January 31st, 2005

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08:54 pm - on whoring... the cure for our unemployment woes...
I heard about this earlier on zephyr and then cuddlyd00m posted about it. I commented briefly in his journal, but I figured it was worth addressing here.

So there's a news story about a woman in Germany losing her unemployment because she refused to take a job as a legal prostitute. The immediate reaction of course is "how horrible that they expect this woman to sell her body like that." Others (like cuddlyd00m - not to pick on him) might look at is as a problem with social welfare programs.

I think these are Red Herrings though. The problem does not lie with whether or not prostitution should be illegal. Similarly, its not so much an aspect of whether or not welfare makes sense, because the question isn't whether or not handouts should be given its the qualification for stopping those handouts.

I've spent a lot of time being unemployed over the last couple of years. And honestly I only took several jobs (including my current one) because I had to. Some of those jobs really sucked. Some have worked out better than others. And I was really pretty lucky, because I was never really forced into something that I found absolutely reprehensible. Actually, I did come close when a client asked me to do something immoral and questionably illegal, I refused and had my contract terminated at my request. But I was at least able to stay more or less in the career that I was already in. Though not totally. As I've pointed out before, if I could help it, I'd never be a software engineer or computer programmer. I've been doing it because I don't have a choice.

thwomp pointed out that this should be special. Being forced to be a prostitute is different than being forced to be a waitress. But I don't think that's really the case. I mean, sure I understand where she's coming from. Being forced to have sex is different than serving food, but the law can't be used to make value judgments like that. In order to work, the law needs to be cold and logical. If prostitution is to be legalized and treated like any other profession, it must be treated like any other profession. As I understand the law in PA, had an interaction design job become available and offered to me producing the web site for the KKK, I would have been forced to take it. The Klan isn't doing anything illegal. And American law (I don't know the nuances of German law) doesn't even consider it to be doing anything inherently wrong. Should the military be able to force enlistment from the unemployment pool? Should pharmaceutical testing companies like NOVUM be able to force the jobless to become guinea pigs?

As for the issue of welfare and unemployment subsidies, that's a little hairier, but I think its still orthogonal. This woman's problems are not caused by the existence of government assistance, but instead by the regulations regarding disqualification from said services. I for one don't think that the government should be able to force a person to take a job they don't want. I understand the fear that without motivation lazy ass niggers will sit around and collect welfare checks to feed their 18 illegitimate children and buy the weed, and that may be true, but forced employment doesn't seem to be the answer. I don't know the answer. But I do know that I grew up on welfare eating government cheese. I also know that I spent a large portion of 2003 and 2004 collecting unemployment checks. And I furthermore know that both of those situations completely fucking sucked, and there wasn't a single day in either of those periods where I (or my mother when I was younger) wasn't working my ass off trying to find a way out. When you're unemployed you hear a lot of people say stuff like "a job is a job" or "none of them are beneath you" or "there's nothing wrong with an honest days work." Well you know what, fuck you. It has nothing to do with whether I'm collecting unemployment or welfare or food stamps or whatever. No matter how poor I get, and no matter how much garbage I have to eat, I'll be Jay-Zdamned if I'm going to stand in the fields picking cotton in Mississippi. A job is not a job. This woman didn't want to be a prostitute. Her unemployment status had nothing to do with it.

Now on the other hand if you want to chastise the woman for turning down a job where she got to legally lay in bed and fuck all day, well, then be my guest. Hell, if someone wants to give me say $50K a year plus benefits and a decent 401K to be a man-whore then I'll quit my job tomorrow. Willing to relocate for a decent signing bonus and stock options. References available upon request.

