This title of this post just got a lot less illegal. An Ontario Supreme Court judge just ruled that all of the laws Ontario has surrounding prostitution are not valid and will cease to be in force within 30 days. Even prior to this exchanging money for sex in Ontario was not illegal, though communicating with the intent to do so was, as was living off the avails of prostitution. For some reason we ended up with a perfectly legal activity that was surrounded by laws making it nearly impossible to do that activity without running afoul of the law. My response?
Sex between consenting adults that does not result in anybody being injured or otherwise put out has no business being regulated by the government regardless of whether or not money is being exchanged. Current prostitution laws have not had any success in getting rid of prostitution but they have managed to make it exceptionally dangerous for those who end up there whether by reasoned choice or desperate circumstance. Prostitutes are easy to find, brothels are widespread and sex for money is available to anyone who wants it. The primary things these old laws have accomplished is making it easier for pimps to control prostitutes because those prostitutes cannot seek legal help without risking jail time and making anyone who honestly wants to be a prostitute work very hard to avoid jail for doing a job that doesn't hurt anyone.
This feels very much like the argument surrounding marijuana to me. If it isn't hurting people and policing it is wasting more money than preventing it can possibly be worth then legalize it, tax it, regulate it and move on. Now prostitutes will be able to hire bodyguards, work out of their homes or licenced businesses, pay taxes and feel like they are a part of society again. Prostitutes in dire circumstances, like those who are drug addicted and being controlled by a criminal pimp, will have the ability to go to the legal system for help without the fear of being arrested. To be fair there will still be people caught in terrible situations who can only manage to make money by selling themselves sexually but that will be true either way; the main difference is now the path out of such a wretched place will be easier for those who really want to take it.
In general I find the attitude that sex is dirty and only redeemable by monogamy within a marriage to be pretty pathetic. I personally am very happy with the monogamous married lifestyle but there are plenty of others who are not and though I might find that decision smart or foolish in any particular case I can find no reason for the state to be involved. Just as with alcohol, cigarettes, high fructose corn syrup, high heels, downhill skiing, boxing and football the government needs to regulate lightly. All of these activities have downsides and can be considered a bad idea for the individual but nonetheless we as a society accept that people have foolish habits and as long as most of the time things are okay we simply regulate the worst behaviour, tax it appropriately and sigh at the foolish mistakes of others. Let's take that attitude a little more often, I say.