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Men do not have the ‘right’ to sex A new case before the courts adds a modern twist to old ideas of conjugal relations

A prostitute waits for a customer on the streets of Holbeck. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A prostitute waits for a customer on the streets of Holbeck. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images


December 8, 2020   6 mins

Do men have the “right” to sex? Few moral issues have shifted so comprehensively in recent years, and while marriage was once seen as securing husbands conjugal rights in the bedroom, today most people look with horror at an idea that implies women’s bodies are a resource.

Yet as with so many sexual issues, old moral norms have been rebottled with new and often contradictory arguments, and with the expansion of human rights law the “right” to sex has returned. This was illustrated last week when the Court of Protection heard a case that digs right down into a central contradiction in contemporary sexual attitudes.

It concerns a mentally disabled man, called only “Z”, who is in the care of his local authority. Z would like to have sex, but feels that his social anxiety prevents him from finding a girlfriend, and is therefore asking his care workers to find him a woman who is prepared to have sex with him for money.

The case has reached the court of protection because it’s not clear if care workers would be breaking the law by granting this request. We know that there have already been instances in this country of the taxpayer indirectly paying for sexual services in brothels and lapdancing clubs both in the UK and abroad, via money that vulnerable adults in the care of the state are permitted to spend on their “mental and physical wellbeing”.

But this case takes us a step further. Psychiatrists have ruled that Z has the capacity to consent to sex and indeed to buy it. He does not, however, have the capacity to manage his own finances, and his care plan includes restrictions on the films and video games he is allowed access to, due to the risk of triggering “inappropriate” behaviour.

In other words, he is not able to actually arrange to buy sex, and therefore requires his carers to take practical steps on his behalf — steps that may or may not be illegal, contrary to section 39 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

I cannot share details on what exactly Z’s “inappropriate” behaviour has consisted of, but I can share facts that have already been reported in the press: that Z has spent several years in a specialist facility, detained under the Mental Health Act, and has told care workers that he has sexual fantasies involving violence and children, and so his care plan is therefore designed to prevent him coming into contact with children.

Buying sex is not illegal in this country, even for men who confess to such disturbing fantasies. It is illegal to keep a brothel, solicit in a public place, or (as of 2009) pay for sex with someone who has been “subjected to force”. So, to get around these legal impediments, Z’s advocates propose that his care workers seek out an escort for him through a charity called the TLC Trust, who provide a registry of self-employed escorts who are willing to have sex with disabled people in exchange for money. In court last week, barristers representing Z and the Local Authority presented the TLC Trust as a safe, responsible and carefully-regulated source of sexual services.

But UnHerd contributor Julie Bindel, who has investigated TLC, is sceptical of this assessment, once arguing that although the organisation is technically a charity, it is really in the business of “peddling the commercial services of individuals and escort agencies advertising sexual services. Checking the websites of the escorts listed shows that they are not particularly targeting disabled men, but simply adding to their customer base.”

TLC is also a campaigning organisation that promotes the decriminalisation and destigmatisation of the sex industry. Foregrounding the “right” of disabled people to access “sexual service providers” has long been a media-friendly strategy employed by such campaigners, since it presents a sanitised and compassionate side to the sex industry.

I say “disabled people” advisedly, because the people we’re talking about here are actually disabled men, and the “service providers” in question are almost always women, although you’ll rarely hear campaigners spell this out, since “men have the right to have sex with women” doesn’t sound nearly as good as a campaigning slogan.

In fact, when the judge tasked with deciding on Z’s case said this in regards another case, his comments attracted a great deal of controversy. Mr Justice Hayden had been asked to consider imposing a court order preventing a man from having sex with his disabled wife because her carers believed that she was no longer able to give her consent, and during proceedings he remarked “I cannot think of any more obviously fundamental human right than the right of a man to have sex with his wife.”

This did not go down at all well with feminist commentators, the criminalisation of marital rape being a hard-won legal battle in this country, only fully won in 2003.

It remains to be seen what Mr Justice Hayden decides in Z’s case; a judgment is expected by the end of the year and will potentially set an important precedent, since a key plank of Z’s argument is that he has a right to a sexual life, protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He therefore insists that the state must not only meet his needs for food, shelter and medical care, but must also facilitate his desire to have sex. Which means, of course, that someone else has to have sex with Z, and if no one is willing to do so for free, then their consent must be bought.

