Karina Espinosa
E.D. Meds

The argument against "Inherently Harmful"

yazoo

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Dec 10, 2011
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In another thread, Suzi links to a rabble.ca feminist anti-male rant against prostitution. While it was not an enjoyable article to read, it was redeemed by one of the comments, which posted a link to this article in the BMJ Journal of medical ethics.

Is Prostitution Harmful?

C-36 and "Inherently Harmful"

The Bedford decision was based upon the fact that the struck provisions in the law were there to control a 'public nuisance'. Since they were found to endanger sex workers the court weighed the risk to women against the public nuisance and found that protection of sex-workers far outweighed protecting society from a nuisance.

The craftiness of C-36 is that while doubling down on persecuting the industry, it justifies itself by stating that prostitution is 'inherently harmful'. Thus a new court decision will not be weighing these restrictions against a 'public nuisance', but against something that parliament has stated is 'inherently harmful'. The hope of the abolitionists is that by setting up a new calculus for the court, the law will be found to be constitutional.

It would seem that the big fight in the next legal battle will be over whether this assertion is true, because if it is successfully attacked, the justification for the unconstitutional restrictions on our liberties will be lost.

Is Prostitution Harmful?

The thesis linked above does a masterful job of attacking many of the 'harmful' arguments against prostitution. It is a long read, but it is an easy read. It's not deliberately humorous, but the sheer audacity and logic of the arguments put forward made me laugh. It is a good Sunday read. There's also a delicious irony in the fact that the author is Nordic.

For those with not enough time to read the whole thing, I'll give some highlights...


if we accept the increasingly common view that casual sex is not harmful, we should accept that neither is prostitution....

...

What is ‘prostitution’ and what is ‘harm’?
‘Prostitution’, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is ‘the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity for payment’.2 For the purposes of this paper, this is an apt definition. ‘Harm’ is a more difficult concept, but I will here roughly speak of harm as that which is detrimental to well-being... ...The fact that a billion people might be disgusted and torn by guilt if they eat pork, for example, does not establish that eating pork is harmful. What is detrimental to people's well-being in this case, I maintain, is not the pork, but their religious convictions.

...

When a romantic couple dines at a lovely restaurant, their eating might well be romantically significant for both parties. What is, biologically, the mere satisfaction of a nutritional need is given deep personal meaning because of its social and psychological setting. It is not clear, however, the advocate of the ‘casual view’ might argue, that one degrades eating as such and destroys one's capacity for appreciating romantic meals if one has earlier engaged in ‘casual eating’ or has been ‘eating around’, occasionally catching a cheap hotdog on the run. If this is right, then engaging casually in an activity that has the potential for romantic significance needs not destroy that activity's romantic significance on other occasions. If we accept this, then we would need a separate argument to explain why casual sex destroys sex even though casual eating does not destroy eating.
He then proceeds to debunk 9 arguments that prostitution is harmful
- it causes psychological harm
- it is physically dangerous
- it objectifies
- it exploits
- it is a manifestation of male dominance
- it is economic dominance
- it is the 'selling of one's body'
- habitual faking (emotional labour) is harmful
- selling one's soul (defined here as giving up personal values)

Each one of these arguments is examined and disposed with. It's too long to post here - read the article...

Some more quotes...
Imagine a woman, Caroline, who is very skilled at giving others sexual pleasure. Without prostitution, Caroline is free to give others sexual pleasure, but the only thing she herself can get out this is sexual pleasure in return. In economic terms, sexual pleasure is the only currency in which she can be paid. This currency restriction is suboptimal, for there might be many things Caroline needs more than she needs sexual pleasure. Perhaps she needs a new dishwasher or to pay for repairs to her car. If money is introduced as a medium of exchange, she can get this. If she can get money rather than sexual pleasure in return for sex, she can use the money she earns to buy herself a new dishwasher or repair the car. If these are more important to her than sexual pleasure is, then she has gained a higher value than she otherwise would.

A further advantage is that when money is introduced as a medium of exchange, Caroline can not only get more valuable things in return from sex: She can also get them from more people. Without prostitution, Caroline could only (as long as she wanted something in return) have sex with people who are fairly good at giving her sexual pleasure. With prostitution, she can enter profitable deals with a much larger pool of people. Now her sex partners need not be good at giving her sexual pleasure. They can be good at anything (teaching, writing, fixing computers, or selling newspapers), make money from doing what they are good at, and use the money to pay Caroline. Thus prostitution can give her something more valuable in return from a larger pool of people. This is a benefit that should be counted.

