Ethics of Prostitution

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Khethil
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 09:54 am
Good Afternoon,

While we've encountered this subject in a number of threads, I don't think we've hit it head on in an ethical construct[1].

Is Prostitution ever ethical? Why or why not?

CLARIFICATIONS[INDENT]For the sake of clarity, please - in this thread - regard this question as having to do with the selling sex for money in any situation. [/INDENT][INDENT]Keep your language clean - to illustrate the philosophy of your point, one needn't resort to obscene or graphic descriptions

Consider this issue in the context of a person who has reached an adult age; however you define that. Further, that the persons involved are of reasonably sound mind and emotional deportment.
[/INDENT][INDENT]Please differentiate between what's 'legal' and what's ethical; these are two different things and we're not concerned with the legality at this point - only it's ethical implications.
[/INDENT]SEEDS: ITEMS TO CONSIDER

  • Can prostitution ever be a 'good' practice?
  • Whether affluent or impoverished; does the situation affect your view?
  • Does it make a difference, in your ethical evaluation, whether or not such prostituting is being done by a man or woman?
  • Are there historical precedents that support your estimation?
  • Do you take a culturally-relativistic view of prostitution? Can you justify this?
  • What effect does the spread of Sexually-transmitted diseases have on your ethical evaluation? Should it play a part at all? Is it the biggest issue?

Please do not attack one another; if this happens, that post will be either reported, result in an infraction or simply be deleted. Attack the ethicacy of other views, if you wish, but not the person (including your estimations of their intelligence, motives or any other about the individual)

I look forward to opinions and ideas




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[1] This Thread has some good discussion its lawfulness
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10:44 am
@Khethil,
The source of 'wrongness' in prostitution for me can stem from only two sources:

1) That it is dangerous without strict regulation
2) That it is possibly psychologically unhealthy for the women involved

Legalized prostitution seems to largely take care of both of these. If the position came to be respected, there would be no shame for the participants.

A scheduled testing for STD's and strict requirement that the prostitutes and their customers use protection should allow for a safe situation. The more secure situation should make the job more accommodating to the women who do it. The final nail would be a general acceptance of the trade in society.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 11:04 am
@Zetetic11235,
What's the difference between going on a date and seeing a prostitute (assuming that in both cases the participants are informed, consenting, and mentally competent adults) ?

On a date, you spend money and hope for sex. When you see a prostitute, you spend money and know you'll get sex.

Crude, yet informative. So just remember: if dating and marriage are 1) economic and sexual relationships and 2) acceptable, then prostitution would also be acceptable. However, it also follows that if prostitution is unacceptable, then dating and marriage (as described) would also be unacceptable.
 
gaz7224
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 01:02 pm
@Khethil,
Live and let be.

I think any judgement against prostitutes is to do with the person who's judging, rather than the prostitutes. Often when we judge others, it's because we see our shadow in them.

I think some do it out of desperation, because they can't see any other choice. I think if it was legalised, it would make it safer. People can be afraid of reporting assaults, in the business, for fear of judgement and legal prosecution. I don't see how this helps anyone.

It's a bit controlling really - "you can't do what you want with your body because it's illegal". Professing to know how someone feels also - "it's downgrading". I disagree with all this, projecting stuff onto people and such like.

In some cases, the person is in need of guidance, or help. In others, they do it because they want to, AND because they can.

"The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men, but rather their conqueror, an outlaw, who controls the sexual channels between nature and culture." Camille Paglia

Gaz
 
PoeticVisionary
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 01:18 pm
@Khethil,
New Mysterianism until 2 1/2 years ago I would have agreed 100% with you. But my perspective has changed, drastically. I now have a daughter. So my simple male egocentric answer has become a conundrum. (side-note I have 5 boys) Yes at times dating is vaguely similar to prostitution. But only in the pay and hope for sex versus the pay and guarantee of sex. Logically there is no comparison of dating/marriage with prostitution.(Married twice and marriage is no guarantee of sex..LOL)
I guess my point is I would not want my daughter or my wife doing that for a living.
But if it is consenting adults and legal I don't see it as unethical. I know what I'm saying is a bit hypocritical. But I do believe personal opinion is going to always filter in.
 
