Sex Industry

March 21, 2007 at 2:27 pm (ethics, sex, sociology)


It has been said that prostitution is the second oldest profession (Motherhood the oldest).

It has also been said that a very large proportion (Lies, damn lies and statistics and all that, so I shall omit the statistics quoted) of internet traffic/usage is porn related.

I wonder if society did not prohibit sex between sexually mature individuals (whatever age) (and frown upon exposure of the flesh in a manner that could cause arousal) by law or religious doctrine would people (admittedly mostly men) become so obsessed with the aesthetic side of sexual attraction for example?

I also wonder if prostitutes are switched off psychologically or living with some kind of denial when going about their business.

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58 Comments

  1. hypothesis said,

    soniarott wrote:

    It has been said that prostitution is the second oldest profession (Motherhood the oldest).

    Where does this leave fatherhood ?
    But to address your issue prostitution is not so much of a problem. The problem is only when they are asked to take up the profession against their will.

    Loot at Holland, prostitution there is legal, and everyone is happy. (even if they are unsatisfied it’s would be hard to get a refund).

  2. reformed nihilist said,

    I find the question of the psychological makeup of sex workers (porn stars, prostitutes, even strippers) fascinating. I suspect that the stereotype of the drug dependant girl with a low self-esteem who was sexually assualted as a child or teen is not a very accurate one (although it likely has its representatives). I think this is becoming more true as pornography is gaining some mainstream acceptance.

    I remember seeing an interview with Stacy Valentine during her promotion of the documentary about her called “The Girl Next Door”. She talked about an early marraige with an abusive husband, and about the constant need for “physical perfection” that is built into the culture of the industry, but also said that she enjoyed the sex she had on camera. It strikes me that nearly anyone with an ex-husband portrays him as somewhat abusive, and that apart from a general societal drive for women to possess “physical perfection”, that legitimate cinema (if we can call hollywood that) presents the same pressure to an actress, driving multitudes to the plastic surgeon.

    I really don’t have enough information to draw any airtight conclusions, but from what I know, there are people with a great deal of remorse and pain and confusion regarding their sexuality in all walks of life (its hard to say, because people don’t like to share such things). All kinds of people are “living in denial” and are “switched off psychologically” about something. I find it interesting what conclusions people draw from little info.

  3. Yahadreas said,

    I just thought this might be interesting:

    Wikipedia: “prostitution has been noted in Bonobo chimpanzee behavior based around access to food and gifts of food, and in penguins in regard to access for suitable stones for nest building”

    And this:

    “Prostitution is often described as “the world’s oldest profession.” It has been thought prostitution (at least in the modern sense) cannot have emerged before the emergence of money, which can only have taken place after the emergence of several trades, and it has been claimed that – when counting out hunting – midwifery, or perhaps gardening or teaching, are really the world’s oldest professions”

  4. tobias said,

    Loot at Holland, prostitution there is legal, and everyone is happy. (even if they are unsatisfied it’s would be hard to get a refund).

    Not quite. The prostitution scene in Holland is mostly in the hands of very shady characters. It became a haven for black money. I feel it should be legal though, because that way you can control it. They are offering permits now in Holland, to get the shady characters out. This regulation has been practiced in Turkey for years now.

  5. ms anthropist said,

    According to your definition Yahandreas, all sexual exchange becomes some form of economic transaction. I would like to explore the ethos that goes behind a woman in this industry. Which, no offence, i find appalling. I did some resarch in the topic and even got to know a few working girls as they liked calling themselves. This was in the first world, i found that they were completelly screwed up about it. And which was even worse, some of them were doing it in order to obtain superfluos stuff such as prada bags and the likes. I found out a 1.1 correlation between rape and prostitution. I am not talking about thailand or other places were little girls are sold into this horrific world. But in the western world in developed countries, why would a perfectly capable woman sell her body? for a prada bag? for drugs? Funny enough, from the girls i met none had a serious drug addiction, they were escorts (with about as much intellectual ability as a shoe box), not complete high class, but beyond the street corner drug addict that does it in the spot for a few dollars by pulling her knickers down.

    Also, what about the men that make use of them? and how does this relate to the way they see women in general?

    I understand it is a personal choice, but i insist, not a sound one (such as anorexia, bullimia or suicide (when not in unberable and unsolvable pain) so i agree with legalisation. At least it gives the women security (rather than having them working for a sheedy guy that may not let them leave if they want to stop working for him (it happens)). But i’d like to question what is going through these women’s mind. My guess is a terrible stage of mind.

  6. nosos said,

    Reformed Nihilist wrote:
    I find the question of the psychological makeup of sex workers (porn stars, prostitutes, even strippers) fascinating. I suspect that the stereotype of the drug dependant girl with a low self-esteem who was sexually assualted as a child or teen is not a very accurate one (although it likely has its representatives). I think this is becoming more true as pornography is gaining some mainstream acceptance.

    I’ve had a lot of contact with street-level prostitutes through outreach work and, as far as I can see, in the vast majority of cases they have a hard drug addiction and this overrides all other considerations – I think investigation into the pathology of sex-work can be very misleading because at the lowest-level it is pretty manifestly a socio-economic phenomena.

  7. floyd said,

    You don’t pay a prostitute for sex. You pay her to leave afterwards.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    Also, I don’t find prostitutes that different than many other woman. Many so-called non-prostitutes use sex to manipulate, control, and/or persuade men (or in rarer cases women). For example, gold-diggers do this. Effectively, what’s the difference between taking a woman out to an expensive dinner in the expectation of sexual rewards, than paying a woman for sex? Prostitutes just use more bluntness. I don’t mean this as an offense against women, but as a defense of prostitutes.
    soniarott wrote:
    I wonder if society did not prohibit sex between sexually mature individuals (whatever age) (and frown upon exposure of the flesh in a manner that could cause arousal) by law or religious doctrine would people (admittedly mostly men) become so obsessed with the aesthetic side of sexual attraction for example?

    IMHO, illegalization and negative social stigma increase the damaging effects of vices and addictions. Nonetheless, legalization and social acceptance doesn’t eliminate the bulk of the behavior’s addictiveness and/or destructiveness. I bet men would still be “obsessed” with sexual aesthetics (and sex in general) even if it was completely legal and socially accepted. There would still be sex and porn addicts, but I do believe less. One of the main factors that makes legalization and acceptance better is that the addicts are more likely and more able to get help. For example, a cigarette smoker will have an easier time quitting than someone quitting equally addictive illegal drugs.

  8. floyd said,

    soniarott wrote:
    I also wonder if prostitutes are switched off psychologically or living with some kind of denial when going about their business.

    I say that most people are “switched off psychologically or living with some kind of denial” especially when going about their business. There’s nothing inherent to prostitution that makes the aforementioned characteristic more prone to prostitutes. However, external factors such as illegalization and social stigma might make psychologically unhealthy individuals more prone to prostitution.

  9. ms anthropist said,

    FLoyd i will disagree, selling ones body, ones intimacy, once affective manifestations and trivialise intimate contact is not like any other kind off job. I agree with nosos that in street level is a socio economical phenomena. There is a very high distinction in different levels of prostitution. I agree that a gold digger pertains to one of these categories. Moreover, i feel than in all variances, selling ones sexuality (unless in developing countries having been sold into prostitution) is a manifestation of a psychological problem. Some jobs are crap, but none as intimate and debasing.

