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Ys
ysabel
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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]

I am very pro-sex (yeah, I know, all of you are going, Duh!) and, at least in theory, pro-legalized-prostitution. I also believe that prostitution as it currently stands is very harmful, but I'd had a lot of trouble sorting out how to make that concrete, because it's not just that it's illegal.

ginmar posted on the subject, and her post and the threads therein did a lot to help put words to many of the issues I have. I particularly liked the idea of decriminalization and making buying illegal but selling legal, so that the focus is on the ones abusing the power. The discussion also gelled my frustration with the fact, IMNSHO, that with our current culture and its fucked-up assumptions about sex and gender, it's probably not possible to sell sex without it being generally societally harmful (and even if it is possible, it requires such odd exception situations that they're pretty much down in the noise anyway).

But I also got into a conversation about whether it's possible to sell services that happen to include sex, in the ideal case, without getting into that harmful reinforcement of Bad Things™ or commoditizing sexual access to women's bodies. Such a discussion doesn't address the larger issues (and can in fact distract from and derail discussion of them), and is really more about philosophy in general than about real issues, of course. So I wanted to bring some of the philosophy parts over here...and incidentally indulge my curiousity as to what folks reading me think.

Is sex fundamentally different than other services, even in an ideal world? I would argue no, and (to quote myself from over there), here's the gist of my argument:

From a personal perspective, I don't see [such] services as any different than the idea that I periodically pay a good friend of mine (with whom I spend other time doing things together) who also happens to be a licensed massage therapist to massage my body and help me get rid of muscle knots and the like. Assuming that I liked/trusted [said person] enough to be willing to let her that close to me, then in both cases I'm paying someone I like and/or trust to do something for me that involves no small amount of work on their part.

As far as I can tell, though, that sort of exchange is nothing like what prostitution normally looks like. I'm talking about paying for someone's time and effort, not paying for "sex" or for access to their body or what have you. And, significantly, I can pay someone of any gender for their time and effort; it doesn't require any particular anatomy, just my trust and their willingness to do the work I'm wanting to pay for.
To me, there is a big difference to paying for someone's time and effort and paying for access to someone's body, and I would assert that prostitution as it currently stands is generally the latter. But I would also assert that it's possible, in an ideal world, for the former to include sex. Do you agree? Why or why not?

And yes, this is really just the philosophical bits, the things that are in your worldview inherent to services, economic transactions and sex independent of cultural hangups.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Comments
(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Overall, I think you're describing something much closer to the ideal than what I believe really happens in most prostitution transactions. Go read through ginmar's post and possibly some of the threads under it; for various reasons I think she's got the normative case pegged.

I would also argue that the scenario you describe doesn't necessarily look like a typical service transaction.

I've had that pointed out over there as well. It is what a normal service transaction involves in my world, though. I'm fairly picky about who I allow to touch me/get physically close to me. (Which isn't to say that there aren't lots of people who can meet my requirements or that I'm not touchy-feely, but that I do require a certain level of intimacy for that.)

I don't understand the notion that it dehumanizes women to be paid for sex.

That's not the assertion, IMHO. It dehumanizes women to be dehumanized by men who treat them as just an object to fuck; prostitution as it normally happens is just one example of that dynamic. (Seriously, this is way better covered over in ginmar's journal.)

The question I wanted to ask was, "If you could remove the sexism and dehumanization from the picture, is there still an issue with selling sexual services?" I don't believe the sexism and dehumanization is inherent or that would be a nonsensical question in the first place. (I believe the answer is "no", btw, but I don't think it's necessarily that simple, either.)

What does prostitution look like to you, then?

To grab the paragraph after the one I quoted:

Most prostitution is some man paying some woman to let him stick his dick in her snatch. I put it that crudely because, as far as I can tell, it's the only way to be accurate. Notice the difference in who's active and who has the power and the lack of any real requirement for (mutual) trust, respect or friendship.
Performing specific sex acts is skilled labour of sorts, not a passive access-acceptance. I honestly don't understand why you would consider prostitution not to be paying for time and effort.

Because I don't believe that most prostitution is about performing specific sex acts. (See above.) It should be, but I don't believe that it usually is.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

In the most generic sense, it doesn't.

However, some of the things you've listed (massage, medical treatment, house cleaning, hair cutting) do involve either touching me or getting physically close to me. And for those things, I tend to need to hold those providers to a higher standard, or I don't end up getting service that I'm comfortable with. That's all I was getting at.

Unrelated

I don't recall if I've asked this yet. I know I've thought it several times, at least...

Way back when, I knew a D! on, IIRC, alt.sex.bondage and related places. I don't suppose this is the same dbang? *grin*