Aporia: Prostitution

by Jason Stotts

I’ve been thinking about prostitution a fair amount recently and I must admit that I’m baffled by it.  On the one hand, people have sex all the time for free, so why is it different when money is involved?  On the other hand, aren’t there some things that should just not be sold?

Then again, is selling sex any different than selling any other kind of labor?  In a retail environment, you sell your time and energy for money in the same way a prostitute does, the only difference is in the activity you are doing.  However, it does seem that sex is more personal and involves opening up more of our true selves to others than retail does.

I think that one thing that obscures discussions of prostitution is the term “sell yourself.”  It seems to me that all one is selling is one’s labor.  Prostitution is not the same as slavery (selling yourself) as long as it’s voluntary.  On the other hand, involuntary prostitution could easily be considered “selling yourself.”

For a writer, writing is a very intimate activity.  When I write, I give up a part of who I am to the page, I reveal my deepest ideas and give them to others to consider.  In some ways, writing seems almost to be giving more of yourself away than does prostitution, as in prostitution you are only selling sex, you are not revealing your deepest ideas and beliefs.  Then again, sex does involve necessary connections to our emotions and beliefs, to the very core of who we are.

Let me end this little aporia by saying that while I do not yet know whether prostitution is moral or not, it should certainly be legal.  The government has no role where there is no violation of rights.  I shall be writing more on prostitution in the future and will present formal arguments either for or against it at that point.

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