    I can understand that a serious drug addiction can become so prioritising as to obliterate any other moral considerations, but that is beyond the scope of our study. Because, a drug addict would rob their own family or sell their gran mother if it had to be done. But women without a serious drug addiction, say the kind of escorts with whom i talked, (all of which had been sexually assaulted or abused in the past) what makes a woman disengage herself so completelly of her core being to avail her to sell her body?

  10. reformed nihilist said,

    ms anthropist wrote:
    FLoyd i will disagree, selling ones body, ones intimacy, once affective manifestations and trivialise intimate contact is not like any other kind off job. I agree with nosos that in street level is a socio economical phenomena. There is a very high distinction in different levels of prostitution. I agree that a gold digger pertains to one of these categories. Moreover, i feel than in all variances, selling ones sexuality (unless in developing countries having been sold into prostitution) is a manifestation of a psychological problem. Some jobs are crap, but none as intimate and debasing.

    See, this is the part that I don’t completely get. As an actor, I am put into positions of forced or simulated intimacy. More dramatically than prostitution, the intimacy that I am delaing with is primarily emotional and secondarily physical. Am I a worse prositute than a sex worker? Is this forced creation or simulation of intimacy a manifestation of emotional problems? It doesn’t seem like it to me (any more than anything anyone does is a manifestation of emotional problems). If not, then where is the difference, if not purely socially driven?
    I can understand that a serious drug addiction can become so prioritising as to obliterate any other moral considerations, but that is beyond the scope of our study. Because, a drug addict would rob their own family or sell their gran mother if it had to be done. But women without a serious drug addiction, say the kind of escorts with whom i talked, (all of which had been sexually assaulted or abused in the past) what makes a woman disengage herself so completelly of her core being to avail her to sell her body?

    To be fair (as disturbing as this fact is), nearly every woman I have been close enough to gain the required trust of has told me of a sexual assault in the past. The number of women who have been sexually assaulted is significantly higher than what I think most people would say are the women who are sexually damaged. I haven’t spent any time talking to prostitutes, and I tink that the point Nosos makes is a legit one. It takes a certain temperment and a certain number of environmental pressures to do something illegal for a living. Does that mean that only “damaged goods” would work in the sex trade. Does it preclude emotionally healthy people from engaging in sex trade?

  11. ms anthropist said,

    of course there are external pressures, that i don’t deny, but what i say is that there has to be a personal disposition as well. Because there is so many kinds of prostitutes. Not just street drug addicts, but escorts, high class prostitutes and gold diggers. All of which are selling sex. Attaining to your point that although all (or a lot) of prostitutes have been previously assaulted or sexually abused doesn’t entail that every woman that has been raped or sexually assalted becomes a prostitute. What is the personal disposition that makes some women able to prostitute themselves?

    i do think it is a pathology of sorts, but that is my take

    Also, i don’t see how you can compare an artistic expression such as acting with prostitution. don’t get it

  12. hypothesis said,

    Tobias wrote:
    Not quite. The prostitution scene in Holland is mostly in the hands of very shady characters. It became a haven for black money. I feel it should be legal though, because that way you can control it. They are offering permits now in Holland, to get the shady characters out. This regulation has been practiced in Turkey for years now.

    My impression was that by making it legal the negative elements associated with prostitution would be eliminated. But it appears as though this is not the case. I think with a correct business model prostitution can be made to work, just like any other business. Still, in Holland prostitution is more transparent than any country I know of, maybe the girls in display windows contribute to this ?

  13. reformed nihilist said,

    ms anthropist wrote:
    i do think it is a pathology of sorts, but that is my take
    Also, i don’t see how you can compare an artistic expression such as acting with prostitution. don’t get it

    Aren’t you saying that the professional simulation or forced creation of intimicy is what is pathological? That is what actors do.

  14. ms anthropist said,

    ah come on, it is completelly different. else, why don’t you go and rent your arse in a public toilet. in all fairness, if it is not a pathology of sorts why don’t you do it or why don’t i do it, or why do most people feel repulse by the notion of selling their body?

    Political correctness sometimes gets in the way of truth

  15. the boss said,

    Prostitutes do what they do out of necessity. Most of these women are not skilled in any trade and can’t support themselves with the scanty jobs available to them. Obviously, prostitution brings in more money. It’s a survival tactic like any other, but it’s illegal and the controversy surrounding it puts more of a negative light on it than it probably deserves.

    The porn industry — sex industry — on the other hand is quite a different story. I know several models personally, and they are incredibly rich and happy (and all married). It is not seen as degrading but empowering. If you have the beauty of a goddess, there’s no shame in showing it. Porn stars have even become the standard of beauty.

  16. reformed nihilist said,

    ms anthropist wrote:
    ah come on, it is completelly different. else, why don’t you go and rent your arse in a public toilet. in all fairness, if it is not a pathology of sorts why don’t you do it or why don’t i do it, or why do most people feel repulse by the notion of selling their body?

    I am not saying it isn’t different. I am asking you what the pathology is, and if it is forced intimacy, then in what way is acting not pathological. I am asking you to examine and justify your claim that it is pathological rather than just saying it is.
    Political correctness sometimes gets in the way of truth

    I agree. So lets not bother with it and just worry about justifying our claims.

  17. wuliheron said,

    Sex is the forbidden fruit of the west. Surveys have shown that many other cultures (who view american movies and tv) cannot understand why americans are so fixated on sex. Sure, it’s nice, but so what? Europeans have a much more liberal view of sex and in Italy one of the most popular tv shows for years was an amature strip tease shown late at night. This included 400 lb women and other novelties.

    Another interesting correlation is that anorexia is a developed world problem, it does not exist elsewhere and even in the developed world it has a very low incidence among blacks.

  18. floyd said,

    ms anthropist wrote:
    FLoyd i will disagree, selling ones body, ones intimacy, once affective manifestations and trivialise intimate contact is not like any other kind off job.

    In what way?

    I don’t have as relevant experiences as Reformed Nihilist, but I remember roofing. I felt like I was selling my body. I didn’t use my mind, but instead performed strenuous activities in the sun for 10-12 hours a day. When I got home, I barely had enough energy to shower and eat. I non-purposely lost a lot of weight like that. Frankly, I would have preferred to have been a prostitute. At least prostitutes don’t have to deal with itchy fiberglass.

    I think it might be an issue of classism that some people find prostitution inherently degrading. In the same way, classism leads some people to find hired manual labor degrading (hence my example).

    Everybody’s preferences and boundaries are different. People are willing to different activities for varying amounts of money. Ignoring the legality issue, I don’t see anything pathological about having sex for money, especially since many people do it for free. Who would roof for free? I’m sure many prostitutes would refuse to roof.

    Could you explain why you think prostitutes are pathological further?

  19. armchairphilosopher said,

    Maybe the difference between actors and prostitutes is the fact that a man uses a prostitute for their own satisfaction or gratification. Being used that way has psychological and emotional repercussions. Merely pretending or acting is different because there is no ‘using’, no power dynamics, and far less danger involved.

    Just my thoughts for the evening.

    Wuliheron, when you say the west, then state that Europeans are different, I take it that you are referring to the Uk and USA therefore when you say the west?

    If that is so, then we could suppose that the reason for this stems from the conservative influences of England and the pioneers. Those nations currently and formerly part of the British Empire all seem to share the problems with exposed flesh, overt sexuality and public affection, and basically therefore I believe that they have inherited these.

