Prostitution – Business Model Fail

As a radical feminist, of course I believe that prostitution is inherently harmful—not just directly to the women involved, but to women as a class more generally. But humour me for a bit, I want to explore another side of the “it’s just a job, like any other job” claim from a slightly different angle.

Pro-prostitution proponents claim that the dangers will disappear and better wages and conditions will ensue once prostitution is fully legalised, as opposed to The Nordic Model (which decriminalises the prostituted person, but criminalises the pimps and johns). As a bonus, apparently, pro-prostitution proponents claim that the ‘work’ of prostitution is both liberating and empowers the ‘worker’.

The actual harms to prostituted persons is well-documented, even by the women themselves, and even in a legalised setting. So an obvious lie.

But let’s examine the business case. Firstly, the “unions” of “sex workers”, of which there are many, even just in the UK. One vocal “union” is the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW), headed by one Douglas Fox. You can see in Fox’s bio in The Guardian, he bills himself as ‘a male sex worker’, but read on, you find he owns an “escort agency” and has around 20 “escorts” working for him. Sounds a lot like a pimp, because he actually is a pimp, not a “worker”. Since when do ‘management’ run the union for workers? They don’t. The CEO of the Ford Motor Company does not head up the workers’ union! FAIL, when compared to normal business practices.

DouglasFoxBio

One may also question why not all of Fox’s ‘escorts’ are not yet part of his ‘union’. After all, in most companies, even new employees are encouraged to join the union. Again, FAIL, when compared to normal business practices. And how long is that ‘process’ supposed to take? Gee, filling out a form and paying union dues, differs from other unions somehow? Another FAIL. Why so hard, Doug? Should take all of 10 minutes.

Branding (via tattoo on the prostituted person) is becoming fairly widespread, especially in street prostitution. The tattoo branding of ’employees’ in all other areas of employment is not done. Supermarkets do not brand their cashiers “Coles cashier” or “Tesco cashier”, do they? This would stop them seeking employment at other supermarkets or other jobs. So yet another FAIL. The only type of business where branding is widespread is farming – livestock and cattle, where the livestock and cattle are considered the property of, and under the ownership of, the farmer. So this says that the rank of the prostituted person is that of cattle, not autonomous human, and one who is owned, or the property of another. FAIL.

Barcoding, the new kid on the block, thanks to ‘smartphones’. It was this article that prompted me to write this entire post. Prostituted women (and children) have a barcode tattooed upon their body to indicate price:

“These barcodes are written in such a way by these tattoos and tattoo artists, that if you scan that with your smartphone it’ll tell you she’s $25 or she’s $30,” said Wilkett. “The one that I saw was $30.”

Examples, of $25 and $30, respectively:

barcode-prices

How does that differ to say, retail or supermarkets that use barcodes for the checkouts? In two ways. Firstly, the barcodes that retail stores use are product codes, not prices, and the product code and price association is made on their in-house or corporate computer system. That allows the retailer to amend the price at any time they wish (for either specials or price rises). The prostituted person cannot do this, the price is a fixed barcode symbol that will forever say that one ‘price’. So by ‘fixing’ a price on the prostituted person, pimps have of course, done another business FAIL, that price-fixing cannot allow for an increase in ‘price’, no increases for inflation or cost of living. Not that I am advocating that prostituted persons get tattooed with a product number either! They are people, not products!

A personal message to pimps and johns, from me (clue is in the image title if you do not have a smartphone):

PimpsAndJohnsArePureScum

So it seems that the pimp ‘business model’ as far as income goes, is to get more prostituted persons ‘working’ for them, because how else can they make income changes? This of course, does not work for the ‘worker’, who will always be branded that same price. FAIL.

Now the nitty-gritty of the ‘business model’ of prostitution. Average prices (of a 2014 survey of reviewing the online profiles and listings of 190,000 female sex workers in a total of 84 cities in 12 countries) has gone dramatically DOWN.

In 2006, the price for one hour of sex with a female prostitute averaged $340 around the globe. Today [2014], the average rate is down to $260.

Yes ok, those are older figures going on, but showing a 24% drop in the average. This survey is unlikely to have included street prostitution (not advertised), and with those prices, probably the upper end of “call girls” and “escorts”. But a 24% drop of income over eight years. I really doubt that expenses and the cost of living dropped 24% over that time period, rather, they would have risen, so the actual decline in financial terms is greater than 24%. What other businesses fail to keep pace with inflation and expenses? Only the ones that will soon be out of business! FAIL. Of course that article paints it primarily as a downturn in prices due to the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8.

