Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What Constitutes Prostitution?

Most people would roughly define prostitution as "selling the body". It is generally viewed as objectionable to make a sex-for-money kind of deal. The question that arises, why can't that deal be view as any other deal. The thing is: If we consider "selling our body" to be ethically wrong, then ALL work is ethically wrong.

As some might notice, we lend our bodies everyday in way that are viewed as "acceptable". Working in general implies that we use our body functions to produce a service or a product in exchange for money or an equivalent service or product. Consider a construction worker, he is using his physical strength and muscles to serve a building. A receptionist is using their physical existence to serve customers. A dentist uses his hands to fix teeth, and an engineer uses his mind and hands to come up with designs. So whats different when a person uses his physical form and genitalia to please?! It is not intrinsically different than commodifying any other part that an employer might make use of.

If we consider a more basic view, (considering Hedonism) we find that "pleasure" is the only service of real value. At the end of the day, every product sold or service offered is finally converted into a comfort commodity. Money is of no value at all if it cannot be converted into pleasurable items. So we can say, prostitution provides a service of usable value, something that will not undergo further transformations. A property that doesn't apply to many services offered on the market!

If we look at things from a more abstract level, we can see that many sex-for-a-service instances occur without being deemed objectionable. What about sex-for-love? Why is sex-for-love generally viewed as less problematic? Why is it that two "love-birds" making out viewed less objectionable than making out for the money?!

Don't you think "monogamy" is a kind of prostitution?! Isn't preserving the genitalia for "one true love" a type of accommodating one's body?! Some people suggest that prostitution makes people see others as commodities, doesn't monogamy imply that consequence?!

What about a wife that refuses to have sex with her husband because, say, he has been neglecting her. Isn't that a kind of prostitution? Doesn't that kind of behavior imply a sex-for-attention kind of deal?!

At the end of the day, prostitution is one of the oldest professions known to mankind; If we consider respect for the elders, then prostitution deserves just that!!

PS: Partly inspired by this entry
PS: Check this funny cartoon loosely related to the topic [Thanks No Angel]


Batel said...

I saw a good example of prostitution today on Al jazeera. The israelis want to build a US-funded Peace & Dialoug center on a Muslim cemetery, and they have already built a parking lot on top of portions of the Muslim cemetery. The Arabs are fighting the Israeli decision. In court, a Jordanian general and a Jordanian Shiek support the Israeli position with special fatwas to make it legal to do so. Of course, both prostitutes have received funding in the past from the US for various projects.

Now that's prostitution.

Tala said...

no Zeid, prostitution is not something right.

i don't think that any woman who became a prostitute did that willingly rather than she didn't have any option or the circumstances forced her to.
and if you ever ask her to quit for a safer life she wont say no.

did you see pretty woman, she says she trys to feel nothing when she sells herself,, because its internally abusing her. she sees the absolute desire in him, not knowing him makes it worse.

how more hurt can one get.

Devil's Mind said...

If a girl believes that prostitution abuses her, she can just quit!! No one is forcing her to do that job! Yet, prostitution remains a legitimate option for anyone who is Okay with it.

I guess ANYONE can tell you stories about how their job is taking emotional and physical resources from them... Its just what work does!!

Haven't you ever heard a junior school teacher saying that kids are ticking on her nerves?! That their naughtiness is using all of her power up... Does that make teaching kids "not something right"?

What exactly do you mean by "not something right"?!

Tala said...

no, a prostitute in most cases is forced,, she doesn't know anything else to do, and she got used to it. but being used to it, or at least for the first time she took money, she should have felt humiliated. maybe she won't say it, deep down she is screaming.

what is Sex, its more of emotional dimension than physical. design a machine instead, it can do the job.
you don't buy & sell emotions, and when you talk about work, work mostly is not only money reward, its more of self realisation, your happy achievements. your ego boost whats a prostitue achievement? its absolute self destruction, what ..getting money? what for, if no is respecting her, wont talk to her for the human she is, being scorned by wifes for the threat she is .. isn't she a threat on kids, teenagers. she is a momentarily pleaser. no more no less.
what does that make you feel. is it by any chance motivating.
what happens when she gets old. will anyone ever truely love her for who she is? what are the chances? what kind of life are you talking about.
what possible satisfing life pattern can you offer?

