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Read the previous chapter Science versus Omniscience

Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 14: Sex for Money

When I was a young lad I lived in Manhattan, where in the Fall of 1971 I met my first libertarians, at a meeting of the New York Libertarian Association, in the apartment of Gary Greenberg, who at the time was a deputy prosecutor for the City of New York. So if I’m ever called to testify before a future House Committee on UnAmerican Activities and asked to name names, my career as a subversive starts right here.

One of the libertarians I met at that first meeting was a graduate student going for a doctorate in theoretical chemistry from New York University. His name was Samuel Edward Konkin III. Inspired by a British libertarian named Chris Tame, Sam had started a Libertarian Alliance on the NYU campus, and Sam found me worth talking to at that first meeting because — prior to actually meeting any other libertarians — I had started a libertarian group at my college, part of the City University of New York.

I was the only other college student Sam met that night who on his own initiative had started a campus libertarian group. I also was starting out as a writer and Sam published a mimeographed newsletter called New (NYU) Libertarian Notes. So we became friends, and that was how I ended up taking the subway to Brooklyn with Sam to audit a college course on economics being given by Murray Rothbard.

Also attending those classes was an economics student named Walter Block, now Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans and Senior Fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Walter made an immediate impression on me after the first Rothbard class I audited, when Sam, myself, Walter, and half a dozen other students accompanied Murray to a nearby pub and over pitchers of beer we continued the discussion. I should note for historical purposes that at the time the drinking age in New York was 18. I was probably the youngest guy at the table and I had a million questions for Rothbard. I was asking so many questions that Walter — using fundamental principles of the economics Rothbard was teaching — pulled me aside and informed me that Rothbard’s time was a “scarce resource” and by dominating the questioning I was misallocating it!

In 1975, just a few years later, Walter’s book Defending the Undefendable was first published. The subtitle was “The Pimp, Prostitute, Scab, Slumlord, Libeler, Moneylender, and Other Scapegoats in the Rogue’s Gallery of American Society.”

There was no chapter in Walter’s book, however, defending those who by asking too many questions misallocated the professor’s scarce time. But Walter did use the value-free approach of the Austrian School of Economics to argue that if there was no force in an economic transaction, it not only should not be a crime but was a positive good.

The pimp was merely a prostitute’s agent or manager — no different than a sports agent or singer’s manager. If you didn’t like the slum apartment the landlord was renting you, you were free to look elsewhere. You didn’t have a right to keep your cheating on your wife a secret, so if you paid someone blackmail to keep your secret, that was a 100% voluntary transaction. And since everyone is entitled to their opinion, as far as Walter was concerned, writing bad things about someone shouldn’t be something you could get sued for.

Walter, in his book, had a different purpose than I have in this one. I’m not out to explicate a theory of economics. I’m here to defend the passions — the loves — which freedom is necessary to enable. So you’re not going to find me making arguments that people become blackmailers or loan sharks because it’s their lifelong dream — nor will you find me arguing here that being a slumlord or litterer works to enhance other people’s dreams.

What I am going to argue in future chapters is that just because the performance of a job or profession is illegal — or just because the possession of certain skills is regarded as dangerous or anti-social — that doesn’t mean these jobs or skills can’t be constructive, life-affirming, and even noble pursuits.

Let’s start in this chapter with a hard case: prostitution.

I doubt very much that any little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute. I doubt any father is thrilled to discover that his daughter has grown up to become one.

Let me also be very clear that in referring to prostitution I am not referring to a situation where any sort of force, threat, duress, intimidation, or dependency is used to make someone perform sexual acts for money. I’m not talking about kidnapping women or children and forcing them into sexual slavery. I’m not talking of a pimp supplying one of his women drugs in exchange for the money she gets from standing on a corner and offering herself to passing motorists.

And I’ll leave out gay prostitution and male escorts from this discussion because that’s a whole other cultural milieu.

For the duration of this discussion I’m going to restrict myself to that subset of female prostitution where a woman, of her own free will, and with no penalty for saying no at any time, offers herself in exchange for money to perform what in Chapter 6 of this book I referred to as “Circle A” and “Circle B” sexual activity.

To begin with, let’s understand what prostitution is for both the prostitute and the client. It is a professional personal service, like a physician, nurse, psychotherapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, masseur or masseuse, personal trainer, hair stylist, manicurist, piano teacher, math tutor, midwife, or tennis instructor. Many of these other professions involve personal touching and can become highly emotionally charged.

At first glance, prostitution doesn’t actually seem all that different from being a doctor or nurse. Nurses wash their patients genitals and change the diapers of incontinent patients. A urologist might find it necessary that a penis be massaged to erection or even milked to ejaculation. A psychotherapist — like a spouse or a friend — becomes far more intimately involved with the personal problems of a patient than a prostitute ever does.

What distinguishes the prostitute from all other one-on-one professions is not that a prostitute is uniquely involved with the most intimate parts of her client’s body but that the prostitute is willing to use the most intimate areas of her own body in a session with her client. Additionally, a prostitute often needs to be an actor to create a fantasy for the client. Mostly — but not always — the object is to cause the client to come to orgasm.

Earlier in this book, while discussing drugs, I wrote,

If — at no time in your life — it has never crossed your mind that you need to go to a doctor to get a permission slip in order to buy a product that you will use on your own body, then it’s my sad duty to report to you that reading this sentence, right now, is the very first time you have ever encountered the concept of freedom.

This sentence is a specific case of the general argument made by this book that each of us is a volitional being with the moral right to control our own bodies. Only if we violate someone else’s rights are there moral limits of what we may do with our bodies. The counter-argument against the woman who argues that ownership of her body gives her the right to abort a fetus is that the fetus also has rights; but when there is no possible injured party involved — as there is in the case of consuming a drug or having sex for money — the morality of self-ownership is only answered by a tyrant’s megalomania to rule.

A lot of the stigma attached to prostitution arises from the hostility Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scripture has for prostitutes.

But a lot of this hostility also comes from the cultural expectations both women and men have.

It’s my opinion that a lot of the hostility to female prostitution is from traditional-values women who object to a woman having sex for money rather than for love, children, and the security of marriage — and maybe they don’t like the competition; and a lot of the hostility to female prostitution is from feminist women who object to a woman giving orgasms to men for money rather than demanding an orgasm of her own in exchange — and maybe they don’t like the competition.

That doesn’t leave a lot of women to be a lobby for legal prostitution.

The other stigma attached to prostitution is because men are naturally possessive of women. If a man enjoys a woman physically he’s halfway to falling in love with her. That she gets to collect payment and kick him out of her bedroom is diminishing to the male ego.

Modern men have also been trained by our egalitarian culture to be concerned with pleasing a woman sexually. A situation where the woman doesn’t care about whether she comes or not is, at the least, disconcerting. And a woman faking an orgasm feels like a cheat.

Then there are men who are romantics, and ultimately find sex without love to be unsatisfactory. A prostitute needs to be a very good actress, indeed, for a man like this not to feel like a chump when he’s out the door and she’s using her calculator to add up the night’s box office.

But where the pride and even nobility of prostitution as a profession comes in is when a man who is unattractive — flabby or painfully thin, bad teeth, bad skin, male pattern baldness, even physically handicapped, or who has peculiar fetishes — can by the simple expedient of providing cash take to bed a woman who under ordinary circumstances wouldn’t be caught dead on a date, much less in bed, with him.

Women willing to make a man like that feel good about himself even for an hour — no less than Florence Nightingale — are a gift from God.


Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter XV: For Love or Money

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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