Emily Bazelon and Josh Levin take readers' questions about prostitution.
Read more of Slate's coverage of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.
Slateeditors Emily Bazelon and Josh Levin were online at Washingtonpost.com on Thursday, March 13, to chat with readers about prostitution—the laws against it, the workings behind it, and the marketing of it—in the wake of the Eliot Spitzer scandal. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.
Josh Levin: Josh Levin here. Ready to answer some questions.
Washington: When one books a hooker for two hours, what goes on other than sex? Seriously—is there foreplay, conversation? I am trying to rid my mind of the image of Spitzer naked, in bed.
Josh Levin: There's a great piece on Slate now by the sociology professor Sudhir Venkatesh, who has done a lot of research on the sex trade in New York City. (No, not that kind of research.) He reports that 40 percent of the sex transactions in NYC don't go beyond kissing. A lot of guys just want someone to talk to, it seems. As Venkatesh writes, if you're paying $4,300, "That's one helluva conversation."
washingtonpost.com: Skinflint: Did Eliot Spitzer get caught because he didn't spend enough on prostitutes?(Slate, March 13)
Savage, Md.: If we could get past the hypocrisy about sex, would it not be a good idea to establish government- or state-regulated brothels so as to better protect the health and well-being of both buyers and sellers?
Emily Bazelon: Maybe yes, but maybe no. In Amsterdam, where brothers are legal, the red-light district is reportedly seedy and full of pickpockets. (Disclaimer: There's going to be lots of second-hand reporting in this chat.) The Dutch aren't shutting it down, but they've added restrictions. One question I have is about how widespread legalization and regulation would have to be to change the working conditions for prostitutes. If you legalize in one place (like Nevada) then doesn't everyone go there and turn it into a mess. Whereas if prostitution is legal throughout an entire country, or part of the world, wouldn't the ramifications be different, potentially?
Greencastle, Ind.: Wasn't it noted behavioral expert Charlie Sheen who once said he didn't pay women for sex, he paid women to leave?
Josh Levin: A classic quote from one of American's leading thinkers. I bet Eliot Spitzer is hoping his public image will one day rise to the level of Mr. Sheen, or better yet Hugh Grant.
Garland, Texas: According to Ms. MacKinnon, women always are victims because men are preditors. Men always force or lure women to having sex. I am sure she thinks that it is always men who are charged with indecent exposure. I wonder what she thinks of women who wear skinny clothes, which should be considered undergarments. How about see-through cloth without any undergarment? In my opinion, women lure men as well. Needless to say, prostitutes lure clients (men/women) all the time. This is their business. So, how is it fair for her to say that women always are victims and men always are preditors.
Emily Bazelon: I don't think that's a fair rendering of MacKinnon's views. Yes, she emphasizes the role that men play in buying porn and buying sex. And she uses strong words, like that women are being sold, to make you think about acts we often gloss over. But calling men to account, even harshly, isn't the same as condemning women for wearing revealing clothing. Yes, MacKinnon stresses that men are often predators, and she exhorts women to watch out, but it's not quite as black and white as you portray.
Claverack, N.Y.: The New York State GOP is trumpeting a new line: All Democrats must give back money donated to them by Spitzer, because it's ... er ... "tainted." Really? It's not like he's giving people money the prostitutes have touched themselves personally. If Spitzer had done something fundamentally corrupt rather than work-a-day lechery—yeah, okay, I could see that. But can anyone make a case that this taints every dollar of the Spitzer fortune, retroactively?
Emily Bazelon: I agree, that seems like the classic overplaying of a political hand. It's a testament to how tainted Spitzer's brand is, but that's got nothing to do with his money.
Washington: Are there any "organizations" that employ older women? Probably not. Do these places exist to fulfill fantasies for men who never got the girl in high school, and now are making up for lost time?
Josh Levin: I'm not familiar with any agencies that specialize in older women, but when it comes to the sex trade there's generally something for everyone on the World Wide Web. Your take seems spot-on based on the Emperors' Club website, though. All of the women are described as being in their early 20s, fresh-faced, full of youthful brio, etc.