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on whoring... the cure for our unemployment woes... - graffiti.maverick — LiveJournal

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[User Picture]From: mamarayne Date: January 31st, 2005 - 06:05 pm (Link)
Very interesting topic. One I hadn't considered... well, I guess actually I had. When I was on unemployment I was terrified that they were going to tell me to settle for a job as a telemarketer (lots of those jobs in Vegas). Hell, in my opinion, prostitution may have been preferable. Probably more profitable too.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 31st, 2005 - 06:32 pm (Link)
I've never really done telemarketing. I just know that everyone says its awful. I mean, it doesn't really sound all that bad. It doesn't sound fun, mind you. But assuming you don't get paid by commission, what's the awful part about it? I mean, sure you'll probably burn in a special place in Hell. But other than that, isn't it just being paid to annoy people? How's that different from most other jobs?
[User Picture]From: mamarayne Date: January 31st, 2005 - 06:50 pm (Link)
Ah, but that's the rub. Those jobs are commissioned. The also have tough quotas; that's why they are so agressive, rude, obnoxious and unethical. I have my personal evils, but I couldn't stoop to that.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 31st, 2005 - 09:06 pm (Link)
hmmm... I expect that wouldn't be acceptable under PA law. Here, you can work when you're on unemployment, and in fact, you are required to if you can, but your UC check is reduced based on how much money you make. If you work enough, you make nothing on unemployment. So I'm thinking that if you worked telemarketing and did nothing, they'd not pay you but UC would. If you do well at telemarketing, then UC pays you nothing.

Of course, either way... special plane of hell.
[User Picture]From: marmal8 Date: January 31st, 2005 - 06:24 pm (Link)
You raise an interesting point - does man-whoring have equal legal status in Germany as woman-whoring? Can men be forced to take jobs servicing other men even if they are not gay? What about lesbians? Do German whores have the right to refuse service to those they do not wish to service?

Wow, this is a fertile topic. Pun intended.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 31st, 2005 - 06:34 pm (Link)
I actually wondered about that. The article specifically says "under german law, a woman who has been unemployed for more than a year." To me, that implies that the rules are different for men.

I also don't know if male prostitution is even legal in Germany. If I recall correctly, its not legal in Nevada. This also seems wrong to me, but as I said above, the legality of prostitution is a side issue.
[User Picture]From: marmal8 Date: January 31st, 2005 - 07:24 pm (Link)
So, if I find myself unemployed in Germany, I shall just zip over to Switzerland and get a penis so I shall not have to accept a job as a whore.

As long as the gender reassignment surgery is covered under a socialized health care plan.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 31st, 2005 - 09:07 pm (Link)
hmmm... yeah, that makes sense. ;-)
From: raia Date: January 31st, 2005 - 07:17 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 31st, 2005 - 09:15 pm (Link)
the thing is, its not about your standard of living. The woman was an IT person but she said she was willing to be a waitress. Its about the fact that she didn't want to do a specific job. My argument is that her reasoning shouldn't be relevant. Again, I'll grant that I don't know the specifics of German law.

As I said, there are certain jobs that I'd rather he dirt poor and starving than work. It so happens that in my case prostitution is not one of them. But if I were required to lose my compensation because I took a moral stand against say, advertising for the Klan (which was my example) you can be damn sure that I'd raise one hell of a legal case against them. Again, not knowing as much about Germany, but here, such lawyers are pretty readily available through the ACLU, working pro-bono or working for a percentage of the settlement. I'd expect its similar there. I don't think the fact that she's seeking legal restitution is unjustified or at all relevant to whether or not she could find a job. Its been 2.5 years since I was laid off, and I still haven't found a job doing what I want to be doing. I deal with it. Settling is one thing, compromising oneself is another.
[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: January 31st, 2005 - 08:04 pm (Link)
Others (like cuddlyd00m - not to pick on him) might look at is as a problem with social welfare programs.

Well, that's a rather simplistic idea of my views. I do have a problem with Germany's welfare program. But even more, I have a problem with the moral collapse of an entire nation. The reason that the woman in question was put into that position was because of her previous job - as a waitress. The German government sees no difference between a brothel and a bar, so she was obviously qualified for the job. Similar things have happened to unemployed telemarketers being forced into phone-sex jobs - because there's no difference.