  20. armchairphilosopher said,

    armchairphilosopher wrote:
    Maybe the difference between actors and prostitutes is the fact that a man uses a prostitute for their own satisfaction or gratification. Being used that way has psychological and emotional repercussions. Merely pretending or acting is different because there is no ‘using’, no power dynamics, and far less danger involved.

    Ignoring legality, is the relationship between a director and an actor effectively different than the relationship between a trick and a prostitute?

    If anything, I’d say that the prostitute has more power over the trick than the actor has over the director, because (sorry RN) sex is a more valuable commodity than acting. What do you think?

  21. armchairphilosopher said,

    In order to let someone have sex with you, you must submit to them. There’s no getting around that, although they try.
    Being submissive to strangers and allowing them to ‘get off’ on your body is demeaning, gegrading, dehumanising.
    An actor tries to do what a director wants of them, but ultimately there is much less at stake in terms of emotional and psychological issues. An actor would never feel like they were the lowest of the low because they do what they are told for money, or would they? An actor would never feel like their only worth in life, only usefulness was to be a piece of meat that low-lifes could masturbate with.

    The issues with prostitution run a lot deeper than those with acting IMO.

  22. reformed nihilist said,

    armchairphilosopher wrote:
    In order to let someone have sex with you, you must submit to them. There’s no getting around that, although they try.

    In order to wait tables you must submit to someone. I know it is tempting to say “bu that’s not the same thing!”, but it seems to me that the ‘level’ of submission is one purely based on cultural notions of power. All cases of customer service involve submission, don’t you suppose that people (including those engaging in such trade) could have differing attitudes about whether a sex act was necessarily more or less demeaning than another? I know that (to remove the finacial issue from it for a moment) some people consider anal sex to be demeaning and a means of asserting sexual power, while others consider it just another sexual activity that people can engague in. The power relationship is based purely on the cultual attitudes brought to the table of the people involved. I also notice a cultural change in attitude toward the sex trade. Teenagers wear T-shirts saying “pornstar” on them.
    Being submissive to strangers and allowing them to ‘get off’ on your body is demeaning, gegrading, dehumanising.

    I go for a massage every once and a while (just for relaxation and pleasure, no medical reasons). I get physical pleasure from physical contact and pay someone for it. Isn’t this “getting off”? I am getting off on their hands, but they don’t seem degraded to me. They seem like they are making an honest living. The question is, is sex for money demeaning for reasons beyond “that’s what society tells us”.
    An actor tries to do what a director wants of them, but ultimately there is much less at stake in terms of emotional and psychological issues. An actor would never feel like they were the lowest of the low because they do what they are told for money, or would they? An actor would never feel like their only worth in life, only usefulness was to be a piece of meat that low-lifes could masturbate with.

    Someone who values themselves based on their employment (which most people do to a large extent), will feel degraded if they are doing something for a living that they feel is wrong or shamefull. Most people are taught (directly and indirectly) that sex work is shamefull. An actor can spend a day at work getting spit in the face and defiled emotionally, called nasty names, if that is what is called for in the role. To be good, they even have to listen and take these insults and degradations seriously, at least for a small period of time. If they are emotionally healthy, they learn to “snap out of it” after a scene is done. Why is professional sex different, if not just because of the societal attitudes toward sex?
    The issues with prostitution run a lot deeper than those with acting IMO.

    Deeper, sure. But deeper why? Becuase their is something inherently different about sex, or because we (as a society) are taught to treat it differently

  23. ghaleon said,

    The whole point of sex is reproduction, which adds an extra dimension to prostitution not relevant to acting, waiting tables, or really any other “submissive” profession. We value and respect reproduction because it’s apparent that it is both essential for the survival of our species and a serious problem if it gets out of hand (overpopulation). Prostitution seems to throw this respect out the window.

    Sex is also different because, unlike a massage, both worker and customer derive pleasure from it. As a sex worker you seem to be exploiting fundamental human desires, getting paid for it, and “getting off” yourself at the same time. Doesn’t seem like an honest living no matter how you slice it, does it?

    I personally am OK with prostitution. I look down on it, for the reasons just outlined, but it’s a profession that someone should have the freedom to pursue. There will certainly always be a pool of customers available.

    On the issue of submission, what about male prostitutes? They seem to open up a whole new can of worms!

  24. reformed nihilist said,

    ghaleon wrote:
    The whole point of sex is reproduction, which adds an extra dimension to prostitution not relevant to acting, waiting tables, or really any other “submissive” profession. We value and respect reproduction because it’s apparent that it is both essential for the survival of our species and a serious problem if it gets out of hand (overpopulation). Prostitution seems to throw this respect out the window.

    The whole point of feeding someone is to keep them from starving. Avoiding starvation is essentail for the survival of the species too. The thing is that both sex and eating are things that we also do recreationally, and although I can understand some of the reaons that there is tabboo involving sex, I am not yet convinced that the alleged pathology involved in sex work is based on anything but cultural pressures.
    Sex is also different because, unlike a massage, both worker and customer derive pleasure from it. As a sex worker you seem to be exploiting fundamental human desires, getting paid for it, and “getting off” yourself at the same time. Doesn’t seem like an honest living no matter how you slice it, does it?

    My point with the acting comparison is that we laud actors for making a dishonest living. We pay the most sucessfull ones better than nearly anyone else, and all for (among other things) exploiting human desire and emotion. Actors put themselves into situations of “unnatural” emotional intamicy, we even allow child actors to do so, and we glorify this dishonest behaviour because we want to be lied to. We ask them to give us a titalating emotional experience by being dishonest.

  25. petunia said,

    Or at least making the man think that is part of their profession. I’m going to suggest that women aren’t likely to have a dozen or more orgasms every day to have sex with a line up of random men.

    Fixations on sexuality make a useful, quick substitute for meaningful social connections. Prostitution is the oldest profession because people have always wanted to have sex and have developed a trade system to get those things they desire. That doesn’t prove it is healthy. To be able to pay someone to use their body in an invasive way is different from other forms of employment. Thinking about prostitution before birth control also brings to mind the unstable environment it creates for the possible resulting children. There does seem to be an underlying irresponsibility to outcomes, a disconnectedness to the implications of sexuality.

  26. petunia said,

    Reformed Nihilist wrote:

    My point with the acting comparison is that we laud actors for making a dishonest living. We pay the most sucessfull ones better than nearly anyone else, and all for (among other things) exploiting human desire and emotion. Actors put themselves into situations of “unnatural” emotional intamicy, we even allow child actors to do so, and we glorify this dishonest behaviour because we want to be lied to. We ask them to give us a titalating emotional experience by being dishonest.

    But i see that as a way to explore the human mind’s ability to experience empathy – to be able to project into a scenario not their own and find meaning and express this in a way that also makes the audience connect with this projected scenario. This skill is at the heart of the best qualities human beings possess. It is why we are not simply reactionary like a dog. I do not see it as a selfish, quick, artificial indulgence, but proof of our humanity. (At least in its idealize state of artistic expression)

  27. nosos said,

    ghaleon wrote:
    Sex is also different because, unlike a massage, both worker and customer derive pleasure from it. As a sex worker you seem to be exploiting fundamental human desires, getting paid for it, and “getting off” yourself at the same time. Doesn’t seem like an honest living no matter how you slice it, does it?

