Ron Paul is a crazy, little gremlin who says increasingly nonsensical things the longer you let him talk, but like Sigmund Freud he's rather incisive in the early going. Recently he became the first nationally recognized politician to actually promote a grown-up, reasonable argument for the legalization of not just marijuana, but all illicit drugs. The gist of his position is that legalizing something won't suddenly and inexplicably make a large number of people do it. The people who would do legal heroin, Paul reasons, overlap considerably with the people who would do illegal heroin. Likewise, the people who choose not to do heroin today likely avoid it for reasons other than its legality. This argument can easily extend to the topic of prostitution in America. If the Internet has taught us anything, it's that the world's oldest profession is alive and well in the most modern technology we have. It's not going away and it's not getting any "better". Prostitution in the United States is as creepy and unpleasant as it's always been, precisely because it's illegal. Taking some time off my usual method of ragging on craigslist for being the center of shameless human trafficking on the Internet, I decided to turn my attention to the more bold but also more pathetic RubMaps.
RubMaps is, rather plainly, a review site for massage parlors that ostensibly provide sexual services. Their tagline is, after all, "find your happy ending". Unlike the usual, half-assed obfuscation of prostitution content on the Internet, RubMaps just comes out and says what it is. It's not illegal, strictly speaking, to talk about paying for sexual services at a massage parlor because you're not technically advertising those services, at least not directly. At worst, RubMaps could be charged with libel, as it's plainly stating that certain establishments, or possibly just certain employees within those establishments, commit illegal acts.
But the mere topic of prostitution isn't what makes RubMaps horrible. Remove the criminal and the immoral aspects from it, there's nothing inherently ugly about what basically amounts to a Yelp clone for sexual services. If the people who run and participate in RubMaps were respectable about it, it wouldn't even be worth mentioning. They aren't respectable, though. They're the same skeezy jerks who give all johns a bad rap. There's been enough progress in the sex-positive movement to promote the idea of the decent, mature prostitution customer, the guy who is as respectful of his whore as he is of his barber, but that fellow is still very much in the shadows.
No, the folks who maintain and use RubMaps tend to fall on the abhorrent side of the john spectrum. That's what you get when your website formalizes referencing a woman's pubic hair as her "kitty" and you practically beg your users to type out their almost certainly fictional "experiences" in the review. In the end, it's a childish and off-putting exercise that puts a fine point on the silliness of the clandestine sex work culture of our society. As always, pushing something to the shadows only makes it the purview of those who lurk there by default.
Amount of Time Likely to Be Wasted: I'll give this one a half hour. The initial shock and amusement of the format is worth five or ten minutes, but the customer reviews and precipitous arguments in the comments are worth a longer stay.
Likelihood to Result in Arrest in Real Life: High. Something tells me that cops keep info like this stockpiled in case they get bored and just wanna arrest somebody who won't fight back.
MCDR: Check out the Sex Workers' Project website to get fuel for a reasonable discussion about prostitution.
Internet Depth by Preposition: In. RubMaps needs brick-and-mortar businesses in order to function, but it couldn't exist outside the Internet, at least not for very long.