You know how the feminist establishment won’t call a prostitute a prostitute. The politically correct term is “sex worker.” The idea, I guess, is to remove the moral opprobrium from selling your body by treating sex workers just like any other kind of workers. It’s just a job. And if you’ve got moral scruples about the sex trade–such as believing that it’s degrading–why you’re just a prude.

Now, according to the U.K. Telegraph, the German government has indeed decided to treat sex workers just like any other kind of workers. Unemployed women now risk getting their benefits cut off if they won’t take a job in a brothel or some other sex-industry establishment. Hey, it’s a job, isn’t it? What’s the difference between, say, serving up latte grandes at Starbucks and serving up yourself in the Hamburg red-light district?

Two years ago Germany, like all forward-thinking Euro countries, legalized prostitution. Brothel owners now have to pay taxes and employee health insurance, and like other potential employers, they now have access to government databases of unemployed female Germans. Then, just this January, new laws went into effect designed to trim Germany’s humongous and cripplingly expensive welfare state, which essentially allowed people laid off their jobs to collect unemployment compensation essentially forever, so they could practice with their garage bands, cultivate careers as cafe intellectuals, or whatever. Unemployed Germans under age 55 now have to look for and accept work just like Americans, or risk getting their benefits cut off.

And there’s the rub. The brothel owners maintain that since their taxes support the unemployment-benefits system, why shouldn’t they get first dibs on jobless female receptionists and systems engineers just like any other business? Why indeed? The German government considered an exception for brothels, but then decided that it would be too hard to tell a brothel from a bar (funny–I can tell, but maybe things are different in Germany). So, as Telegraph reporter Clare Chapman writes, the government job centers that find work for the unemployed “must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.”

Chapman relates the story of an unemployed 25-year-old information-technology professional who now risks termination of her benefits for refusing to take a job offering “sexual services” at a Berlin whorehouse. Chapman writes:

“She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her ‘profile” and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.”

Other horror stories related by Chapman involve women who had worked at call centers being offered jobs on phone-sex lines and a 23-year-old woman who was sent out to interview for a position as a nude model and instructed to report back to the job center on how the interview had gone. Sex businesses also have the right to advertise their jobs at the job centers–and the centers can get sued if they don’t post the ads.  

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that Germany’s unemployment rate is now 10.5 percent, and just this month the number of unemployed Germans rose to over 5 million people. That’s because the high taxes and other costs of maintaining cradle-to-grave welfare–so admired by this country’s intellectuals–are a persistent drag on job-creation.

But isn’t “sex work” supposed to be empowering for women? That’s what the feminist establishment says. Aren’t we supposed to pooh-pooh the old-time moral scruples that made it against the law? In ultra-progressive, studiously nonjudgmental Germany, the world’s oldest profession is just another profession–and women who don’t like it had better get used to it.