    I think it’s more than a little naive to think that having sex is a perk of the job for sex workers. Could you conceive of some conditions – not to mention people – rendering it not a perk?

  28. nosos said,

    Floyd wrote:
    If anything, I’d say that the prostitute has more power over the trick than the actor has over the director, because (sorry RN) sex is a more valuable commodity than acting. What do you think?

    In a very abstract way that could potentially be sort of true – however once you place the analysis into concrete circumstances it seems more likely not to be.

  29. petunia said,

    Floyd wrote:
    Ignoring legality, is the relationship between a director and an actor effectively different than the relationship between a trick and a prostitute?
    If anything, I’d say that the prostitute has more power over the trick than the actor has over the director, because (sorry RN) sex is a more valuable commodity than acting. What do you think?

    One enormous difference is that the trick occurs in private while the acting is completely public. Possibly comparing an actor’s performance to a strippers who remains entirely on stage would be closer?

    The are a higher percentage of women prostitutes than men, the women more often being teen-early twenties, also there is a tendency in some environments of placing children in prostitution. That implies a physical power imbalance. Don’t people pay to have sex so they can bypass all the social complexities of connecting and get what they want quickly and entirely on their terms? Isn’t that about dominance?

    I agree with Floyd that there are other forms of employment that are invasive – especially ones that place the physical body at risk. If in your roofing example, your employers stood over you the whole time watching and enjoying whatever he was extracting from you physically, then it would also possess the intimate quality of a trick.

  30. petunia said,

    One issue rather pertinent to this discussion is the Geisha. Is there another form of prostitution more idealized than this? What is prostitution in its most highly regarded form in human society? The Geisha is respected, called artist, considered of great value and prestige. Her work requires skill and intelligence on many levels. Why then in this idealized context is there still an issue of her not owning herself? Slavery all dressed up is still slavery.

    I don’t claim to know everything relevent to the life of the Geisha, except what i have read here and there and saw in the film Geisha. Her character resonated very deeply with me.

    Should slavery be legalized in society if individuals choose it based on necessity or personal desire? If my reading of history serves me correctly there was a time in the U.S. when slavery was chosen by some individuals as their best option. This was also used as a primary argument in defense of it as an institution. Perhaps in its ideal form prostitution is temporary slavery if the prostitute is not earning money for an employer who owns them. I think it is useful to consider these two institutions because now-a-days accepting one is considered almost “cool” and progressive, while the other is viewed based on its impact on human life. btw: slavery is a rather old profession as well – not thinking that justifies it.

  31. reformed nihilist said,

    Petunia wrote:
    But i see that as a way to explore the human mind’s ability to experience empathy – to be able to project into a scenario not their own and find meaning and express this in a way that also makes the audience connect with this projected scenario. This skill is at the heart of the best qualities human beings possess. It is why we are not simply reactionary like a dog. I do not see it as a selfish, quick, artificial indulgence, but proof of our humanity. (At least in its idealize state of artistic expression)

    Sure, but could you not imagine an idealized form of professional sex? And on the flipside, no one considers Arnold Schwarzenegger pathological because his acting career was characterized by movies that appealed only to the ‘baser’ instincts and offered only the selfish, quick, artificial indulgence you mention.

    It is empirically clear that prostitution has statistically significant correlations to all kinds of negative things like abuse, drug addiction, rape and even slavery. The question I am asking is if this is a necessary correlation, related directly to the act of selling sex, or if it is one that is caused as much by the social attitudes about sex and comerce and what their relationship “should” be? Geishas (as you describe them) are no different than a drug addicted street hooker who is owned by her pimp in this way. They are both at least partly a product of the way that society judges sex work (thus affecting how the prostitute judges herself, whether she enters that line of work at all, how pimps and johns treat her, etc.).

    That is one of the reasons that I think it matters in a discussion like this to consider porn stars. They are people who get payed money to perform sex acts. From what I understand, it can be fairly good money for arguably light work. These women are actualy idolized in some settings. The stigma and other social pressures are much less than that associated with prostitutes. They don’t seem to (from what little I know, which is really not much) present the same alleged pathology that is associated with hookers. So could it be that our attitudes are somewhat responsible for the pathology?

  32. petunia said,

    Reformed Nihilist wrote:
    That is one of the reasons that I think it matters in a discussion like this to consider porn stars. They are people who get payed money to perform sex acts. From what I understand, it can be fairly good money for arguably light work. These women are actualy idolized in some settings. The stigma and other social pressures are much less than that associated with prostitutes. They don’t seem to (from what little I know, which is really not much) present the same alleged pathology that is associated with hookers. So could it be that our attitudes are somewhat responsible for the pathology?

    I do agree that the difference between street prostitution and the porn industry is not that significant based solely on the task. I’m still not sure about the pathology issue, and more importantly, what the effects are of the that industry on the human body/psyche. You mention they are idolized, but clearly objectified, right? I actually don’t watch pornography, but my impression has been that the breast implanted, bleach blonde caricature of a woman, is a way of dismissing the individual.

    What frustrates me a bit about the sex industry is that there is this complex intertwining of women’s rights and simultaneously finding new ways to suppress women. Even the fact that the sex industry is paramount to promoting unrealistic body forms is central. Foot binding, deforming corsettes, breast implants are all mechanisms of control. Some of the central issues in social control contexts include: setting up unrealistic standards that the individual cannot obtain and dissolving a sense of the individual. These dynamics occur in the extreme instances of cults, domestic abuse, and oppressive regimes, but it is interesting that the impossible standard and dissolution of individual are very present in all levels of the sex industry.

  33. reformed nihilist said,

    But this sort of a problem is much larger than the sex industry, don’t you think? The use of plasic surgery to augment oneself to be more “ideal” is rampant in hollywood (men and women, from what I gather), which has a much larger affect on peoples attitudes. The issues with fasion models and ballet dancers seem more harmfull than with porn stars. I am not aware of significant levels of anorexia in porn (it wouldn’t sell), but it is alarmingly common in both ballet and the fashion industry. SO I don’t deny that there are issues, I am asking if we can tie these issues to the practice of sex for money, or are they larger issues involving societies attitudes toward sex, money and women and the relationship these things should have?

    I also think that in this context the notion of women’s rights ends up being a little sexist in itself. If what you are referring to are not general human rights, then we are actually talking about priviledges, aren’t we? So the issues involving nasty things that happen to women are human rights issues as applied to women, right? Not actually women’s rights issues? I think this is a clearer way of talking about things.

  34. ghaleon said,

    nosos wrote:
    I think it’s more than a little naive to think that having sex is a perk of the job for sex workers. Could you conceive of some conditions – not to mention people – rendering it not a perk?

    I could think of some…constant, nagging worry about getting pregnant/impregnating comes to mind. And I didn’t mean to imply that prostitution or pornography have no downside…just that they both involve at least momentary mutual pleasure.
    petunia wrote:
    Don’t people pay to have sex so they can bypass all the social complexities of connecting and get what they want quickly and entirely on their terms? Isn’t that about dominance?

    I agree, and yet sex workers continue to put themselves out there, increasing the scope and magnitude of this dominance. But why? They seem to care more about the money than the fact that they’re being dominated.

  35. hypothesis said,

    Let’s look at it from the a prostitutes point of view, rather than the clients. To them it’s another way of earning a living, just like any other job. No one is being used, as the prostitute is doing her job willingly. If no one is being used, (ignoring rare incidents), there are no moral judgements to make.

