Prostitution is to sex what buying and selling is to giving and receiving
People often remark to me how they believe that paying for something is just another way of giving. There is truth in this to a small extent, especially as we all live in a monetary economy with bills to pay. But there is a crucial difference, and that is in relation to the spirit in which the act is done. When we freely share all that we ourselves have been given – whether it be material goods, our time, knowledge or skills – for no other reason than we can help someone, the difference in effect is both positive and huge. Unconditional kindness uplifts people, creates bonds and is life-affirming in a way that conditional monetary transactions could never be. Of course, the other person could unconditionally give back immediately using money, paying off the debt exactly, but as I pointed out using Graeber and Atwood’s example earlier, this is effectively saying I no longer want to feel that I have to be in an ongoing relationship with you. It would be much more beneficial for your community if you simply just gave whatever it is you give to the world when your time comes around, unconditionally.
I believe that prostitution is to sex what buying and selling is to giving and receiving. Think about the contrast between making love to your partner – and I mean really making love and not just ‘having sex’ – and paying for sex with a prostitute. The difference is palpable. One is an act where two supposedly separate beings merge in the most glorious of unions, one of our few remaining pathways to experiencing oneness with all of life. The other is an orgasm, for the punter that is. Physically, there can be little difference in the two acts, but the post-coital feeling of two lovers embraced tightly in each other’s arms in blissful oneness is polarised to that experience which the buyer of sex feels as he walks out into the cold of the night, having turned love-sharing into just another service to be consumed, in a similar way that we’ve turned the care of our young and elderly into services. If you stopped paying your child carer, would he or she still continue to care for your child? Is the care that is conditional, really care? I suspect that, at our very cores, we consciously or subconsciously know it’s not, and the psychological and emotional trauma from that deep understanding is unquantifiable.
This, I must add, isn’t a philosophical discussion about whether prostitution is ‘good’ or ‘evil’. On appearance it doesn’t seem a particularly healthy or fulfilling way to live, but who am I to judge and, regardless, the same could be said about almost all livelihoods today. Every day we all sell our bodies for money in one way or another. We charge people to prepare food for them, to accommodate them, to heal them, to mind their children or elderly parents – things that some previous societies couldn’t even conceive of asking for something in return for. How many of us would still go into work every day if we had no financial or economic imperative to? Not many. Of course we have to pay the bills, but then again, so does the prostitute.
It may be that the prostitute really is the only honest one amongst us.