson in My Romantic Love Wars and slesewhere, to cite just two examples among dozens). Nowhere have I seen Magnanti claim that the alliance is one of complete idealogical alignment–it is and always has been a dirty combination of common goals (on issues relating to the intersection of sex, commerce, and speech) in pursuit of political power. Magnanti’s work in The Sex Myth documents these intersections well on the topic of trafficking, and accurately traces their divergent origins and broader agendas.

    So, I find the bulk of your assertions groundless (not to mention calumnous–NAMBLA? Really). However, I’d sincerely welcome a reply with complaints or charges that we can all actually check.

    In any case, unless any of those charges pertain to material in the book, it wouldn’t have an effect on my appraisal. The book stands on its own as a very intelligent, well-sourced piece of work.

    -Dan

  5. Russsel —

    I must disagree on a couple points:
    First, I don’t think she’s done the world a disservice by “glamorizing” prostitution. As one of the worlds largest industries, sex work of all stripes (from prostitution to pornography to sex toys to theraputic sexual surrogacy to modelling to advertising and everything else I haven’t thought of just now), it deserves serious consideration on all its datapoints–positive, negative, neutral, quantitative and qualitative–not condescention and condemnation. In my view, she’s done a tremendous service by opening up the conversation precisely at a time when the trafficking panic was starting to hit.

    Nor do I agree that it’s a dirty, revolting business that should be dispensed with. First, sex and commerce and property have always been tied together in various ways, whether through prostitution, marriage, courtship, or any of the other arrangements to control sex that cultures come up with. And how could it not be? When you’re dealing with a fundamental human drive that’s highly pleasurable and necessary to sustaining life and well being, commerce will always enter into it. Food, shelter, beverages, mobility, etc. ALL are subject to the same considerations. They’re shared between friends, used as overtures and/or entertainment between strangers, and are mediums of commerce when neither of the former are available or appropriate. Sex is, in this sense, no different. Like food, it is perhaps most pleasurable and meaningful when shared between intimates, but that’s not it’s only function (and it never has been).

    In other words, even conceding (for the sake of argument) your ideal that prostitution SHOULD be done away with, it isn’t possible to do away with it.

    I also fail to see, even conceding (for the sake of argument) your view that prostitution is degenerate and/or degrading, how it is that “the rest of us suffer” because of it. How is that possible?

    -Dan

  6. I don’t intend to enter into a long dialogue with you. But I will suggest that perhaps you don’t have it going on at the end of your street. Probably you don’t have your female relatives regularly approached by prospective clients. Perhaps your sisters husband hasn’t bankrupted himself and ruined his family’s future by getting involved in vice and paying out the obscene prices that prostitutes expect, for doing very little. Perhaps it was his choice but it wasn’t theirs. If this sort of thing was outlawed a lot of people would be much better off. Certainly Ms Magnanti got herself a nice education out of it, but if she had been male, what then. She couldn’t have done it. Reverse sexism perhaps, but I can imagine there were some casualties along the way. I don’t believe for a moment that these activities are victimless. I’m so tired of hearing apologists for the sex trade who mostly have some vested interests that the vast majority of decent citizens don’t share. As I said before this exotic image that is portrayed does us the majority of us a great disservice. It’s like saying we can’t eradicate burglaries and robbery’s so lets just let it carry on. Crazy.

  7. Russel —

    I live (and have for my whole life) in jurisdictions where prostitution is illegal. I have, nevertheless, had friends and acquaintances whose lives were seriously disrupted, negatively, by the sex trade, by sex crimes, by harassment, by addiction to drugs and compulsions around gambling.

    I’ve also seen, first hand, the difference between a legal, regulated sex trade and an underground, illegal one. I worked in programs aimed specifically at keeping refugees out of the skin trade by teaching them English and other skills that give them a chance at a lucrative career that will last longer and create less collateral damage than prostitution. I’m under no illusions that many people who work in the sex trade are temprementally ill-suited to it, and do lasting damage to their self respet and mental health–but the same is true of many other career paths as well.