What if she's a married woman? What if she's a lesbian? What if she's taken a vow of chastity? There are all kinds of reasons something like this should never have come up. I understand if _you_ don't have a problem with being a prostitute, but there are plenty of people who do. The act of pushing someone into having sex when they don't want to has a name. It's rape - and that's NOT a victimless crime.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 31st, 2005 - 09:29 pm (Link)
I hope you didn't think I was being offensive, I wasn't trying to shortchange your views. On the contrary, I actually agree with at the very least the point you're trying to make here.

My point is that your argument has nothing to do with prostitution or welfare. You said it quite plainly here. Your argument has to do with rape. The reason prostitution is called a victimless crime is that when a sting occurs, they arrest both the hooker and the john. Both parties are criminals, there are no victims. Some might argue that the families are victims or the community, but that doesn't count. They're not victims, they're collateral damage. There are many things that are not crimes wherein the family or community suffers similar fates (say, alcoholism for instance, or teen pregnancy, or cancer, or simply being an asshole). In your example however you aren't talking about a willing hooker selling to a willing john. You are talking about a woman being forced to sell to a john. And yes, I would agree that constitutes rape. In our current legal system, if that occured the john would be arrested, as would the pimp. The hooker/rape victim would not be, as she is definitely the wronged party.

My point however is that the fact that its sex that is being sold is the red herring. To take your example, I'd say its just as wrong to force her into phone sex. Maybe she's married and her religion considers it adulterous. But moreso, would you force a strict vegan to work in a burger king or a meat packing plant? Would you force an Arab American man to join the army fighting in Iraq where he might very well be forced to take arms against his own family? Would you force someone afraid of heights to become a skyscraper window washer? Its true, I don't personally have a problem with prostitution, but that's orthogonal to the issue, because it runs deeper than rape. Being forced to work any job against your will, sexual or not, is a mark of slavery. That is where the problem comes into view.
[User Picture]From: vixendarkfairy Date: January 31st, 2005 - 10:44 pm (Link)
"Being forced to work any job against your will, sexual or not, is a mark of slavery."

Well-said. It's shocking they are forcing German women into sexual slavery. Historically reactionary, IMHO...
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: February 1st, 2005 - 06:34 am (Link)
thanx. You hadn't commented in a while. I didn't even know if you were still reading.
[User Picture]From: vixendarkfairy Date: February 1st, 2005 - 09:44 am (Link)
Admittedly, I was not. I had very little time to be online at all through the holiday season, and I spent it playing World of Warcraft. Then I had friends from Boston here for 3 weeks, and one of them used my PC constantly. I only got back to LJ a few days ago. Forgot how much I missed it!
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: February 1st, 2005 - 10:19 am (Link)
yeah, I saw you had posted for the first time in ages. Welcome back!

Now go back a couple of posts of mine and tell me where the name vixendarkfairy came from. :-)
[User Picture]From: stuntviolist Date: February 1st, 2005 - 12:06 am (Link)
I'm sorry, but this has all the markings of an urban legend. It's just so silly that it has to be true.

According to the "World Sex Guide":
Prostitution is legal but does not yet have the status of a regular profession (health care, unemployment benefits, collective bargaining etc). Prostitutes do have to pay taxes though. Communities can and do forbid prostitution in certain areas and/or at certain times of the day.

This seems to imply that prostitution could not be forced upon someone for unemployment reasons. Besides she could just move to a locality that banned it. All EU citizens have freedom of movement.

As far as I can see there are no reports of this in the mainstream press (which would be all over it) the German press, the Swedish press, the Norwegian press or the Spanish-language press.
[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: February 1st, 2005 - 01:05 am (Link)
I'm sorry, but this has all the markings of an urban legend.

In my original post on the subject (which helped spark Mav's rant) I mentioned that it sounded like one to me, too. Having done some net research, I can't find anything other than the story put out by a London newspaper. British newspapers are notoriously bad about publishing utter crap, so this may all be nothing. I can't find anything saying it's wrong, though, so I suppose we'll just have to wait for Snopes to pick up on it.