Perhaps, in little part. But the ‘sector’ is following a general capitalist trend of ‘supply and demand’. Where the ‘supply’ of a ‘product’ is plentiful, the price goes down (to be fair, the article did sort of take a stab at ‘supply and demand’, and also went on to mansplain that given more availability of online advertising, it cut out ‘the middleman’ (pimp!!) so of course women ‘could’ lower their prices!). Which sort of has overtones of the altruistic hooker narrative; ‘she does it because she cares so much about the johns, got to make sure he gets dick servicing at a value-for-money price’. Which sort of glosses over why the ‘high-priced call girl’ charges big money in the first place. FAIL.

Any other sector would try to ‘protect their interests’, and discourage competition and price discounting. Not this one!

Apart from bargain retail and bargain manufacturing, the prostitution business model goes against the way most businesses/sectors are run, even at the top end of their market (the ‘high priced call girls’). The entire ‘sector’ seems to follow the discount/bargain end, up to and including the top end of the ‘sector’. Prices (and income) are going down over the complete sector. FAIL.

You would think the business ‘owners’ and ‘workers’ would want to put a stop to this, by decreasing the number working in prostitution, but nope, they are doing the opposite. Recruitment, PR, the push for full legalisation (proven not to work). They recruit college women with college debts as a way to make ‘good and easy money’, without the disclosure that the ‘price per fuck’ rate is plummeting. They target desperate women and teenaged runaways. When they cannot recruit, they traffick women and children to ‘meet demand’. If this ‘demand’ is so high, why aren’t the prices going up, not down? FAIL.

And finally, experience in every other sector generally is rewarded by promotion and salary increase. Here again, the prostitution business model goes in the totally opposite direction. A 40-year-old prostituted woman generally commands a much lower price than an inexperienced 18-year-old (with ‘specialised kink services’ being an exception for older women). And if the teenager is underage, she is even more sought after (although not necessarily hugely paid). ‘Fresh meat’ is what this ‘sector’ demands, and high turnover of its ‘workers’. FAIL. Where are the (calls for) retirement funds for retired prostitutes? No need to worry, most are dead or so broken by 40, they won’t reach retirement age. FAIL.

Meghan Murphy wrote a good article on destigmatisation of prostition, showing that acceptance or defacto-legalisation still does not work for the prostituted. Being murdered, also not like any other business. FAIL.

So when I hear pro-prostitution proponents bleat on about how it is “just a job, like any other job”; “legalising it will fix all the issues”; “a business, like any other”; and “just needs unions”, I think of all of the above.

In most regards, prostitution is the opposite of any other business or sector. Even though the capitalist system does not fully value its workers, that is nothing compared to prostitution. It does not follow standard business models on pricing, supply and demand, nor unionisation. And it never will, because its foundation is built upon misogyny and the notion that women were put on this earth to service men. You can’t get rid of that element of ‘the business’.

3 thoughts on “Prostitution – Business Model Fail

  1. ‘And finally, experience in every other sector generally is rewarded by promotion and salary increase. Here again, the prostitution business model goes in the totally opposite direction. A 40-year-old prostituted woman generally commands a much lower price than an inexperienced 18-year-old (with ‘specialised kink services’ being an exception for older women). And if the teenager is underage, she is even more sought after (although not necessarily hugely paid). ‘Fresh meat’ is what this ‘sector’ demands, and high turnover of its ‘workers’. FAIL. Where are the (calls for) retirement funds for retired prostitutes? No need to worry, most are dead or so broken by 40, they won’t reach retirement age. FAIL.’

    My understanding is reason why the price of buying prostituted women and girls is falling is because there are now innumerable disposable (sic) females available to the male sexual predators! The male pimps just want ‘disposable females whose sell by date is 6 months maximum and with a plentiful supply of female non-humans this is why purchase price is decreasing! Increase number of prostituted women/girls; reduce purchase price and the women hating boys are happy because they are earning more and the male predators are getting more females to rape!

    The now dominant ‘business model’ is the one wherein ‘value for money’ is cited as the goal, meaning male business owners have right to exploit their workers by paying them a pittance; working them excessive hours; denying them any rights and thereby accruing huge profits! Oh wait this is what mens’ pimp industry are doing – enslaving innumerable women and girls, selling them to the male sexual predators at cheap prices and because male demand is insatiable – this automatically means the male business/pimps are accruing huge profits!

    ‘Just need unions’ is another women hating male code for – ‘mens’ pimp industry has unions whose sole remit is to constantly utter male lies that prostituted women are the most empowered women on mens’ planet! And telling prostituted women ‘ ‘wah you should have pressed the emergency button in your room so that security could save you from the violent male – blah blah blah!’ Same old same old male obsfucation/male deflection of reality of men’s pimp industry!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s