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Thread: The Morality of Prostitution

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  1. #18
    Hi, Joe, long time no see, and do you know if RN's OK?

    I'll second you on asking Carl LaFong (thanks for kind words) to give us a precis of Nussbaum. I don't think there's too much surprise in her getting hit from both "sides", though, inasmuch as PC is in many respects a re-run of Victorian "earnestness" and prudery. Where I live, the feminazis often get together with the religious right to picket brothels; if you want to spoil the love-feast, say the A Word....... ;-)

  2. #17
    Amen, neo.

    Carl, thanks, and can you tell us a bit about Nussbaum's book? Sound like a very interesting read, and one I'll need to look for, as I tend to agree that someone who's getting it from both directions probably has something intruguing to say...

  3. #16
    better prostitution in a controlled and designated environ where the provider is there of her own free will and not being abused
    as for people in a relationship , it is purely a personal choice that each person will have to make. As long as no one gets hurt and everyone gets what they want. Like the song goes "there are worse things I could do...."

  4. #15
    i am delighted to see such a thoughtful discussion taking place here (i mention rn and joe and augustus specifically). this is the first time for me to peek into this section and it is refreshing to find frank, intellectual analysis of sex work. outstanding.

    martha nussbaum, a professor of classics and law at the univ. of chicago, has written what i feel is an excellent discussion that touches upon some of the issues discussed here. the book is "sex and social justice" and is a great read (i think it's an oxford univ. press imprint). i've heard her taking hits from both the left and right so i figure she must be doing something right.

    anyhow, i just wanted to express my appreciation to all the posters who have contributed to this part of the site.

    carl lafong

    "we call contrary to nature what happens contrary to custom; nothing is anything but according to nature, whatever it may be. let this universal and natural reason drive out of us the error and astonishment that novelty brings us."
    michel de montaigne

  5. #14

    They so happy that Nashville has been "cleaned up". Reality is, many folks in the church, including the guy on the pulpit, are regular patrons. Ask the girls. Most of these moralists are major hobbyists. Also, let's hope the cops still find time to catch the real criminals, after all, they are too busy keeping an eye on the scene and attempting to close down the joints before they even open up.

  6. #13
    Hey Nashville,

    I doubt that the mayor and the guys who work in his administration are too thrilled about all of the parlours being closed down. I mean, they'll have to drive to the next county now for sex.

    Many thanks to all of the righteous crusaders at that church of yours for saving their wretched souls from eternal damnation. "Thou shalt close down all brothels.' Which commandment was that again??? Next time you hang out with God please ask him.

  7. #12
    If you think prostitution is immoral, Nashville or Video Vigilante or Lazarus or Rev. Taylor or whoever you are, then don't fuck them.

    To all prostitutes in Nashville: Paraphrasing John Babsone Lane Soule, "Go west, young woman."

    This quote is sometimes improperly attributed to Horace Greeley.

  8. #11
    Guess I better cancel that Nashville trip . . .

  9. #10
    Sounds like Nashville was a theocratic gov't official in Kabul in the mid 1990's with unlimited powers to be used at hs discretion and answerable to NO ONE. What will Nashville (the poster and the city) do next? Invade people's homes at all hours of the night to make sure that they (willing, consenting adults who can think for THEMSELVES) are not engaging in unGodly sexual practices? Nashville=Taliban=Spanish Inquisition=Thought Police. The very thought that this wacko who hides his metaphorical turban from the public in an attempt to "protect" us, has the audacity to speak for ALL of us makes me shiver.

  10. #9
    What morality? I am a single guy, no girlfriend and wouldn't want one. I like pretty women and sex. If a pretty woman wants to have sex with me for $ and if she is attractive enough and provides GFE, I pay her to have a good time. It is no different from going to have dinner in a gourmet restaurant. I don't think anyone go through a morality discussion before walking into a restaurant.

    I can't comment on situation where you are a married man or in a committed relationship. I believe in those circumstances, as long as there is an understanding between you and your spouse or g/f, then all is fine. If not, then it is an issue of loyalty between you and your spouse, not an issue of morality although you can argue loyalty is part of morality. If you accept your g/f or wife to have sex with any guys she likes outside you, then, that's fine too. As a single guy not in any relationship I have no experience to comment on this.

