Monday, August 17, 2009

philosophy of prostitution

The book of Deuteronomy and the book of Kings forbade the sons of Israel from bringing ' whores' into their homes. Legal statutes in most parts of the world condemn it as a social and moral evil. And yet, the "necessary evil" of prostitution defines our culture and times as much as our economic and social transactions do. What then, makes the world's oldest profession such an enduring one?? Is it there because we need to gratify a need that we denounce in public but nurture in private?? Or is it the pure economics of trade with morality tied to it over a period of time??

Studies in the male genetic makeup have confirmed that the male of the species is by nature polygamist. There is this eternal subconscious desire to ensure the continuation of the Y chromosome, and hence, the need to increase one's chances of a healthy offspring by mating as diversely as possible. With women, the agnation is different because she is assured of her parenthood of her offspring. Of course, we may point out that people hardly patronize prostitutes to procreate, but we must acknowledge the fact that at one level the need to convince oneself of the continuation of the species is being fulfilled. That is partly why the Kings of yore (who did not have to visit 'prostitutes’ in the conventional sense) made it a point to maintain a harem of concubines.

There is no denying the fact that one of the major drivers to prostitution is the urge for instant physical gratification. Traditionally, it has been males who have been visiting women for paid sexual services. To the man, it is an opportunity to release his urge to copulate. He answers the call of his libido and that makes him feel good about himself. Growing up, a lot of younger men want to explore their sexuality by having their experience with a prostitute. It could be a release mechanism. It could be a tool of boast among peers or it could be a strategy of convincing oneself of finally having become a MAN and of having come of age. Whatever it is, because the pleasures are forbidden, they hold all the more charm. Men who are already into a marriage or relationships might do it just for the DIFFERENCE the experience promises. They have always been fascinated by women who choose to live life the unconventional way. This is not to suggest that they have been game for a woman's emancipation but the attraction of a woman who has broken some rules is always there. She is risqué, she is wild and she will present a facet of womanhood which the "good wife" would not. Men then become souls flirting with their dark sides and the visible product of this journey is the physical pleasure they derive.

Another materialist way of explaining prostitution's longevity is to look at it as an economic arrangement based on the tenets of demand and supply. The men, who have traditionally had the money, are on the lookout for more sexual gratification than what society would permit them. The prostitutes, who have lesser money, are there to fulfill this demand. They often have few other professional skills or services to offer. The idea of a “fallen woman" is intrinsically tied to the idea of a woman who originally came from the poorer section of the society. So, while they have it, they use their bodies to ensure sustenance. In modern times, this has become a little more complicated, with women doing it to flaunt their new - found sexual liberties, and not always for the money.

Another idea that could explain the issue at hand is the power structure that came into play with the origin of prostitution. This power structure could be in the form of a male to male rivalry or in the form of more subtle but more consequentional male - female relationship. A prostitute is a commodity put up in the market, and on the principles of free trade, she is available to the highest bidder. Angelica Bianca, recently released to the general public (after the death of her patronizing general) is a case in point. When such a situation exists, the prostitute becomes the battle ground for rival males (even though this 'rivalry' might co-exist with male bonding). Whoever has the money, the power or the physical charm can try and win over her - thereby, also vanquishing competing males. Not the theory of evolution at work, one might say, but the idea is not totally detached. On the male - female plane, the power play is much more nuanced. A single man courting a prostitute is trying to enforce the domination of his patriarchal forefathers. Very often, he would use the agency of money. He is like the caveman trying to have his needs gratified at will. For a man into an existing relationship, visiting a prostitute is like procuring the physical pleasures without any emotional accountability. Within a relationship, sex might come attached with strings. The distribution of the household income, the say in familial decisions, the balance of conversation and the comfort level with the partner - all of these changes after every physical intercourse. This might become too daunting at times and a man might not wish to upset the status quo and yet have the ' joys’ of a momentary alliance.

Prostitution, then, is here to stay. Any society that has more than three individuals (with necessary gender diversity) would have prostitution. With three individuals, it is unlikely because two of them might just enter an emotional relationship (possibly including a physical side to it), while the third one (also in need of emotional security and continuation of the species) would be in a state of bargaining on grounds of an emotional commitment. Money comes into the picture when another individual is introduced to include the possibility of a simultaneous existence of procreation and recreation.

So, while the books of the Bible never really condoned prostitution, sons of Israel and sons everywhere made sure that a little sin was not totally unheard of.

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