Legalising prostitution legalises a fantasy – that sex does not involve the self

The Irish Times 16 November 2014
There are questions that are central to the debate about prostitution. Are there some things that should not be sold, even if a person is willing to sell them? And if you buy consent, does that destroy the meaning of consent?

To look at the first question in a different way: is the buying of sex closer to buying a vote for planning permission than it is to buying a service? Are there some things that it is wrong to buy?

Why is it that if someone buys a vote from a councillor, it is seen as corruption, but if someone buys the use of someone’s body, it is somehow liberation?

One narrative sees prostitution merely as work. Whether I choose to wait on tables, or sell sex, it is all the sale of a service. To see prostitution in any other way is to be moralistic, and prudish.

What people choose to do with their own bodies is their own business, and to suggest otherwise is to be paternalistic and entirely out of touch with modern reality. The only taboos are situations where there is force involved, or people are underage, or being exploited.

Writer and activist Kajsa Ekis Ekman is a 34-year-old Swede who tackles this narrative head-on. She says that talk of selling sex makes it seem as if sex were a noun, or an object, that somehow can be sold independently of the self.