Prostitution means telling women what to do with their own bodies.

This point, I think, is really important and needs to be emphasized. As Jonah Mix points out in this entry, prostitution advocates lie when they say feminists wants to tell women what to do with their bodies. It’s prostitution that does that.

Obviously, a client demanding free sex from a woman in prostitution would be rape, and a man giving her money without requesting sex is no longer a client. So for prostitution to be prostitution, we have to have these two features: A man’s request and a man’s compensation.

This notion of a “request” is important. In almost any transaction, the person initiating the purchase of the service is the one who frames the exchange. When you go to hire that plumber, he doesn’t turn around and say, “You know, I see your toilet is clogged, but I’d rather fix this leaky faucet.” Your French teacher doesn’t get to decide the day’s lesson will be on the Baltic languages whether her class likes it or not. Professionals in the service industry might provide advice to customers or guide them from a position of authority, but they’ll never provide a service that doesn’t at least meet some need or desire on the part of the customer. If they did, the customer wouldn’t pay (why would he?) and the transaction would be over…

Because prostitution is a service, and because men are overwhelmingly the ones requesting that service, it’s reasonable to assume based on the previous paragraphs that men are the ones who define what prostitution is and how it plays out in the global marketplace. Considering that prostitution involves a physical act, that means that prostitution is an industry in which men tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

18 thoughts on “Prostitution means telling women what to do with their own bodies.

  1. Sundazed August 29, 2016 at 10:04 Reply

    Yes, great entry that I fully agree with.

  2. Simon August 29, 2016 at 12:47 Reply

    I’m still having trouble understanding this “states of affairs” business, Francois. Now, I will remain an anti-natalist for the rest of my life, as I think it is 100% correct in its raw appraisal of the human condition and the overwhelming amount of negativity therein. However, unfortunately there seems to be an asymmetry within the asymmetry, so to speak. Benatar says that failing to create new people is not bad because non-existent people will never be deprived of the paltry amount of good in the world, but if we accept that, then it also means that non-existent people are not spared the overwhelmingly negativity of life. We have not saved anyone, as there is nobody to be a beneficiary of our ethical choice not to procreate. If I decide not to stab a stranger, then that person has benefitted from my choice to refrain from action. But if I choose not to procreate, who has benefitted from my inaction? This conundrum I thought would have been apparent to Benatar. Still, although this is a troublesome logical wrinkle, anti-natalism remains accurate in the bleak picture it paints of humanity, what it is, and where it’s going.

    • Francois Tremblay August 29, 2016 at 14:55 Reply

      There is no “who.” The Asymmetry does not compare two states of a person X. It compares two states of affairs, one where person X exists and one where person X does not.

      • Simon August 30, 2016 at 04:13 Reply

        And the situation where person X does not exist cannot be described as good. Neutral, perhaps, but then how can one advocate for neutrality? And who would we be advocating it for? As you say, these potential persons do not exist.

        Also, if Benatar can claim, as he does, that the absence of pain is good even if that good is not enjoyed by anyone, then surely the breeders can retort that the absence of pleasure is bad even though there is no one being deprived. Both statements seem equally silly.

        • Francois Tremblay August 30, 2016 at 04:14 Reply

          Same arguments I’ve already debunked many times in my entries and comments. Anything new to put forward?

          • Simon August 30, 2016 at 05:15 Reply

            Would it be too much to ask for you to address them again now?

              • Simon August 30, 2016 at 13:40 Reply

                I have read them already. I still don’t see that the conundrum I’m highlighting has been specifically addressed. If you’re going to say that the absence of suffering is good, despite no one benefitting from this absence, then by the same (obviously bad) logic, the breeders can also claim that non-existent pleasure is bad even though no one is being deprived of it.

                • Francois Tremblay August 30, 2016 at 15:28

                  THAT VERY POINT is addressed in both of the entries I linked to you. Since you clearly have no intention of reading them, despite lying that you did, I will paste the exact passages here:

                  “Beyond the objection to (1) which I addressed above, usually people try to reject the asymmetry by rejecting (4). They argue that to not start new lives is a deprivation of pleasure. But for whom is this a deprivation? It cannot be a deprivation to the non-existent, since that which cannot exist cannot be deprived. Is it a deprivation to the parent, or to humanity?

                  We can imagine that the world might contain 12 billion people. That’s a whole 5 billion people that do not actually exist. And yet no one is mourning the loss of pleasure of these 5 billion imaginary people. A mother may regret that an expected child was stillborn, but the person whose death she regrets exists solely in her imagination. That which does not exist cannot be a person, or anything else.

