Don’t We all Pay for Sex?

Perhaps I should have rephrased the title as “don’t most of us pay for sex and/or companionship sometimes”, but that would be less catchy and more cumbersome.  Anyway, a while back I wrote a piece in favor of legalizing prostitution and while I generally got positive feedback from it, I found that quite a few people are really hung up about the notion of paying for sexual favors. I of course see nothing wrong with such straight forward arrangements as they are agreements made by consenting adults.

Despite feeling this way, I must confess that like increasing numbers of Americans have never taken advantage of  the services offered by prostitutes. It’s not that I have anything against doing so, I just never found myself in a situation where it is worth the cost or risk (such activities are illegal everywhere I have lived) for me personally. It seems that in today’s world, less and less middle class Americans feel the need to visit prostitutes, since they can satisfy their sexual needs with their romantic partners, or more casual hook-ups. Lucky for us, Puritanical values have been so heavily eroded that people no longer need to go to the pros to get their needs met, and as a result prostitution operations serving middle class customers have lost a great deal of business over the last several decades. A certain old preacher I know was actually correct, when he accused college girls of being “so easy they are putting the whorehouses out of business”. But, as I said, I do not see this as a bad things, and I recognize that most of this supposed easiness is directed at their romantic partners. This is not to mention the question of whether being difficult is really a such a good thing in the first place.

To some extent I suspect that the older generations are just jealous of how easy younger people have it, when it comes to fulfilling one’s sexual desires, both in the long and short term. That said, I think both young and older folks who find the notion of paying for sex problematic should have their bluff called, because nearly all of them have or will pay for sex and companionship at some point in their lives.

That is to say, any guy who buys an expensive car or expensive clothes in order to impress women, is paying for sex. Just about anyone who buys an overpriced diamond rings (and as I have noted earlier, they are all over priced) or other jewelry for some significant other is paying for sex. The jewelery industry is largely funded by people seeking to pay for sex and companionship, and it is tragic that this industry has convinced us that their services are necessary for this end. Why not just cut out the middle man?? There’s more. Anyone who takes a date out to dinner with the hopes of getting some action afterwards is paying for sex, as is someone who is buys a drink for another at a bar with the same goal in mind. I could go on but, one gets the idea. Examples of things ordinary people spending money in the hopes of some future sexual reward are potentially endless.

Of course in many of these cases the person you are spending money on is someone you are or hope to be in a long term relationship with, but this still does not change the fact that we put a lot of money into sex and companionship. We just tend to do so in more circuitous ways involving middlemen, such as jewelry merchants and car dealers. Prostitutes offers a more direct and to the point deal, which I can respect, and they do so without the ambiguities of about the long term potential of the partnership. With that in mind, why should such deals not be legal everywhere?

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2 Responses to Don’t We all Pay for Sex?

  1. violetwisp says:

    I take it you’re a man and you don’t know much about the realities of prostitution. Most people selling sex were abused as kids, many spent part of their childhood in care, and the average age of entry into the profession is 15. People who think that sex can be bought from another person in a carefree manner are usually exploiting someone’s desperate circumstances. Arguments of this nature seem to have a tendency to come from men who view women as buyable – and you appear to be no exception given the weird paragraph on your opinion on dating.

    I agree that selling sex should be legalised and that sex workers should have more protection. I’d also like the stigma associated with it to go away. But that is about protecting vulnerable people and making the best of what is usually an unhappy situation, it’s not about confusing courtship and attraction with buying sex, and it’s not about promoting an industry that continues to harm women by encouraging men to objectify them.

    I did a post on this recently, if you’re interested:

  2. Mr. Wilson says:

    I must have overlooked this comment when it first appeared, but I’ll address it now. In making my point that many people spend money with hopes that it will lead to future sexual gratification, I am in no way trying sweep under the rug the experiences of actual sex workers, or the abuses associated with sex work. If anything I was wishing to undermine the stigma associated with paying for sex.

    I do not endorse using purchases on dates as a way of pressuring others them into sex, as that is disrespectful, and worthy of strong criticism in and of itself. However, note that my comment on money spent on dates, did not mention which gender of the individual doing the spending. It applies just as much to women spending money on men or to people on outings with members of the same sex.

    Arguments of this nature seem to have a tendency to come from men who view women as buy-able. Arguments that attack one’s motives or attempt arm chair psychoanalysis off topic and beside the point. But you bring it up so I’ll acknowledge that I don’t think being buy-able is a unique trait of women. I think most anyone has a price for which they will sell themselves out. That said, I reject any notion that women should be treated as objects or property, which is what I think you are implying.

    I reject the moralistic argument that selling services is in and of itself worthy of condemnation. There are in fact self-identified happy female and male sex-workers who did pick their line of work out of a wide range of options. We should condemn coercion and we should condemn preying on people in desperate situations, and we should try to rectify those desperate situations while giving people more options. But we should not say that some options should be universally condemned.

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