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Please begin with an informative title:

I need some help from this community getting thoughts and forming an opinion about this. The question is whether it is inherently immoral to visit a sex worker  for sex (e.g., prostitute).
Yes, I know that it is illegal except in a few places in Nevada.
Yes, I know that it is risky and probably a bad idea.
And yes, I know that most prostitutes are in fact coerced and trafficked into their situation.
My question is- assuming that the sex worker is there of her own free will, is not coerced or trafficked, is there anything inherently wrong about it?

Intro

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Once all of these other factors are taken into consideration, I have generally in the past believed that it was not inherently immoral.

For example, let's say, you have a middle class young woman from NYC who's going to college or has another career and is making money on the side. She gets to pick and choose which clients she goes to, set her own rules, and is treated well by her clients. You will find plenty of sex workers in this situation who will testify that they found their work worthwhile and satisfying, and not traumatic or exploitative, although they are a minority.

And on the other hand, you have clients, who might have legitimate reasons for going to a sex worker. You might have a person who is disabled or handicapped, or suffers from severe social anxiety disorder, or some other fault such that they cannot acquire non-transactional sex. I have even heard of one who claimed to be diagnosed with cancer, probably six months to live, and wanted to have sex once in his life, but he was very concerned about the feminist implications of his actions and did not want to hurt anybody. So it is possible to have seemingly respectful clients.

However, I have recently heard an argument (from some in feminist circles), which goes like this: That sex is inherently about mutual sexual attraction and pleasure. It is such an intimate thing, such a personal thing, that it should never be used as a commodity, or object to be traded in a capitalistic marketplace. Therefore, male clients who buy sex feel entitled to sex because they think they deserve to get sex for money without being able to offer sexual gratification to the woman. That key word, 'entitled' keeps coming up over and over. In effect what this argument to me feels like is that the money is qualitatively inferior to the intimacy in question, no matter how much.

The agency of the sex worker or prostitute in question, however, is effectively discarded, and she becomes a 'victim', regardless of how she chooses to frame her own experiences.

So, what do you all think? I am interested in hearing from a feminist perspective. My previous position was that there is nothing inherently wrong about visiting a sex worker for sex, but this new argument also rings true. Although it only seems to go so far.

More broadly, what do you think of the dilemma of disabled or extremely unattractive people who face major barriers to accessing non-transactional sex? If you are against prostitution, what are these people supposed to do? Or is it not a big deal?

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to papermoon on Thu Nov 28, 2013 at 06:47 PM PST.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism.

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