                  At any rate, the fact that another person may feel deprived of the child’s non-existence does not affect the argument, which pertains to either a person’s existence or an alternative state of affairs in which this person does not exist. The fact that a parent might feel sorrow about an imaginary person is regrettable but there’s little we can do about imaginary sorrows.

                  Besides that, what if we reject (4)? This is where the real problems come in. If we reject (4), that means we posit that what does not exist can be deprived of pleasure. This means there is some space-fetus (or similar non-existing-and-yet-experiencing paradoxical creature) out there feeling the pain of not being able to taste ice cream, just waiting to be born in some woman’s uterus. And if this is the case, then we have an ethical duty to start as many new lives as possible. By that standard, only the Duggars are not avatars of pure evil.

                  Not only is this a claim that no one would be ever ready to make, but it is also paradoxical. To claim that women must be enslaved to their reproductive faculties nonstop is to use women as a means to an end, which is clearly evil (a similar sort of argument could be made against anti-abortion or pro-PIV advocates).

                  It can be said that antinatalism is unacceptable for many people. However, I think the consequence of rejecting (4) is just as unacceptable. The difference is that there’s no clear reason for rejecting the asymmetry, but there are clear logical and ethical reasons to reject any position which rejects (4).

                  What people who reject (4) really want you to believe is that having children is not bad, that it’s fulfilling some good. They don’t want you to draw the logical conclusion that rejecting (4) means that not having children is evil. They want to justify voluntaryism by making having children be equally ethical to not having children. But if (4) is false, and what does not exist is deprived and suffers from a lack of procreation, then not having children becomes the equivalent of deliberately starving children.

                  The natalists’ intuition is based, I think, on the false premise that starting new lives brings good with it because it creates pleasure. But this fact is only relevant if what does not exist is somehow deprived of pleasure; otherwise, creating pleasure does not make the universe a better place.

                  I think some people may still miss the point about absence of deprivation, so let me try to make an analogy to explain it more simply. Suppose Sober has no desire for alcohol whatsoever (because ey does not drink any alcohol, doesn’t use it for any other purpose, and has no need for the money ey’d get if ey sold it). In such a case, giving Sober a bottle of wine may appear to you to be a positive for Sober (since you gave em something), but to Sober this would not be an improvement, since Sober never feels any deprivation towards alcohol. All that’s been added is a net negative, since Sober now has to dispose of the bottle without offending you.

                  Obviously the analogy is not perfect (for instance, Sober actually exists in this hypothetical), but I hope my point is clear: an inability to be deprived entails the impossibility of improvement.”

                  “Julio Cabrera wrote a paper called “Quality of Human Life and Non-existence (Some criticisms of David Benatar’s formal and material positions)” (PDF here). His main objection is that by transposing the counter-factual formulation of (3) to (4), we can get the following proposition, which contradicts the Asymmetry:

                  Of the pleasure of an existing person, (4) says that the absence of this pleasure would have been bad even if this could only have been achieved by the absence of the person who now enjoys it.

                  But with my rephrasing, you can now see that Cabrera is wrong in his transposition. The absence of this pleasure cannot be bad, because no one is being deprived of it. Cabreba continues:

                  Claim (4) says that this absence is bad when judged in terms of the interests of the person who would otherwise have existed. We may not know who that person would have been, but we can still say that whoever that person would have been, the avoidance of his or her pleasures is bad when judged in terms of his or her potential interests”.

                  In the absolute, Cabrera is right, the absence of pleasure is worse than the presence of pleasure given a potential person’s interests. But we are comparing two states of affairs, not examining a state in the absolute: in the comparison, (4) cannot be worse than (2) because pleasure in fulfillment of a need is not any better than the absence of need in the first place.

                  To explain this, Benatar uses the concept of anti-frustrationism. Suppose we give Kate a pill that gives her the desire to see the tree closest to the Sydney Opera House be painted red. This desire is frustrated because that tree is not actually painted red. Now suppose we go to the Sydney Opera House, paint the tree closest to it in red, and show Kate the result. Now we are back to where we were before: the manufactured desire, fulfilled, now gone. The upshot of this is that an absence of need is no worse than a fulfilled need, and better than a frustrated need.”

  3. John Doe August 29, 2016 at 15:19 Reply

    Sorry to steal the spotlight again, but as a Q in LGBTQ, people have been doing this to me in the name of freedom since the day I was born. I’ve been persecuted and shamed in the name of free speech since like forever.

