A new trend in Germany [where brothels are legal] — flat-rate brothels that offer unlimited sex and food for a fixed sum — has provoked mounting criticism from politicians, local residents and women’s rights groups in recent months and led to police raids on such establishments in four cities on Sunday. … The brothels … advertise with the slogan: “Sex with every woman, as long as you want, as often as you want and how you want.”
You know, Robin, most of the time when it comes to gender issues I think you're an irredeemable jerk, but I just wanted to say that I love this list and think it's brilliant. Pingback.
As someone who was secretly prostituted out from the age of 6...I find it ALL deplorable. Condoning this "business-like" ethic is the equivalent of taste-testing different kinds of poo. You analyze and debate the most base of all behavior and assume your critical analysis creates an open dialogue. Do you have any idea who is using these girls? Do you understand the mistreatment that goes on behind closed doors? Do you think money legitimizes destroying someone's identity? And then to smugly believe that someone can walk past their 18th birthday with the strength of heart to choose the right path after having been abused their entire childhood. Yuck! Yuck!Yuck! Legalizing this ridiculous behavior just adds salt unto the wounds of victims....but I guess that's ok if you have a lust and their is a condom around somewhere to make it clean enough.
Interesting read, the only one I would want banned would be 16, I agree with granite26 it is morally equivalent to a muslim person working at a slaughterhouse but I think government supplied unemployment benefits should be considerate of moral preferences for jobs and exemtion should be allowed for both cases. If the benefit was from a private insurance company that had unemployment insurance I wouldn't want it banned though, as long as the contrct made it clear when you signed up. 10 and 11 I find offensive but I think the reputation effect would do a large part to make the problem pretty small in most industries. Any business that cares about it's reputation wouldn't engage in such activities.9 I think you could make an externality case against, and therefore a ban might be in order. Since if it's well known that brothels give alibis then even legitimate alibis are suspiscious, and this may engender distrust in even solid relationships where there hasn't been any cheating, this could even in turn hurt business at bars etc if men are more prone to coming home straight away to prove their faithfullness
This is really a fascinating list. As a sex-positive feminist who believes that prostitution should be legal, but has a lot of discomfort with that belief, it really makes me think about my "urge to ban sex sales."
The basic reason that I believe prostitution should be legal is because I believe in people as autonomous individuals, who can best decide how to freely make choices for themselves. But I have a lot of discomfort with that belief, largely because I believe the view of individuals as able to make free autonomous choices is often a libertarian fiction---I believe it reasonable to say that people are "forced" to do something by circumstances, even if they are not physically coerced into doing so. But the line between when an individual is acting freely and autonomously, and when they're forced to by circumstance, is pretty vague in my head. A libertarian might say it's vague because it's an incoherent distinction, because I'm essentially saying that people can be "forced to choose" things. I would instead say that the two ends of the spectrum are qualitatively different, but in a way that doesn't lend itself to a sharp distinction. As you describe the structure of ways that emphasize more than women might be commodities, rather than individuals in charge of their job choice of prostitute, I get more and more uncomfortable with my support of legalized prostitution. Different people draw the line in different places, and the flat-rate brothels don't personally raise any hackles for me. But I think this distinction between "autonomous individuals" and "forced by circumstance" is why most people, even those in favor of legalized prostitution, have internal conflicts about what is OK.
For me, #10, #11, and #16 are the only ones that seem ban-worthy, because they really emphasize that when prostitution is legal and/or treated like any other job, the structure of incentives can change to force (not physically) women into prostitution who would not, absent legalization, have wanted to choose it. e.g. under #10, the secretarial job that they might freely chosen and gotten, under prohibition, may now only be available when bundled with prostitution. I'm offended by #9, but don't find it ban-worthy. The rest, I'm not offended by, although they increasing levels of discomfort in correlation with the degree to which they make me think of prostitutes as commodities, rather than individuals choosing to be prostitutes.
Thanks for a fun mental exercise.
I understand people being offended by negotiations that would seem to alien the prostitute from the customer. Basically, any situation where she's not allowed to say 'NO' before-hand is bad, and any situation that implies that is questionable (Hence the gift certificates or vouchers or 'any girl' stuff)
For 11 and 16, compare prostitution to working at Hooters. Would you require a girl to get a job waiting tables at Hooters before she could collect unemployment? How about a Muslim working at a pig slaughterhouse? They are, from a relativist perspective, morally equivilent.
