January 10th, 2018
Philosophy of love and sex
Rights, freedoms and liberties enjoyed by individuals have evolved over time. Presently, individuals enjoy a wide range of rights with legislative provisions in many countries supporting and guaranteeing such rights. Despite increased liberties and individual freedoms, the aspect of trading sex for money remains contested with its moral standing being a core point of contention (Sanders 9-15). On the one hand, a liberal point of view would be that since people have a right to determine what they can do with their bodies such as being surrogate mothers, they should also have the right to sell their sexual services if they freely choose to. On the contrary, a perception of sexual relations to be very personal, unique, special and private (Michael 1, 2), implies that at no situations should an individual have to trade or commercialize sex merely for the purposes of making money. Due to the personal nature, special attachment and privacy attached to sex, individuals ought to view it with more reverence and poise thus they should avoid trading it casually for monetary gains. It is inconsistent with human dignity that an individual should use his/her sex organs and skills (or uterus in the case of surrogacy) for financial profit (Michael 1, 2). This paper argues out that individuals should not have a right to sell their sexual services even if they freely choose to.
People should not have the right to sell their sexual services even when they freely choose to because selling of sex services is degrading. The relationship between the seller and the buyer is completely impersonal. The buyer does not perceive nor treat the seller as the person she is; the buyer has neither the interest nor the time to consider any of the personal characteristics of the seller, but relates to the seller merely as a source of sexual satisfaction. As Simon Caroline remarks, the intrusion of the economic motive into sex results mainly in disastrous outcomes (57). Sexual relations should be a mutual delight, entered into solely to satisfy the need for affection for both parties. Where someone trades sex as a tool to acquire money, it translates into a lack of respect for the human self and as such a lack of moral direction.
Sex when viewed from a romantic (or love) perspective is intimate, imaginably the most intimate part of an individual’s life. Consequently, it ought to be free from commercial considerations and dealings. It is degrading to perform an action as intimate as a sexual intercourse for money often with a complete stranger. The buyer relates to the seller in a purely casual way; he or she is no more than a means to the buyer’s sexual satisfaction. By so doing, the buyer is reducing the seller of sex services to a mere means, a thing, a sex object and thereby, degrading him or her. The buyer does not satisfy the seller’s sexual desires. The seller, on her part, also uses sex as a means to attain money rather than a means to satisfy her sexual needs. Therefore, their transaction is not a mutual delight, entered into solely from the spontaneous impulse of both parties. Rather, their act is a calculated exchange of services of different orders of magnitude (Michael 3). Although the price for the sex service is negotiated beforehand, it would be difficult to quantify the value that either of the participants derives from the intercourse. The attachment of a monetary value to sex services thus only serves to degrade and demean the seller of the services.
Providing sex services for money may not be harmless as it appears superficially. Actually, there is much truth in the conservative perspective that an individual who engages in such activities is “selling herself/himself”. According to Simon, sexual pleasure is a not an innocent commodity (147). Always implicated in such pleasure is the performance of roles, both willing and unwilling. When one sells sex for money, s/he actually plays a role of being demeaned. A buyer on the other hand plays the role of disrespecting the seller since he considers the seller to be someone who has a monetary value. Thus, when an individual buys sex he/she also buys a sexual role from his partner, which signifies that such a seller is a commodity that one can purchase (Simon 142). When an individual buys and another willingly sells their allegiance, obsequiousness, flattery or their servility, the act eliminates the distinction between the individual as the seller and the service they chose to sell. The sex trade thus involves the sale of the seller or his/her self-worth.
The concept of self-identity also buttresses the fact that an individual selling sex services is selling one’s self rather than merely trading a service. Carole Pateman points out that the service provided by the individual selling sex is related in a closer way to his/her body than is the case with other services (cited in Simon 144). Such argument arises from the fact that sex and sexuality are constitutive of the body, while labor and skills hired out in other lines of work are not (Simon 144). Sexuality and the body determine the conceptions of femininity and masculinity, which are constitutive of ones individuality and ones sense of self-identity (Simon 145). Therefore, when sex becomes a commodity that one can sell, the bodies and selves of its traders also become mere commodities that they can sell. Such impersonal perception of one’s body deprives one off ones sense of self-worth hence could lead to other detrimental acts such as drug abuse (Michael 3).