    Prostitutes also give positive contributions to society. For example, there are probably less rape incidents.

  36. armchairphilosopher said,

    RN, I still can’t agree with the comparisons you draw between Acting and Prostitution. If they are so similar, why are you not a prostitute? There’s good money in it, and it’s just the same, right? Are you saying that if you grew up in a squat with crack addicts where no morality/outside cultural or societal judgements could affect you, you would gladly prostitute yourself, do you think?

    I don’t think you can ever get away from the effect the level of intimacy allowed in prostitution can have on you. To let someone put part of them inside you is the most intimate act a person can engage in. Under ideal circumstances it would stimulate some of the strongest feelings physically and emotionally. The number of men who fall for prostitutes is good evidence of the thin line there.

  37. reformed nihilist said,

    armchairphilosopher wrote:
    RN, I still can’t agree with the comparisons you draw between Acting and Prostitution. If they are so similar, why are you not a prostitute? There’s good money in it, and it’s just the same, right? Are you saying that if you grew up in a squat with crack addicts where no morality/outside cultural or societal judgements could affect you, you would gladly prostitute yourself, do you think?

    This is a strange reponse. I don’t think they are similar in every aspect, I was just noting that they were similar in the ways that people were using as reasons to call it pathological. Namely, forced (as in unnatural) or simulated of intimacy. I don’t know why yopu think being surrounded by crack heads is equivalent to having no morality or ouside cultural or societal judgements. I grew up in society. I learned my morality from society. I am the source of societal judgements as much as anyone else. I am simply questioning those judgements.
    I don’t think you can ever get away from the effect the level of intimacy allowed in prostitution can have on you. To let someone put part of them inside you is the most intimate act a person can engage in. Under ideal circumstances it would stimulate some of the strongest feelings physically and emotionally. The number of men who fall for prostitutes is good evidence of the thin line there.

    I don’t claim that there are not physiological and hormonal things that occur when you engague in sex with someone you don’t know well that create an unnatural intimacy. I question if these things necessarily lead to pathological conditions. I know many people who have engaged in long periods of casual sex with a variety of partners, and although I might disagree with their choices, their behaviour doesn’t strike me as pathological by any means. The seem like normal people. I even spent some time as a young man “sewing my wild oats”, sometimes being physically intimate with someone I was far from emotionally intimate with. The fact that this didn’t seem to have enourmous effects on my mental and emotional health lead me to question your assertion “To let someone put part of them inside you is the most intimate act a person can engage in”. It certainly can be intimate, but I question if it is unavoidably intimate.

    Acting is (virtually) always about forced or simluated emotional intimacy. Let’s just say that the emotional intimacy is ‘less extreme’ (which is open to a bunch of debate) than the physical intimacy of sex. Wouldn’t that just make acting less damaging but still damaging? If so, why do we laud actors and frown on the sex trade?

    I am trying to point out what I see as a double standard that exists within a complex issue, so please don’t read my position to be that all sex workers lead happy lives except for the fact that they are harshly judged by society.

  38. armchairphilosopher said,

    OK, I have perhaps misunderstood the point you were making.

    Being surrounded by crack heads is not neccessarily the same as having no morality, but it is an environment where I believe the drug addiction leads to a breakdown in morality. The drug becomes more important than everything else, more important than family, more important than stealing, more important than violence, more important than self-respect, more important than anything that we might consider moral, such as under what circumstances you would engage in sexual intercourse.
    Drug addicted parents generally do not bring up well balanced children, this is a generalisation, but one for which there is a lot of evidence. I work in ‘Social Housing’, so I see the social problems and family breakdowns caused by drugs and alcohol regularly.

  39. reformed nihilist said,

    You’re preaching to the choir if you are trying to convince me of the negative personal and social effects of addiction. I nearly lost my life to addiction. I am just questioning the association between the sex trade and addiction. Addiction can clearly lead to prostitution but it can also lead to theft or fraud or busking or used car sales or pretty much anything else that earns money that one can do while in the throes of their particular addiction (especially if the money is quickly gained). The question is does it work the other way around? Does prositution lead to addiction or the other nasties? Well, to some extent yes. How much of that is due to societal pressures and attitudes, and how much is due to the sexual behaviour itself?

  40. armchairphilosopher said,

    I think looking at the issue of choice (yes it is a form of power) is important in this discussion. There are scenarios where people have sex and they have both chosen to do so equally (arguable I know, and a generalisation), i.e. those who engage in casual sex, and those who do it for the cameras, there is more equality of choice there than with the prostitute who, in most cases anyway, puts herself forward to be chosen by whomsoever chances upon them. The prostitute gets money, the user gets gratifcation. In porn both get money, in casual sex both (should be aiming for at least) gratification.

    The issue for most seems to be with the fact that someone is not picky. Not just prostitutes, but loose folk generally get judged badly for doing it with all comers.
    Even picky (high class) prostitutes are considered ‘better’ people by the general public because they will not do it with dirty/smelly or poor people, for being picky they rise in most people’s estimations of their rank.

  41. reformed nihilist said,

    The right of refusal is one of the key plays in the game that is “who has power here?”. The deal is though, in a financial transaction both sides have power. A customer (john) can turn down the salesman (prostitute) as easily as the other way around. The issue of social status as figured by who usually invokes the right of refusal is real, but not limited to the sex trade. The fact that you note the difference between unintimate “one night stand” type sex, porn sex and prostitution tells me that you don’t think that sex trade in itself is wrong, but that currently prostitution leads to nasty things. Is this a fair assesment?

  42. petunia said,

    hypothesis wrote:
    Prostitutes also give positive contributions to society. For example, there are probably less rape incidents.

    Rape is not about sex it is about power and rage.
    http://www.cis.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/19

  43. floyd said,

    armchairphilosopher wrote:
    The issue for most seems to be with the fact that someone is not picky. Not just prostitutes, but loose folk generally get judged badly for doing it with all comers.
    Even picky (high class) prostitutes are considered ‘better’ people by the general public because they will not do it with dirty/smelly or poor people, for being picky they rise in most people’s estimations of their rank.

    It’s simply supply and demand. Someone who is loose and has low standards isn’t considered as valuable as someone with high-standards. Additionally, sexuality – although often repressed – is probably the most prominent motivation in all human action. Thus, sexuality is the largest factor in our judge of other people. More important than their superficial appetence is their value on the ‘market’ (so to speak).

    A woman who has sex often and with almost anyone (i.e. a “slut”) isn’t valued much at all. In analogy, we don’t value grass much, because it’s everywhere. If I gave someone a bucket of grass, it would be a very poor gift. Similarly, if I set-up a date with one of my guy friends and a “slut”, it would be a very poor favor for me to do for my guy friend.

    ***

    Prostitutes won’t have sex with just anyone for free. They take advantage of the high-demand for sex, and sell it. Even if you convinced them that it’s a bad idea, and some of the prostitutes stopped, that would just increase the price of the market. Supply will meet the demand, because the price will increase.

    I think the problem some people have with prostitution is that they don’t want prostitution to work in the context of capitalism. (Granted, it’s arguable that capitalism is exploitive.) Nonetheless, there’s nothing inherent to the act of sex than any other action such as acting, roofing, waiting tables, etc, that makes sex uniquely incompatible with capitalism. For the same, there is nothing anything more pathological about performing sex for money than performing any other action for money.

