Austin, TX - Thousands of angry prostitutes descended on the state capital building in Austin, Texas yesterday, decrying unfair competition and calling on legislators to enact stricter regulations on sexual activity in the state. Organizers chanted slogans and mounted the capital steps, where they were met with open arms by several smiling legislators.
"It's getting harder and harder to make a living out there," complained one woman, identifying herself only as "Candy." "Most of these girls have children to feed. The legislature is morally obligated to do something."
The problem, according to Dr. Nicholas Cater, a University of Texas economist who lists sex as one of his research interests, is that sex industry professionals (or SIPs, as prostitutes prefer to be called) have not been able to respond to a changing marketplace.
"In the golden age of prostitution, SIPs had a competitive advantage because the average woman demanded a lifetime of love and support in exchange for physical intimacy. SIPs found a way to greatly undercut the going market price and, in so doing, carved out a huge market share for themselves."
But times have changed. Industry analyst Sally Funkle, citing a study done last year in Lubbock, Texas, said it is clear that American SIPs cannot compete in the current marketplace.
Said Funkle, "Our study showed that a single sorority house at Texas Tech University was responsible for $25 million in losses to Lubbock area SIPs last year. These figures reveal an industry in crisis."
But for Nick Cater, it is not so much an industry in crisis as an industry in transition. "In modern economies, either you adapt, or you die. If someone finds a way to provide a product or service for a cheaper price, you had better find a way to cut your own costs as well if you want to stay competitive. We see it in every industry."
But such arguments only anger struggling SIPs. "I can't feed my daughter on no more than dinner, a movie, and a couple of drinks a night," said "Jasmine," a streetwalker from Houston. She added, "I need hard cash."
Organizers of the march called for legislative action in the form of price controls as well as licensing requirements. In addition to protecting the livelihoods of poor working girls, it was argued that legislation was also needed to protect consumers.
According to one organizer, who was holding a placard reading, "Why rent the cow when you're getting the milk for free?," consumers who think they are getting a great deal may often end up receiving an inferior level of service.
"We hear stories all the time about some poor consumer who thinks he is getting a bargain, sometimes paying as little as a Taco Bell quesadilla and a room at Motel 6, only to receive a substandard product followed by bewildering weeping or aggressively discomforting questions like, 'What are you thinking?'"
The organizer added, "Regulations ensuring that providers are licensed and fairly paid would put an end to horror stories like these."
There was no word immediately from the legislature about the possibility of addressing SIP concerns in the coming session.
The demonstration was peaceful, though one passerby, who pointed out to a group of protesters that prostitution was, in fact, illegal in the state of Texas, was handcuffed and led away by police.