  4. Simon August 31, 2016 at 02:44 Reply

    Once again, Francois, you have just reiterated what I’ve already read here and elsewhere, what I’m already familiar with. What I’m highlighting is that we cannot claim that anti-natalism achieves a good, precisely because no one benefits. Benatar seems to think we can just go ahead and call it a good anyway, as if it is somehow innately good. He says “it would be better if humanity became extinct.” This supposes there would be some kind of ideal observer left to survey the vacant earth and proclaim it good, and even then, he would only be proclaiming it good on his behalf, not on behalf of the non-existant people who aren’t alive to suffer.

    In conclusion, we can say that non-existent pleasure is “not bad”, but it therefore follows that non-existent suffering is “not good.”

    • Francois Tremblay August 31, 2016 at 02:53 Reply

      “What I’m highlighting is that we cannot claim that anti-natalism achieves a good, precisely because no one benefits”

      By that reasoning, anything that ensures that something will not exist cannot be good. Not building a machine that we found out will be faulty benefits no one, since no one stands to be harmed in the first place. Likewise, suicide cannot ever be good for a person, since that person no longer exists. Your point is logically nonsensical.

      ” He says “it would be better if humanity became extinct.” This supposes there would be some kind of ideal observer left to survey the vacant earth and proclaim it good, and even then, he would only be proclaiming it good on his behalf, not on behalf of the non-existant people who aren’t alive to suffer.”

      No. Antinatalism is an ethical position for humans existing right now, not for some hypothetical “ideal observer.” It is a position derived from ethical reasoning about procreation.

      “In conclusion, we can say that non-existent pleasure is “not bad”, but it therefore follows that non-existent suffering is “not good.””

      There is no such thing as “non-existent suffering.” Instead of sloppy writing, just refer to the Asymmetry premises. I assume you mean here to refute

      (3) What does not exist cannot suffer (therefore this non-existing pain is a good thing).

      If you want to keep going, then refute the point. Otherwise I am no longer interested in this discussion. All you do is bluster and you haven’t made a single argument yet. Make an argument or shut the fuck up.

      • Simon August 31, 2016 at 06:37 Reply

        Being aggressive towards a fellow anti-natalist is a low point for you, Francois. Indeed, to anyone observing our discussion, it will appear that you are on the defensive, so please don’t.

        Yes, I am saying that suicide is not good for anyone. No one benefits from it. There is no respite for the person who has taken their own life. Regarding your machine analogy, consider that the people that would have been inconvenienced by the machine already exist, and so can benefit from our decision not to build the machine. The same cannot be said of the unborn. Remember what I said before; if I decide not to go out and stab a random stranger, then that person has (unknowingly) benefitted from my inaction, as they are already in the state of existence. However, an as of yet non-existent person cannot benefit from my decision not to create them. Do you see the difference here? I am astounded if you do not.

        I’m saying that, in the absence of an ideal observer, there is no way one can classify an earth free of humans, and therefore suffering, as good, as there will be no one around for it to be good for.

        You call me out for saying “non-existent suffering” and then you go on to make a point about “non-existent pain.” Interesting.

        • Francois Tremblay August 31, 2016 at 07:29 Reply

          “Being aggressive towards a fellow anti-natalist is a low point for you, Francois.”

          Any more tone-policing and you’re banned. This is my blog. I am perfectly within my rights of being tired of you assholes arguing endlessly about the Asymmetry on points which have already been discussed over and over again on other comment threads. If you don’t like that, leave.

          “Indeed, to anyone observing our discussion, it will appear that you are on the defensive, so please don’t.”

          How can I be on the defensive when you haven’t presented any actual argument yet?

          “Yes, I am saying that suicide is not good for anyone. No one benefits from it. ”

          The person who kills themselves is the person who expects a benefit. I can’t believe I have to explain this to a grown man.

          “Regarding your machine analogy, consider that the people that would have been inconvenienced by the machine already exist, and so can benefit from our decision not to build the machine.”

          The inconvenience doesn’t actually exist at that point. It’s an extrapolation into the future. I talked about this here:
          https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/the-non-identity-problem/

          “Remember what I said before; if I decide not to go out and stab a random stranger, then that person has (unknowingly) benefitted from my inaction, as they are already in the state of existence. However, an as of yet non-existent person cannot benefit from my decision not to create them. Do you see the difference here? I am astounded if you do not.”