    If it’s worth it to person A to do action B for X amount of money, then more power to them. One can argue that performing actions for money in a capitalist market is unhealthy, exploitative and/or pathological; nonetheless, there’s nothing inherent about sex that makes it effectively different than other actions. Granted, sex is often more extreme; so if capitalism is exploitative/pathological, or if selling one’s time or renting one’s body is exploitive/pathological, then often selling sex will often be more extremely exploitative.

    If both are treated equally before the law and social opinion, then we can expect that the pay a person gets for performing an action is equivalent to how degrading, exploitative, hard, etc. the action is. In a free-market, we can expect that prostitutes would choose to do prostitution for 2 reasons: Firstly, the reward (i.e. pay) is worth more than what has to be done to the prostitute (otherwise she wouldn’t choose to make the trade); Secondly, that profession gets her the most money for her output (otherwise she would get a different job).

    In a free-market (both socially and legally), prostitutes would be the people who are able to do the job the best. For the same reason that professional basketball players are all tall athletic guys who like to play ball for money, professional sex workers would be the people who have the appropriate skills and want to have sex for money. If there is a better (in their respective opinions) way for them to make money, they’ll choose to make money that way.

    FYI, in the current world where sex work is illegal and sex is socially taboo, the prostitutes will tent to be a low-quality, unhappy, desperate, etc. bunch. That’s the kind of person it takes to engage in a illegal and/or socially-frowned-upon activity. In analogy, you’ll find that illegal drug dealers are a neither nice nor happy bunch of people.

    When we outlaw selling sex, only outlaws will sell sex.

  44. loveofsophia said,

    On the emotional side: sex for money. I question whether sex really should be a money game.

    I find it ties into too many other issues, i.e. relationships and babies, that make equating it to something someone can buy confusing. It is something, I would argue, that is most fulfilling in a relationship. It is most enjoyable with someone you have strong feelings for, and often seems more an illusion when done simply for the pleasure. It is an act…forced affection that is done with the intentional absorption in sexual arousal which is rudely apparent to all once arousal is sated.

    The confusion and inappropriateness of sex in a context of acquiring money is easily recognized. The only reason for it existing: it is a response to the frustration one may encounter when thwarted in trying to acquire a healthy sexual relationship, which is the biologically common place for raising what can result, children. The potential for disrupting the functionality of a relationship by another being able to buy sexual favors from another seems obvious. It is obviously more a problem if one is already “committed” to another. Buying sex is obviously more an illusion of having a sexual relationship for those that lack a sexual relationship.

    Here are some thoughts trying to figure this controversial topic. Don’t expect me to say the same tomorrow.

  45. floyd said,

    Also, I look at the purchasers of sex work more critically than the prostitutes, regardless of the legality.

    I feel that way, especially since in our world it’s much harder for a woman, namely a poor, undereducated, drug-addicted, psychologically-unstable, etc. woman, to make a living than a man. Hell, even the poorest kind of man could be a pimp.

    Frankly, I feel bad for these women. Essentially, they have no choice but to sell their sex.

    If I was going to judge either one, I would judge the lazy horn-dog who creeps into a dark alley to pay a random crackwhore to sex him. The paid girl might just want to get money to eat, which seems worth it to me. The paying guy is the one without much of an excuse, and for the most part the purchasers are the one’s that create the market. In other words, the women wouldn’t have sex for money if there wasn’t guys offering to pay them for it. Purchasing casual sex seems like an unhealthy habit to me. If I was going to call either one pathological, I’d call the purchaser pathological.

    However, I’m not going to call either pathological, and similarly I’m not going to judge. To each his own. If he’s willing to pay his money for it, and if she’s willing to give it for the money offered, then I guess they’ve made a good deal.

  46. floyd said,

    love of sophia wrote:
    I find it ties into too many other issues, i.e. relationships and babies, that make equating it to something someone can buy confusing. It is something, I would argue, that is most fulfilling in a relationship. It is most enjoyable with someone you have strong feelings for, and often seems more an illusion when done simply for the pleasure. It is an act…forced affection that is done with the intentional absorption in sexual arousal which is rudely apparent to all once arousal is sated.

    I agree that it is most fulfilling in a relationship, but that’s nothing unique to the activity of sex, as compared to other activities. (Granted, sex is more extreme.) I’d rather do dishes for my hypothetical wife and have sex with her. However, if I need money I might get a job washing disgusting dishes for 6 bucks an hour. Similarly, she might get a job blowing creepy guys. If they’re both legal, is there really an effective difference (besides perhaps extremeness)? If one is pathological, isn’t the other also pathological (even if not as extremely)? If one is exploitative, isn’t the other?

    Perhaps we would want to look at the conditions that would lead me so desperate for money that I’m going to wash dishes for cash or her to have sex for cash. Many would argue that capitalism itself is exploitative and that washing dishes and have sex (while tending to remain poor) is pathological. Nonetheless, the point I have is that sex is effectively just like any other activity, as far as selling it is concerned.
    loveofsophia wrote:
    The confusion and inappropriateness of sex in a context of acquiring money is easily recognized. The only reason for it existing: it is a response to the frustration one may encounter when thwarted in trying to acquire a healthy sexual relationship, which is the biologically common place for raising what can result, children. The potential for disrupting the functionality of a relationship by another being able to buy sexual favors from another seems obvious. It is obviously more a problem if one is already “committed” to another. Buying sex is obviously more an illusion of having a sexual relationship for those that lack a sexual relationship.

    Under the same rational, one could argue that any activity is inappropriate in the context of aquiring money. For example, you say that prostiution exists because of the frustition of purchasers in being thwarted in finding a sexual relationship, so they then hire a sex worker. But you see, in the same way a woman who works all day and doesn’t have a stay-at-home husband to clean her house while she’s at work might hire a maid. How is that different?

    Let me explain this analogy in other words:

    Pretend there is a girlfriend and her boyfriend. She works all day, and he stays at home doing house-work such as cleaning. Then, she gets out of work, comes home, and they have sex. Now, pretend they break up. She hires a maid, and he hires a prostitute. How is his purchase relevantly different than hers?

  47. petunia said,

    Floyd wrote:
    I feel that way, especially since in our world it’s much harder for a woman, namely a poor, undereducated, drug-addicted, psychologically-unstable, etc. woman, to make a living than a man.

    Is pathological a judgement or a term being used in place of psychologically unstable? I was reading it to mean that suffering, desperation, and violation in an individual’s development produces a willingness to subject oneself to more of the same. This is not a judgement call, but a way of determining cause and effect.

    Floyd wrote:
    Frankly, I feel bad for these women. Essentially, they have no choice but to sell their sex.

    I hope no one in this thread is judging the individual. To judge the societal context that generates this dynamic is one thing, but once we are dealing with an individual, it is no longer theory or a system to criticize, but a unique experience that is not our own and that boundary always deserves a measure of respect. Isn’t it important to evaluate the systems in place that produce suffering and a lack of options for the individual?

    As a footnote, i’ve often wondered if individuals who marry someone primarily for the benefit of their money, without a sense of meaningful personal attachment or concern, might be performing a long-term act related to prostitution.