But then, to be fair to Z, his demands do follow on logically from two assumptions about sex that hold sway among many Westerners in the 21st century, despite the fact that they are in tension with one another.

The first is that sex is not a want, but a need: that it is impossible to live a happy and fulfilled life without sexual intimacy since, although historically there have been established and high status social roles available to celibate people — primarily through the Church — these have now faded away, leaving only a contemptuous attitude towards celibacy: at best, it is eccentric; at worst, suspect.

The second assumption is that sex is a leisure activity that is only invested with meaning if the participants choose to give it meaning – it has no intrinsic specialness, is not innately different from any other kind of social interaction, and it can therefore be commodified without any trouble. People can understand their own sexual encounters as meaningful or even sacred, but there’s no obligation on them to do so.

As the American writer Aaron Sibarium puts it, “if the scientific revolution disenchanted the world… the sexual revolution disenchanted sex.”

If we accept both of these assumptions, then we have to accept a difficult contradiction: that sex is at the same time as essential a need as food or water, but also as trivial as going to the cinema or getting your nails done. According to this logic, sex is simply a service that one person can perform for another, but it is a service that must be performed — that must even, in cases like Z’s, be facilitated by the state.

Z is asking for access to some anonymous, replaceable woman (albeit, presumably, an attractive one) in whom he can relieve his sexual frustration. And he insists that not doing so would violate his Article 8 rights.

If Z wins, we should thus expect a disabled man’s hypothetical care team to grow beyond cleaners, cooks and taxi drivers to include a female worker whose role is to give out blow jobs. And we will all be asked to pretend that the service this worker provides is no different from any other service, since apparently, as Mr Justice Hayden said during proceedings last week, “we’re not here to pass moral judgments about people’s decisions in the sphere of their private life or their decision to go to a sex worker.”

Except we all know that this is not a service like any other, and that we should not suspend our “moral judgments” when it comes to the sex industry. For one thing, in what other line of work are workers so often left with PTSD, suffering rates far higher than military veterans? In what other industry does youth carry such a premium, with a worker’s pay actually declining as she gains more experience? What other work can routinely be carried out with the worker drugged or unconscious? And what other industry so reliably attracts trafficking, and violence, regardless of its legal status?

The whole point of paid sex is that it must be paid. It is not mutually desired by both parties — one party is there unwillingly, in exchange for money, or sometimes other goods like drugs, food or shelter. The person being paid (almost always a woman) must ignore her own lack of sexual desire, or even her bone-deep revulsion. She must suppress her most self-protective instincts in the service of another person’s sexual pleasure. There is a reason that this industry usually attracts only the poorest and the most desperate women. It is the same reason that the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines explicitly address prostitution as “sexual exploitation”.

If Z wins his case, the judgment will lend legitimacy to the sex industry. It will also affirm the idea that sex is both meaningless and a “right” to be claimed by men, at the expense of women. And such a decision would embolden those who consider male feelings of sexual frustration to be very important — but consider female feelings of sexual violation to not be important at all.

It’s a shame that Z regrets his lack of a sex life. But it is not the responsibility of the state to sexually satisfy every frustrated, entitled and potentially dangerous man who demands it. Z needs state care, but he desires sexual intimacy, and the difference between these needs and desires should be obvious: no one has ever died for want of sex.

 


Louise Perry is a freelance writer and campaigner against sexual violence.

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Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago

There are seemingly two issues here; the obvious one about Z and his so-called needs (so much for the Human Rights Act where one person’s right usually ends up trumping another person’s right), + Louise’s opinion that men are beastly and women are victims. I wonder how many prostitutes, who do it of their own free will, she has met and talked with ?

I’m not sure you can maintain this position re women’s apparently eternal victimhood and the talk about TLC, which sounds like escorts/prostitutes organising themselves to offer services and make more money in the market area that may otherwise go unexploited – ie, when it comes to s e x women can and do exploit men’s desires for profit, all the time. Reality.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Oh Claire darling, haven’t you heard? You obviously haven’t been reading Julie Bindel’s articles on this site – ALL prostitution is RAPE!

You are right, women use men for their financial resources just as readily as men use women for their bodies. I would go one step further and declare that these slappers need to all be imprisoned for larceny and tax evasion.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Aaron Kevali

Well, as the Guardian instructs us, all property is theft, excepting when the right people own the right things for the right reasons, but this does not apply to us regular folk. This does add a complication to sex being a commodity, as owning the means of sex must be some form of theft, and thus buying it must be buying stolen property, unless this is all brokered through the state, if true socialism is to exist.