    I’ve also known sex workers for whom the choice is a rational, adult one, and who conduct themselves in a responsible manner. Drugs are the same–upwards of 90% of all recreational users will never develop a drug problem, and most of those folks won’t develop a life-jeopardizing addiction.

    So, as with drugs (which I neither enjoy nor am a big fan of), my position on prostitution is that the most sensible policy is one that follows the Scandinavian proverb of “Tolerate in order to control.” Criminalizing vices leads to the growth of organized crime, more victimization, and more collateral damage than does a legal and above-board situation. Perhaps that’s not ideal, but the hard fact is that we live in an imperfect world, and attempts to legislate perfection have always created uninented consequences in the form of greater social damage and more ruined lives than legislation aimed at minimzing the harm of inevitable activities. In the end, the people who engage in risky activities bear the consequences, positive or negative, of their choices and behavior. As far as I’ve been able to work out, this is an inevitable reality.

    And, toward that end, the better (i.e. more accurate) information available, the better. I hold no truck with the notion of demonizing things one finds unpleasant or disreputable in order to whip up moral panic against them. If the activity in question truly is an unmitigated, preventable evil, the facts will speak for themselves. Unfortunately, life is rarely so straightforward, and sticking a moral thumb on the scale doesn’t change that fact.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and air your concerns in a civil manner. Contrary opinions are something I value a great deal. Please feel free to stop by any time.

    -Dan

  8. I am completely baffled as to why any reasonable person would want to perpetuate these activities, unless they have some sort of vested interest. The concept of sex workers acting in a responsible manner is laughable. You obviously haven’t seen what some of them get up to, nor the effects it can have on ordinary people. It causes chaos. Clearly Ms Magnanti worked in an environment that was more respectable than most, but that is catering for wealthy people who by their influence allow these activities to continue, and even promote them. I know there are yuppie drug users too, but the detrimental effects of that too filter all the way through society. These women who do this are unbelievably greedy, charging hundreds of pounds hourly. I was going to say it’s not even a moral issue, but that actually is grossly immoral. I’ve got no time for them, and the reason is that current laws are designed to allow them freedom to operate freely, because of the people with influence who use them. This also gives prostitutes lower down the scale the ability to cause real damage to people as I described before, because the laws allow them to behave with impunity. All this talk of toleration and control is a load of nonsense. By that token we should tolerate car thieves, burglers, and armed robbers etc, because some of them might be said to ‘act responsibly’, and are only trying to feed their families. What sort of planet do people who think like this live on? Prostitution causes as much damage to peoples lives as all those things, and quite probably more. It fits well with tax and insurance fraud, and money laundering. It’s no more victimless than all those other activities. That people should even imagine it is desirable to have unrestricted prostitution all around us is a crazy mentality.

  9. Russel–

    You say:

    I am completely baffled as to why any reasonable person would want to perpetuate these activities, unless they have some sort of vested interest.

    Let’s be clear. “These activities” are…sex. People have sex all the time. It’s more or less what we’re built for. And among us, we disagree wildly as how to best manage it. Some folks believe sex is so abnormal and dangerous/powerful that they lock women up in towers and don’t even let them have keys to their own houses (and yes, it still happens), some folks think it’s so ordinary that the notion of any kind of sexual morality is a sham. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.

    Perhaps, by “these activities,” you mean commerce? If that’s the case, you’ve got a long ways to go to eliminate commerce. It’ll take you a lot of violence and a lot of time, and the track record of people who wanted to get rid of commerce is about as good as the track record of people who want to get rid of alcohol.

    Do you mean, by “these activities,” people having sex as part of an exchange? For money? Or perhaps for dinner? Or perhaps out of obligation?

    You see the trouble. You’ve got a picture in your head of big bad things that you’re not specifying.

    You say:

    The concept of sex workers acting in a responsible manner is laughable. You obviously haven’t seen what some of them get up to, nor the effects it can have on ordinary people. It causes chaos.

