Back in the day, finding a prostitute was a matter of driving by some shady street corner and looking for a lady or two or three wearing provocative clothes. If she came up to your window and asked if you were looking to “have a good time,” you knew you had found a “working girl” and all you needed to do was negotiate the price with her or her pimp, let her into your car and the deal was done.
Nowadays, with internet sites such as TheEroticReview.com, Eros.com and Backpage.com, it’s ridiculously easy to find prostitutes for in-calls (i.e. the prostitute hosting) or out-calls (i.e. the client hosting at their home or a hotel room) from, literally, anywhere with an internet connection. With smartphone apps such as this for exotic dancers and this German app for sex workers, finding a prostitute or anyone else for sex-related services is becoming more convenient than ever.
Yet, with all of the change regarding finding a sex worker, it seems as if it’s becoming just as easy to avoid the legal consequences of doing business with one. Take sites such as Eros.com, where you aren’t paying for sex but for “entertainers” and many requests for compensation aren’t made in dollars but in “roses” and “donations.” Knowing the law and how to skirt around it (i.e. not negotiating for sex outright but implying it with words and naughty pictures), it almost seems as if getting busted for prostitution isn’t a matter of how lucky you are but how lucky and smart you are.
One of the biggest changes to hit the prostitution debate lately are the popularity and growth of websites such as SeekingArrangement.com, where sugar daddies and sugar babies negotiate arrangements and allowances, and WhatsYourPrice.com, where you literally purchase a date with someone for a pre-negotiated dollar amount. Both websites, created by Brandon Wade, are listed as “dating websites” and offer amenities such as background checks for their customers. Both sites also specifically state that escorts aren’t welcome; but many questions are raised that don’t have clear answers, or answers that will vary greatly depending on who you ask: At what point is there a difference between paying for a date or a sugar baby and paying for the sex that comes along with dating or an arrangement? If someone pays for a date then has sex with their date, is it prostitution or simply consensual sex? Is having your college tuition paid for by a gentleman who you’re dating (and also having sex with) simply the act of a generous benefactor or someone with an expectation that you will be generous sexually in return?
In the end, is there really a difference between what is spoken aloud and what is implied to the point of almost becoming blatantly obvious? As the moral and ethical “stigma” of prostitution still remains strong, the debate as to what is and what isn’t prostitution, thanks to the internet and our ever changing society, will be ongoing for quite a long time.
– C.J. Asher