Capitalism being the private ownership of the means of production,( Land Labour, Capital). Socialism being gov control of the means, Communism being gov ownership of the means of production.

Sex as production gets weird when commodified.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

“Louise’s opinion that men are beastly and women are victims.”

Yes – and I think that Z is really just an opportunity for Louise to indulge the above.

There is something a little bit pathetic about some men’s need for sex or even just recognition or affection, however phoney. A bit like the addicts need for drugs. To be pitied rather than condemned. And the internet has shown that some women are fully willing to exploit it, entirely without coercion.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

“+ Louise’s opinion that men are beastly and women are victims” What? I never read that in this excellent and thoughtful article. The thing I always miss in the modern attitude to sex though, and she also danced around it, is the aspect of sex being coupled to affection, loyalty, monogamy, fidelity, and trust – like in every society throughout time where those qualities was accepted under the guidance of marriage as being the ideal state between sexual active couples. May not have been the universal practice, but were always the ideal, what Cora DuBois expressed as Model personality/behavior.

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

This is telling also:

The person being paid (almost always a woman)

Her stance requires her to pretend there are no men selling s e x to other men, because that falsifies her underlying thesis about the whole thing being rooted in misogyny.

Si Llage
Si Llage
3 years ago
Reply to  M Spahn

99% of trafficking victims are female.
Those 1% that are boys are getting sexually abused by the same men sexually abusing girls, the population of punters who pay to outsource the violence necessary for making obedient victims to pimps and traffickers.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Si Llage

Who has suggested using trafficking victims for this activity?

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago
Reply to  Si Llage

She is not discussing “trafficking victims,” she is discussing prostitution altogether.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

…and by the same token then, women do not have the right to children. Male sperm is not a resource or a commodity.

katiepert1970
katiepert1970
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

What a silly comparison.

Si Llage
Si Llage
3 years ago
Reply to  katiepert1970

Well you know there is that multibillion dollar sperm smuggling industry where boys and men are held in captivity and milked for their precious seed, or maybe that was just a screenplay Russ wrote during lockdown.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Si Llage

Sperm is a product that can be purchased on the market. And lots of people buy it. Infertile couples, women wanting to have children without a partner. If you’re saying that sperm donors are unwillingly providing the product, what is your basis for that?

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

“Sperm is a product that can be purchased on the market.”
So, it seems, is sex (well, a service rather than a product).

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Yes, wherever it’s legally for sale, that’s correct. Just like sperm.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  katiepert1970

Not really. Are disabled women in state care provided with conception or infertility services? If women have the right to procreate, wouldn’t that be necessary? After all, anyone can buy sperm, it’s a product sold on the market today. The rub here is whether or not the state has to pay for it. If the answer is no, then it cannot be considered a right.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago
Reply to  katiepert1970

..but , oh, soooo, true.

echo.foxtrot.9
echo.foxtrot.9
3 years ago
Reply to  katiepert1970

Not at all a silly comparison. Two can play this game,

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

It is worth querying whether it is really moral to manipulate the situation of your child intentionally so that it grows up without its biological father. The child my wonder why this was considered a good idea

Adam M
Adam M
3 years ago

Just another example of the failure of the law to provide moral guidance to peoples lives. The recession of Christianity leaves us with an ever increasing mire of contrived and contradictory laws and regulations. and a generation of people who have no idea of what is right and what is wrong.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam M

Having lived in Islamic places I respect Islam, but do not think it good that it is so rapidly expanding in the West as I like different societies not homogenizing just for the sake of that, which is what Liberalism teaches us is a ‘Good’. (because it divides us, see Frankfurt School)

But with the absolute decline of Christianity in Europe I do at least like that Islam, which is a highly moral religion, it is of the ‘Book’, will keep some of the Judeo/Christian/Muslim Old Testament values alive and from the evil hands of Liberalism, till society can rebel against the Nihilism of Secular Humanism and return to some morality and decency.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam M

Did the law ever provide moral guidance ? surely the law is the strong arm of the state. Admittedly for a thousand years it developed alongside and was influenced by, first Catholicism, until 1530 or so, and then Protestantism until 1945 approximately. Since then liberalism and now progessivism have taken over as state religions.