    I’ve heard the same kinds of charges about drinkers, homosexuals, pot smokers, gun owners, journalists who don’t kowtow to the government, and people who drive sports cars. They’re patently untrue of all those other groups just as they are about sex workers, and I can’t imagine you have a solid grip on the facts if you’re making them. At best, you’re operating under the “Limping Navajo” fallacy (All Navajo walk with a limp–at least, the one I saw did!). At worst, you’re regurgitating prejudices based on propaganda from rescue organizations. In either case, you’re not dealing in real data–in fact, you’ve yet to do anything other than utter exasperated generalities.

    I have lived in or near San Fransico most of my life. I’m neither a stranger to sexual “alternative” culture, nor to sex workers. I’d believe what they get up to, sure. If I haven’t seen it first hand, I’ve heard about it from someone who has. And, last time I checked, San Fransicso (for all its goofy Macdonald’s-outlawing goofiness) is not a city in chaos.

    I’ll go one better, though. The more wealthy, socially liberal, and sexually equal (i.e. equal rights for men and women) a society gets, the LESS chaos that society endures. Divorce, which sees a spike after getting liberalized, settles down to a very low rate as people learn to pick their mates better. Teen pregnancy, drug abuse, murder, violence, addiction–all of them fall to background levels. Rape goes from terrifyingly common to almost unheard-of when pornography is introduced. We don’t yet understand why all these complex correlations exist, but they do unfailingly point to the fact that the intuitive “ban it in order to control it” response is counterproductive. The Nordic notion of “tolerate it in order to control it” seems to be a more accurate insight into how human nature works.

    Clearly Ms Magnanti worked in an environment that was more respectable than most, but that is catering for wealthy people who by their influence allow these activities to continue, and even promote them. I know there are yuppie drug users too, but the detrimental effects of that too filter all the way through society. These women who do this are unbelievably greedy, charging hundreds of pounds hourly.

    Sorry, but drug use does not have detrimental effects on society. Drug *abuse* does. Just as alcohol use doesn’t, but alcohol abuse does. Alcohol is more dangerous than some street drugs, less dangerous than others, and is on the high end of the physical dependency scale, so it’s an excellent proxy. So already your logic is suspect here.

    If charging hundreds of pounds hourly is unbelievably greedy and that’s detrimental to society, perhaps we oughta start with killing all the lawyers? If someone can provide a service worth a few hundred quid an hour, good for them! They’ve got more to spend on college, on cars and housing and starting other businesses and employing other people. Forgive me for stooping to an apparant ad. hom., but you really don’t seem to have any idea how economics works–much less economics in the call girl business. If you actually wish to inform yourself, start easy with Superfreakanomics by Levitt and Dubner, which has a chapter exactly on this topic: the economics of the prostitution business. You might find it enlightening.

    I was going to say it’s not even a moral issue, but that actually is grossly immoral. I’ve got no time for them, and the reason is that current laws are designed to allow them freedom to operate freely, because of the people with influence who use them.

    This sounds a bit like blue-collar grousing about the borgeosis. If you’re wanting things to be more equal, learn some economics so you can figure out how money works, and use that money to get yourself, your family, and your community in a better position. People do it all the time. Hookers are no more a threat to your livelihood than are people who make BMWs.

    This also gives prostitutes lower down the scale the ability to cause real damage to people as I described before, because the laws allow them to behave with impunity.

    You haven’t once described the damage. You’ve just asserted that damage happens. And yeah, people do behave with impugnity–it’s called “freedom,” and it’s a good thing in most instances. For example, I’m allowing you to post nonsense with impugnity, because I believe in free speech and the free exchange of ideas.

    All this talk of toleration and control is a load of nonsense. By that token we should tolerate car thieves, burglers, and armed robbers etc, because some of them might be said to ‘act responsibly’, and are only trying to feed their families. What sort of planet do people who think like this live on? Prostitution causes as much damage to peoples lives as all those things, and quite probably more. It fits well with tax and insurance fraud, and money laundering.