  48. petunia said,

    Reformed Nihilist wrote:
    I don’t claim that there are not physiological and hormonal things that occur when you engague in sex with someone you don’t know well that create an unnatural intimacy. I question if these things necessarily lead to pathological conditions. I know many people who have engaged in long periods of casual sex with a variety of partners, and although I might disagree with their choices, their behaviour doesn’t strike me as pathological by any means. The seem like normal people.

    I see what you are questioning better here. A couple of points to consider is that the possibility of cancer of the cervix increases with multiple parters in women. Could continual exposure to intercourse cause other physical damage, constant irritation, and tissue damage? It doesn’t typically require that for a woman to get pregnant, so why would nature construct the reproductive system for “overuse”. The possibility of having more frequent infections anyplace the sun doesn’t shine is not exactly a job perk. Increased infection and tissue damage is typical for any excessive physical usage. Also, the hormones produced during sex produce a sense of attachment. In women it is a similar process when nursing. In nature there are reasons why these activities should produce attachment. Even though no visible harm is done, would it make sense that a habit rejecting a sense of attachment could eventually make it more difficult to form one in relation to sexual activity? Creating habits in conflict with these natural systems may not destroy or visibly harm the individual, but is there proof or reason to assume it strengthens the individual – or even has a neutral outcome? The human body can withstand a great deal of punishment from toxins, irritation, deprivation, and keep on ticking. Just because the body can survive something well enough doesn’t mean it is an ideal course of action.
    Reformed Nihilist wrote:
    I am trying to point out what I see as a double standard that exists within a complex issue, so please don’t read my position to be that all sex workers lead happy lives except for the fact that they are harshly judged by society.

    It is challenging to completely separate out the act of accepting payment for the physical service of sex from all negative context to examine the act in and of itself and compare it to many activities that are considered “normal” and healthy. My first $.02 would be to ask if it is possible to find a record of a stable, long-term arrangement of prostitution that proved healthy. Throughout history there are many that are socially acceptable, but there are limits on ones ability to determine its psychological effects either way. We end up back with the old debate about normality/social acceptance vs. well being of the individual. If prostitution is typically associated with other forms of suffering and control in many contexts and throughout different time periods and cultures, it seems reasonable to me to examine the possible inherent relationships between the two.

  49. reformed nihilist said,

    I agree that it is reasonable to examine the relatonship and question if it is inherent. That is what I am doing as well. The traditional view is that it is, and I am examining the subject by questioning the traditional view. I agree that finding a case where a person engaged in sex trade and was relatively healthy would be very telling. I am not aware of an actual study of such a case, nor of anyone looking for such. Is “the hooker with a heart of gold” an archetype? Most likely. I would be fascinated to see the results of such a study though.

    Something else that needs to be considered is that psychological pathology is normative. Homosexuality was pathological many years ago, and now is considered a healthy form of sexuality.

    In regard the increased health risks of sex work, I am certain that the average oil worker (I live in an oil town) has much more serious health concerns than a legal sex worker. The health risks involved in the illegality and ‘shadyness’ of prostitution are serious and I don’t mean to minimize them though. The task itself is much less physically harmfull or dangerous than what many people do for a living.

  50. hypothesis said,

    There’s not so much moral/ethical difference between an unpaid slut and a paid one. A woman who sleeps around a lot does so for personal satisfaction. A prostitute then is better off than a slut, not only does she gain personal satisfaction but also money and if she’s good, a reputation.

  51. loveofsophia said,

    Floyd wrote:
    I agree that it is most fulfilling in a relationship, but that’s nothing unique to the activity of sex, as compared to other activities. (Granted, sex is more extreme.) I’d rather do dishes for my hypothetical wife and have sex with her. However, if I need money I might get a job washing disgusting dishes for 6 bucks an hour. Similarly, she might get a job blowing creepy guys. If they’re both legal, is there really an effective difference (besides perhaps extremeness)? If one is pathological, isn’t the other also pathological (even if not as extremely)? If one is exploitative, isn’t the other?

    This is a reduction/simplification that I can’t entirely follow. Psychologically, I find that the disparity between would be best (healthy sexual relationship) to what would be less (safe sex while drunk with someone else accomplishing mutual pleasure) to what would be worse (selling sex for a living where ones pleasure is secondary to another gaining pleasure); these considerations make the case for me. Sex doesn’t make sense to me if it isn’t with intent for the other person to gain pleasure both emotionally and physically. It becomes an escape and a lesser thing that in being lesser only emphasizes its lack when done. The degradation of something one may hope to have function in a more fulfilling environment, this contrast, discourages me from thinking the sex industry is healthy if it can be avoided.

    Now…is cleaning dishes good or fulfilling as a job, it depends on the options one finds available. If it is work that pays it isn’t all bad, people need to live. And neither is sex work all bad. It is only hurtful and something ultimately destructive both mentally and relationally to others. Is it culturally determined, this damage to ones mental health? I wouldn’t pretend to know.

    I suspect that this is a value discussion. What is best for humans to accomplish certain ends and what are good habits and character attributes that will help them accomplish those goals? I do not believe it likely that sex work has a role in accomplishing any ideal “healthy” functions individually or socially.

    I will be honest. This is partially a subjective emotive reaction on my part. From my perspective and for me, I would not feel good about paying someone to do the deed with me. I would feel disgusted with the whole thing. Disgust most of all with myself, for I feel it is a major departure from where sex belongs in any relationship I would have with another. I may idealize sex and relationships…and maybe for others they may have a different disposition. It is hard for me to think this likely and I do what most people do, presume what I would find unhealthy is more humanly unhealthy than only unhealthy for myself.
    Perhaps we would want to look at the conditions that would lead me so desperate for money that I’m going to wash dishes for cash or her to have sex for cash. Many would argue that capitalism itself is exploitative and that washing dishes and have sex (while tending to remain poor) is pathological. Nonetheless, the point I have is that sex is effectively just like any other activity, as far as selling it is concerned.

    I don’t entirely agree with this. We have created this abstraction that certain things are worth such and such, this is not exploitative, it is a natural. It is not so different than the guy in the jungle that hands over his goods to a friend in exchange for some other goods. The exchange and accumulation of goods/services that acquire the money for other goods is capitalism (as well as many other particulars…but you get my gist).

    Paying someone to wash dishes is a service we all acknowledge necessary if restaurants of any kind exist. Sex is a type of good when purely instinctually recognized, but it is a part of a relationship’s “whole good” when not compartmentalized outside a relationship. People don’t usually think of their relationships in a capitalistic sense. I give you this good for that good. It is in the “our good” compartment of life, that is the emotive relationship to sex in a healthy relationship. It is not something given to gain. I think this is the origination of my disgust with sex for money. It makes it something less than what it can be. But maybe I am a romantic.
    Under the same rational, one could argue that any activity is inappropriate in the context of acquiring money. For example, you say that prostitution exists because of the frustration of purchasers in being thwarted in finding a sexual relationship, so they then hire a sex worker. But you see, in the same way a woman who works all day and doesn’t have a stay-at-home husband to clean her house while she’s at work might hire a maid. How is that different?

    Let me explain this analogy in other words:

    Pretend there exists a girlfriend and her boyfriend. She works all day, and he stays at home doing house-work such as cleaning. Then, she gets out of work, comes home, and they have sex. Now, pretend they break up. She hires a maid, and he hires a prostitute. How is his purchase relevantly different than hers?