Tala said...

you should see the alcoholic woman at Dr Phil the otherday who had to have sex with the shopkeeper for a 6 packs beer.
you should see how she cried, its like being all torn over and over. its the case for all prostitutes believe on this, everyone needs someone to hold on to. and its like once on that road, its too hard to quit.
prostitution doesn't come alone, it comes with alcohol, drugs, sex abuse, all that shit. who would have to bare all that. you can't put control and humanity in this job. because its when men are plain animals.

Devil's Mind said...

I understand that prostitution might come with negative side effects, but that most important issue is choice. We cannot impose a predetermined choice on women (or people in general), because some see it as a bad choice. Only the individual has the right to decide whether their actions were good or not.

Another issue is that, as u said prostitutes are at the end of the day humans just like me and you. They deserve everything any other human being deserves.

You ask: "what happens when she gets old. will anyone ever truely love her for who she is? - I think the answer is YES... there might be someone who would love her for who she is - just like anyother human might be loved!

Okay, lets take that woman on Dr. Phil as an example.

That woman had a to make a choice. That choice was whether she does sex with the shopkeeper, or not get 6-pack beer. Apparently, at that moment she made a decision that she is ready to have sex in order to get the 6-pack beer.

She made a choice... One that she seemingly regretted later on. The thing is: She is responsible for her choice!. She is a woman with complete power to reason, think, and decide on life's matters. She might make choices that she later regrets, but she has to deal with the consequences of her own choices. She has the responsibility to do so. We all know that with choice comes responsibility. Thats my point.

Lets take things from the shopkeeper's perspective. Obviously that woman had no money on her, which is why she had to make the sex-for-beer deal.

The shopkeeper had two choices: If he was really generous, he can give her the beer completely for free. I am sure that the woman would be grateful. But the shopkeeper has no obligation whatsoever to be nice to her. She has to pay him one way or another.

Now again, if a woman with the power to think and reason offered sex for the beer. Would the shopkeeper neglect her will?! If she at that moment thought that the beer is more important than anything else, why would he neglect her free choice?

Tala said...

what im trying to prove to you that prostitution is not a Profession, its when no other choice is left.

its a 95% affirmatively logical regretable situation that one should avoid for mental and psychological sanity.

if that man had ethics he would have said no to trade sex for beer. now it comes to his part of making his choice. the problem is that a guy never says no.
sex for money is wrong. sex for sex is possibly acceptable while the two being sober. regardless of my personal opinion bas bitseer.

when you give money for her, you are using her. she doesnt really want you, she wants the money. she is at a weak position where she is being killed from inside regardless of her choice.

Devil's Mind said...

What about "Street sweepers" (In Arabic: "zbal"). Can't we say the same: "Its not a profession, its when no other choice is left."

Sure if someone cannot do a job better than sweeping the streets, he would just do that.

Say, a man is not good at doing any job, but he has a son to feed. Wouldn't he go sweeping the streets for a nominal fee?! He would, because he needs the money; NOT because he loves roaming around the streets.

In the same sense, a prostitute needs the money. She is doing what it takes to get that - just as any person who walked on this earth would.

Sure anyone who choses to do prostitution does that because no better alternative exists (same as the "street sweeper"). But given the bad circumstances, should we deprive the prostitute of his\her only source of money?!

Should we ban the street sweeper from doing his job because he isnt enjoying it?

See, I am not in position to judge people for their choices in life. Neither are you in that position to tell people what they should do.

Do you really think you have the right to tell a prostitute "Stop"?!

I totally understand your position that prostitution might be abusive. This is NOT the point we disagree upon. My objection is that we can't go tell others what they should or shouldnt do with their bodies.

Finally, as Marylin Manson puts it: "Some of them want to abuse you. Some of them want to be abused!"

Tala said...

well, to be good at any job you have to love it,even as a street sweeper, you can love your job, the street sweeper at our neighborhood is a very kind man who has artifial flowers on his bin. its not a degrading job, it doesn't hurt, it doesn't manipulate feelings.

if i was in that man's shoe i would give her the beer and talk out her problems, do something that is sensibly equal to giving her comfort rather than adding it up on her, in a way cure the cause.

Yes if i was to tell her to stop, i would. and that is if she was in my way, i won't go after them and ban them.

Anything that has to do with the word ABUSE no matter what it was, it would have negative consequences. and you are preserving what is left, because you know, and i mean you know where it would end.
when we live, we seek not to hurt others, even if they asked you to. if she wants sex, provide it, if she wants money, give it to her. but dont hurt her. or do nothing. you are not responsable.

this is my theory, tab3an it doesnt work this way..