Arlington, Va.: I don't buy the argument that every woman (and man) who sells sex for money is being exploited. Is it any different from selling any other kind of labor? Sure, an abusive pimp changes the calculation, but legalized prostitution can get rid of the pimps and better ensure the health and safety of prostitutes. Other than Nevada, have any other states ever come close to legalizing prostitution?
washingtonpost.com: Bill to close prostitution loophole(Providence Journal, March 13)
Emily Bazelon: I think that Rhode Island has legalized some acts of prostitution that take place indoors. (If I'm wrong about that, someone write in to correct me.) Here's my question: Assume you're right that selling sex for money isn't necessarily exploitation. After all, plenty of women come forward to say just that, and it seems a bit much to accuse them all of false consciousness. But would legalization really improve things for them? That's not the report from Amsterdam, where trafficking has increased. The most intriguing alternative I've heard about is Sweden's, where it's legal to sell sex but not to buy it, johns are actually arrested, and the level of prostitution in Stockholm has significantly fallen.
Did I miss this part?: When were Mark Bruener, aka "Michael," and Cecil Suwal aka "Katie," aka "Kate," actually arrested? Cecil seems to be a strange name for someone known as Kate. Is that a man or a woman?
Josh Levin: There does seem to be a fundamental gender disagreement here. But keep in mind that guys have pretended to be women (and vice-versa) since about four seconds after the Internet was invented. Like that famous New Yorker cartoon says, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a Cecil."
Anonymous: I don't want to be insulting, but how do people end up in this line of work? That's the part that scares me as a parent. I mean, the story of the woman working corners is pretty much generalized and understood, but this lady's story does not seem much different than that typical scenario, and she ends up as a $1,000-an-hour call girl. How do they recruit and find these ladies? This one seemed to know consciously what she was doing and referenced the need for money. Are model searches and escort searches code words of which I am not aware?
washingtonpost.com: Wiretaps, Rookie Hookers and Client No. 9(Post, March 13)
Emily Bazelon: I imagine that as with every line of work, there are multiple paths in. Because of the stigma involved (and I do think the stigma remains strong), some women fall into prostitution out of desperation. They're addicted to drugs or broke or depressed (a majority of prostitutes have been sexually abused, studies show), and they need money. I imagine, though, that other women might dip a toe into the sex trade more out of titillation or curiosity.
Burke, Va.: Any theories on how Spitzer got hooked up with QAT Enterprises (or whatever they're called) to begin with? Seems like there'd need to be an intermediary (unless he just stumbled across their Web site).
Emily Bazelon: I don't think we know the answer to that yet, but if I had to guess, I'd say he didn't have an intermediary. If he'd had help, he might not have chosen what seems like the riskiest way to buy sex in terms of getting caught—through an escort service rather than a top-price independent operator, to which he had to wire payments. Sudhir Venkatesh has a great piece in Slate today about the NY prostitution market that makes Spitzer's methodology seem sort of bumbling.
Josh Levin: Agree with Emily. My best guess is that he Googled the term "escort." Or perhaps he searched for "private club for those accustomed to excellence." (One of many instant-classic quotes from the Emperors' Club website.)
Start-Up Costs: How do these people start a prostitution ring? Creating a Web site would be cheap, but how are the girls recruited? Are there security costs? (If my computer is being bugged, I do not have the resources or inclination to be involved. I'm just curious.)
Emily Bazelon: It's a black market enterprise that runs according to the rules of the underground economy—lots of word of mouth, proving that you're worthy of trust, getting to know the people who can set you up with the supply you're looking for. This service didn't seem to have had any high-tech security that got in the way of the federal wiretap.
Credit Cards: Do Visa, Master Card or American Express do any background checks when a new business requests to use their service? I would think they would want to avoid being involved, except in Nevada where prostitution is legal. How about the bank where the money was deposited?
Emily Bazelon: It was the banks that caught Spitzer, or that alerted the feds to him. They noticed that he was making a bunch of deposits right up to the legal limit, and they flagged it for the IRS. The original investigation was for public corruption and bribery, not prostitution.
Doylestown, Pa.: Will "Emperor's Club VIP" T-shirts be this year's big Father's Day fad?
Josh Levin: Hot Topic has no doubt purchased hundreds of additional presses to accommodate this print run.
What should it say on the back of the shirt? "I paid $4,300 and all I got was this lousy T-shirt and extreme public humiliation."