    What utter, unmitigated bullshit. Thieves of all stripes, armed thugs, fraudsters, con artists, etc. all have something in common: they steal things. Some of them also employ force to do it. That’s quantifiable injury, mate. That’s theft, one of the most basic types of crime.

    Prostitutes aren’t thieves. They’re shopkeepers. They’re selling something other people want to buy. I hear a lot of talk of damage, but I haven’t heard a single instance of it. Don’t bother with saying “they destroy families and spread disease.” They do not destroy families–the people who patronize them in violation of their other promises do (one might as well say “secretaries” or “co-workers” destroy families, since far more people have affairs than patronize prostitutes). Nor do they spread disease–being fiercely protective of their own health and earning potential, most prostitutes are vigilant about condom use, STD testing, etc.

    Are there irresponsible hookers? Well, since there are irresponsible steam-fitters and lawyers and convenience store clerks and garbage men, it’s be shocking if there weren’t also irresponsible hookers. So what?

    I can’t help but notice that you haven’t yet articulated a single harm or cited a single source. You’re not going to persuade me with your outrage. You might persuade me with argument and data. I’d be very surpised if you had some I’m not already familiar with, but it has been known to happen.

    Another thing that’s got my knickers in a twist: Where I come from it ain’t considered decent or polite to lump someone in with criminals just cause you don’t like their line of work. But then, I do come from an unusual place.

    It’s no more victimless than all those other activities. That people should even imagine it is desirable to have unrestricted prostitution all around us is a crazy mentality.

    Actually, it is more victimless than those other activities, as I explained just above. And I suspect you haven’t ever read the arguments of those who favor the legality of the world’s oldest profession: like anything else, most folks who want an industry legal want public health and anti-fraud regulations to make sure that business is minimally harmful to the participants, and above board. Based on what I’ve read of the UK’s prostitution fight (a lot), your notion of “unrestricted” is very cartoonish indeed.

    -Dan

  10. You’ve fallen into the trap of throwing insults in a vain attempt to shore up your weak arguments. I know how money works thank you very much. I am more than comfortable, but I still mix with all scales. From honest hard workers to spoilt brats who think they can gatecrash mine and others’ hospitality with ‘paid’ company in tow, and do lines of coke in my kitchen without a murmur of dissent. The sort of drug ‘use’ that you seem to be advocating. I’m well aware that sex is a normal bodily function, but I’m not sure it’s intended to be traded in the way you seem to advocate. I’ve still got an ounce of decency. There are lots of victims and you also seem to have a short memory, because I have provided examples of damage. I understand the economics of prostitution only too well, and especially the way the criminal element likes to muscle in, and have also heard the arguments of the advocates, a very well worn old record. Unbelievably I now see an attempt to slip pornography in under the radar. One of the biggest problems our society, and especially our children currently face. Sounds like a recipe for anarchy.

  11. You’ve fallen into the trap of throwing insults in a vain attempt to shore up your weak arguments.

    Not my intent. I was attempting to give you the benefit of the doubt by recommending good (and non-advocacy of either side) sources, since your argument did not demonstrate an acquaintance with the current state of research on many of the points under discussion.

    I know how money works thank you very much.

    I didn’t say a thing about money. I said “economics.” The two are not synonymous.

    I am more than comfortable, but I still mix with all scales.

    An excellent way to get a rich and varied life.

    From honest hard workers to spoilt brats who think they can gatecrash mine and others’ hospitality with ‘paid’ company in tow, and do lines of coke in my kitchen without a murmur of dissent. The sort of drug ‘use’ that you seem to be advocating.

    First, I’m not advocating drug use. I don’t like the few drugs I tried in my younger years, and I’ve never even been drunk. I plain don’t enjoy it. That’s my decision, for me. But I do think they ought to be as legal as alcohol, because the vast majority of users use them responsibly and the costs in money, resources, liberty, and lives of enforcing prohibiition (at least as practiced here in the US) is unconscionably high.