Tala said...

a general question: do you ever accept the arguement of "this is something wrong" ? provided that what is concerned is not a mathematical equation.

what is the difference between telling you: "this is not right"
and "this is wrong"

when i told you that "this is not right", i was trying to get across "this is wrong" nicely.

Devil's Mind said...

I guess "not right" is equivalent to "wrong", but I thought you might had a different meaning in mind. Thanks for explaining yourself.

I define the "right action" as that action that serves its subjective purpose. (remember?).

As you can see, an action alone cannot be judged as right or wrong. To qualify an action as right or wrong you have to know the intention of the person who made that act. Because of that, I find it logically invalid to make absolute judgment of whether an action is right or not.

You are trying to make a generalized judgment that prostitution is bad for the one doing it. You cannot make such generalization; Every person judges for himself, no one has the right to judge for another!

Agency is the most important for any person. It is sometimes even more important than making "right" decisions all the time.

If you are wondering what agency is, here is a simple definition: "Agency is the ability to take you fate in your hand, and make life choices."

What I mean is, you might think that you are doing a prostitute good by stopping her from enacting her own decisions.

The point is, she might get abused by the sex. But taking away her ability to make life choices for herself will hurt her even more!

Tala said...

ya3ni, normally, i never saw you write: this is something wrong, this is something right,
you always use agree, disagree.

Devil's Mind said...

Exactly... Because stating that something is absolutely right or absolutely wrong is an illogical statement.

Tala said...

yeah i understand that, but one's conviction can't be relative, in order for you to take actions in your life and be self confident, your conviction which could be relative to others is an absolute for you. thats why i tend to use right and wrong.
but you are right or i agree that i should not impose my right on others.
so if i write right, wrong in any comment, it means my right not the absolute right.

Devil's Mind said...

Well, when I say right and wrong, I usually try to put myself in the other person's shoes. That is I try to look at it relative to the person doing the action.

Anyways, I'll try to keep this point in mind so that I would interpret you better next time. Also, if I happen to forget this, you might do me good and remind me.

In fact, I did understand that what you were saying is strictly true about your own views. I just don't think it was appropriate to overgeneralize. This original article I wrote was just to break that unjustified overgeneralization.

To give you fair credit, I like to think of life choices are a pack of smokes.

I mean, it IS important for girls (or people in general) to know what they are getting themselves into. They should learn both the positive and negative effects of any choice they make. It IS important that people hear those bad things you told me before about the "bad side" of prostitution.

But as I said, choices are like a pack of smokes. You read on it: "Smoking is a major cause of cancer and respiratory diseases".... Nonetheless, you still CAN buy a pack and smoke those "evil" cigarettes. Choice is the keyword here!! You are WARNED, but NOT banned!

Tala said...

agreed =P

Devil's Mind said...

I am glad we reached an understanding :D ... It took 16 comments, but it was well worth it :D

The Observer said...

I am pissed off now that I have missed this lovely conversation :).

Devil's mind, I like the way you put it. In a way, I do find your point valid. Work and prostitution can be the same if you look at it from that point of view.

I just don't believe that people have real choices. Whether it is work or prostitution. People are forced to do so in order to survive. Circumstances dictate our behaviour.

As of right and wrong. I guess that if work can be percieved as prostitution then it both can be right and wrong. Right when it is your only way to survive, and wrong for having to deal with this shit.

I guess that humanity are developing in order to reach a place where we get rid of bad work environment that are indeed another face of prostitution.

Devil's Mind said...

Well, if you got some points to make, the conversation is never over. It stays open as long as anyone has something to say :)

Yes, for the most part, what we do is dictated by the circumstances. It would be great to have good working conditions, like for example minimum wage and good working environments. For prostitution in the sense used by most people, health regulations like use of condoms and periodic medical checks are important.

What I tried to show is that prostitution is basically no different than any other type of work.

No_Angel said...