It seems to me moral guidance comes partly from religion, but also from the culture that is shared in common in a society, it’s history, legends, literature, music and art, which is one of the reasons multiculturalism, cultural marxism and identity politics are so negative, they undermine us socially and divide us as individuals.
Moral breakdown is the result.

Harvey Johnson
Harvey Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam M

Comes on to Unherd to decry the moral decay of society thanks to the decline of Christianity when a Christian religious congregation is literally called a ‘flock’. You couldn’t write it, you really couldn’t.

If people don’t know right from wrong anymore, why are we living in the most peaceful and least barbaric point in recorded human history?

You know even as little as 8 generations ago they used to cut people into four pieces, feed them to the dogs and put their heads on spikes? And that was just the priests!

Adam M
Adam M
3 years ago
Reply to  Harvey Johnson

We do generally still have notions of ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ but only because we’re still living within the moral framework of Christianity. My point is that this is a receding force and you only have to look to eastern Europe to see the disaster awaiting a society that abandons it completely.

The peace we now experience is fragile but has also been at least in part a result of generations of the taming of our human nature by monotheism. Yes I’m aware much of history has been a barbarous affair but it was certainly not a better situation in the pre-Christian era.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Of course s e x isn’t a human right.

This fella can either indulge in a five knuckle shuffle in the privacy of a suitable location at no extra cost to the taxpayer and not put his hapless professional carers in the invidious position of pimping for him or he, if he truly represents a danger to the public at large due to his insatiable urges, should be legally obliged to take a few extra additional medications that suppress them both for his own good as well as everyone else’s.

Whatever any mitigating circumstances might apply, all too often it seems that we obsess over the rights and freedoms of those who often represent a very real, clear and present threat at the expense of those who might well be their potential victims but who apparently have none by dint of the obvious, simple fact that they have yet to become one.

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago

Just a few points: It is not the case that paid s e x is not part of a mutual agreement. A female prostitute’s motivation is different from her male client’s, but there is agreement to the transaction.
It is also not true that prostitutes are always the poorest women in society. Or at least, high-priced escorts don’t stay poor for long. Not every prostitute is a desperate, beaten, drugged and trafficked street-walker. You are poisoning the well by insisting on this.
Brooke Magnanti (AKA Belle de Jour) part-funded her doctoral studies as an escort and got a book and TV show out of it.

The fact that s e x is not an essential need like food and water is not an adequate reason for criminalising the purchase of it. On the contrary, making something a crime places it into the hands of criminals and criminals behave badly. The War on Drugs has been underway my whole life. It hasn’t worked yet except to enrich drug lords..

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

If you have lived in the bottom of the barrel world of drug dependence culture you have seen the criminality and utter hell it brings people and society. I believe this also true of most prostitution, and tends to go with drugs, but that is just an assumption.

Humans are both biological and behavior things. Take a cat, it has the tooth and claws to eat mice, it likes killing them. The rabbit is not designed for that, and has no desire to kill mice. Biology and behavior genetic predispositions.

Geese mate for life, grouse mate at ‘lecks’ where the best display male does 90% of the mating and then is done. Again genetic predisposition.

In all human societies humans had an ideal of marriage where a couple mate for life, and although this is not fallowed absolutely, it always has been the ideal. Again I would say, goose like, a genetic predisposition.

Women have always held their se x acts as more than casual, I would guess because it is part of the mental situation we are given. Men also bond for life mostly, old men die faster than old women once their spouse dies. Thus I would guess prostitution means going against our tendencies, and almost none escape that unscathed. Prostitution I think is an un-natural act, but then much we do is. I do understand prostitution has been a common situation since mankind occurred, but that does not mean it is just like everything else, it may strike deeper than we think into our self. Society always has regarded it as a bad deal for the women, maybe it is.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

“In all human societies humans had an ideal of marriage where a couple mate for life”

Except of course in polygamous societies. And genetic evidence shows clearly that polygamy was practised extensively in the past.

baba ganouch
baba ganouch
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

I don’t think women give more importance to intercourse due to ‘the mental situation we are given.’ I think it’s inherent for a number of reasons. For a woman it is a more intrusive act, another person actually penetrating your body. The consequences are also much more significant, running to the potential of 9 months of weirdness, followed by a baby you must take account of. OR, a medical procedure, which most people don’t jump at the opportunity to undergo. It is not a casual act for someone who actually bothers to think about the consequences.

