Prostitution: An Ethical Assessment

To answer the question of morality and whether or not one can formulate a simple axiological opinion regarding prostitution, one must take into consideration the consequences and the basis for those opinions. Regarding the moral question of prostitution, I stand in opposition to it on the basis of public health/safety, it represents the individual as a commodity, and basic tenets of what are right and/or wrong. Prostitution is defined as the act or practice of engaging in sex acts for hire. Some statistics concluding the unethical position of prostitution:

82% had been physically assaulted.
68% had been raped while working as a prostitute.
44% of rapes involved the use of a weapon.
76% were beaten by their “pimps.”
79% were beaten by customers.

In deciding what route to take regarding prostitution, I base my opinions and beliefs on the theory of rule utilitarianism. By judging that prostitution represents something that is not in the best interest of the greatest amount of people, I based my moral and ethical decision on the pragmatic theory of truth. Prostitution represents solicited sex for money, violence, abuse, and degeneracy-all of which are not seen as things that benefit the public. By utilizing a rule utilitarian moral judgment, we can achieve the most efficient means to the desired ends. By not criminalizing prostitution, in a sense it’s condoning and allowing males and females to license their bodies to be sold as a commodity and potentially contract and spread harmful diseases. By not allowing this to go on, we as a society are preventing more girls and guys from going onto the streets and entering the dangerous life of a prostitute, and secondly preventing the spread and contraction of harmful venereal diseases amongst the public.

It becomes clear to the utilitarian that based on the statistics and argument provided that prostitution needs to be openly discouraged and fought against in a direct manner by the government. There are real people at risk here, and the physical and psychological effects of prostitution are utterly devastating. The saddest thing is prostitutes as of now don’t have anybody to turn to. Prostitutes constitute those who have reached the bottom of society and are simply looking for a way out; they are a disproportional number of ethnic minorities and poorer people whom have succumbed to accepting themselves as merchants of sexual pleasure in order to survive. As a society that is supposed to be brought up on the principles of fairness and equality, we have neglected our job of taking care of the greater good of the people. Society is only as strong as its lowest class, and right now we are becoming weaker by the minute.

To every ethical decision there are alternatives as well. When dealing with prostitution through a societal point of view it can be legalized, decriminalized, or outlawed. There is a logical basis for all of these, often times the argument stems from different points of view (ranging from utilitarianism to ethical objectivism). And while it is important to note that all three options can result in a variety of positive and negative consequences (which will be addressed next); it is important to choose what is ultimately going to serve the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.

To take a stance against (or for) the ethical position of prostitution is a question of personal and societal values/morals. This is not to be confused with the reactionary Christian ideal of morals (as espoused by the Religious Right), but a universal sense of decency that stems out of utilitarian tendencies and secularism. Axiological questions regarding prostitution can be addressed at the two worst tenets of prostitution: exploitation and moral degeneracy. Looking solely at the moral dilemma of using sex as a commodity, a society loses focus of what sex is ultimately supposed to represent (note: naturally the point of having sex is for species reproduction, but this is taking a more social look at the act of sex). Sex should be something emotionally charged between two consenting, private individuals. When someone attaches a price tag and customers to the notion of sexual intercourse-in a way it’s bastardizing the whole act and turning it into a cheap mode of profit making. The idea of selling one’s body (or worse selling others’ bodies for profit) is not something that should be looked highly or even tolerated by a society. When this becomes acceptable it leads to the degradation of not only sex, but also humanity as a whole.

To allow and or support such a degenerate “profession” is completely immoral. Diseases in the world’s population increase through every interaction between client and prostitute. Women are dehumanized by the act of prostitution, because they are then looked at as an object used for a man’s pleasure. Sex shouldn’t be used as a way to gain a profit, but instead used for expressing a deep emotional love.

Simply mandating prostitution illegal alone, then doing nothing preventive to change the situation, will lead us right to where we are right now in the United States, where the problem isn’t being seriously addressed. And when making arrests regarding prostitution, it’s important to stop the real criminals involved, which are the pimps and clients. Arresting the prostitute alone will only increase her sense of self-worthlessness; and by doing nothing we are alluding to the fact that prostitution is the only form of lifestyle she may part take in or bring about any value or self-worth.

The ethical consequences of prostitution far outweigh any possible happiness that might be achieved through the act or “institution” itself. When using the rule utilitarian model, we must establish a universal rule or truth that states the soliciting of sex for profit is immoral, as well as using capital in exchange for sexual acts is also immoral. These truths established by the rule utilitarian model obstruct the spread of disease and social/emotional damage that is done to the prostitutes themselves. Overall, it’s not really a basis of whether or not prostitution itself is moral (clearly it isn’t though) but rather whether or not one can make a solid moral judgment understanding the implications of prostitution, which when clearly studied, represent no beneficial purpose to society whatsoever.

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