The Fam: Eek! I feel so awful for Spitzer's wife and children—but I have to say, I do not understand this pervasive "stand by your man" schtick in politics. I am struggling to understand the motivation behind agreeing to stand up with your husband under such circumstances. It would be one thing if it were months later and the couple had time to talk, get therapy, decide if they were going to stick together, etc. Am I naive? Am I missing some obvious reason that this is the standard behavior of a politico's wife?
washingtonpost.com: The Silda Spitzer Lesson: Don't quit your day job(Slate, March 12)
Emily Bazelon: Anne Applebaum, a Washington Post columnist who is married to the defense minister of Poland, wrote a v. instructive post on Slate about this. She pointed out that if you stand up there once (or in Silda Spitzer's case, twice) then no that's it, and you don't have to explain yourself later. You say what you say to your husband in private. Personally, I don't think it's for me, and I couldn't have felt worse for Silda Spitzer, too. But I'm not sure she had any good choices.
Washington: Having been to Amsterdam last summer, in response to earlier comments: Not many of the women appeared to be Dutch (broad generalization, but it raised questions in my mind about human trafficking and women from poor countries with little to no economic opportunities), and not all of the women were in their early 20s. In Amsterdam, as on the Internet, there was someone for everyone.
Emily Bazelon: Yes, trafficking is a considerable problem there. Whereas in Sweden, where johns are prosecuted, trafficking has dropped off to v. small numbers. I wrote about this in Slate earlier in the week—here's the link.
TheCloudBoy: Given the caliber of clients they wished to attract, I can't believe the very poor copywriting on the Web site and how the whole thing read like something my friends and I would have cooked up in ninth grade as a joke. The whole "Marisha speaks nine languages and grew up in Russia before becoming an Esteemed Dancer" bit (paraphrased, but you know it was about that bad) had me laughing and rolling on the floor.
I mean, really people ... it's like a combination of horrible copywriting and grade school kids writing a James Bond movie script. How could a governor—and one must presume other leading businessmen—fall for this? I love the uppercase on some things they wished the place emphasis on too ... I hope each and every one of their clients is found out and hauled before a court of law to explain his actions, if not his very poor taste.
Josh Levin: Not sure I buy the logic that Spitzer's punishment should be worse because he went for a site that made a mockery of conventional sentence structure. But I certainly agree that it was strange how poorly written the Emperors' Club's promotional material was. I've always wondered the same thing about spam e-mail—wouldn't those penis enlargement pitches have a higher success rate if they read like they'd been written by a human being? Apparently the underground economy does not properly value the work of copyeditors.
Roseland, N.J.: Doesn't it disturb anyone else that this story is being used as a pivot to discuss how one goes about hiring a prostitute, how much one should expect to pay, what they'll do for the money? Is this doing the married women of America such a huge favor here? It's not like it's an integral part of reporting the story—it's just prurient interest (not that that isn't the very best kind of interest!)—and somehow everyone's been given license to stop being a political reporter and start pretending they're a hybrid Howard Stern/Dr. Drew.
Emily Bazelon: You're right, some of the coverage is inevitably prurient. (A low: The NY Observer story asking a bunch of women what THEY would do for Eliot Spitzer for $5,500.) But some of the explanations about how the sex trade works, and what the working conditions are like for women, have been entirely worth reading, I think. This is a part of the lives of some poor women, and I'm glad to be learning about it. I for one am not quite sure what I think about prostitution, and learning more facts about it is helping me make up my mind.
Washington: I cannot believe as a woman (not you, Josh) and as a descendant of one of the most beloved chief judges of the D.C. circuit, you are defending the right of women to open up their bodies for cash—but then again, you have a political reporter on the campaign trail who trashed his own mother in a book. Maybe at Slate, anything goes. Kind of sad.
Emily Bazelon: Well that's nice about my grandfather. Not fair about John Dickerson's book, though! He wrote about his mother with a great deal of love and compassion. Did you read it? As for me, I'm not sure I'm defending anything. I'm asking questions about which legal regime keeps women who sell sex safest. I'm still not sure of the answer.
Bonn, Germany: Most civilized countries tolerate prostitution; where it is forbidden, prostitution will go underground and come under the control of criminal elements. It was the same with prohibition in the 1920s, which made the Mafia into the power it is to this day. It is not true that all prostitutes are forced into the profession—the call girl who got Spitzer into trouble certainly did so under her own free will. Would it not make sense to legalize prostitution in the U.S., but punish those who force women into prostitution?