Negotiations for sexual favors require the cooperation of both sides, lest it become rape. So anything that seems to alienate one side from their cooperation will smack of such. If Alfred and Betty have sex, that's fine, but if Alfred then pays Betty for a "certificate" that seems to entitle anyone of his choice (for example, his emotionally-distant friend Charles) to Betty's ministrations, then that is double-plus un-fine, even if Betty had "agreed" to it ahead of time (agreement doesn't mean undue pressure was not applied, nor that the agree-er was fully aware of all consequences, nor that the presence of consenting adults sanctifies all possible acts). All variations of this scheme are subject to the same criticism.
The bundles are straight out of Idiocracy, and further, nonsequiturs. What does sex have to do with accountancy? You can offer me a free oil change with my Big Mac, but it won't make me any less leery to have the same people fixing my car and my food. They only appear to make sense in the patriarchal mind because female cleaning staff (or female teachers or female therapists) and prostitutes are both seen as subservient. So they're doubly bad for having manipulative advertising and reinforcing gender normative etceteras.
#15 is horrific. Countenancing the enforcement of sexual servitude for religious reasons has been bad enough already.
Supporting local children's sports teamsAccepting food stampsIn lieu of application fee for housing/rental agreements (The "casting couch" would only avoid being wildly inappropriate if the job was to create or emote sexual pleasure, since requiring payment for a job application is already bullshit.)
#7 is a long-standing dream of mine, but I suspect there would be issues with accreditation: the brothels have too much incentive to sell the "diplomas" to anyone, which would sadly devalue them to meaninglessness. But that is well besides the point.
I disagree with the claim that 4 is bad. Indeed I think that it should be the prostitute's right to charge whatever they want, on the basis that attractiveness would make the job more pleasant for the prostitute. The less pleasant a job, the less reasonable it is to expect it to be paid as poorly as a pleasant job.
"it’s not at all clear to me that you really understand what Vichy means"
Hmm. Maybe I was jumping to a conclusion. Vichy or Andy, what's the interpretation that I'm missing?
I find the rather thick condescension in this comment and the linked one distasteful and ironic, especially since it's not at all clear to me that you really understand what Vichy means.
That's already been thought of. I knew a(former) dentist who traded sex withe prostitutes for dental work. The Board of Dentistry was not amused.
I wonder if the original story isn't wrong. 70 euros for unlimited sex seems implausibly cheap for a legal western brothel.
Many brothels operate on a "pay twice" structure, where you pay the house for use of the room, and later pay the woman for sex. My suspicion is that the 70 euros just covers unlimited use of a room...
Number 11, as clarified, splits into two cases.
For an example of the first case consider a charitable doctor, in private practise, who sometimes waives his fee for poor patients. A prostitute, down on her luck, seeks free care, but is told: I'll waive my fee for you if you'll waive your fee for me.
Much tut-tutting ensues, but the more worldly notice that accepting payment in kind from some-one who is short of cash confers a benefit, and for the providers of ephemeral services it is a quite substantial benefit.
Something like this already happens when the plain woman marries the cosmetic surgeon and he makes her beautiful.
For an example of the second case consider the administrator of a medical charity who fiddles the eligibility criterion in return for sexual favours. The goods, that is the medical care, were not his. They were neither his to sell nor to barter, and we view this as straight forward corruption, meriting a prison sentence, whether he demanded cash or sex.
I'm not clear whether lust or avarice gets the longer punishment. I guess lust, indirectly. It is sleazy and the administrator cannot claim that he needed the money to pay for his mother's medical treatment.
1-9, 12-15 are all transactions between two willing participants.
10, 11, and 16 are rape. 16 is especially repugnant, because it's government-mandated rape. The fact that a large part of the commentariat seems to not even have noticed this is disturbing.
I'm not sure Eliezer's Idea would work with third party payer.
These are good additions to the list.
Well most of these are pretty standard ideas for porn, so I could see them having viability. Prostitutes as charity prizes or gift certificates would probably be the most offensive to me personally, but only if I was the recipient. It seems like a prostitutes value is highly objective.
Sexccountant. Half accountant half whatever you want it to be.
Offer free STD test with each brothel visit or free prostitute with each Std test.
Offering clients free childcare.
Brothels at or near malls "so you have something to do while she shops."
Anything thought up by a used car salesman, "Not only does it have a great sound system and the latest GPS technology, but check out what we're throwing in the trunk for you..."