Stanley Righten
Stanley Righten
3 years ago

You do not have a right to food or water either… you may be legally entitled to it under certain circumstances but conflating rights with entitlements is a dangerous mistake.

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago

Actually, I was under the impression that:

A moral or legal entitlement to have or do something.

Was pretty much the definition of “right”. How do they differ?

gray.darkgray
gray.darkgray
3 years ago

This writer’s logic holds no water should Z be gay, which reveals just how shallow and poorly though her argument is.

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago
Reply to  gray.darkgray

Exactly. She has to pretend that gay men never utilize prostitutes, too inconvenient to her thesis that it is all rooted in misogyny.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  M Spahn

not to mention women utilizing toy boys and girls.

Maighread G
Maighread G
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

The vast majority of prostitutes are female. The vast majority of people buying sex are male.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago
Reply to  Maighread G

the vast claims you make deserve documented substantiation.

baba ganouch
baba ganouch
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

I think ‘vast’ is an enormous understatement. The number of women who resort to buying sex is probably far less than 1% of the number of men. Undocumented (by me).

Si Llage
Si Llage
3 years ago
Reply to  gray.darkgray

Men don’t care if the “lesbians” in their “lesbian” porn are not lesbians at all, gayness doesn’t matter to men who are sexual predators.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Yet again, Disqus/Unherd’s arcane moderation process confounds me.

No live links, no cut and paste, nothing too controversial and yet ‘poof’, it’s gone.

What’s the deal on here, seriously?

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Just make sure you don’t use proscribed words. S E X is OK if you put spaces in the word.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

Funny you should mention it, but I did use that particular word twice in my post wildly assuming that as it appears in the headline and is, in many ways, at the heart of the story itself, it wouldn’t present any issues.

Talking about rape and torture and exhibiting some of the more unsavoury misogynistic tendencies on here doesn’t seem to be much of an issue up there in Unherd Moderatorland, but using the word ‘S E X’ apparently does. How quaint.

Go figure, as they say.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

There also seem to be some pretty unsavoury misandrist tendencies shown by some Unherd contributors

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

Wait, is that why my comment didn’t show up? Because I said s e x instead of “sweaty naked Twister”?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

You should try fanny. I did to describe Nancy Polosi’s Botox and skin stretching , it passed with flying colours.

Had I used the word we use in English to describe a cat, as in “the Owl and the P***y Cat went to sea in a beautiful….”
I would have been in serious trouble!

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

All sites use automatic moderation, because they are require to moderate legally, and it is impractical to do this manually.

Automatic moderation HAS to reflect some arbitary ‘consensus’ for the current society. It cannot operate in any other way.

So discussion sites, which are invariablly considering issues at the edges of social consensus, are constraiened to comply with automatically generated social norms.

You couldn’t make it up…

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

It’s Orwellian…so it makes perfect sense.

Thank you.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

On a practical level, choose different words.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

But if course it doesn’t work. Here we are on an article about s e x, a serious article about s e x, mind you, trying to have a serious conversation about s e x and the serious issues surrounding s e x… And we are reduced to sounding like timid school children dancing around the very word.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

In the early days of such AI moderators, scientific articles were often blocked for containing the word “analysis”. The first four letters spelt another word which was being blocked!

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

One of my survey panels has a daily poll – I was making a comment on one the other day and my use of the word “counting” was starred out as being offensive! I know why (look for the hidden word inside) but that is taking censorship to an unreasonable extreme. When we can’t use properly spelt words from the English language, it is a sad state of affairs.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Nikki Hayes

Whoever wrote that line of code sounds like a real count.

Possibly a viscount, but more likely just a regular old count.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Nikki Hayes

Disqus won’t even allow the official name of our species to be written unless you disguise it by using zeros instead of the letter o. There are countless examples, and don’t even think of using the old British slang word for cigarettes.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

So that’s why so many of my posts get – ‘being reviewed by moderation’ – because I cut and paste a lot. To respond to something I like to cut and past the actual line I am responding to, and my posts get moderation. I never go back and see if they finally appear, but assumed they do not.

