A big debate in the media these days is whether prostitution is, or should be, a legit profession. Witness two prior articles at New York ("Is Prostitution Just Another Job?") and the New York Times Magazine ("Should Prostitution Be a Crime?"). Now a piece at Vanity Fair suggests that, like it or not, this is no longer a fringe industry. "As the debate over whether the United States should decriminalize sex work intensifies, prostitution has quietly gone mainstream among many young people, seen as a viable option in an impossible economy and legitimized by a wave of feminism that interprets sexualization as empowering," writes Nancy Jo Sales. Typically, this involves a young woman striking up a financial arrangement with a rich man, married or not, through one of the slew of sites now catering to them. That's a huge factor in the phenomenon: Instead of a pimp, you need only a computer.
Some see the trend as a natural extension of the casual hookup culture on dating apps, or "disposable" sex, as one man quoted in the story puts it. One popular site, SeekingArrangement, connects "sugar babies" with "sugar daddies," and Sales interviews those who indulge. "I reject it when people say I'm oppressed by the patriarchy," says one, Miranda, who has encounters with a lawyer, an architect, and a tech guy in Austin. "People who make seven dollars an hour are oppressed by the patriarchy." The author also attends a party hosted by the site, noting two broad categories of men: the John McCain type, along with "jumbo-size Danny Devitos." But the best-looking one in the room, who works in tech, explains his rationale: "I work all the time, and I don't have time for a girlfriend." Click for the full piece, which also explores the dangers of the work and concerns about human trafficking. (Read more prostitution stories.)