Still, it is generating interesting discussion.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: February 1st, 2005 - 06:39 am (Link)
I actually did do a google news search before I posted and turned up a few more papers, but I realize that they could all have just gotten the story off a wire report and so that still doesn't mean anything.

As you said however, I was much more interested in generating interesting discussion than anything else.
[User Picture]From: stuntviolist Date: February 1st, 2005 - 09:48 am (Link)
I agree that it's interesting discussion, I guess I'm a little hyped up on the "urban legend" stuff right now because people keep repeating them to me as if they are fact.

I totally agree that someone should not be forced into a job they do not want. In fact, I thought that in PA you could refuse a certain number of jobs before your unemployment benefits would be affected. I may be incorrect though. My only experience with unemployment was when I was cut down to part time hours for two months several years ago.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: February 1st, 2005 - 10:26 am (Link)
If I understand it and remember correctly, you're expected to accept jobs in your field that pays at least 80% of your former salary, or something like that. If you turn down jobs, then the Unemployment office reviews it to see if you're reason is good enough.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: February 1st, 2005 - 06:37 am (Link)
yeah, it might very well be an urban legend. Who knows. It didn't really mater that much though, as I was more interesting in the ranting than I was in the particulars of what spawned it.

As for moving, I also consider that to not be a good solution. You can always move. You shouldn't necessarilly have to, though.
From: dcalle Date: February 3rd, 2005 - 09:25 am (Link)
This is most certainly not rape - we are misusing the term "forced". If the story is true, they are not threatening her with a gun or even imprisonment, they're just not sending her a check.

I have been laid off, and I have accepted unemployment checks, and I have slung hay bales on a farm for extra cash. I would not work as a prostitute because that would break my marriage commitments, but I wouldn't equate not receiving checks as being forced to become a prostitute.

Under VA law, the money I received during unemployment was part of my unemployment insurance - a plan that I have paid far more into than I received. Also, at the end of the year, that money was deducted from my tax return anyway. So, given that it's my money in the first place, I probably would have had something to say about it if the money was withheld because I didn't do something because I thought it was unreasonable.

I'd imagine that the German law wouldn't require a paraplegic to take a job as a lumberjack, so it just sounds like they might want to add a few more conditions so that this situation doesn't arise again.

Personally, I think unemployment insurance shouldn't be compulsory anyway - then you'd have your choice of unemployment insurance company (or none at all...how are your savings and/or your dumpster-diving skills?) and you could make sure you read their fine-print before sending them a dime.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: February 4th, 2005 - 08:51 am (Link)
So, I agree that withholding funds is not the same as holding someone at gunpoint. If the story is true, then you are correct, this would not be rape in the legal sense. My problem with it is more an ethical issue with how the law is set up. If there is to be mandatory payment into an insurance plan for unemployment (and we don't know that that's how the German system works, but it is how the PA and VA systems work), then I would like for the recipient of benefits to have more of a say in the conditions that terminate said coverage. This is obviously tricky. If I break my leg, I don't really have the option to mandate that the insurance company only fix my leg through herbal therapy. However, I do have some amount of control over my care. I can pick my doctor for instance (from an approved list). If I am laid off of my job as a computer programmer, I should (at least in my world view) be able to reject a job as a lumberjack or a prostitute without affecting by benefits despite the fact that I have working limbs and a working penis. That doesn't seem to be the way that any of the systems are set up.

I will grant that this yield the problem of people milking the system. If benefits are unlimited, then I could be laid off and just never work again. However I submit that this wouldn't happen as often as some might worry. First of all benefits are not indefinite. Sooner or later, I will exhaust my alotted funds, and then I'm on my own. Secondly, the checks that I received under unemployment were much less than I could have made working. Just under half, in fact. That kind of sucked, so honestly, I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible.

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