RDanneskjld
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 01:42 pm
@Khethil,
I have no problem at all with Prostitution between consenting adults. With prostituion being mutually beneficial in a lot of cases. And think that legalisation can go some of the way to dealing with the major problems surrounding prostitution. For example if Prostitution was made legal, the girls working would be protected under the law.

STI infection is a worry, but it is no more of a worry than the rapid rise in the spread among teenagers, the important thing education about Safe Sex so participtants can make informed choices. Condom use is almost universal in the higher ends of prostitution & more common in even the worst cases of Prostitution than many would think. I dont think we could ban Prostitution on the grounds of STI transmission or we would be forced to ban other high risk but currently legal sexual activitys.

Coercion with the goal of sex happens in many other fields of life. Such as emotional, financial (Not rare in married couples one earner) & even social pressures from peer groups. But we dont frown upon this nearly as much as we do with prostitution.
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 02:16 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism;83784 wrote:
What's the difference between going on a date and seeing a prostitute (assuming that in both cases the participants are informed, consenting, and mentally competent adults) ?

On a date, you spend money and hope for sex. When you see a prostitute, you spend money and know you'll get sex.

Crude, yet informative. So just remember: if dating and marriage are 1) economic and sexual relationships and 2) acceptable, then prostitution would also be acceptable. However, it also follows that if prostitution is unacceptable, then dating and marriage (as described) would also be unacceptable.


Crude is correct. I'll re-word your argument.

1) Apples are red and a fruit
2) Apples are sweet

Therefore tomatoes, which are also red fruits (only technically fruits, but then what are technicalities for if not to exploit them?) must also be sweet, and if tomatoes are not sweet, then apples cannot be sweet.

The problem here is that we fail to examine the content of what's inside the fruit...or the sex. Sure, if you look only at the surface, apples and tomatoes are only superficially different, as are dating and prostitution (especially in some countries). But, speaking for those of us who have humped both prostitutes and women who were ostensibly "off the clock" (though in the light of human sexuality, one may wonder if such a state exists), the below-the-surface difference between the sex acts in question is quite profound.

I have much less a problem with prostitution than I do with word-games masquerading as meaningful arguments.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 02:22 pm
@RDanneskjld,
I suppose it only fair that I express my current opinion too. I say "current" because it's just that. Conversations around here and pondering the issue over time has mitigated my views somewhat. In any case....

The short answer for me is "Yes" - Prostitution can be ethical, but only a very specific set of circumstances. There are a GREAT many more contexts, in my opinion, that make it less ethical.

The problem for me, with this issue, is twofold: [INDENT]For one, I understand and look back at the role sex has played in my life and I see it inextricably tied to not only my having fathered two new lives (the closest thing to divinity that I'll ever experience), but also the emotional, very personal element. So this isn't just a commodity, to me personally. But I can very well see how it might be for others not of my mindset.
[/INDENT][INDENT]The second issue that exacerbates this is money. In a nutshell, I hate it. I well recognize that needing to earn it is virtually a requirement for living nowadays and I'm playing my part. But getting it has been such a source crime, hate and discord in our world while the lack thereof causes SO much pain. I suppose it's my idealism showing through, but I somehow resent living in a world where the average person (in my culture) must spend about 50% of their waking lives 'whoring' themselves out just to survive.
[/INDENT]Combine this second issue with the first and the whole issue becomes emotionally loaded. So my take, right now, is this: Only when it is done freely, by consenting adults who are not forced or strong-armed into it by virtue of their needing money, it's it completely ethical, to me. Where one has to compromise their personal self; that intimate and private place where body meets mind, just to live, be enslaved or otherwise not of their choice, it can't be called ethical.