Emily Bazelon: I'm not sure Prohibition is the right analogy, but it's certainly ONE analogy. Punishing pimps, if that's why you mean by force women into prostitution, seems like an unalloyed good. The problem is making charges against them stick. They move around a lot, they use threats to make women fear testifying against them, etc. Law enforcement is not an easy job.
Richmond, Va.: I'm probably the opposite of a lot of people who wonder why it's still illegal—I wonder why it's still around. That world that thought of women as vessels and chattel is what should be gone, not the illegality. With swinging parties, craigslist and friends with benefits, no one has to pay for cheap sex anymore.
Josh Levin: It's possible that Spitzer paid for sex because he thought it would buy discretion—that he wouldn't have to worry about some friend with benefits blabbing to the tabloids. More likely is the theory that Ellen Tarlin put forward on Slate's XX Factor blog: "He didn't hire whores because he can't get laid for free. He hired whores because he gets off on hiring whores." (Please read the rest of Ellen's brilliant post for enlightening commentary on how all this relates to gerbils and twinkies.)
Detroit: Has prostitution as an occupation ever been generally accepted, or has it always been stigmatized?
Emily Bazelon: I think some particular forms of high-end prostitution, like the Japanese comfort women, have been accepted, to a degree. Have you ever seen the TV show Firefly? There's a character on it who is a "registered companion," and she pretty much personifies the beautiful, well-adjusted prostitute. The question is whether she's a fantasy, or such a tiny fraction of the whole as to be virtually irrelevant, for policy-making purposes.
Washington: Josh, could you share your experiences of when you were a male prostitute? Thanks!
Josh Levin: Come on, that's offensive. I was never a male prostitute. I only go by Josh in online chats. My real name is Katie.
I think that Rhode Island has legalized some acts of prostitution that take place indoors. (If I'm wrong bout that, someone write in to correct me.): You are wrong—I researched this a few months ago. They were using a sort of "no idling" vehicular law to stop prostitution, and the courts ruled they couldn't charge prostitutes and johns with that violation. Prostitution is still illegal, with no plans to change it. It is sorta like using tax laws to catch mobsters, it's just that one vehicular law that can't be used to cite prostitution.
Emily Bazelon: very helpful, thank you!
Detroit: Actually, Sweden is legally on the right track. In a study made in nine countries, interviewing more than 800 prostituted women and children, 89 percent directly reported (even when pimps were standing next to them) that most of all, they wanted to leave the industry, but couldn't. This answer was given regardless of whether their country (or jurisdiction) had legalized prostitution or not.
Prostitution and pornography increasingly are being recognized as violence and as sexually discriminatory practices, e.g. in international law. The majority of all prostituted persons—most of whom are women—whether on the street or in media, have been sexually abused or battered as children. Research in the U.S. shows that an average age of entry into the industry is around 14, when children hardly "freely" decide to carry out sexual services for—on average—2,000 adult men a year. Often the children are desperate and destitute without anywhere to go.
Studies in Canada show prostituted women have a life expectancy far below others. No wonder—among 55 prostituted persons in Portland, 84 percent had been exposed to aggravated assault, on average 103 times a year; 53 percent were sexually tortured on average more than once a week. Often pornography was made of the assaults.
Against the background of some Swedish procuring cases, these facts do not appear exaggerated. The Swedish law against purchase of sexual services moves in the right direction, but it does not recognize or compensate the victims for the harms of prostitution. A civil remedy for prostituted persons to claim damages from sex buyers or procurers would empower those who need empowerment.
Emily Bazelon: Yes, I've read these facts elsewhere. And a Swedish grad student told me on Monday about the civil remedy idea. It's intriguing; on the other hand, the incentives it sets up seem weird. You let a man solicit you for sex, and then you say hey, I'm suing you? That seems like an incentive for women luring men and then turning on them, no?
Josh Levin: Tenuously related to Emily's answer about Japanese comfort women, a couple of smart readers pointed out to me that the language on the Emperors' Club website is similar to that of Memoirs of a Geisha—the focus on the education of the women, the concept of paying a "buyout" to the manager if you enter into a personal relationship with a prostitute, etc.
Boston: For me at least, the discussion of the sex trade that this case has generated has been extremely helpful. Any discussion I previously have seen seemed to go one of two ways—either the hookers-on-the-street "all women are victomized and it definitely should be illegal" viewpoint, or the post-feminist empowered sex worker saying "I'm here because I choose to be, there's nothing inherently dirty or bad about women's sexuality—and I'm making a good living, too."
