.. ss to medical aid both due to fear of prosecution and fear of social stigma. Some of these proponents argue that the common perception of prostitution causes the poor conditions which opponents rail against as a reason to ban it. Furthermore, some liberal-minded people would go so far as to argue that even if these adverse conditions did exist, it is clear that these hazards are voluntarily undertaken by the woman who chooses to be a prostitute – and that we have no right to morally judge them, in the same way how we would not morally object to trapeze artists or firefighters for knowingly taking on such hazardous occupational risks. However, this argument is valid only if you believe anyone who takes up prostitution does so voluntarily with full awareness of the consequences of his/her decision(it goes to say, of course, that children and the mentally incompetent are necessarily excluded from this profession). Jaggar notes that “the sorts of economic considerations that impel some persons into prostitution do indeed constitute a sort of coercion”, and cites the Marxist approach towards prostitution, which views all acts that are based on capital, property ownership and their attendant economic transactions as a form of coercion akin to prostitution in its own right.
This argument, however, glosses over the fact that many occupations are filled by people out of economic compulsion, not out of desire. Not everyone wants to be a garbage collector or a janitor, but they might have to fill it in simply because there exist no alternative means of occupation. That does not make the act of garbage collecting morally objectionable – it is merely a statement of economic circumstance. Radical feminst approach to prostitution A wider argument, often used by radical feminists, is that prostitution is symptomatic of a social perception of females as sexual objects to be used by males in exchange for economic largesse, in addition to reinforcing such attitudes. For the radical feminist, the dynamics of contemporary male-female social relationships, such as courtship and even marriage, are represented by the archetype of prostitution – which is seen as the ultimate embodiment of male domination over female through economic coercion. They argue that the abolition of prostitution is tied to attaining the full equality of women – that prostitution’s existence serves partly as a goad to convince women that they are better off in a traditional relationship(which the feminist views as subservient), as well as being symbolic of the current power relationship between males and females.
This view is hardly conclusive, however – while it is obvious that economic disparity exists between the male and female gender, might it not be equally possible to view prostitution as a possible means of self-liberation for the female from economic dependency – after all, a prostitute will be, for the most part, financially self-supporting. Prostitution could serve as a means of economic liberation for an independent woman rather than economic enslavement as a housewife in a marriage. To say that a prostitute is economically enslaved simply because she provides sex for money would mean that everyone is in some sense economically enslaved as long as they perform a some service for pay. Of course, the argument then boils down to one’s perception of the intrinsic value of sex; is it a value-neutral service that can be commodified, as the liberals would have it, or is it something inextricably bound up with issues of self-identity, and hence sacrosanct to the point where to offer it for money under any context, however indirect, is morally objectionable? Secular romanticism The final perspective I wish to take with regards to prostitution is the one that says that sex is a something that should not be performed unless as an expression of romantic love. A proponent of this view would is that prostitution is immoral because it is the ultimate expression of such sex without love. Such people therefore take the notion that a woman who voluntarily becomes a prostitute is degraded in some way. They feel that this degradation relates to the notion of a prostitute being seen as an object, rather than as a person, and seen as a means towards a sexual end, and bought and paid for to that end.
Sex, they feel, should not be bought under any circumstances, mainly because it cannot be divorced from the requisite accompanying level of emotional intimacy. People who take this tack are, however, often at a loss to explain why this should be so. Culturally, the idea that love should accompany sex is a prevalent one – although it would be hard to quantify, many people insist that sex accompanied by love is superior to mere sex without love. However, to my mind, that remains a subjective moral judgment; whose validity exists, as Primorantz notes, “only as a personal ideal, not a universally binding moral standard “. Primorantz goes so far as to state that sex without love may actually be positively good – even if it is not to the extent of sex with love – and hence the sexless love implied by prostitution is not morally objectionable. Examples in defense of sex without love can be conceived of quite easily: Primorantz cites the example of the nurse taking care of a disabled patient’s sexual needs.
A final note on this from an observation of a popular US televion series in which the protagonist, a misanthropic, ugly man, is caught with a prostitute. When defending himself in a court of law, he argues that he found it more “inherently honest” to pay for a transaction without any strings attached compared to going through the hypocrisy of picking up a woman in a bar or courting a woman under false pretenses. While it could be said that all three acts are equally morally objectionable, it seems to me that, in some sense, an honestly open transaction exchanging sex for money may be more moral because it is stripped of the illusions that often surround contemporary male-female relationships such as courtship or even marriage. Conclusion I have provided, by no means, an exhaustive view of the moral arguments surrounding prostitution. What seems clear to me is that contemplation of prostitution, whether one condones it or not, often requires one to adopt a fundamental moral stance; not just in one but a number of moral arenas. Clearly, we can see that the difficulties when contemplating prostitution rest not merely with prostitution as a self-contained moral act, but the diverging opinions one holds on such issues as freedom of will, sexuality, self-identity, gender, and society – all of which are in some way on trial when considering prostitution.
I think the last word should rest with Jaggar , when she notes that “the divergence in the competing definitions of prostitution does not result from failing to consult the dictionary or from paying insufficient attention to ordinary usage. It results from normative disagreements on what constitutes freedom, on the moral status of certain activities, and, ultimately, on a certain view of what it means to be human.” Bibliography Bibliography Adeney, D. and Weckert, J. “Virtual Sex”, from “Res Publica”, Vol. 4.
no. 2, 1995 Graham, G., “Contemporary Social Philosophy”, Blackwell, 1988 Jaggar, Alison M., “Prostitution”, from A. Sable(ed.), “The Philosophy of Sex”, Littlefield Adams & Co., 1980 Mill, J.S., “On Liberty” Pope John Paul II, “Veritatis Splendor” (Australian ed.), St Pauls, 1993 Primoratz, I., “Ethics and Sex”, Routledge, 1999 Philosophy Essays.