So that's where I'm at - still hoping to hear more opinions.
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 02:45 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;83845 wrote:
The second issue that exacerbates this is money. In a nutshell, I hate it. I well recognize that needing to earn it is virtually a requirement for living nowadays and I'm playing my part. But getting it has been such a source crime, hate and discord in our world while the lack thereof causes SO much pain. I suppose it's my idealism showing through, but I somehow resent living in a world where the average person (in my culture) must spend about 50% of their waking lives 'whoring' themselves out just to survive.


This is much more interesting than the problem of prostitution. Surely you realise that money is just a symbol of exchange used to procure the objects of our desire. Shouldn't your resentment (insofar as this is at all the appropriate reaction) be more properly targeted at the wellspring of those desires, rather than their most superficial trappings?
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 03:09 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism;83784 wrote:
What's the difference between going on a date and seeing a prostitute (assuming that in both cases the participants are informed, consenting, and mentally competent adults) ?

On a date, you spend money and hope for sex. When you see a prostitute, you spend money and know you'll get sex.

Crude, yet informative. So just remember: if dating and marriage are 1) economic and sexual relationships and 2) acceptable, then prostitution would also be acceptable. However, it also follows that if prostitution is unacceptable, then dating and marriage (as described) would also be unacceptable.


I would hope that one does not seek to have a relationship solely for sex, if so then they should be trying to pick up promiscuous women at raves and parties. I would think that one would usually be looking for some aspect of commonality in a long term relationship, an aspect that is totally divorced from the sexual act (unless maybe they are both libertines). So if you were to look at women with no potential beyond sexual objects, your argument holds; if not, then it falls apart.

The distinction between a date and a hookup is intent; the date may be a misguided attempt at a simple hookup, but generally I think that it is an attempt to build a deeper connection between the male and the female (or male and male or female and female), as it is socially accepted that certain types of information sharing is generally relegated to the courtship setting. A date that is simply for the purpose of seeking sexual gratification is a waste of time. Your best bet is to either hightail it to Nevada (legalized prostitution) or try local bars, parties and raves. Personally, I think that legalized prostitution is safer than informal promiscuity.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 03:14 pm
@Grimlock,
Grimlock;83842 wrote:
The problem here is that we fail to examine the content of what's inside the fruit...or the sex. Sure, if you look only at the surface, apples and tomatoes are only superficially different, as are dating and prostitution (especially in some countries). But, speaking for those of us who have humped both prostitutes and women who were ostensibly "off the clock" (though in the light of human sexuality, one may wonder if such a state exists), the below-the-surface difference between the sex acts in question is quite profound.

I have much less a problem with prostitution than I do with word-games masquerading as meaningful arguments.


You didn't provide any examples of (morally relevant) below-the-surface differences. Not very informative.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 05:20 pm
@Grimlock,
Grimlock;83856 wrote:
This is much more interesting than the problem of prostitution. Surely you realise that money is just a symbol of exchange used to procure the objects of our desire. Shouldn't your resentment (insofar as this is at all the appropriate reaction) be more properly targeted at the wellspring of those desires, rather than their most superficial trappings?


Perhaps so - or I should say more so I think. Good point
 
salima
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 07:06 pm
@gaz7224,
gaz7224;83814 wrote:

"The prostitute is not, as feminists claim, the victim of men, but rather their conqueror, an outlaw, who controls the sexual channels between nature and culture." Camille Paglia
Gaz


thank you!
i have always marveled at the fact that no one ever sees men as the victim of prostitution. and why isnt male prostitution prevalent?

a prostitute, just like the clients of prostitutes, can be ethical or unethical.

sex between human beings can be everything from a totally animal act or the highest expression of spiritual unity. the person who engages in it will get from it what they are capable of understanding and valuing. surely it can also be used as a commodity or service or skill and sold like carpentry or television repair or nursing etc.

i have no problem with prostitution as a profession. i question the morality of selling music and art! Laughing
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 07:40 pm
@Khethil,
I think this may be a good example of the practical argument for or against cultural relativity.