Dammit Again i miss those things. damn why is it so hard to get around w/o having JP !
and thanks for the link :)
you and tala kinda lost me there towards the impartiality at the end.

ok now to the meat of the comment
prostitution doesn't always pretain to physical contact only ! prostitution is the act of selling one's body for money, given in that context u can make a much wider demography and might bring some perspective into the reason why this option is taken.
Singers (nowadays atleast), models, and the biggest industry in the world would, the porno industry, would fall into that defintion.

in that prespective it is working with what u have not with you you earn. the temptation is less effort and more immidiate rewards.
I do agree that when it comes to the physical side of things free will makes a big issue. but in the context defined it becomes pretty prevailent that free will and culture sometime encourage the act of joining this proffesion.
in the sense the label is demonized and hence as humans we create euphisim to lighten the effect.
Escort services, brothel, harlots, models, idols these are all words we use which sound less obsense than a prostitute or a HO.
So in bare bone fashion this is the proffesion that requires the least effort and provides the best profit . no wonder its tempting to enlist and dream about it.
that is where i tend to disagree with the comparison with other profession the expertise and amount of effort required to achieve a professional level is so minimal. have you ever heard of a professional engineer at 20 ?
so the fact that sex is the most selling comodity in the world makes us sound conflicted about the fact that although we agree to deal with it but we are ashamed that we do and i think that would be heart of the argument here.
just a final snippet free choice is a subjective matter, but if you really consider someone that was not coerced by force to participate in an action to have "the only choice" excuse then you shouldn't make that claim on their behalf. and most likely that only choice was just the easiest way out choice !
everyone has a choice its just the fact that we innately try to shift the blame for our wrong ones

damn that was long, i guess that would be my 2JD worth :P

Devil's Mind said...

I guess I agree to varying extents with most of what you said - except one argument that I find misleading:

"have you ever heard of a professional engineer at 20 ?" - Age\expertise\effort are irrelevant arguments about work. Would you see a heart surgeon at age of 23?! NO! But you might find an engineer at age of 23. So what?!

Sure every profession has different typical age, required expertize, and effort. I DID NOT claim that all work are identical. Sure every work has its unique characteristics. YET all work have one property in common: They all are at the heart an exchange of one service for another service or simply a fee!

Another similarity that I mentioned in the article that apply to most -if not all- professions is that they all include "renting yourself" in one sense or another!

"everyone has a choice its just the fact that we innately try to shift the blame for our wrong ones" - Very true! It would be important for all of us to realize that!

"you and tala kinda lost me there towards the impartiality at the end." - What part exactly did you miss?! Just ask and hopeful you would get an answer! That part is an interesting one :)

No_Angel said...

the age difference was there to prove the point that usually in a profession you need some background or training in order to qualify and this drasticly contrast with this one :)
as for the renting hmmm instinctively i would have to disagree but not couter argument comes to mind :P so i'll kinda agree (if u consider ideas part of urself too)
as for the part i didn't get, was that i agree, disagree, right or wrong ......etc between u and tala
but thats a non issue
and fun as always to be here

antivenin said...

Sex is a need not a want. When people's needs are not met the result is pain. Society will not accept that sex is a need. Society states that sex is optional, discretionary, and makes no provision for it. Sex at it's core is the driving need to be close to someone physically for pure pleasure and release of tension. Masturbation will not fill this need. Prostitution attempts to fill this place. Society attempts to justify its erroneous judgment regarding sex by making prostitution illegal. Why would a society make sex a want instead of a need? It is simple. Most laws are designed to stop or prevent behavior, "don't step on me". Don't do this, and you can't do that. However, there are no laws against being hungry. There are no laws against having no place to live. There are no laws against social alienation. There are no laws against untreated diseases and untreated mental illnesses. Why? A society that enacts such laws would be responsible for looking after each of its citizens first. In American society people are left to fend for themselves and it's everyone for themselves in a mad race to be king of the world for a day. There are a million losers for every superstar. For every Oprah there are a million bums. They paid the price to make her great. You cannot have great without the useless. So with that understanding let's come back to the question of sex and prostitution. Prostitution is regarded as the selling of a vice or "highly selfish want", like a drug and is therefore treated as such legally. Every society that makes it's people suffer that which is wrong in nature will tear itself apart by reason of it. A society with bums, illegal prostitutes, drugs, and gambling, shows itself as the generator of such things by being selfish in nature. The underworld we are so quick to pass judgment on and laws against, and "lock up" for their evil ways are a reflection of our indifference to others. The true crime is having to seek prostitution in the first place. An even greater evil is making it illegal to do so. The devil sits in the seat of self-righteous hypocrisy. Might makes right, and whoever has the gold makes the rules. Who would deny that the whole world would believe in the Third Reich had they not lost the 2nd World War? The real truth is that without pain, physical or mental & emotional, evil would have no meaning.