Now we're having to look at the middle ground, and take a look at how other countries in the world actually make prostitution laws work (and while the first argument is too extreme for me, the second one didn't seem to be grounded in reality). Thanks, Emily, as well for your (and the rest of the ladies') commentaries on Slate's XX Factor; it's become my favorite source of news commentary!
Emily Bazelon: I agree, and hey that's great that you're enjoying XX Factor! We have a lot of fun doing it. Especially in weeks like these.
Denver: In this case these seem to be women, but from what I understand, the average age one enters prostitution nationwide is 14; this, combined with relatively low life-expectancy and the chances of getting caught and put in prison, leads me to believe that most prostitutes are actually teenage girls, and even many who are women may have been trapped in this life when they were girls.
That aspect of it bothers me greatly. I wonder if making it legal at least could ensure that it is women, not girls, doing this. On the other hand, I also wonder why in the current legal state, more men are not harshly prosecuted in their role in this as johns, when not only are they soliciting, they also often are committing statutory rape.
Emily Bazelon: There will always be a black market for teenage girls, but you may be right that legalization and regulation could reduce their numbers. On the other hand, legalization could create other problems. I agree that arresting johns seems like a smart way to dry up demand, as the Swedish example demonstrates.
Rockville, Md.: For $1,000 or more an hour, couldn't "the Emperor's Club VIP" come up with a better name and some classier copy? The bad grammar and inept flattery (I mean, what kind of cheeseball wants to join "The Emperor's Club"?) would put me right off. Granted, I'm female, but still, won't someone think of the poor consumer who has to read this eyeball-burning schlock?
Josh Levin: I think this is one business where the name probably isn't that important when it comes to making a sale. Anyway, perhaps we're not giving the proprietors enough credit for the subtle reference to the Emperor's New Clothes.
College Park, Md.: Has anyone ever done a study of women long after their prostitute careers are over? I wonder how they feel about the work in retrospect—the better paid prostitutes, in particular, not the street prostitutes who one would assume were doing whatever they could to get by. Part of me figures, fine, prostitution should be legalized—surely women can decide for themselves if they're cut out for the job. But my friends and I tend to be of the opinion that the work sounds just too icky, and none of us could do it, ever.
Emily Bazelon: That is such a great question and I wish I knew the answer. There have been studies of prostitutes' mortality rates, the rate of sexual abuse, and a couple of recent ones by economists looking at average pay and instances of physical abuse. But I think you're asking a broader question—how do these women feel about the work they did after it's over, and they look back. If the studies suggesting that the vast majority of women wish they could leave the trade are any indication, a lot of women probably look back with regret and sadness. But as always in life, not all of them, and it would be really interesting to read well-conducted studies that try to take that measure.
Atlanta: Just an obsevation, really: I must hang around some shady characters, because the questions here strike me as puritanical, naive and humorous. How does a woman "choose" this line of work? She tries other jobs and realizes she could make as much money if not more doing "this" in less than the typical 40-hour work week. The women I've known who've done this have no qualms about why they made that choice. It's not for everyone—and no, I'm not talking about victims of abuse. It takes a certain mindset and personality.
Emily Bazelon: Yes, prostitutes don't work a 40 hour work week, and yes, for some women the sex trade could be a rational line of work. It's risky—there's a high rate of violence, you depend on your clients for cash-based payments if you collect your own money. But other work could look worse, in some circumstances.
Washington: I don't know what your research and discussions have developed, but I believe that it's not entirely uncommon for younger women to work as call girls. I went to college and lived in an undergraduate dormitory in New York until I moved back to Washington three years ago, and it was almost an open fact that several of my dormmates worked (a few with some frequency) for a service which seemed not dissimilar to the agency implicated in the Spitzer scandal.
My dormmates (I discussed this extensively with one of them) seemed truly unconcerned by the potential medical, violence and ultimately blackmail risks to which they might be exposed. Honestly, I was stunned by this more than anything else. I since have learned that there may have been at least a half-dozen people in my 200-plus student dorm who may have worked for the same two agencies. Have you found that this somehow is gaining social acceptance? What really astounds me more than anything else is voluntarily undertaking the blackmail exposure. I really would value your comments.
