Although it’s easily explained by evolutionary psychology it continues to sadden me that the most vociferous opponents of female sex-workers are other women. Time after time, when independent studies show that decriminalizing sex work results in less crime, less victimization, lower rates of STDs, etc. etc. it is women who persistently vote against decriminalization. This is because, from an evolutionary psychology perspective, women are in constant competition with other women for resources. A sex worker is a potential threat: a woman who may attract a man’s resources that his female partner unconsciously wishes to monopolize. Even when there’s a relative abundance of resources the impulse remains constant.
Furthermore, as a great many people aren’t actually very interesting in bed nor have much sexual appetite, a sex worker represents an existential threat as well. It is less easy to withhold (relatively low quality) sex as part of the power struggle between partners if there’s a superior alternative that is readily available. So comfortable secure women will continue to block attempts to deal with sex work in a more rational and beneficial manner because it’s in their interests to do so, and all the better if they can dress up what are fundamentally selfish motives in the garb of “feminine solidarity and concern to stop women being exploited.”
Ironically all studies to date show that decriminalizing sex work reduces trafficking and exploitation, but when have facts and reason ever had any impact on public policy? Emotion and empty sound-bites are far more persuasive.
I don’t see any way past this impasse, unfortunately, but it is heartening to read a sensible article like yours and hope that perhaps, just perhaps, it may influence a few people to think about the matter more coherently instead of merely indulging in knee-jerk sound-bite reactions.