Despite being one of the oldest occupations in the world, selling sex services also appears wrong since it mainly occurs because of circumstances that may force sellers to engage in such acts, rather than their free will. Research indicates that even in the countries where sex trade is legal, individuals who chose to engage in sale of sex services do so not out of free will but due to circumstances such as poverty (Farley 951-952). Mostly, economic concerns cause individuals to engage into activities they would not otherwise engage in regardless of such activities’ legality. In places where governments regulate sex trade, different forms of trades such as street prostitution, brothels and agencies operating services for call girls have arisen resulting into victimization of ultimate providers of such services (Edlund and Korn 187). Accordingly, by not allowing individuals to have the right to sell sex services, society would be serving its role in protecting the vulnerable populations who might engage merely out of the absence of restraining forces.
Other research findings indicating that most individuals involved in sale of sex services have a desire to leave the profession also support the thesis that individuals should not have a right to sell sex for money. Unswervingly, about 90% of individuals surveyed in one study indicated that they would like to leave the profession straightaway but the choice was beyond their immediate control owing to factors such as their poor economic status (Peacock 128). Such findings were reported even of sex workers in Toronto, Canada where selling of sex services is legal and regulated implying that the desire to leave might not be motivated by the potential legal consequences (Peacock 152). In a five-nation research, Peacock notes that the percentage of those who wanted to quit the profession increased to about 92% (152). These statistics indicate that though these individuals had entered into selling of sex service willingly, it is not something they were happy to be doing. Such a change of attitude could arise from the stereotypes and negative attributes associated with the profession, but it also could be an indicator of the unsound principle in selling sex for money.
Individuals should not have a right to sell their bodies even though they so wish because it erodes the moral principles and ethics of society. It sends an immoral image to the young generations thus bringing disastrous effects to the communities, for instance, it could greatly affect the morality of the young people encouraging them to engage into such activities as child prostitution (Michael 1). Moreover, engaging in sale of sex services has been shown to have negative effects on the individuals offering such services. Some adverse long-term effects for those engaged in the trade include depression, distress, trauma, dejection, constant worry, drug abuse, nutritional disorders, a higher likelihood of self-inflicted injuries and suicide (Michael 3). Even in countries where selling of sex services is legal, those involved are not mostly happy about their choice (Peacock 257).
In conclusion, although individuals have, to an extent, the right to determine what they can do with their bodies they should not have the right to sell sex services even though they are willing. Mostly, in selling sex services, one does not sell sex as a commodity but trades ones self-worth in such a transaction. Sex is unique to an individual’s identity and a symbol of love, intimacy, appreciation and affection. Lacking such emotional attachment, sex becomes a mere tool of degradation and a showcase of power. Engaging in selling sex services whether willingly or unwillingly destroys the well-being and hope of the societies and individuals. Besides, in such selling, the parties will always not be equal. In most cases, the sale of sex services favors one of the parties, often, the economically superior buyer. It signifies that the buyer can use ones monetary position to purchase aspects such an individual’s self-worth whose monetary value is indeterminate. By being an exploitative activity, which involves an individual having sexual relations with clients to whom he/she may not attracted to, trading in sex services could result into retrogression of the mental and physical health of the seller.
Edlund, Lena and Evelyn Korn. “A Theory of Prostitution.” The Journal of Political Economy 110.1 (2002): 181-214, JSTOR. Web. 23 Jan 2012.
Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution Harms Women Even if Indoors: Reply to Weitzer.” Violence Against Women 11.7 (2005): 950-964. Sage. Web. 23 Jan 2012.
Michael, Scott. Street Prostitution. Problem-Oriented Guides For Police Series Guide No. 2. Community Oriented Policing Services, 2001. Web. 23 Jan 2012.
Peacock, Benjamin. Sex, Drugs and Statistics: Researchers and The Researched In The Sciences Of Urban Marginality. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Print.
Sanders, Teela. “Blinded by Morality? Prostitution Policy in the UK.” Capital & Class 29.86 (2005): 9-15, Ebscohost. Web. 23 Jan 2012.
Simon, Caroline. Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest For Sexual Integrity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012. Print.