  11. #8
    to joe:
    oh wow, now you’ve smoked me out. shortarses of the world unite, everyone over 5’ 10” up against the wall when the revolution comes! ;-) you are so right, you get a more respectful hearing than i do before we open our mouths, and for long afterwards (not that you wouldn’t deserve it, you’re a bad example of the syndrome, being tall, smart and wise, but you know what i mean). “the economist” ran a big survey of the effects of being a small male, and found some surprising correlations, like promotion, pay, health and longevity. sex-life goes without saying. they concluded by saying, “and what is the good news for short men? answer: there isn’t any.” to bring it back on-topic: as a small guy i feel empowered when with a sex worker, because i possess the currencies in which she is interested. if she, like the civilians, considers me “not really a man”, then it is part of her profession not to say so.

    i guess that clients and sex workers have a natural alliance against the stigmatisation of the profession and its participants. certainly many of my conversations end up here, with us singing a duet against society. (in aforementioned country, by the way, the cops don’t impound cars, but the feminazis sometimes stencil them “wh*re-customer”. in countries where the ruling ideology is catholicism rather than political correctness, there may also be a duet, but in a different key, this time more defending the dignity of the worker.)

    as regards segregation, i’ve seen the whole gamut between prevention of customers ever seeing one another and a sauna where they hang out together, e.g. the famous london street in edinburgh. the segregationists obviously have to go for the line-up, which both rn and i detest, while the collegials can have a lounge, bar and so forth. however, these segregationalists are in jurisdictions where it’s legal, so the main motive is, i think, to protect the reputation of the mayor and the archbishop ;-)

    good point about lumping “criminals” together. i certainly wouldn’t take well to being locked up with muggers and gangsters. hey, i’m a _white-collar_ scumbag!

    i also liked the sartrean point about choosing to be an object, but this line is way over the heads of the kinds of feminists who harass clients by direct action, and the female pols and journos who press for imprisonment of clients. i think it’s something else entirely: since women putatively don’t pay for sex, criminalisation means that they can hate, stigmatise and persecute men with a light heart and without much risk that the law will backfire by sanctioning a _woman_ for her sexual behaviour (gasp!).

    the three categories: much as i have to blame my parents for, i think it was far more a function of the peer-group and the opposite sex. there is a general feeling that unattractive people are not entitled to any kind of sexual desires. being looked at (shades of sartre again) by an ugly guy or a dork is a serious offence, even when the woman is at the same time revealing as much as she can to the hunks. ocular harassment simply means the attention she seeks but from a guy she doesn’t fancy. furthermore, we are a hierarchical, mobbing species, and the unattractive are not left to discover failure on their own, it is predicted for them, they are firmly informed of their place in the scheme of things. i was regularly told that no woman would look at me, and this proved pretty well correct. i wouldn’t say this caused self-loathing qua customer, though; au contraire. you could say that my punting is afflicted by societal (pc) stigmatisation but is a rational response to a different kind of stigmatisation. make any sense?

  12. #7
    RN, well, thanks. Mostly for me it's just a "judge not lest ye be judged" kind of thing -- I'm well aware of my own large flaws, how difficult it is to work on getting past them, and I'm also well aware of the enormous privilege I operate under versus many folks I know and have worked with, in that I know I'm judged differently because I walk through the door as a tall white male who's got at least some degree of intelligence and education. I've watched my wife, who is far brighter and more talented than I am, struggle for years to be taken seriously not only because she's female but because her personality type gets her classified as an airhead by people who can't keep up with her mental leaps and complex syntactical constructs. I've seen the same thing happen over and over with people I've worked with in different cultures, and people I grew up with, which was a poor, black urban neighborhood. It frankly pisses me off that I can stand up and quiet a room simply by standing, because I'm a big guy, whereas lots of those other folks have to shout for attention. It pisses me off because I want to quiet things based on my personal command of the room and not because of the skin I'm born into, because I then get cheated -- I can't know if it's me or what I represent socially. And, of course, that statement is itself grounded in privilege. (Sorry, that got rather long -- I seem to be verbose this morning.)

