I am loathe to insinuate myself into a private relationship between consenting adults. However, this is not a relationship in any sense but the literal and existential. The “relationship” between prostitute and trick is essentially exploitive on both parts, and has no other benefit to themselves or society except sexual gratification and cash flow.
That one brought a hearty chuckle. For one thing, “the literal and existential” pretty much covers all the senses one needs for something to be the thing which it’s declared to be, no? And sexual gratification and cash flow were precisely the things the parties in the transaction in question desired.
My “relationship” with my barber brings no benefit to me other than shorter hair and none to him save cash. Ditto my corner gas station (gas/cash), grocery store (food/cash), dry cleaner (clean clothes/cash), and . . . well, you get the idea.
At its most basic, this transaction involves the selling of a human being for the most intimate of purposes. It makes little difference whether the women (or men, for that matter) sell themselves or someone else sells them, or even “rents” them. It exploits humans for no purpose other than meaningless gratification; it turns people, and usually women, into nothing more than a commodity like pork bellies or cattle futures.
But, again, isn’t that true of most jobs?
Certainly, the man who cuts my grass isn’t doing it for self-actualization. The couple who cleans our house every two weeks are exploited for no other reason than my laziness. If those people quit, or stopped performing their jobs to my satisfaction, I’d replace them with others without any significant remorse. They are, in a purely economic sense, commodities.
That’s how they provide for their families. And they’re doing well enough that their kids will have the opportunities for more personally satisfying jobs.
Edward goes on for several more paragraphs along these lines, arguing for preserving “the exceptional status of humans” and that allowing some people to sell “their bodies for the gratification of others” leads us down a slippery slope “back to the feudal system, where the serfs and the slaves got bought and sold for the pleasure and profit of their masters.”
I sympathize with this view but see no obvious point of demarcation after which exploiting labor on the basis of voluntary exchange becomes too exploitative. People who do manual labor or drudge work are, for all intents and purposes, selling their bodies. For that matter, cops, firefighters, and soldiers put their bodies in mortal danger for a living.
One could argue it happens even at the upper range of the pay scale, such as with professional athletes. In what sense is a professional boxer less exploited than a prostitute? What about lingerie models? Indeed, one could argue that players in professional team sports, who may be traded to other teams and forced to move across the country — or even out of the country — if they wish to continue to work in their industry are much more like serfs than a self-employed prostitute.