    Second, what you described is not something I’d be happy about. People crashing a party is rude. People crashing a party and bringing more uninvited guests is ruder. Fucking with the party culture and ecology by bringing new chemicals into the mix and inappropriately oversexualizing the environment is ruder still. You say “Without a murmer of dissent?” I say “Fuck, no!” What you describe is rude, unconscionable, and first rate assholery, and people who are that rude ought to be thrown out of the party. It’s also illegal–it’s called tresspassing–and you can get the cops to throw them out for you if you’re worried about them assaulting you in a cocaine-fueled rage or something.

    I’m well aware that sex is a normal bodily function, but I’m not sure it’s intended to be traded in the way you seem to advocate. I’ve still got an ounce of decency.

    “Intended.” Here we reach a remarkable divergence of worldviews. I’m pretty sure that sex wasn’t “intended” for anything in particular. It developed first as a way for species to reproduce in a more disease-resistent and stable way than asexual mitosis. It then became pleasurable because life is lazy and won’t do things that aren’t fun. (That’s why eating is pleasurable and not eating is painful, for example). Because of the pleasurable aspect, it became a source of social bonding and cohesion, entertainment, and an arena of play. Because mammals get obsessed with pleasure and mind-alteration, it (like entheogenic drugs) frequently gets mixed up with religious issues. Because it’s tied to reproduction, and inheritence is one of the major issues in economics, it gets institutionalized in arrangements like marriage.

    And, like every other pleasure in the world, some people choose a commercial form over a home-spun form. This has been the case since the first proto-human traded a cuddle for a piece of meat. It’ll keep being the case long after you and I are long gone.

    So, was sex “intended” for commerce? No. But it wasn’t intended for anything else, either. What’s your point?

    There are lots of victims and you also seem to have a short memory, because I have provided examples of damage.

    Mmm…nope, not a short memory. You’ve supplied a couple anedotes about people you’ve known who’ve wrecked their lives and hurt their families with stupid choices. To confirm my memory, I took a scan back through the thread and found this:

    Probably you don’t have your female relatives regularly approached by prospective clients. Perhaps your sisters husband hasn’t bankrupted himself and ruined his family’s future by getting involved in vice and paying out the obscene prices that prostitutes expect, for doing very little. Perhaps it was his choice but it wasn’t theirs.

    That’s not data, that’s an anecdote. And it’s the kind of thing that happens where prostitution is illegal, too. Outlawing a thing doesn’t stop it from happening. And it’s not damage to society–it’s damage to a family.

    As far as the street harassment, that’s a problem everywhere, and it IS a problem. Outlawing prostitution doesn’t solve it. Teaching people to see other people as owning their own bodies, though? That does seem to help. Quite a lot.

    I understand the economics of prostitution only too well, and especially the way the criminal element likes to muscle in, and have also heard the arguments of the advocates, a very well worn old record.

    The criminal element muscles into any marketplace where law enforcement is unwilling or unable to enforce contracts. What’s your point again?

    Unbelievably I now see an attempt to slip pornography in under the radar. One of the biggest problems our society, and especially our children currently face. Sounds like a recipe for anarchy.

    First, there’s no attempt to “slip pornography in under the radar.” There’s not a very big difference between sex for money with the paying party, and sex for money with a third party that wants to photograph or film it. It’s sex work, and it falls along a spectrum, and it’s a legitimate profession that’s older than the human race.

    Second, there is no data, despite decades of exhaustive research, that demonstrates even the ghost of a connection between the availability of pornography and the repression of women, the dissolution of the family, a rise in teen pregnancy, increases in child molestation/victimization rates, increases in STD rates, a general decline in morality (including a rise in premarital sex, if you’re of the mind that such a thing is immoral). In fact, the data points in the opposite direction: the greater the availability of pornography, the lower the rates of all of the above.

