A prostitute is somebody who sells sex for money. And unless you’ve been suffering from a particularly severe case of autism, you know that most societies attach a rather large stigma to prostitution. According to the laws of the land, which reflects the views of society, sexual intercourse is not something that should be bartered about like a commodity (unless your land is Nevada, the Netherlands, or Germany).
However, if you expand the definition of a prostitute to somebody who sells their labor for money, we’re all prostitutes. Society won’t attach a stigma to itself, so the stigma behind prostitution isn’t the act of trading something for money; it’s about the act of explicitly trading sex for money.
And it must be explicit. Because I can guarantee you that the majority of couples out there wouldn’t be together if it weren’t for the fact that they get to fuck each other. But we’re not going to outlaw romantic pairings. Why? Because it’s not explicit. People may have sex with each other, but there are other things in the relationship that make it less obvious that the relationship is based on sex.
This is why judgment of “nontraditional” relationships become more and more negative when it gets hard to find those other things. If an old, ugly billionaire is in a relationship with a thin blonde with fake tits, the public view is not going to be kind. “She’s just using him for his money and he’s just using her for her pussy”, society will say. But it’s not explicit because the blonde isn’t explicitly a prostitute and the old guy isn’t explicitly telling her “have sex with me and I’ll give you money”.
If you exchange money for a pack of gum at the convenience store, nobody is going to bat an eye. Because gum has almost zero value attached to it. But what happens if we up the stakes? Instead of gum, what if we made it a political favor? What if a politician flat out said, “give me money and I’ll pass this law”? It wouldn’t matter how beneficial the law would be to society at large. People would instantly decry him as corrupt and venal, and then the prosecutors would come a-knocking with a bribery charge.
For the politician to get what he wants, money, he has to create all sorts of hoops and pageantry around the transaction in order for society to condone the transaction. It can’t be a “bribe”. And it can’t be guaranteed. So the politician calls it a “campaign contribution” and then tells the “donor” that he will carefully consider his viewpoint. But everybody knows what’s happening. And the end result is the same: Money gets exchanged for a political favor.
So why is there such a huge stigma on important things (sex, government action) being explicitly traded for money while things like gum get let off the hook? I can summarize that attitude in 5 words: the fetishization of free will. Because a fundamental truth of human behavior is that we resent authority. So in order to accept authority, we have to create an elaborate system that disguises authority and gives a person a choice, and then punish the people who choose wrongly.
Any transaction, at its base level, is an imposition of authority by both parties. You do this; I do that. And if you don’t do this, I won’t do that. And people are uncomfortable with that kind of naked logic. We want wiggle room. Because there will be times when we consider it necessary to screw somebody else over. And when that time comes, we want as much wiggle room as possible to justify our actions.
I didn’t need to write any of this. Deep down, you knew everything I just told you. I wrote this because I wanted to bring that unconscious, unspoken knowledge to your actual conscience. Because it is better to choose and knowingly suffer the consequences than to be presented with a false choice. But that’s just my opinion.