A Mind Infinite

Infinity: The Views of a Dreamer

The Sex Work Question | Sexual Slavery or Legitimate Work?

                The Sex Work Question

                Written by Aaron Peterson

               

                                The question of sex work has been taken up in attempts to defend prostitution as a viable means of labor. Proponents for the legalization of sex work, not in the sense of criminalizing those forced into sex work, but through making it a legitimate practice, have attempted to use various forms of individualistic buzz phrases and wordings. One of the most common argument is that from their perspective, it is a ‘persons right’ to engage in sex work or that people have a right to use sex as a commodity. The issue however that is most prevalent  within this is an ethical question, what exactly is sex work and what is it in relation to the objectification of human beings?

                In the open age of slavery, when slaves were used as commodities in order to generate labor without pay, most notably the American experience of slavery prior to it’s abolishment; slaves were to be used as objects in order to generate capital. The same can be said of the ‘sex work’ scenario, the sex worker, the prostitute, is to be used as an object in order for the gratification and benefiting of another person. It is like slavery, a means of objectification. This is the first ethical question that must be asked in counterpoint to the pseudo-ethicality of a person have their own ‘right’  to exploit themselves. It is argued that a person should have the ‘freedom’ by the proponents to do this, however what freedom in it’s abstract sense exists when a person sells their own body into submission to another person? By the same argument, it is that a person should have the ‘right’ to sell themselves into physical bondage without compensation as it is ‘freedom’ for the person.  This is the faulty logic of individualism, individualism views the individual as separated from the collective, it believes that an individual can be a special snowflake and as a result there is no sense of reaction whatsoever from the individual to the masses, and correspondingly the inverse. Of course, one can easily see that this is a falsity through a view of a cause-effect relationship.  In the issue of sex work, the cause and effect is simple… The sex worker, prostitute, is commoditized into an object in order for the profit and benefit of a secondary party and as a natural reaction is exploited.

                The self-proclaimed utilitarian proponents of sex work being a right will argue that exploitation cannot exist for the sex worker, as the sex worker is choosing inherently who to have sex with. However, this enters into a secondary ethical dimension. The question of how the price of labor is created through sex work. What is the value of a person selling their body for sex? What makes a person more so valuable in terms of sex than the latter, is this to be based on the perception of attractiveness, sexual skills or the amount of pleasure? The very notion of this in of itself, is exploitative. It creates a commodity of a person potentially based on three things; attractiveness, sexual skills or potential gratification for the person on the receiving end. Of course, these three in particular are subjective. Subjective in the sense that they cannot be measured, no amount of labor value in relation to a person selling their sex can be measured, there is no real labor value and in of itself, it is exploitative as a result.

                So arises, the third question of ethics in relation to the sex worker equation. The proponent will typically use the argument of ‘sex workers enjoying their vocation’. Do human beings enjoy sexual interaction with one another? Yes, of course, human beings have enjoyed sexual interaction with each other since their very existence. However, the ethical issue within this respect is that sexuality is being monetized and the other person as a result of the monetization is expected to as in the case of all commodities go against their very consent. For example: In the case of prostitution, how can the sex worker/prostitute rationally be able to decide with his/her own freewill whom to have sex to and for how long, if the decision was made in advance? The sex worker in this respect is forced to carry out the commitment of sex against their will in order to provide the service.  In closing argument with the three key ethical questions, it must be asked, does ‘sex work’ exist, or is it sexual slavery?

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Aaron

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