    Now, correlation isn’t causation. Instead of pornography causing these wonderful things, it could be that pornography availability only happens in an open society, and in an open society everyone is expected to behave more decently, more responsibly, and to value consent and health and integrity.

    But back to prostitution, there IS one thing that DOES reduce prostitution: women’s empowerment over their own bodies. When women are NOT shamed for their sexual histories, when they are taught that they own themselves, most don’t choose prostitution. Most of them just have relationships (of various shapes and sizes). Being human, they behave like free humans tend to: they have sex with people they like, who also want to have sex with them.

    When the sexual culture is free, it changes the market for sex, and fewer people are willing to pay for it. It doesn’t go away–there will always be a demand for prostitution, for various intractible human reasons–but it becomes a background feature of the sexual marketplace. Like hobby shops are now a background feature of the tech geek marketplace.

    Don’t know how I can be clearer or more civil than that. Please bring actual data next time.
    -Dan

  12. @Russel
    You have made some interesting assertions regarding prostitution,

    “I am completely baffled as to why any reasonable person would want to perpetuate these activities, unless they have some sort of vested interest. The concept of sex workers acting in a responsible manner is laughable.”

    Why exactly do you think that to be the case?

    “You obviously haven’t seen what some of them get up to, nor the effects it can have on ordinary people. It causes chaos.”

    It would seem you are referring to a particular bad experience of your own here, and out of the millions of sex workers worldwide it seems unlikely that this would hold true in every single case as you seem to suggest that it would.

    “These women who do this are unbelievably greedy, charging hundreds of pounds hourly.”

    Putting aside your patently false generalisation here regarding these people, it is not possible that 100% of all ‘prostitutes’ (millions around the world) doing this sort of work are a) greedy and b) charging hundreds of pounds hourly, you also seem not to realise that some of those ‘prostitutes’ are men too.

    I was going to say it’s not even a moral issue, but that actually is grossly immoral.”

    So we can establish that you find the business of prostitution grossly immoral, in this vein, what sort of things would you find morally acceptable?

    “This also gives prostitutes lower down the scale the ability to cause real damage to people as I described before, because the laws allow them to behave with impunity.”

    You are applying a sense of Hierarchy to this business you find grossly immoral and causes nothing but chaos?

    “Prostitution causes as much damage to peoples lives as all those things, and quite probably more. It fits well with tax and insurance fraud, and money laundering. It’s no more victimless than all those other activities. That people should even imagine it is desirable to have unrestricted prostitution all around us is a crazy mentality.”

    We’ve already covered your generalisation and individual bad experience here, but what about the concept of legalised prostitution do you find crazy?

    I’m of the same mind as Dan on this, legalising drug use and prostitution will help protect people who have a tendency to make use of either service, it moves out the ‘criminal element’ you mentioned too, since any criminal organisation that deals with them would be superseded by legal, trustworthy and above all SAFE alternatives.

  13. There’s too much nonsense acting as a smokescreen here. The insults have been tried, now it’s “oh dear you had a bad experience”. No I haven’t! But I certainly have seen the bad experiences of plenty of others, and the knock on effects. We now seem to be living in an age when people with vested interests promote prostitution as a beneficial activity. A society in which young men buy sex and continue to do so when they enter relationships. The people who sell sex, and the people who buy it by and large have utter contempt for each other. You can clearly see that on the forums that exist which discuss these things. It’s quite repugnant. This is an activity which destroys respect between the genders. Ask any wife who has an errant husband who indulges in this, there are millions of them. It destroys the lives of people who do not have any involvement, let alone those that do. It’s a modern menace, and I think it’s awful that people see fit to promote it. It’s particularly ironic that someone as apparently educated as the author supposedly under review here, is actively promoting it. Her experiences of being paid 300 per hour and 1400 per night we’re supposed to accept as a good thing. Maybe the hooray Henry’s like it, but they are a miniscule proportion, and when others follow suit the consequences are truly awful. She’s done very well out of it, and continues to do so, but at what cost and to how many others.

