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By Sam Zanahar (2006)
Is it immoral when a woman negotiates with a man a sexual relationship that comes with certain economic benefits?
The funny thing about this question is that a large number of people, both in traditioal and modern societies, will feel inclined to answer with yes. Later in this article, I will examine why this is the case.
But first, let me declare that in principle, there is nothing wrong with such arrangemets. If anything, they are honest.
Anyway, when young women in most countries of the world enter sexual relationships, they do so not solely for emotional benefits, but also with expectations of material benefits. Ideally, from the perspective of the young woman (and her family), the material benefits are provided lifelong, and are guaranteed by a legal system (as in a formal marriage).
Arrangements for sexual relationships that come with economic benefits, even though they may sound unromantic, are, of course, not preemptive of love.
As so often with human behavior, arrangements for sexual relationships that come with economic benefits are less an issue of moral or immoral behavior, but one of good or bad style.
I am not if favor of prostitution. I myself have tried sex with a prostitute only once. From the onset, I have found it to be emotionally and sexually totally unrewarding. Here I was together with a woman who enticed me to have sex 15 minutes earlier in exchange for 50 dollars, and now I was supposed to have an erection, to use a condom, and then have an ejaculation within a few minutes. But I felt more inclined.as to laugh, rather than to make love.
The situation was totally unarousing. And I felt that indeed, it was in very bad style.
But how about this construed example: I know a student in a country in which women normally remain virgins rather long, often until they finish their university courses. I find her attractive and charming, and decide to mention my idea of a love relationship.
The young woman tells me that she does not intend to marry a foreigner.
I reply that this is fine with me; we do not have to get married, but I would like her to be my girlfriend.
I also say that if she were to become my girlfriend, I would support her financially during her studies.
She replies that she cannot agree to this, because of her intention to get married as a virgin.
No problem, I answer. We do not have to have penetrative sex. I can enjoy a sexual relationship without penetration. I assure her that she will remain a virgin.
It's the arranged start of a love relationship, in which material benefits play a role.
Now, let me examine the moral implications. I know exactly who will consider this relationship immoral, and who will not. (We will see that the judgment on the morality issue matches precisely the respective person's sexual interests.)
The man who will later be the woman's husband would, if ever he were to know, find our premarital love affair totally immoral. (Of course, he is against it. He feels "overcharged" because he has to enter a formal marriage for sexual access, while I only have to finance her studies.)
Other men who also find the young woman attractive and would like a love relationship with her, would also denounce her behavior as immoral. (If they were to have the means, they would, of course, like nothing better than to take my place. As they don't have the means, they are against arrangements they themselves can't afford.)
Some of her female friends will defend her decision. They are those who would consider such an arrangement for themselves.
But the less attractive of her friends would likely critisize her attitude as immoral. This is because they feel that such an opportunity will not come accross their path.
Like always with moral issues, people's opinions just are an ideological superstructure disguising their naked interests.
Last question: is the behavior of my hypothetical girlfriend 'prostitution'?
Of course, it is not. Prostitution involves the exchange of sexual gratifications against financial remuneration on a highly promiscuous basis (typically several customers a night) and in an indiscriminate manner (anybody qualifies, as long as he pays the requested price, and is willing to wear a condom).
My hypothetical girlfriend is not promiscuous. In fact, I am her first lover. She also does not grant sexual favors indiscriminately. In fact, she is attracted to me intellectually, and because I am an honest not a hypocritical man. And I am rightfully proud that she agreed to this arrangement with me, and not with somebody else.
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Copyright Sam Zanahar