    I'm curious as to how clients end up reacting to that stigma, presuming they feel it, when they're with a sex worker, in particular whether they talk about it (as Philip notes, this isn't the kind of locker-room conversation that tends to go on between clients) and what they have to say about it. We've talked a lot about how that social stigma affects sex workers, but not a lot about how it affects clients. Clearly, there are legal consequences, and it the US in particular it's been a trend over the past two decades in certain area to focus on the customer to try to alleviate prostitution as opposed to (well, really in addition to) the sex worker. Impounding of cars of clients arrested for solicitation, for example, is now a pretty common approach to trying to cut down on street prostitution. (In contrast, for example, to busts in massage parlors, where the clients are rarely hassled, perhaps because with the massage front it's harder to prove anything.)

    It's interesting, as well, to think about how brothels or massage parlors handle clients in different ways, and what that implies. In the US, for example, great care is usually taken to keep clients separated and anonymous. That same separation isn't usually the case in Nevada brothels or in Thailand massage parlors. I'd say that's largely because there's an understanding that people don't want to be recognizable when engaging in something that's criminalized, but it certainly also adds to the overall sense of furtiveness as well. How are things handled in OZ?

    Your point about guilt by association is an interesting one, in that not only does it reflect the whole deviance issue in terms of sexual acts, it also reflects what I was saying above regarding criminal activity -- a criminal is a criminal in terms of social stigma, we as society don't tend to make distinctions when someone's locked up -- they're a law-breaker, and they're in with their own kind. (Of course, this references the whole discussion on victimless crimes.)

    Despite the fact that I'm a believer in equality and lots of feminist agenda politically, in general I find feminist theorizing has lots of holes regarding sex, mostly because talking in terms of feminist theory is like talking about philosophy in general -- there are lots of available perspectives, and they're not necessarily harmonious. The reference you make is a good example -- men as victimizers, women as unable to be anything but victims as opposed to being intentional and empowered in regard to their use of sex. It's interesting in that there's a dichotomy of thought here that enters in as soon as the discussion moves to a paid sex sphere which, as you expressed in your last response to Spencer, doesn't generally come out in feminist thought outside of that context. It's the old debate that's been raging for years -- if one chooses to "be an object" does one subvert, control and change the process or reinforce it? Rather like Sartre's whole thing about "being" a waiter as opposed to being a waiter.

    Philip -- I've had a similar kind of upbringing, and similar kind of process, though I think the falling and self-loathing process was related to sex as a whole, and I thank heavens for the evolution of the social climate in the sixties/seventies for getting past that. I think that self-loathing process is very much on point in this discussion, as if you're "bad" then so is the one you're with, and that circular process is one where you can eventualy get off and just leave an object of blame spinning around. Personally, I think it's a phyrric war scenario, but that pretty well goes with the general theme of the times, unfortunately.

    Sorry my questions were vague -- I'm not completely sure how to develop this discussion, but I did want to try to move toward a more constructive debate and a newer topic. What's your take on the relative weight each of the three categories has in the equation (acknowledging, of course, that they're entertwined)?

  13. #6
    to joe:
    i think there would be three things not two: upbringing, (current) personal morality and social environment. upbringing could be further subdivided into parental and peer. for example, i think a lot of sexual hang-ups come not from parents but from schoolmates -- the cruelty of teenagers is unbelievable.

    speaking for myself, i started with the classic pattern of "falling" and "self-loathing", but that was quite a long time ago. how much of that was sexual shame per se that was imprinted on me by an unfortunate upbringing in a regrettable culture and how much was prostitution-specific isn't easy to say.

    regarding the country i mentioned, i'm not at all sure what the male natives think and feel, whether they agree that they are the depraved monsters as which they are portrayed in the media and by any passing female, or whether they are rebels against the pc orthodoxy in their secret hearts. don't think i ever discussed it with any of them.

    sorry to be vague, but i found your questions rather foggy too!

    yes, in the country i was talking about, the (non-working) women want the men to go to prison as victimisers on the lines you describe. no other paradigm is available or permitted.

  14. #5
    Firstly just let me give you a heartfelt thank you for what you said in your last few posts, more specifically the last one in the now archived old forum. Along with being very articulate and intelligent, you are a truly good man with a kind heart. I just wanted to tell you that.