...

consider the following thought experiment in which hairdressers are treated the same way prostitutes are treated: imagine that we were all brought up told that good girls are not hairdressers, that many of our common derogatory terms were synonyms for ‘hairdresser’, and that most people, upon seeing a hairdresser, would look away. Imagine that hairdressers had to live in fear of social exclusion if friends or family found out how they struggle to make ends meet, that no one would knowingly employ ex-hairdressers, and that landlords would terminate housing contracts if they discovered that their tenant is a hairdresser. Imagine that most hairdressers had to work on the street, in cars, or in the homes of strangers, and that if their work were organised, it were organised by criminals offering no work contracts, no sick leave and no insurance.

In such a society, hairdressers would very likely suffer significant harms. There would be two reasons for this. Most obviously, the social and legal maltreatment would be a heavy burden to bear for those already engaged in hairdressing. Less obviously, but statistically just as important, the maltreatment would skew the sample of who become hairdressers in the first place. If hairdressers were maltreated, then only (or almost only) people who were already in serious trouble would find it worthwhile to become hairdressers. As such, if hairdressers were treated the same way prostitutes are treated, we should not be surprised to learn that hairdressing correlated with depression, suicide attempts, drug abuse and so on—even if, as we all know, hairdressing is not a harmful occupation.

If the way we treat prostitutes is so grim that it could seriously harm a perfectly innocent social group, we have reason to suspect that this indeed is what harms prostitutes. This reason grows in strength if, as I argue above, we have trouble finding anything intrinsic to prostitution that accounts for the harm. If this reasoning is sound, my thesis in this paper is compatible with the fact that, sadly, many prostitutes suffer serious harms.
 

laid723

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Sep 2, 2010
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- it causes psychological harm
- it is physically dangerous
- it objectifies
- it exploits
- it is a manifestation of male dominance
- it is economic dominance
- it is the 'selling of one's body'
- habitual faking (emotional labour) is harmful
- selling one's soul (defined here as giving up personal values)

You will find these characteristics in a marriage where the husband is abusive as well.

This is gross hypocrisy by criminalizing "Johns" calling them "perverts", whom many we know are actually good men who just don't have much luck with women. While there is no relationship prospect in sight, their human desire lingers. I am just so disappointed that the our government is ignorant of what is the root cause of women suffering. That is ANY ABUSIVE MEN.
 

laid723

New member
Sep 2, 2010
27
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0
- it causes psychological harm
- it is physically dangerous
- it objectifies
- it exploits
- it is a manifestation of male dominance
- it is economic dominance
- it is the 'selling of one's body'
- habitual faking (emotional labour) is harmful
- selling one's soul (defined here as giving up personal values)

You will find these characteristics in a marriage where the husband is abusive as well.

This is gross hypocrisy by criminalizing "Johns" calling them "perverts", whom many we know are actually good men who just don't have much luck with women. While there is no relationship prospect in sight, their human desire lingers. I am just so disappointed that the our government is ignorant of what is the root cause of women suffering. That is ANY ABUSIVE MEN, whom they could be johns, pimps, family members, friends, boyfriends or husbands.
 

chilli

Member
Jul 25, 2005
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Sorry I find it insulting to my intelligence to equate casual sex with "casual eating".

It's 2 very different animals.

Most women are fragile creatures filled with angst and anxiety about their sexuality. I have talked to many women who have had sex casually and they regret it.

Me I'm a guy - I love casual sex - I love the hunt, I love the dance, I love sex with strangers - I find it intoxicating the first time you have sex with someone.

So I simply cannot understand why most women are so weak in this regard; but heh it is what it is.

So no, sorry it is not a good comparison.

As far as prostitution goes; I think the Harper gov't should find better things to do rather than interfere with 2 consenting adults who choose to engage in a mutually acceptable business transaction.

"Inherently harmful" well eating too much sugar is inherently harmful and so is smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol; and as a society we allow these things.

Heck even driving a motorbike is inherently harmful.

That is a much better argument.
 

johnsmit

Active member
May 4, 2013
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The SCC recognized there was an inserted danger in working as a Sex trade work.. and struck down those portions of the law that enhanced that danger.. so that they would be able to secure a safe working environment . .by working from secure locations. . Having security.. and being able to communicate what the services were and cost
At no time did the courts suggest that crimilzing. Prostitution or the buyer would make it safer
 

newatit

Member
Feb 1, 2011
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so it is not prostitution if the price of sex is zero. as one gal mentioned to me, she has never really sold sex, she sells her time and if sex happens that is between her and the person she is with. Private consenting sex. Afterall, we are free to minimize our income tax by arranging our financial affairs within the law, so would it not be sensible to say we can arrange our sexual affairs to comply with the law?

All this bill is doing is making sex free. this will likely work for the more professional, but don't know about street prostitution. And massage parlours, no more paid sex, but dam good massages.
 
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