    I appreciate your perspective on this. I find this does point to an unhealthy nature to being paid for our work in life. In the end this points to a lack of health in the capitalistic system. It is demeaning thing to be paid for what society needs and fulfills needs that are given in a reciprocal interconnection that speaks more of completeness with others than self-sustaining separate agents together.

    Ideally, we would all do our tasks that would be best suited to our abilities and potentials and this should provide a necessary niche in the whole community of interconnected and interdependent people (but have we left earth and gone to heaven). I will not pretend capitalism is the answer…I am just wary of anything else because nothing else has presented itself in history that has proven as “successful.” (Maybe an arguable assertion)

    If men were in need of sex and a woman fulfills that need for men that are lonely, if this then enables the woman to eat food, gain shelter, and maintain herself in the world as a result, well I guess that doesn’t seem all that bad. However, I find myself wondering if there wouldn’t be more fulfilling work for that person but maybe taking on the role occasionally really wouldn’t bother that person regardless. Usually it seems like pretend for myself when in a purely sexual foray, because I am searching for something greater than just sexual release. But maybe in some circumstances sex work is the easiest/only route one sees presented to them for some security.

  52. ms anthropist said,

    Floyd i disagree, selling ones body is the ultimate degradation in a sick capitalistic society. Scrubbing pots is a dignified job and i believe the condictions for wash up people should be greatly improved, because they are rendering a good service. The only thing that demotes a washing up job is not the job per se, but the conditions that surround it, such as bad pay, no economic security, no contract, no pension, no holidays, not sufficient breaks, bad ergonomics and so on and so forth. I consider that washing up would be a good job if the conditions surrounding the possition were to be improved. As to prostitution…eecks. for instance, in your hypothetical example, you are quick to voluntare your hypothetical wife to go off and suck cock for a living while you become a dish washer. Would you be able to revert the roles? i mean, men, rich old dirty men are just as keen to have a pretty boy sucking them off than a girl.

    My point is that you are trying to be politically correct, which as an egalitarian is commendable. But i rather be a peasant woman with integrity than pulling my knickers down for a living. SEx as a commodity is the ultimate symptom of a rotten capitalistic state where everything is for sale, even its members.

    Understanding Marxist allienation theory i can see that a lot of people are to a certain extent dehumanised by their jobs, not just dishwashers, but lecturers and bank managers too…in this society more and more people creates their self image in relation to their job. people identifies with what they do and this becomes their social function, their servise to the world…it is wrong and i try not delimit myself by my occupation. But it happens.

    Prostitution is not easy money but it is fast money. And i don’t think that it is healthy, not just in terms of STI’s but in terms of mental health. How could a person tolerate to be touch for money, to feel a decrepit man’s foul breath upon your sacred temple. His stale saliva falling on your skin…it most be the most horrific experience on earth, you could never desentisised (spell) yourself to that. It would be like rape every day, every twenty minutes. You might be able to create greater walls to cover up for the pain and humilation that such action may produce, but you can’t oblitarate it.

  53. reformed nihilist said,

    ms anthropist wrote:
    How could a person tolerate to be touch for money, to feel a decrepit man’s foul breath upon your sacred temple. His stale saliva falling on your skin…it most be the most horrific experience on earth, you could never desentisised (spell) yourself to that. It would be like rape every day, every twenty minutes. You might be able to create greater walls to cover up for the pain and humilation that such action may produce, but you can’t oblitarate it.

    Decrepit man? Stale saliva? Are you sure there aren’t normalish guys who are johns? When I was 21 I tried a prostitue. I really just wanted to see what it was all about. We talked for about fifteen minutes, we groped a bit and then I ended up not getting excited and sending her home act undone. But I have to say that she seemed like a decent and normal girl. Nothing to indicate an emotional hardness.

    We run into problems when we think that everybody values things the same way that we do. It is pretty clear that you have some strong values attached to sex. What I am wondering if someone doesn’t hold those same values (which is quite conceivable, I think), then is sex for money an inherently damaging practice?

    Let me put it another way. You like movies, right? Ever watch a movie with erotic content? I doesn’t have to be porn, but say something like “The Piano” with Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel (both brilliant actors) where they are naked and touching each other erotically. At what point is what they do damaging to their emotional health? At what point are they degrading themselves? Is it penatration? Why penatration? Isn’t that arbitrary?

  54. ms anthropist said,

    I am not great into the movie thing, but i like theater and i did watch a play recently “the outlying islands” where the actors do get nacked and down to it. However it was a pretend act. Also, in cinema i imagine that the way it is filmed makes it different to an actual sexual act. furthermore this are actions of artistic expression. I had a friend who did life performance, one of her pieces, which she could only do once every few months was to save her sexual organs in a chirophan (spell) table. I can see that differntly to the action if a guy was to ask her to do it in order to get off for say fourty or sixty dollars.

    the thing about prostitutes (the escorts i met in ireland) is that you can’t choose your customers. you might get the odd young guy being curious, but most of the time is farmers that stink and older men.

    You might think that this particular woman whom you saw had no qualms about her job, i doubt it. Most working girls i saw might appear to be fine, but it is more illusory than real. Also, she was probably relieved to have a young, clean and well spoken customer who doesn’t make her toe nails curl.

  55. reformed nihilist said,

    Again, I am not disputing that life for most prostitutes is not particularly nice. That doesn’t imply that sex work is inherenly damaging, just that it ends up being damaging in many situations. Do you see the distinction I am making?

  56. hypothesis said,

    That fact that no one participating in this thread is a prostitute somewhat hinders the value of this discussion. To assume that all prostitution is a result of destitution is a big generalisation. To such a woman there would be plenty of other valid job options yet she chooses the one with the most money, perhaps out of greed

    Prostitution is not usually a life time career, most women move onto other jobs, while a few, might enjoy it and do it until they decide to retire, or because old age affects their profitability.

  57. ms anthropist said,

    Not really, by what you say i understand a circus artist who gets knives thrown at her twice a day, four days a week by her act partner. It is not damaging, but potentially so and one day, oops. it might hit her. I can only imagine that that saying about killing applies to prostitution…the first murder or client being the harder. Likesay i met a few scorts and they were lost souls. I can’t imagine that anyone that would choose to sell her or his body for money in such a manner could be in a sound stage of mind (discounting the child prostitution trafficing in developing countries). Drug addicts do it because under extreme addiction their sense of being and morality is obliterated, but women that choose prostitution as a carreer, there has to be something wrong.

    Saying that, i might have a particularly strong view about what sex should be and what prostitution entails. To cut a long story short, my dad, who is an ex franciscan (who became a troskyst and left the order) is currently involved with a retired prostitute whom he met many years ago, when she was still active. He is the first one to say that she isn’t the smartest, but she buys me channel glasses, so i can’t hold it against her. Apparently he stil pays her, but they have a strange sort of agreement, i guess. She is married to her ex-pimp who beats her up and caught my father in their closset a few months ago! The man is sixty and i say to myself. is that it, is that all there is to love?

  58. jermaine said,

    Sorry if I do not contribute much, but just wanted to express that I think Reformed Nihilist has made many good points in this thread. I also see the points beeing made that prostitution correlates with many negative things. But as Nihilist tries to point out, these correlations are socialy conditioned.

    Selling sex – The one selling sex could do so without experiencing much physical pain. There could be negative affect/cognition associated with the act. But it could well be that these associations are just learned, and that there could exist prostitutes that do not experience any negative valence regarding their occupation.

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