Monday, March 17, 2008

How Whorable is Prostitution?

James Joyner talks about prostitution and the rental of bodies. This is a great point:
[I] see no obvious point of demarcation after which exploiting labor on the basis of voluntary exchange becomes too exploitative. People who do manual labor or drudge work are, for all intents and purposes, selling their bodies. For that matter, cops, firefighters, and soldiers put their bodies in mortal danger for a living.

One could argue it happens even at the upper range of the pay scale, such as with professional athletes. In what sense is a professional boxer less exploited than a prostitute? What about lingerie models? Indeed, one could argue that players in professional team sports, who may be traded to other teams and forced to move across the country — or even out of the country — if they wish to continue to work in their industry are much more like serfs than a self-employed prostitute.
Another link that Joyner provides notes that pornography is the rental of one's gentalia for entertainment purposes. Not only that but pornography is generally protected speech. So renting one's sex organs for the delayed, third party enjoyment of others is permissible, but renting one's body for the immediate gratification of an immediate second party is not. Is it the intermediary of a porn production company that pays the performers (both male and female) the intermediate step that somehow makes the activity more palatable? So the difference is that all parties in a porn video are paid rather than one being paid and one doing the paying? Can it really be that distinction that matters?

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