  14. “…No I haven’t! But I certainly have seen the bad experiences of plenty of others, and the knock on effects…”

    To be perfectly frank, the experiences of others should in no way be accounted for in your own reasoning, firstly, a personal experience is just that, personal. Any conclusions or generalisations to be drawn must, by its nature be filtered through our own perceptions and biases. It’s not for you, or me, or anybody else to decide or conclude responses from reflected personal narratives, from forums or wherever you have ‘seen’ these experiences.

    “We now seem to be living in an age when people with vested interests promote prostitution as a beneficial activity. A society in which young men buy sex and continue to do so when they enter relationships.”

    What young people do and don’t do when it comes to making use of sex services in no way apportions blame to the concept of prostitution in general.

    “The people who sell sex, and the people who buy it by and large have utter contempt for each other”
    I can see no basis for this conclusion, can you elaborate?

    “You can clearly see that on the forums that exist which discuss these things. It’s quite repugnant.”
    Forums can be falsified, and if you find the concept ‘repugnant’ why, it begs the question, do you read them?

    “This is an activity which destroys respect between the genders. Ask any wife who has an errant husband who indulges in this, there are millions of them.”

    This is an interesting one, I am a wife of a loving husband, and for reasons I need not go into here, I would support my husband if he chooses to solicit sex from other sources, and, in fact, I can easily see many other reasons that it may be required to ensure the well-being of the person soliciting it.

    I have no repulsions about it, and in fact, the whole idea of monogamist marriage in my opinion is outdated and archaic.

    The very idea of mistresses of married men has been around for many hundreds of years. The whole basis for monogamist marriage is, from a Christian perspective, an idea in itself thousands of years old, from a mistranslated text, written many years after the events supposedly transpired.

    “Her experiences of being paid 300 per hour and 1400 per night we’re supposed to accept as a good thing. Maybe the hooray Henry’s like it, but they are a miniscule proportion, and when others follow suit the consequences are truly awful.”

    Please give us an example, you have an idea that consequences of prostitution are awful, what do you mean?

    I can see many situations where consequences may be awful, but certainly cannot fathom on what level every result is awful.

  15. *** I have no repulsions about it, and in fact, the whole idea of monogamist marriage in my opinion is outdated and archaic. ***

    You are content to let your “loving husband” go off with prostitutes are you. And do you think other women should conform to that also? You don’t need to say any more. You are so atypical, any further discussion is meaningless.

    Forums are falsified are they? Is that the best you can do?

    *** Please give us an example, you have an idea that consequences of prostitution are awful, what do you mean? ***

    All you have to do is read back at previous posts. I’m not going to repeat myself ad nauseum.

  16. Lisa, your posts are like that of a Troll. The other guy is the same.

  17. “You are content to let your “loving husband” go off with prostitutes are you.”

    Yes. If he has that need.

    “And do you think other women should conform to that also?”

    I never even suggested that, individuals will choose what to do or not do.

    “You don’t need to say any more. You are so atypical, any further discussion is meaningless.”

    An atypical….what ?

    “Forums are falsified are they? Is that the best you can do?”

    My exact words were that forums CAN be falsified, not that they were.

    “All you have to do is read back at previous posts. I’m not going to repeat myself ad nauseum.”

    I have, and you haven’t given any specific examples, just general ‘consequences are awful’, ‘families lost’ etc. You haven’t provided any specific consequences.

  18. “Lisa, your posts are like that of a Troll. The other guy is the same.”

    Now who is resorting to insults to cover weak arguments?

  19. I said * like * a Troll. (in any case it’s not in the same league as I had directed at me)

    If the cap fits, wear it.

  20. I do believe this is the first time I’ve ever been accused of trolling my own website.

    ::adds to the Life Accomplishments Scoresheet::

  21. I didn’t think you had been.

    Perhaps you need to look up and try and understand the meaning of the word “like”. To give you a clue it goes something like – similar to, not necessarily the same, etc. I’m sure you’ll get more from the OED, so I’ll leave you to that one.

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