Can prostitution ever be a 'good' practice?
This is a semantic argument about goodness. Much of western thought is influenced by a history of sexual repression, or at the very least sexual restraint. Can it be good if it defies a cultural norm that is part of the bedrock of the defenition of the word 'good'?

Whether affluent or impoverished; does the situation affect your view?
The reason why, IMO, a majority of women who are prostitutes are "poor" or from economically challenged backgrounds is that 'good' woman do not do this. If by chance they were from a culture where prostitution were a repspected trade, it could be that those women would be quite affluent. The psychology also would be dependent on the cultural norms. Many non-chemical psychological issues have to do with either trauma or sustained dissonance. Take the dissonance out of the culture and the emotional/psychological problems associated with a (safe/regulated) prostitution career would not be an issue.

Does it make a difference, in your ethical evaluation, whether or not such prostituting is being done by a man or woman?
Gender roles, economics, and biology have sway here. More female prostitutes because 1) it is more acceptable to be a prostitute as a woman. 2) men traditionally have had easier access to income. 3) Men have a more aggressive sex drive. Also men have a more difficult time competing for sexual partners than women. I don't think there is an ethical difference just a statisitcal one.

Are there historical precedents that support your estimation?
There could be but I'm too lazy to look them up.

Do you take a culturally-relativistic view of prostitution? Can you justify this?
Yes: it is similar to other relativistic examples like Polygeny, Homosexuality and other moral dilemmas of our times.

What effect does the spread of Sexually-transmitted diseases have on your ethical evaluation? Should it play a part at all? Is it the biggest issue?
Regulation should cover this, at least in affluent countries.

To sum up:
It's only unethical if it is built into the system to be such.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 08:08 pm
@Khethil,
Why would an act of prostitution be an ethical action, or even be seen as one? Isn't this really the prior question to be asked?
 
hammersklavier
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 08:40 pm
@Khethil,
If a prostitute is a prostitute out of choice, that is, at some point she decided she wanted to be a prostitute, then isn't it ethically wrong to deny her that choice? Zetetic, I think, hits the nail on the head.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 09:12 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;83910 wrote:
Why would an act of prostitution be an ethical action, or even be seen as one? Isn't this really the prior question to be asked?


Yes. I think that prostitution as such is a morally innocuous activity. However, for many people, sex and morality are interconnected. Some complain that discussion about sex, such as in sex education classes, is worse than worthless--it is downright corrupt--if divorced from talk about morality. Yet, with the exception of specialized concepts such as sexual harrassment, most contemporary moral philosophers have very little to say about sex. In part, this may be due to the modern idea that many traditional beliefs about sex are steeped in superstitious, prejudiced, or misguided views that are in need of scientific correction. Traditionally, there has been a cultural demand that commitment is required before engaging in sex. However, a "double standard" exists that lets men routinely practice sex in the absence of commitment without cultural disapproval. On the other hand, women are more likely to be viewed as "immoral" if they engage in sex without commitment.

I am not suggesting here that sex ought never to be connected with love or that it is not a more significant and valuable activity when it is. Nor am I denying that individuals need love as much as sex and perhaps emotionally need at least one complete relationship which encompasses both. However, I think that any analysis of sex which imputes a moral character to sexual acts in themselves is wrong. There is no morality intrinsic to sex, although general moral rules apply to the treatment of others in sexual acts just as they apply to all human relations. We can speak of a sexual ethic as we can speak of a business ethic, without implying that business in itself is either moral or immoral or that "special rules" are required to judge business practices which are not derived from rules that apply elsewhere as well. Sex is not itself a moral category, although like business it invariably places us into relations with others in which moral rules certainly apply. It undoubtedly gives us opportunity to do what is otherwise recognized as wrong, to harm others, to deceive them or manipulate them against their wills. But just as the fact that an act is sexual in itself never renders it wrong unless it is wrong on other grounds (sexual acts towards minors, etc.)
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 09:42 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Can prostitution ever be a 'good' practice?


