Prostitution, whatever the scale, is always sordid

16:00, Jan 25 2012

Men are weird, and also lazy. That is why we have prostitution. Seduction can take weeks, you see, and cost several restaurant meals, whereas the preamble to having it off with a prostitute need only take minutes.

I remember seeing the hookers in Sydney's King's Cross for the first time. At a second glance you saw the needle marks in their arms, and their dirty feet with broken toenails. Yet they were busy plying their trade, and the men who used them didn't give a damn about their dead eyes. It gave me a lasting, unpleasant impression of the men who use such women, and how they probably feel about women in general. A recent article about the trade here assured us that the line of work is hunky-dory, and female students (brains are always a selling point with these stories) are earning megabucks to pay for their degrees. Her father, one young part-timer was quoted as saying, was not at all alarmed when she told him what she was up to. I wonder what her mother said. Sex workers lament that there's still a stigma attached to this work.

There is a reason for that. When people talk about feeling prostituted in their line of work they tend to mean they have to repress the better hopes they have for themselves, and any real talent, to earn a buck at something they rather hate. To be blunt, surely nothing could be quite as soul-destroying as performing fellatio for a living. One Wellington madam was quoted as saying, "Your daughter working as a sex worker is not what you want for her, and that will take a while to change." Indeed. The day when mothers hand their daughters over cheerily to brothel keepers will be the day when we've sunk well and truly into Third-World status, and desperate poverty. Just think of the glamour of it in Thailand, or the former Soviet Union. I've seen desperate young Russian women in Berlin, too, touting for trade half-naked in the cold because their world had been turned upside-down by politics. They didn't look at all thrilled about it. But men never seem to mind that.

Then there's prostitution of a national kind, when you sell residency to foreigners for large sums of money.

I am enthralled by the big police bust north of Auckland of internet millionaire Kim Dotcom accused of piracy, racketeering and money-laundering. The plotline to date reads like a trashy novel, what with the FBI being involved, the panic room in his $30 million rented mansion, the eighteen luxury cars, and licence plates wittily reading POLICE, STONED, GUILTY and MAFIA. The FBI, who led the crackdown against Dotcom and others, claims their websites generated more than $218m in criminal proceeds, and $623m in lost revenue from pirated films and other content.

The chubby Mr Dotcom, lover of the high life, is German, and had previously been convicted of insider trader and computer hacking. He was granted residency last year under the Government's Investor Plus category, which requires applicants to invest $10m for three years. Only time will uncover the full effects of letting foreigners in here so long as they can throw money around - unless we're selling the unique attraction of being a bolt hole thousands of miles from anywhere for people to whom that holds much appeal.

As for paid sex, the more usual trade, I am much taken by this week's report of a woman in Auckland who, on the internet, enticed men to her home, where she and her boyfriend waited with weapons, intending robbery.

When they were caught, police reported that among the stolen goods recovered was - excuse my laughter -  a charm bracelet.