I seem to not have been banned yet, which surprises me, as I tend to be a loon and conspiracy monger, and that shows they have some tolerance.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

Yep, basically they’ll cut you a ton of slack if you’re demonstrably an utter fruitcake or out there conspiracy theorist, but cut and paste anything and you’re as good as gone I’m afraid.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

You must have written something dubious or obscene. Dirty, & nefarious

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
3 years ago

For one thing, in what other line of work are workers so often left with PTSD, suffering rates far higher than military veterans? In what other industry does youth carry such a premium, with a worker’s pay actually declining as she gains more experience? What other work can routinely be carried out with the worker drugged or unconscious?

Um… Rock Stars, most celebrities, models, actors, ….

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

Professional cycling

Si Llage
Si Llage
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

Child rocks stars and actors are the highest paid and suffer more bodily and psychological trauma than military vets? No.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

Why does no one ask the prostitutes what they think? Can we have an article from them? We are in favour of freedom-of-speech, aren’t we?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

sex as an activity or identity is the most treacherous of rabbit holes”no pun intended.

just look at how this site handles the very word “sex” for proof.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

S e x as an activity or identity is the most treacherous of rabbit holes”no pun intended.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

I certainly see your point, but there should be someone other than middle-class journalist “spokeswomen” writing about it. At what point are we ignoring those that chose to do it and openly say so?

The whole thing should be taken on a case-by-case basis. I have read about men telling the police when they think that workers at bro thels don’t want to be there, so it doesn’t seem utterly impossible to try and adapt some nuance into this.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

“Men do not have the ‘right’ to sex”
Well, you say that they don’t. But, such matters are now the purview of judges, it seems. Now that is a contentious issue…

Stanley Righten
Stanley Righten
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Agree but you don’t have to go there. The crux of this issue is the development of the entitlement society.. and the conflation of rights with entitlement. And.. a government and populace more than willing to fall for this nonsense. If someone else must provide it for you, IT IS NOT A RIGHT!!!

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

But the case is not about the right to sex. That is a (deliberate?) mischaracterization. There is no suggestion anywhere that anyone has an obligation to have sex with this man (which is what a right would imply).

The discussions of rights in the UK (and, indeed, elsewhere) are often troubled by a carelessness (of which I am not accusing you) on what the word means. And on “classes” of rights. Some rights are fully held by people who live alone on a small island. These are based, essentially, on the rights to be left alone.

Then there are “rights” that can only reaslistically be held when there is an obligation on someone else to meet them. Someone living alone on a small, remote island does not have the “right” to housing or healthcare unless they move. They have no right to food or shelter unless they find it or move.

Vóreios Paratiritís
Vóreios Paratiritís
3 years ago

Again, we have thrown away something that provided great benefit to nearly all who practiced it without being aware of our action. The fringe dictated the new norm we live under today, and we wonder why most people are unhappy – we built a world to accommodate and please the exceptional and odd, not the standard and “normal”.
It’s quite tragic really, because even though many former believers see the problem clearly, getting back to what was lost is damn difficult.

The Bloomsbury set were wrong. How do we undo their damage?

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

I tried to do it by voting Trump, but the Bloomsbury Set’s’ pernicious philosophies are growing to fast and he was robbed by the Global Elite NWO and a acolyte of theirs Biden/Harris, was put in.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

This isn’t about s e x being a right. It’s about whether the state should be required to pay for it for a disabled person, male or female, in state care. And this opens up a huge can of worms and it could be expanded to nearly anything. Is having children a right? Surely some would say that it is which may be why infertility services are provided at state expense to both men and women. Should the state then provide services to men or women in state care to allow them to have children on the basis that they do not lose their rights simply because they are in state care?

rosalie.c.tonkin
rosalie.c.tonkin
3 years ago

I’m pretty sure the NHS does pay for in vitro but can’t say for sure

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

For disabled people in state care?

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago

Ugly can of worms! But I love a tautology as they often help make a point by their sheer point making. And so my favorite one:

‘You have two rights; The Right to die, and the right to live till you die.’ All else is a privilege granted by society.

Now days people think rights are, well, rights, when all they are are privileges, and society needs to be careful which privileges it is granting.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

Well, as an American, clearly I’d disagree with that. You know, the Bill of Rights, those tedious American ideas.

Eric Crow
Eric Crow
3 years ago

It amazes me how the concept of “inalienable”, “universal” human rights time and time again finds itself pushing more and more ridiculous frontiers and yet somehow more people don’t see it for the nonsense it is. Instead they bicker over where the boundary line should be for this castle built on sand.

Article 16: One has the right to found a family [which requires and implies a right to the act of s e x].

Article 24: One has the right to leisure [which includes access to paid services].