I don't really know if I like the phrasing of this question. "Ever be" seems to imply I must consider that prostitution is regarded as a 'bad' practice to begin with, or in most cases. If prostitution were generally regarded as a 'good' thing, there would be no point to include "ever be", right? In others words, the question doesn't seem neutral. It appears loaded, to some degree.

Quote:
Whether affluent or impoverished; does the situation affect your view?


Sure. If one is impoverished and is spending all the money they have on sex, instead of, perhaps, food for their family, it would affect my view. I can think of a handful of different scenarios where the purchasing of sex could be considered frivolous and/or unethical, but these judgments wouldn't be exclusive to prostitution.

Quote:
Does it make a difference, in your ethical evaluation, whether or not such prostituting is being done by a man or woman?


No.

Quote:
Are there historical precedents that support your estimation?


Which estimation do you desire support for?

Quote:
Do you take a culturally-relativistic view of prostitution? Can you justify this?


How could we not take culture into consideration?

Quote:
What effect does the spread of Sexually-transmitted diseases have on your ethical evaluation? Should it play a part at all? Is it the biggest issue?
could play a part, but they're most definitely not necessarily associated with prostitution.

All this said, I have absolutely no problem with someone purchasing sex. It is a service, like any service. As long as both (or however many) individuals are comfortable, I see no problem.
 
William
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 09:50 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;83845 wrote:
The short answer for me is "Yes"


You have no idea of how greatful I am to have never taken an ethics course in my life. IMO, as long as "costs" are involved ethics doesn't exist. It is only our attempt to find reason for that which is innately wrong so it's "not that bad". An extremely slippery slope which can be defined as the rationalistic "gray area". In that respect we are indeed elephants and we can only hope we do not live up to the axiom of "the bigger they are, the harder they fall" when it comes to the United States of America, the grayest country on the face of the Earth as black and white, and any who voice any attempts to define right and wrong are slowly disintergrating right before our eyes. Years ago I heard myself say "cost of living" and it just hit me wrong. What the hell is ethiical about that? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! I got to thinking about the idea of charging a human being for the right to "have" food; not to mention selling their body and it's parts to "make ends meet", including killing it's unborn in order to survive! God damn it!!!!!!! (Of course, that's another issue, isn't it?)


Khethil;83845 wrote:
Prostitution can be ethical, but only a very specific set of circumstances.


Please, name me just ONE (1).

Khethil;83845 wrote:
There are a GREAT many more contexts, in my opinion, that make it less ethical.


IMO, my friend, there is no such thing as "less ethical". Either it is "right" or it is "wrong". Black and white, no gray as far as "being ethical" is concerned. For if there is a "less ethical" it cancels out any perceived definition of the word of which there are a TON. Hence, the term "elephant" especially in this country.

Khethil;83845 wrote:
The problem for me, with this issue, is twofold:
[INDENT] For one, I understand and look back at the role sex has played in my life and I see it inextricably tied to not only my having fathered two new lives (the closest thing to divinity that I'll ever experience)
,

Khethil, any two lifeforms can have "sex" and it is in the definition of the word that has been so totally misconstrued and interpreted by those who engage in "it" as it has become a recreational sport and of course as this thread implies a way to "earn a living". You my friend engaged in the most "intimate act" in the universe a man and a woman can "share" to bring life into this world. For any other reason is a bit selfish and self gratifying only, but, permissable if those parameters are in place should an "accident happen". Of course no accidents should happen if a woman is paying attention to what her body is telling her. There is nothing ethical about that, it is the truth and it is right. Period, IMO. Now if you want to call that ethical, fine, do so. That would mean all other interpretations would be "unethical". Such as prostitution, for example and trying to find a ethical reason for it is impossibe. IMO. It is simply a "survival mechanism". Like murder. There is no ethical reason for it, in any context once we learn "why" people go to such extremes.


