+
More

Should it be illegal to exchange money for sex? No, and here are 4 reasons why.

Why again is this illegal?

True
Open Society Foundations

Last month, Amnesty International issued a resolution calling for the decriminalization of sex work.

In many parts of the world — including the vast majority of the U.S. — certain forms of sex work are criminalized. Amnesty joins a long list of human rights organizations in calling for the decriminalization of consensual sex work worldwide, including the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, Human Rights Watch, and the Open Society Foundations.


This is big news for sex workers and their clientele, but why should those of us who are neither sex workers nor clients support them in pushing governments to decriminalize? Here are four reasons to join the fight.

1. Decriminalization can improve policing and boost trust in law enforcement.

For some time, police in a number of cities have been known to confiscate condoms as evidence in prostitution cases. There are any number of reasons someone might carry condoms (say, for instance, they plan to have sex?), not all of which are to engage in sex work.

All images via iStock.

In 2013, a black transgender woman named Monica Jones was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona.

She was charged with what a local statute calls "manifesting prostitution," but others came up with what some might argue is a more accurate name: walking while trans.

In Phoenix, a local ordinance gives police the authority to arrest a person for stopping to talk to someone on the street or sidewalk, for asking someone if they are a police officer, or for accepting a ride from someone an officer believes to be a stranger.

A study of a similar ordinance in Brooklyn found that 94% of those arrested for "loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution" were black. In 2011 alone, around 57,000 people were arrested on these types of charges — which, again, aren't for engaging in a form of sex work but for simply fitting a profile of what a sex worker looks like in the mind of the arresting officer.

So long as sex workers — as well as those who fit the profile of sex workers — feel like their existence is in itself a crime, they're less likely to trust law enforcement. Decriminalizing sex work provides a pathway to better policing for us all.

2. It will improve public health and reduce the spread of HIV.

One of the most common arguments people make in trying to justify keeping sex work criminalized is an old talking point that decriminalization of sex work would lead to an increase in HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. In reality, the opposite is true.

In a study published last year by The Lancet, researchers estimate that decriminalization of sex work worldwide would result in a 33% to 46% decrease in new HIV infections.

How? Well, as addressed earlier, so long as police officers use condoms as evidence in cases against sex workers, workers will be less likely to carry prophylactics, leading to an increase in the number of unprotected or under-protected acts. Couple that with an understandable fear of getting tested for STIs, and the spread of these diseases will continue both inside and out of the sex worker community.

3. It can help improve working conditions.

People in favor of keeping sex work criminalized frequently bring up points about the poor working conditions, danger, and harassment workers face. Their solution boils down to this: If sex work wasn't a viable option, the women involved would be saved ... but then what?

Are working conditions that much better in other service industry jobs? Not really. Take, for example, the life of a waitress.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a study that showed 37% of all sexual harassment claims came from the restaurant industry (despite the fact that just 7% of women work in it). That's both disproportionately high and takes the honor of being the worst of any sector of the workforce.

If poor working conditions are enough to criminalize a profession, then the service industry as a whole would be long gone.

Decriminalization has the added benefit of deterring violence against women. For example, in New Zealand, decriminalization has improved workers' ability to screen clients, access security services, and (going back to the first point) reach out to police if they become victims of violence.

4. It means freedom of choice.

If two consenting adults want to exchange money for sexual services, then who are any of us to stop them? Prostitution is a crime based almost entirely on one's own moral hangups.

Policing personal morality is in poor taste. Why should it be any of our business what consenting adults choose to do? It's not as though they're harming others. In this case, the argument against sex work is similar to the argument against same-sex marriage: if you're not involved, it doesn't affect you, so why is it your business?

You don't think sex work is morally permissible? Then don't be a sex worker. You don't think it's morally acceptable to pay for sex? Then don't visit a sex worker. You can make these decisions on your own without the threat of jail time.

For more great reasons to get involved with the fight for decriminalization, check out this guide from the Open Society Foundations.

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

Keep ReadingShow less

Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less