Josh Levin: Not sure it speaks to the rising social acceptance of prostitution, but that's a pretty alarming percentage of prostitution in your college dorm. In his Slate piece I referenced earlier, Sudhir Vinkatesh makes some interesting points about the diffence between the growing class of "indoor" sex workers and the stereotypical streetwalker. "In the past, sex workers tended to view their role as part-time 'survivors'—selling sex to keep up a drug habit, to pay rent, or to eke out a living until something better came along," he writes. "Pushed indoors, some became 'careerist.' They were professionals offering a legitimate service, like nursing or counseling; they looked at their work as partly therapeutic."
Washington: How has legalization worked out in Nevada? I have to wonder if that situation may better represent the potential reality of legalization in the U.S. than does Sweden...
Emily Bazelon: Except that Nevada is one island of legalization in a sea of bans. So of course demand is high there—it's where people go to buy sex without fear of arrest.
Re: "He hired whores because...": That is an excellent point, and one reason I'll never think it's okay, even if a woman tells me she's okay with being a whore—that whole aspect of the subservience/servant role as opposed to a willing partner, even if only for an hour, or 15 minutes. Someone who enjoys treating their sexual partners like livestock bothers me.
Josh Levin: Well said.
Washington: I hope this isn't a stupid question, but doesn't some sex actually have to take place for it to constitute prostitution? If the expert you quote is right that 40 percent of the men don't have sex, why couldn't someone in Spitzer's dilemma say "well I just wanted someone to talk to" (not to say that would fly with his wife, but it might work against criminal charges).
Emily Bazelon: Not a stupid question. The Mann Act, which is one of the options for prosecuting Spitzer (though usually it's only used for going after pimps) makes it a crime to induce someone to cross state lines for the purpose of prostitution. That seems like it would be pretty easy to prove in this case. Mostly, though, I don't think Spitzer wants this to go to court and turn on what he and Kristen/Ashley actually did.
curiousgemini: Prostitution cannot be defended on moral grounds; neither can getting drunk every night, having sex with a new person every week, and other activities which are legal but might strike many people as immoral and reckless. Some people find guns immoral. Does that mean we should ban all guns? Do the members of PETA have the right to ban eating meat? Indeed, it's perfectly legal for a person to have unprotected sex with an unlimited number of people. Yet if so much as a cent exchanges hands, that person has committed a crime!
Outlawing a vice is not the only way to discourage it—tobacco, for instance, is legal, but we tax and regulate the hell out of it. Legalize prostitution, but get rid of the pimps, ban street-walking, tax it a lot, and require prostitutes to get checked for sexual diseases every month and educate them in safer sex practices. At the same time, the government could encourage women (and men) to find another line of work.
Emily Bazelon: True. For me the interesting question is how we decide to structure our hierarchy of vices. Alcohol, legal. Marijana, not. Unlimited unprotected sex for free, legal. Buying sex once, not. At the same time, I'm not sure how much the comparisons matter, in the end, or whether legalizing prostitution would have the effects you lay out.
Re: Geisha: Even in their heyday, they were still "working girls" who were valued for their beauty and put on pedestles, but still of the streets. Good upstanding people didn't talk to them in the streets and good families didn't let their girls do it; it was poor families who literally sold their girls to the houses. As much as a man claimed to love a geisha and support her financially, he'd never marry her. She's still, at the end of the day, a prostitute—there for fun, but not for marrying.
Josh Levin: That's right. Your point here reminds me of the section of the criminal complaint against the Emperors' Club wherein "Kristen" (Ashley Dupre) describes her interaction with "Client 9" (Spitzer): "I'm here for a purpose. I know what my purpose is. I am not a . . . moron, you know what I mean."
On legalizing prostitution: Consider this: Is prostitution a profession to which you aspire to? Is it one that school counselors should explore as a career choice? Would you want it for your daughter? Just a moment ago someone called Josh a prostitute, and he immediately found it offensive. I'm just sayin'...
Emily Bazelon: Nope, I don't aspire to it, and I don't imagine a lot of people do. But to me the key question is what laws will create the best working conditions for prostitutes, not which laws will shame people.
Emily Bazelon: Hey Everyone, thank you very much for writing in. Josh and I enjoyed your smart questions.
Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon edits the "Medical Examiner" and "Jurisprudence" columns and writes about law and family. Before joining Slate, she worked as an editor and writer at Legal Affairs magazine and as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Associate editor Josh Levin edits the sports and technology sections of Slate. Before that, he wrote for the Washington City Paper.