Prostitution is the oldest profession, they say. Though I seriously doubt this claim, it is however oldish – from the ancient cultic type to Slaves. Some are trafficked or tricked into it, some forced to do it for economic reasons, this too as a reason I doubt because some have created these so called ethical dilemmas that are frankly false. False because in calling it a ‘Dilemma’ , there is an inherent opposing option, a Yes and a No option at the very least, yet both do not hold equal weight in the general sense of the use of the word ‘Dilemma’. So, even if the choice is a forced one, it isn’t a philosophically fatalistic one, especially when the West is concerned. As Alison Wolf in XX Factor writes:
“In developed countries, prostitution is not, by and large, something forced on women by brutal pimps, nor is it based on trafficking of tricked or kidnapped girls. As a growing mass of evidence makes clear, this is not a case today and was not the case historically either. Ruth Rosen, leading historian of prostitution, remarks that ‘I am struck again and again by most prostitutes’ view of their work as ‘easier’ and less oppressive than other survival strategies they might have chosen’. This does not mean that it was the job of their dreams, or pleasant, or that there weren’t many other things they would rather have been doing. What it means is that, for very many women, it was and is a rational economic choice” pg 202
Choose, we all have to, but bestowing the title of Work to all human activity has an ethical dimension to it, this is however something the ‘Yes’ proponent of this Interview denies in the debate. Cari Mitchell, in response to Bridget Perrier goes right ahead to refute her opponent’s arguments on the ground that they are made from a moral point. There is sweat and thought involved in robbing a Bank but that doesn’t mean it is or should be recognised as a valid Occupation nor does it deny that the activity itself takes place, it is however a criminalized act because it denies someone of their property. Thanks to the influence of Utilitarianism is Law-making, Prostitution cannot be criminalized, (not until we recognise that it does harm) but it cannot quite go as far as allow it to be recognised as ‘Work’. There are many other immoral (or in Christian terms, Sinful) activities that are not Crimes, lying to your (my) mother might earn you a smack, but she needn’t be concerned that the police will knock on her door for you to be arrested. Shoplifting is however a different case.
Work or no work, is rightly a moral or ethical judgement regardless of what system of determination is to be applied. I believe Liberal Utilitarianism (if it makes you happy and hurts nobody) fails to account for human activities whose effects cannot be immediately determined to be negative or otherwise, unless measured over a longer period but this is a line of enquiry for another day. This much I do wish to determine for now, Prostitution cannot and should not be recognised as ‘Work’.
Another dimension to my case is also a much deeper issue of our separation of Sex from what Sex does, the Pleasure and the Procreative purposes are pointless and useless without one another. Food too is pleasurable otherwise the act itself becomes a burden on us as humans and it is designed so, nutritional pills will not suffice. For more on this I’ll refer you to my go to book on this subject, It is travesty that J. Budziszewski’s book doesn’t have as much popularity among Christian circles.
Since this is a blog by a Christian, I should at this junction quote a Bible verse maybe one on (the love of) money being at the root of all kinds of evil. I’ve put a pointer to the idolatry part of the verse in brackets because it is where most think it belongs and not at the beginning of the sentence. The money though is just the gate fee to a package, not just a fee that gets you past the gates but what is beyond the gates – Death !
When I say Death, I am referring to not just the physical demise of our earthly bodies, but to it as a curse in the garden and as a theme in the Bible. If freedom is what is at stake in our Sexual revolution against God, it turns out freedom is something that needs to be defined and freedom from God is no freedom at all and the antidote to the death and decay can only be found ‘in Christ’. In him we can find true freedom as we are connected to and abiding in the vine. The other kind is one of a dead leaf floating about in space, it too is free in another sense, but its destiny is to eventually become manure for the living.
I end with another quote from Wolf, here speaking about a Prostitute named Mamie Pinzer, who says:
“I just cannot be moral enough to see where drudgery is better than life of lazy vice…faced with the bare and meagre reality of life as the wife of a ‘respectable’ working-class man, I gave up in disgust and began to use what charms I might possess to make it possible to have a few of the luxuries” – pg 203