          Was the fake indignation really necessary, or are you just being a fucking dick? Obviously what does not exist cannot benefit from anything, because it… does not exist. Which is the whole point of the Asymmetry, the reason why we’re having this tedious discussion in the first place.

          Once again, and for the last time: the Asymmetry is not about comparing the state of two individuals, it is about comparing states of affairs. The state of affairs where person X does not exist is comparatively better than the state of affairs where person X exists. Whether person X actually exists or not does not contradict this conclusion. Likewise, in the case of the machine or not stabbing anyone, we can make the same equation and conclude that the state of affairs where the machine is not operational or where you don’t stab anyone is comparatively better than the state of affairs where the machine is made operational or where you do stab someone.

          “I’m saying that, in the absence of an ideal observer, there is no way one can classify an earth free of humans, and therefore suffering, as good, as there will be no one around for it to be good for.”

          Again, and for the last time, there is no ideal observer involved in the Asymmetry or any other antinatalist argument. This is a straw man. Stop doing it.

          “You call me out for saying “non-existent suffering” and then you go on to make a point about “non-existent pain.” Interesting.”

          All right, I admit that this my error. Talking around non-existence is a tricky matter without overcomplicating. Nevertheless I note that you have not presented any actual argument to debunk (3), just complained about my double standard. Do you have an actual argument against (3)? If so, please present it. If not, do not continue this conversation.

          • Simon August 31, 2016 at 12:49 Reply

            The double standard is what I’m talking about, just not the one that you rectified. Calling it states of affairs comes across as a semantic dodge. How come you only refer to the non-existent person scenario as a “state of affairs” and not the non-existent pleasure scenario? That does indeed seem like a double standard. Is it because that if you did it would be a comparatively bad “state of affairs”?

            That’s the trouble as far as I see it. Non-existent pleasure is not bad, as there is no one for it to be bad for, but non-existent suffering is not good either, as there is no one for whom it is good. It’s checkmate in both directions. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that anti-natalism is correct about the world being an overwhelmingly bad place and that reproduction cannot be justified.

            No the inconvenience doesn’t exist yet, but the people whom it would inconvenience do, and these people would benefit from our decision not to build the machine. Space fetus, on the other hand, does not benefit from our decision not to create it.

            I didn’t say there was an ideal observer in anti-natalism, I just pointed out that you do need one in order to claim that an earth free of humans/suffering is good. You need someone to make the evaluation, and in the absence of any sentient life to pronounce it good, it can’t be good. It’s just neutral, if even that.

            If this is repetitive for you, could you please recommend another anti-natalist I could discuss them with at length? Thank you.

            • Francois Tremblay August 31, 2016 at 15:59 Reply

              “Calling it states of affairs comes across as a semantic dodge.”

              It’s not a “semantic dodge,” it’s a huge difference.

              “How come you only refer to the non-existent person scenario as a “state of affairs” and not the non-existent pleasure scenario? That does indeed seem like a double standard. Is it because that if you did it would be a comparatively bad “state of affairs”?”

              What are you talking about? They’re both part of the same “scenario.”

              “That’s the trouble as far as I see it. Non-existent pleasure is not bad, as there is no one for it to be bad for, but non-existent suffering is not good either, as there is no one for whom it is good.”

              There is no “no one.” It’s not about states of individuals. We’ve already been through this.

              “No the inconvenience doesn’t exist yet, but the people whom it would inconvenience do, and these people would benefit from our decision not to build the machine. Space fetus, on the other hand, does not benefit from our decision not to create it.”

              That’s great, but again, that’s not relevant to the evaluation.

              “I didn’t say there was an ideal observer in anti-natalism, I just pointed out that you do need one in order to claim that an earth free of humans/suffering is good.”

              No you don’t. You just need the ability to compare states of affairs. Something any human being does when they consider procreation or suicide, amongst other things. It’s not an esoteric ability.

              “If this is repetitive for you, could you please recommend another anti-natalist I could discuss them with at length? Thank you.”

              Well, there are other ANs who write about theory, like SisterY and Filrabat (not sure what happened to him: his blog hasn’t been updated in four years). I know there’s a paucity of AN blogs. Probably the best alternative would be to make your own.

              It’s clear that you have no intention of bringing this discussion anywhere, since we’re just going in circles, so I recommend you take one of those alternatives. My patience for these discussions is wearing extremely thin. I am seriously considering banning any more discussion of the Asymmetry on this blog.

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