Khethil;83845 wrote:
but also the emotional, very personal element. So this isn't just a commodity, to me personally. But I can very well see how it might be for others not of my mindset.


Khethil, what others and why don't they have this "right" mindset? I don't wish you to name names, but give some thought as to why others have the mindsets they do? I think you truly "don't see" because you don't want to see the real wrong nature of what a chemically laded woman of the street goes through to survive in this world to "earn a living". In all due respect. Call girls are women of the street, only 10 floors up.

Certainly not Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman) who participated in the worst movie of all time that twisted even more this ages old story of woman and her "cinderalla" saga that comes from the mind of man and her fate only to be rescued by that same man. Hmmm? Talk about entrapment?

Khethil;83845 wrote:
The second issue that exacerbates this is money. In a nutshell, I hate it. I well recognize that needing to earn it is virtually a (programmed) requirement for living nowadays and I'm playing my part. But getting it has been such (IS) a source of crime, hate and discord in our world,,,,


Sorry, my friend for adding a few words of my own to better explain my understanding, but all and all this quote took the words right out of my mouth. I just added a little more "emphasis".

Khethil;83845 wrote:
.....while the lack thereof causes SO much pain.


How could we possibly know the pain of those who have so little unless we do walk in their shoes and experience the mental anguish and depravation of the poverty (mental ans physical) they have "no choice" but to exist in as many just don't have what the "status quo" requires to earn a living?

Hell Khethil, not only do they use drugs in order to cope, they use them "as money" swapping this drug for food easily obtained by less than unscrupulous pharmicists, drug dealers and "friends". Pain pills are the most common among all types of other drugs readily available such as crack, ice and all forms of "homemade crap" that can be fabricated with common stuff you can buy at Wal-Mart.

Money has always been the problem. I have been talking about this in over a 1000 posts. Charging a price to live on this planet is the number one reason for all the ill's plagued by man and woman. All will heal once we take money and the rarity of it out of our equations. and create a system base abundance but managed and resource based. Humankind being that most valuable resource and what they can offer that does not require prostituting their very lives and welfare to obtain. Of course those who do have it, will create a rationalization that will be the 'exception to this truth'. I guarantee it. It's always been that way.

Khethil;83845 wrote:
I suppose it's my idealism showing through, but I somehow resent living in a world where the average person (in my culture) must spend about 50% of their waking lives 'whoring' themselves out just to survive.
Khethil;83845 wrote:


Seeking the ideal? May I ask what is so wrong with that? In lieu of rotting in mediocrity, I will vote for aspirations to the ideal in a heartbeat as long as no one has to sacrifice. (opulence not included, but eliminated)
[/INDENT]
Khethil;83845 wrote:
So my take, right now, is this: Only when it is done freely, by consenting adults who are not forced or strong-armed into it by virtue of their needing money, it's it completely ethical, to me.


In all due respect, Khethil, virtue has nothing to do with it, IMO. It is two deprived people meeting in the middle; one to survive and one to be self-gratified. End the depravation and the cause of it and both will just go poof......................and disappear, IMO.


Khethil;83845 wrote:
Where one has to compromise their personal self; that intimate and private place where body meets mind, just to live, be enslaved or otherwise not of their choice, it can't be called ethical. So that's where I'm at - still hoping to hear more opinions.


And thank you for allowing me to give mine. Thanks for the post.

William
 
Theages
 
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10:17 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;83910 wrote:
Why would an act of prostitution be an ethical action, or even be seen as one? Isn't this really the prior question to be asked?

No, it really is not.
 
 

 
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