Thursday, January 21, 2010

Does hedonism affect the public at large?

he·do·nism: the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life

Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to an article titled Why Men Go To Prostitutes. The article came to this conclusion: "Learning that women were trafficked, pimped, or otherwise coerced would not be so effective" in deterring the men surveyed from buying sex but having their activities made known publicly would be a deterrent. So, I suggested that those convicted of buying sex have their pictures put in the newspaper like those who are charged with DUI in some areas I've lived.

The first response surprised me.
"DUI affects the public at large. Prostitution (via brothels and escort services) does not. Unless there is a detriment to the public at large, no need for a law to hurt legitimate business practices. Legalize brothels as they have in specific counties in Nevada and tax it as a business."
My friend's response assumes those providing the pleasure and those receiving the pleasure are adults with the mental/emotional ability to make decisions on what they consider pleasurable for themselves.

My initial comment to the article assumes the illegality of prostitution. His comment is a valid argument if legality of prostitution is the issue. I wasn't expecting that type of response because in my mind there is a far greater issue than whether or not prostitution should be legal for consenting adults.

As with many issues argued in this country, we tend to argue results of actions rather than causes of actions. I'm beginning to think this must be due to the rampant acceptance of hedonism.

For example, I've never understood why we argue so much about abortion. The choice should come at the point of becoming pregnant, not after the result of sex. If we spent as much effort helping people understand consequences as we do trying to provide or argue solutions after the fact, I think we'd all be better off.

Human trafficking is another such issue. We can't solve the problem of human trafficking simply by punishing the victims. By the way, there are much stronger laws in place (than a public picture) for those who receive profit or pleasure from sex with a minor.

Human trafficking is a broad issue. For this post I will focus on the element of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. I will not deny that there are a number of women and men who willingly prostitute themselves. I will not pretend to be able to think like one who finds pleasure in paying to have sex with a young person - and paying more if the child is very young.

As one author put it, you don't hear little girls saying "I want to be a prostitute when I grow up."  My guess for those who willingly sell sex, the money meets their needs but not their dreams. For some it may be a desperate matter of survival. And this is where we must ask again, when we argue for legalization of prostitution, what exactly are we arguing for?

What is the mindset of one who says if I want to have sex then I should be able to pay for it or if I want to make money I should be able to provide whatever pleasure a person is willing to pay for. The mindset is that "pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life." How does that mindset affect the public at large?

The pleasure of hedonism is determined by the individual
With hedonism, each person is free to determine and receive the pleasure they desire - some might try to make this sound better by adding "as long as it doesn't harm someone else." But at what point do you know that it is harming someone else? How is "harm" defined? Only physical harm? What about emotional harm that isn't obvious immediately? Is no harm done if they don't know it is hurting them (see info on Stockholm Syndrome)?

The individually determined pleasure creates a society of distrust in the same way that most of us have encountered friends that are around only when it is pleasurable or beneficial for them. That is hedonism.

Hedonism emphasizes pleasure more than character

When pleasure overrides integrity, honesty, and hard work, our society becomes weak and unproductive. Do you know someone who fits this description? When enough individuals accept this mindset, the same result is reflected in society at large.

Hedonism is not containable
As much as we may want to act like we can live for pleasure in one area of our life but live with concern for others in another area, I don't think it is possible. Nor can we say only certain people should have a specific pleasure while others should deny themselves of that same pleasure. Most of us may try to pull that off with our children by telling them we are allowed to do something because we are an adult but they aren't allowed because they are too young. Without proper perspective of pleasure and goals, what does this teach them to look forward to as an adult?

Hedonism is never satisfied
This may be the greatest tragedy of hedonism. This is where the hedonism issue ties legalizing adult prostitution into minor sex trafficking. The mindset that believes life is about pleasure will always be looking for new pleasure and greater pleasures. The mindset that believes money brings pleasure or satisfies struggles, will always be looking for more money.

As my friend pointed out, Nevada has legalized prostitution in some counties. Las Vegas is not in one of those counties yet children under the age of 18 are trafficked into Las Vegas from 40 different states.

Legalizing a pleasure doesn't make it safe. Legalizing a pleasure that is intended to build trust and intimacy between two life-long partners destroys families and creates a desire that is not safe for any of us.
Men seek prostitutes for a variety of reasons. The most common reason named was to satisfy an immediate sexual urge or for pleasure (32%), followed by a need for variety (21%), not having their needs met in their current relationship (20%), convenience (15%), the thrill (8%), and an addiction or compulsion (3%). (Why Men Go To Prostitutes, A New Study)
Pleasure as a goal will never satisfy. Pleasure that satisfies comes as a result of seeking good for all people. I personally have found the only way to do that is to trust in the one who created this world. Do you want to experience satisfying adventure? Participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” ~ CS Lewis
Additional Information
child victims of human trafficking
stockholm syndrome


Julie M said...

I have yet to hear of a prostitute who didn't want out of the life.

This would be a great article for some mags! I love it! Have you considered starting a firestorm anywhere with it?

Sally Ferguson said...

You're so right. There will never come a time when the pleasure will be fulfilled. There will always be a desire for more, and more edgy each time.
Someone asked Rockefeller how much money was enough. He said, "Just a little bit more."
Lack of contentment can only be filled in a relationship with the One who created us!

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

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