Sex For Sale Ads Unlikely to Be Policed by Magazines Which Accept Them
This is a tough one. We were fully loaded to tear Lenore Skenazy's smile off her face for an article she just wrote in Advertising Age condemning publications that accept escort service ads that straddle the legal/illegal line but this isn't a black and white issue so we can't. On one hand, if these ads weren't accepted, the businesses behind them would exist anyway but would likely be even less upstanding (a bad thing) then they already are because, let's face it, sex is a powerful need and one that will never go away. On the other hand, if publications do accept the ads then, perhaps, the businesses are in the public eye a bit more and under its scrutiny (a good thing) for their debatable practices and, one would hope, more receptive to maintaining a positive image.
In either case, the girls that work for these companies are recruited under nefarious (another bad thing) circumstances and forced to perform sex when they otherwise might choose not to. Might public vigilance do more to help here than to ignore it completely? It's a conundrum.
If publications refused to accept ads of this nature, would the activity they promote cease to exist? Absolutely not. At the most basic level, men - and it is almost exclusively men - seem to need sex or else their heads (the big one) explode. They'll do anything to get it and have been doing so since eighth grade. From a moral perspective, it's disgusting. From an innately human perspective, it's hard wired into the survivalist nature of the species. And it has to be that way because if, back in the day, cavemen were to grunt, "not tonight honey, I have to go club a seal" as opposed to "bend over, I have an urge which needs tending," none of us would be here to debate the issue.
Certainly it's wrong for any form of sex to be non-consensual. Certainly money passing hands does not truly equal consent but rather a business agreement and sex should be the furthest thing from a business agreement. Though to ask publications to police the prostitution industry is a very large request. Morally, sure, they shouldn't accept the ads but business is not a place where morals are placed very highly.
Like any market, companies go where the money is. Sex is a primary human need. People are willing to pay to get it. People are willing to accept money to give it. Neither makes it right but it is what it is and it's never going to change. From birth, we've always been told to atone for our sins. Commit one, apologize and all is forgiven. Perhaps publications which accept these ads should be required to carry the disclaimer, "We apologize for the immoral sin of accepting money for this ad but we're not the morality police." A cop out? For sure. If anyone has a workable solution to this conundrum, feel free to share it.