    As for clients, my opinion is that the stigma placed on "Johns" is a direct result of the stigma placed on sex workers. There is the section of the community that believes that any man who would have lower himself to having sex with that "type" of woman, must be a certain "type" of man. And the misconception that sex workers perform bizarre and degrading sex acts for all their clients, probably points at those clients being perverts or sexually deviant. Guilt by association.

    On the other hand, there is the feminist view that clients demean and humiliate and degrade prostitutes by "using" them for self gratification. Sex workers are victims and you, dear sirs, are the victimisers. This attitude, mind you, seems to be particular to "Western" cultures...places where women are empowered and treated as equals. In Turkey for example, sex workers are treated like dirty wh*res and have no place in society, and yet men do not seem to be looked down on for visiting them. It appears to be commonly understood that it is a man's "right" to use women as he sees fit, simply because he is a man. In western cultures men are no longer "allowed" to think of women in that way, and any man that feels he has a god-given right to abuse women is looked down on by society.

    I'm not sure that the legality of prostitution in any given locality actually affects public perceptions of prostitutes. In many countries where sex work is legal, wh*res are still considered the bottom rung of society. I think it comes down more to a community's understanding and acceptance of sex itself...anal retentive countries such as yours and mine that insist on seeing sex as "sacred" and not to be had outside of a loving relationship, will always have a problem with sex for money. As long as the sex industry is subject to the "seedy, dishonest and depraved" stereotype that the community and the media perpetuates, clients will always be subjected to the same stigma as sex workers are.

    ...If you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.....

  15. #4
    I have absolutely no issues of self acceptance. I would have thought that would have been obvious after the hundreds of posts I have made defending the sex industry, and my attempts to dispel the myths regarding sex workers. I only fight these issues as vehemently as I do because I feel I deserve the right to choice, and the right to be heard, as much as anyone else does. Fighting for something you feel you "deserve" and demanding that people hear your views, are actions that take a degree of self respect...a person who feels they have no self worth is willing to settle for second best, because they feel it is all they deserve. What I do take issue with is people who feel they have the right to cast judgement on me and assess my character according to a cruel and ill-conceived stereotype. According to your last post, I am the "type" of woman that you like. How exactly did you work out what "type" of woman I am? If this was a debate on another board about politics or sports or the Celtic Otherworld...would you have come to the same conclusion about my "type". A sex worker is not a certain "type" of woman. She is a woman doing a certain type of job. And that is not enough to base a character assessment on.

    Anyway, your last post seems to have made the shift from seperating "normal" women from prostitutes, to the "all women who have casual sex are easy" angle. (Note: I have NEVER heard the term "easy" applied to men, regardless of how many partners they have). There are two problems I have with the term easy being used on women, apart from the obvious fact that it is laughable in this day and age of sexual equality, and that the term is never used on men. One is the way people say easy women "allow" lots of men to have sex with if they lay back and let men "use" their bodies for their own self gratification. If I say to a man in a bar "I'm horny. Will you please take me home and shag me senseless"...who is using who? Is it so unbelieveable that women may actually "use" men for their OWN self gratification? And do you think that perhaps it's even possible that casual sex between two adults could be MUTUALLY satisfying? Without either party being taken advantage of??

    The other is that it is said like it is a BAD thing. Why is it so bad for a woman to have a high sex drive? The "boys are studs and girls are sl*ts" labels are surely a thing of the past. People need to recognise that women have casual sex for all the same reasons as men...and that it is NOT something they should be ashamed of.

    What interests me most about your post is the way you classified both "sluts" and hookers as "easy"women. A sex worker is not easy in that sense of the word. Sure, they sleep with multiple partners...but they put a price on their availability. A so-called sl*t may sleep with someone because they are bored or horny or drunk or looking for love (which I don't have a problem with by the way), but a hooker will only sleep with someone for money. How many times have you gone to a hooker without any cash in your pocket and had her say "It's ok, let's do it anyway...I'm horny"??? Many sex workers I know do not even HAVE a sex life outside of work!!! You are confusing sex work with promiscuity, when in fact they are very different things.

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