They do it because it’s sex. They do it because it’s convenient. They do it because it’s fast. They do it because it’s hassle-free. At least, until you’re caught.
Ever since New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged last week with two counts of solicitation of prostitution after the police obtained video evidence of him allegedly engaging in sex acts at a strip-mall massage parlor in Florida, people have been scratching their heads and wondering: Why would a man with wealth, power and prestige, who likely has women throwing themselves at him on a daily basis, go to a massage parlor? If he wanted sex, shouldn’t he have a madam — like me — or a number of beautiful women at his disposal?
People are overthinking it. Kraft, 77, allegedly went to a massage parlor because it was uncomplicated. The only problems are:
►It happens to be illegal.
►The women there were reportedly victims of sex trafficking.
►The two points above are closely linked.
There’s a problem that has led to this problem. We are a society tied in knots around sexuality and sexual pleasure. We all love it, but we have such specific, archaic rules around where and when we are allowed to feel it. If we had the same rules around happiness, there would be a revolution.
Prostitution is illegal — but at what cost?
For much of human history, men went not to illicit massage parlors for sexual pleasure but to temples. Prostitution was condoned by many religions. But as soon as religion became anti-sexuality and pro-chastity, prostitution became a sin rather than a service.
The point is, there is a cultural disagreement on whether prostitution is sacred or sinful. The more we repress something as a culture, the more it comes out sideways in individuals.
However, when it comes to sexual trafficking, we are all in agreement: It is morally reprehensible and a violation of basic human rights to force an unwilling person into sex.
Given that there always has been and always will be a demand for sexual services, we need to decide: At what cost are we making transactional sex illegal?
When you make something that is in demand illegal, you create an opportunity for people who live outside the code of law to make money out of it. Some choose to do this by subjugating others.
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The laws in place now to supposedly protect people are hurting us and creating a bigger black market for sex. We have to change the law so there’s a substantial reduction in human trafficking. Here in Nevada, legal brothels do the community a service and they are regulated, inspected and taxed.
There are people who have a passion for the job, who consider themselves healers, who make high salaries and who have healthy relationships with themselves and others.
Protect sex workers, trafficking victims
I was the Match.com, Tinder and Grinder of my day. I made the transaction easy by cutting directly to everyone’s goals, without any of them having to endure the long and often dishonest song and dance that people do when dating. Among the people who were in my personal world at that time, I saw a lot more men and women hurt from dysfunctional relationships than from transactional sex.
And there is evidence that legalizing prostitution can reduce sex trafficking. For instance, New Zealand legalized prostitution in 2003. In a 2008 study, the New Zealand Ministry of Justice found no incidence of trafficking over the previous five years. Sex worker advocates also say the law made it easier for them to report abuse, and for law enforcement to make arrests for crimes committed against sex workers.
Human rights organizations like Amnesty International, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have all advocated decriminalizing prostitution.
For those who are against prostitution, just like those who are against pornography, it’s fine to hold that opinion. Just don’t participate in it or pay for it. But don’t impose your rules and values on the rest of us. There are 7 billion people on this planet. And a certain percentage of them are always going to be willing to pay for sex.
So the reason why Robert Kraft went to a Florida massage parlor allegedly for sex is because he wanted to. It was there. Sometimes you want to eat a nice steak, and sometimes you want fast food. It was the fast-food equivalent of sex.
None of this diminishes or discounts his character. A person is not a fraud or a liar because he wants sex. Many people do, and that’s never going to change. What can change is the way we, as a society, police, regulate and legislate sexual pleasure.
Heidi Fleiss is the former Hollywood Madam and currently runs a macaw rescue in Nevada.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hollywood Madam: Want to stop human trafficking? Legalize consensual sex for money.