Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Prostitution - Is it really Bad?

Imagine your daughter coming up to you and telling you she wanted to become a prostitute when she grew up. Makes you cringe, doesn't it? Why? Because prostitution as a profession is (and has always been) looked down upon. But I've yet to come across a cogent argument for why this is so.

Let's look at what prostitution actually is. Someone offering sex in return for money. (Okay, so the 'someone' is almost always female, but I'll get to that in a little bit.) If both the hooker and the patron are satisfied with this arrangement, then what's the harm in it? How is it different from you going to your baker and buying a loaf of bread? How does it differ from you going to a lawyer to ask for advice on a particular legal matter? In all these cases, we have two parties. One who is willing to offer a product/service at a certain rate; and another who's willing to buy that product/service at that rate. How is this wrong?

Because, you argue, the 'service' being offered by the prostitute is sex! "Bah!" I offer in disgust. What's the difference? Really.

Then you continue, waxing eloquent on how prostitution is an abuse of the female body and an insult to all females. My utterance of disgust now turns into a derisive chuckle. There were two people having sex and only one of them got paid. You figure out who came off better yourself.

You then say it tarnishes the sanctity of sex, a concept which to me is about as real as the Loch Ness Monster. I've always thought sex was about the pleasure; now where did "sanctity" and "holiness" come from? What is it about sex that makes you feel it shouldn't be sold just like any other service?

Prostitution is illegal in many countries - India being one of them. This of course, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that it doesn't exist legally. This in turn means that most brothels normally end up paying the cops to avoid getting raided. Every so often, though, one reads in the papers about brothels that are raided, possibly so that the police can show that they have been doing something.

In the course of such raids one invariably hears about girls who have been 'rescued'. These girls are normally brought in to bigger cities (like Poona) from places like Bengal, Orissa, Bihar etc under the promise of work of some kind, and then forced into prostitution (which in all fairness is 'work of some kind'). I'm not saying I condone anyone being forced into prostitution - I don't - but I fail to see what is wrong with voluntary prostitution and why it should be illegal. In the European countries where it is legalized most of the prostitutes are in it voluntarily and that's the way it should be.

Now, to address the issue about all prostitutes being female, and therefore the profession is an insult to females. It's simple - there only exists a market for female prostitutes. If there were enough women around looking for male prostitutes, men would automatically take up the job. It's a fundamental law of economics. So again, I don't see anything wrong in most prostitutes being women.

Why does a woman get so offended if someone calls her a hooker or a whore? Why should the terms be derogatory? All they refer to is a person who earns a living by offering sex. If there isn't anything wrong in that - and there isn't - then why get offended by the terms?

I wish by the time I have kids, things reach a stage where a parent can be proud of their daughter's dreams of becoming a hooker.

Update: Oh, and by the way, most of these arguments extend nicely to the pornography industry too. And yes, I think that's another industry which has come under the cosh and been illegalized for no worthy reason.


KT said...

This post merits a lengthier reply but t p put it in short : Prostitution, if done by free will should not be a problem. But the fact is that in India, it is not done by free will. It mostly involves pimps forcefully inducting young girls (mostly minors) into the trade.
The solution is not to ban ( banning never works IMO).

Btw, is prostitution really illegal in India?

ruhey said...

wokay Arnold...
I got the point of prostitution bein legal and etc etc
BUT..not the one of daughters sayin it proudly .."hey daddy, I am an aspiring hooker"
herez an imaginary convo between a father and his daughter(whose if u guessed right a hooker)

daddy: How was ur day/night?..hows business?

daughter:Extremely good, I had more customers today, just that the 5th customer had a torn condom..

daddy: thats bad sweetie..

daughter: no problem, abortion is legal, I'll manage, and I think I am on birth control pills.

Daddy: thts good honey.

HELLOOOOOOO....not the best convo to have on the dinner table or elsewhere....

What say you??

n for the record...sex involves a lot of things which can result in hurting one's body if mishandled, I do not need to elaborate on tht. That is why prostitution is diff from selling a product. Obviously, legalized prostitution , which is voluntarily dun is acceptable, cuz it's by choice n shud b respected.

guess I said a LOT.


Arnold said...

ruhey - interesting points you make... but i think i have to stick with the basic line "don't interfere with consenting sex between two adults.. whether one of them is paying the other or not... "

and hey! makes for interesting dinner talk at least ;) ! better than just staring at the TV!

visionunseen said...

Interesting blog. I should think a woman gets offended if you call her a hooker cos you're then taking out (following your line of argument) the voluntary aspect of it. And (successful) legalisation of prostitution perhaps will call for (successful) legalisation of subordinate industries suchas you mentioned in your update.

Arnold said...

visionunseen - Hmmm... Interesting point you make about "taking out the voluntary aspect"... Need to think about that a little...

And yea.. I feel the "subordinate industries" need to be legalized too..

_ð!®†ß¤¥ said...

Two adults, when agreeing on something, sholud be ABSOLUTELY ALLOWED TO DO WHAT THEY WANT... as long as it is kept PRIVATE...

Thats what you saying??

How about the german cannibal??

Arnold said...

facesmasher - i read about the "german cannibal" when it was in the news some years ago... (and then again on Scott Adams' blog).. as far as i'm concerned, I don't see anything wrong in it... (if the person being eaten wanted to die).. however, this case introduces the issue of "sanity" and "mental illness".. both of which are touchy issues for libertarians anyways..

and also -
>> Two adults, when agreeing on something, sholud be ABSOLUTELY ALLOWED TO DO WHAT THEY WANT... as long as it is kept PRIVATE...

i dont give a fuck about the "PRIVATE" part..

señora said...

