The disabled and prostitution.

Frances Ryan reports for The Guardian on this wonderful phenomenon. Read the whole thing. The final quote is key, for me:

For [King], being with a sex worker was a way to have at least some sexual experiences. “To think I could have gone through my life never having known [what sex is like] is frightening,” he says. “Nobody should ever have to do so. It’s too much part of being human.”

When I researched market ethics for my political philosophy class back in October, I remember stumbling across a letter to The Observer from 2003 which Cecile Fabre quotes in her book, ‘Whose Body Is It Anyway?‘ The letter:

As a single man who visits prostitutes, I object to being branded by Cristina Odone (Comment, last week) a sad creature who must pay for his thrills. Most clients of these patient, sympathetic and compassionate ladies are, like me, disabled, elderly, disfigured, ugly or socially or sexually inadequate. The prostitute provides the only opportunity for a brief, life-enhancing taste of physical affection. God bless her!

This hits on the central truth here. Yes, it would be better if disabled people could experience physical sensations within an emotionally rich relationship, but given their appearance it’s a tragic but undeniable fact that the vast majority of them struggle to find these forms of recognition and rewards in life. So who are we to explain to the worst off why they should be prohibited from having access to even these small but significant pleasures that prostitution offers them?

I feel very strongly about this, and I’m with Cecile all the way when she writes that:

It is not true, of course, that the ‘disabled, disfigured, elderly, ugly or socially or sexually inadequate’ can only get sex by paying for it. What is true is that they do not want to have sex with other disabled, elderly, disfigured, ugly, socially, or sexually inadequate individuals: they want to have sex with persons whom they regard as desirable. But what is wrong with that? To the extent that these clients would rather be in loving sexual relationships with such persons, the fact that they have to resort to prostitutional sex should, if anything, elicit compassion and sympathy, rather than moral condemnation.

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