What do UFC fighters and prostitutes have in common? Both deal with individual adults who choose to use their bodies how they see fit, in various ways. The former was almost banned thanks to Senator John McCain who compared mixed martial arts (MMA) to human cockfighting, while the latter remains illegal, except in certain counties in Nevada.

Some argue that mixed martial arts is barbaric and inhumane. However, the main difference between MMA fights and animal fights is that the men and women who participate in MMA voluntarily choose to step into the Octagon, while helpless animals are forced to fight by cruel owners. Likewise, prostitution involves adults who choose to sell their bodies for a price to willing customers. This is not, of course, an argument that prostitution is a social good; rather the issue is that, in both cases, adults are choosing what to do with their own bodies.

Every night, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, there are adults who go to dance clubs and bars with the primary goal of “hooking up” (finding someone to have sex with), which is a perfectly legal activity. Every spring, thousands of college students go to exotic locations with one goal in mind: to hook up – often not just with one person, but with several people! In fact, many consider this a rite of passage.

Most people, even if they find this behavior morally objectionable, do not argue that “hooking up” should be a crime, and do not argue that these young adults should be put in jail. In essence, “free sex” (zero price sex to be more correct) is legal. However, when a fee is negotiated, all of a sudden the act is considered prostitution. You can give your body away for “free” to a random stranger (or multiple strangers, if you want to be a little wild); however, when a prostitute- who arguably has at least enough self-respect to charge for her or his body – does so, it’s considered a crime.

If two adults have sex for money on camera they’re called “stars,” and there is even an awards show for them similar to the Oscars. However, when no camera is involved, these people are called prostitutes! What is it about sex on camera that makes it legal, but sex for cash that is not on video is considered criminal? You can be three beautiful young women who live with, and have sex with, a rich old man who owns a famous mansion, and throws infamously wild parties. There’s nothing illegal with this arrangement, and these women were just considered “girls next door,” or “bunnies.” So, it’s legal to have sex with an old man who essentially pays to have sex with these women in exchange for a luxurious living space, nice gifts, fancy dinners, and notoriety for being in Playboy but if Hugh Heffner paid his three girlfriends directly with cash for sexual favors it would be considered prostitution. What’s the difference? In other words, it’s perfectly legal to date someone and have sex with them just because they’re famous or rich, and it’s considered normal to be paid in-kind, but it’s illegal to pay someone with cash for explicit sex. This seems very hypocritical.

Here’s another scenario: let’s say there is a man who sees a woman sitting at a bar, and approaches her and asks if he can buy her a drink. She agrees. They proceed to have a conversation, and after a while he asks if he can buy her another drink, and she agrees. They continue their conversation, and eventually he asks if she would like to go to a nice restaurant across the street for dinner. Again, she agrees. After a wonderful dinner the man asks, “Would you like to go to my hotel next door and have sex?” She says, “I was wondering when you would ask me that. Yes!” Let’s assume that the man spent a total of $350 that evening. This would be legal, and it happens all the time. However, what if the story was slightly different? The man sees a woman at the bar and says, “Look, I think you’re very attractive and instead of wasting time pretending that I am interested in your life story, and your interests, would you have sex with me for $350?” She says, “Sure, sounds good. Let’s do it!” This scenario would be considered prostitution. What’s really the difference between these two situations? Please don’t naively say, “Well in Scenario 1 he wanted to get to know her.” Sure he did! And if the argument is that in Scenario 1, at least money was being put into “the economy,” then fine, I will go to the bartender and give him money for the drinks that were never purchased, and I will go the restaurant manager and give her money for the dinner that was never enjoyed. Does that make you feel better? Scenario 1 is called “hooking up,” and it’s perfectly legal, while Scenario 2 is considered prostitution. The only real difference between the two is that in Scenario 2 the man economized his and her time.

Here’s another point to consider: what if the only way some people can have sex is if it is paid for? In other words, what if someone is so socially awkward, or perceived as unattractive that nobody wants to voluntarily have “free sex” with him or her? Is the government not discriminating against these unfortunate people? I wouldn’t be surprised if someone makes this argument one day in court.

The hypocrisy is that basketball players can sell their height and basketball skills for money to the NBA, football players can sell their speed and strength for money to the NFL, MMA fighters can sell their jujitsu and striking skills for money to the UFC, and porn stars can sell their looks and sexual skills for money to adult entertainment video producers. Even people who like to “hook up” and sleep around with no financial transactions involved are free to live their promiscuous lifestyle. But those who choose to sell their body for sexual pleasure or who choose to buy the sexual services of others with direct monetary payment are put in jail, and police officers and judges are forced to waste time on this issue instead of focusing on violent crimes.

I don’t like prostitution or think its moral, and it saddens me that many people choose this life. For that matter, I also don’t think that randomly hooking up at dance clubs is good or moral. But I don’t want to put people in jail for what they choose to do sexually. On the other hand, I do enjoy watching UFC fights, and I voluntarily pay to watch them on Pay-Per-View. I don’t feel sorry for the fighters, even if they get injured, because they are adults who know what they are getting themselves into.

Should the government control how we live our private lives? Should the government care about what people choose to voluntarily do with each other? The underlying question is: “Who’s your daddy?” I don’t know about you, but my answer is that it’s definitely not the government.