Interesting points there.
I think prostitution is a disgrace, I thought mankind was supposed to be a superior race? Prostitution is such a degrading act and only for the enjoyment of men. Women aren't stupid enough to pay for sex, we can do without. Hell, if we are that desperate we'll just a boyfriend!

Siddhu said...

I dunno about prostitution, but I agree with you on porn!

I'm sick, repeat sick, of watching shitty MMS clips in the name of Indian porn (I will count the antics of Kanthalakshmi and her sisters frm Kanyakumari as an insult to the holy annals of porn!) - if we legalize it, maybe who knows - Bollywood may branch out! ;)

Arnold said...

señora - >>"Prostitution is such a degrading act and only for the enjoyment of men."
Well, if it's voluntary prostitution then obviously both parties are benefitting from it, otherwise one (or both) of them wouldnt be there...

>>" Women aren't stupid enough to pay for sex, we can do without. Hell, if we are that desperate we'll just a boyfriend!"
Which is why we have almost no male prostitutes... other than that I dont see a point in this particular argument...

siddhu - Kanthalakshmi who?? I'm afraid i'm not the most knowledgable on matters relating to south indian porn... [and yea, MMS clips while they offered themselves as a novelty some time ago, are not worth much now!]

Anna said...

so, Arnold d'Souza...
You wouldnt mind your daughter being a whore... you would also be proud of her?

You know... Sometimes I really wish all your wishes came true ... So that you would realise how stupid they are...

Arnold said...

anna - yes, i wouldnt mind her being a whore... (as long as she wanted to be one.. and she was successful enough to make a lot of money out of it)..

yea.. i know it sounds harsh.. but i have strong opinions on such things..

MaK-D said...

i agree with anna...i want to see you say that and feel proud when your mom, sister, daugter (any one or all of them)come up to you and say that.
Answer this.
You think it is okay if a girl of age 12(yes they know about sex and all by this age) decides to become a prostitute on her own judgement and free will?
Paying for sex is feeding sexual desperation..so what next, I and everyone else feed their greed with murdering and stealing....where will it stop?
Then there is the risk of disease spreading(Aids, stds and what not)...condoms are not 100% safe.
Scores of illegitimate children walking around for all the times the condom broke or the pill didnt work or it was too late for an abortion. What do you think will happen to humanity by that time?

There are basic rights and wrongs in life, whether you agree or not.
And prostitution is wrong...legal or not. Maybe making it legal only curbs it a little ...but that does not make it right.
You don't care about the private part... how about making posts everytime you have sex with your girlfriend/wife. Better yet post pictures/movies. Tell us about every moan you wife makes...or every time you slip up...hhehehe

Arnold said...

mak-d - here's a question for you... who decides whether prostitution is a basic right or wrong as you say?

when i spoke about i didnt really care about "keeping things private"... i meant i dont really care whether people keep it private or not.. if they want to then they will otherwise they won't ... so i'll decide for myself just what i want to post..

about the 12 year old girl.. i think there ought to be a legal age limit on prostitution.. (say 18).. but anyone above that should be allowed to do it if they want.. you cant criminalize it..

paying for sex does NOT feed sexual desperation.. and your point about feed your greed by stealing is ridiculous.. that's the equivalent of raping a woman NOT prostitution.. (and of course rape is wrong!).. prostitution is merely paying someone to give you something to satisfy your greed.. (tht's something you do every day and you call it "buying"!!!)

MaK-D said...

basic human common sense has to be used for deciding what is right and wrong. When you hurt someone other than yourself, in anyway ...it is wrong(actaully even hurting your self is wrong...like suicide but then i dont consider that as bad as hurting someone else...suicide is just stupidity). When something is immoral, it is wrong.
You are saying that it is argumentative. In that case then you or someone might tomorrow decide murder is right. So don't question who is to say what is right or wrong. Use common sense, YOUR common sense....like you did to decide that RAPE is wrong (so should i ask who is to decide whether rape is right or wrong.)
Agreeing to do something for money does not automatically make it right even in the case of voluntary prostitution.

Legal age? okay how about a legal age for stealing, legal age for murder, legal age for everything that is wrong? where does it stop. Murder can never have a legal age...so neither should prostitution.

You CAN Criminalze it.

Buying in most cases is to satisfy your Needs...and then your greed(if you can afford it).

The only place i will agree with you is if you say that two individuals, consenting, have sex and it is mutually understood that it is for sex and nothing else(no strings attached to prevent any emotional exploitation or any other form of exploitation.)
and without exchange of money...that is perfectly fine(and the quient essential male fantasy arrangement.)

back to your main point if it is okay with the girl and and she agrees for the money then what is wrong? well then same goes for the 12 year old girl. or the guy who sells drugs to 13 year olds. it is WRONG (AND I SAY IT IS WRONG.)

MaK-D said...

okay let me just clarify myself.

Legalising prostituion may work out to be better in the long run.

I do believe there are a few benefits if it happens(provided it does work in those positive ways). It might be the right way to go.
But it still does not make it RIGHT. It is still not something to be proud of.

Arnold said...

Mak-D - As per basic Libertarian principles, "Rape" is wrong because it is done without the consent of one of the parties involved. So is murder, so is theft. Hence these acts will always be wrong and you can never have a "legal age" for them.

Voluntary prostitution, by virtue of being between consentual adults, is NOT wrong. (and we need a "legal age" to decide what "adults" here means)

Now you say that consenting sex between adults just for pleasure and nothing else is fine, but if one of them is paying the other for it, it becomes wrong? Why this big shift from right to wrong only because of the involvement of money?

I have more to say on this matter.. maybe in a later post

MaK-D said...

because you cant/should not put a price on everything.

Arnold said...

mak-d - hmmm.. interesting way of looking at the argument... i'll still maintain that selling sex is all right.. guess we'll just have to agree to disagree..