Article 25: (1) One has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and of one’s family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26: One has the right to education. Education shall be free.

From articles 25 and 26: One HAS the human right to s e x ually satisfy oneself as much as one is consensually able, and it IS the responsibility of the state to foot the bill for the consequences for this DESIRE, regardless of the cost, the long and short term effects of subsidising this moral and social morass or the effect of raising increasing numbers of children in this morass or how unpleasant and distasteful some find subsidising this practice and its consequences .

The above is inalienable and one’s birth right for existing and if anyone were to deprive one of these rights (presumably financial difficulties aren’t an excuse for violating human rights), they would be committing a grievous sin. We are entitled to be free from the consequences of s e x (at great financial and societal cost) and even to have the act financially incentivised but the state paying for the act is beyond the pale?

Article 22: One is entitled to realisation of economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for one’s dignity and the free development of one’s personality. [presumably including access to and financial support for articles 16, 24, 25, 26.]

Article 27: One also has right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [which in our increasingly libertine age, includes the commodification of s e x.]

There is a precedent for:
– a right to the act of s e x
– a right to financial subsidy for the consequences of s e x
– a right to leisure
– a right to state subsidy for personal and social fulfilment

States providing access to s e x services is a natural progression of the sacred texts of human rights, no matter how distasteful Ms Perry finds it.

Ms Perry’s problem is that she has seen a glitch in the matrix and is no longer in communion with the progressive faithful (presumably why she is writing here). Unfortunately for her, one cannot stop “progress” while still in the progressive frame of equalities and rights, as any embittered conservative here will tell you.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

I spent a lot of my working life working with serious offenders, mainly imprisoned, and many with convictions for sexual offences. It used to concern me that people administering “treatment” programmes to such prisoners used routinely to refer to their sexual “needs”. As the article so succinctly puts it, “no one has ever died for want of sex”. Precisely. Sex is a want, not a need. Indeed, the programmes used to try to influence men with an attraction to children not to act on this urge at all. Hardly a need, then.

The article is also quite right, in my view, to question the legitimacy of sex work. There may be a few individuals who have been perfectly happy to undertake it, or even enjoy it. It is many years since Xaviera Hollander wrote “The Happy Hooker”, and suggested that she saw it this way. But for every woman like her there are many with desperate addictions, or just desperate poverty. I feel sorry for people like Z, but I don’t see that they have the right to exploit others in the pursuit of their own inclinations.

I’m sure it could be convincingly argued that we all have the right to seek a happy sex life. The operative word is “seek”. As the American constitution puts it, there is a right to pursue happiness. There is no absolute right to be happy.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

What did I just read? A statistically negligible outlier is somehow the norm? And whether or not there is a right involved, a marriage without intimacy is not likely to go well. That works for women, too. I hear they also like it; sometimes, I hear it from writers like this one.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Didn’t the term ‘conjugal rights’ provide the grounds for divorce in an age when divorce was not easily granted?

gray.darkgray
gray.darkgray
3 years ago

I wonder what happens to ‘conjugal rights’ if your husband/wife spontaneously decides to change gender/sex.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago
Reply to  gray.darkgray

Spontaneously! My word, medical science is advancing rapidly.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Agree. It’s a real stretch to draw broad conclusions about society’s rights, let alone the can of worms conversation about pr-stitution, based on the peculiar case of Mr Z.

Helen Barbara Doyle
Helen Barbara Doyle
3 years ago

This is what blow up dolls are for

isabelle.dubois
isabelle.dubois
3 years ago

To Louise Perry: Thank you so much for this article! Your final sentence sums it up. No one has ever died for want of sex.
I have always found it silly when I heard that ” sex is not a want, but a need: that it is impossible to live a happy and fulfilled life without sexual intimacy”. I have been single, as in celibate, for up to 7 years once, and I am still alive! I was also not unhappy at all during that time.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Of course having sex isn’t a basic human right.

This gentleman, if he has the ability to have sex, certainly has the means to relieve himself and privately satisfy those urges without causing obvious immediate harm to others and without forcing his professional carers into the invidious position where they have to ‘pimp’ for him and where the state has to foot the doubtless rather large bill for ‘the pleasure’ or, if he represents a very real threat to the public at large, he should be required by law to take medication to suppress those urges.

All too often it is the rights of those who irrefutably pose a very real and present, yet easily preventable danger to the wider population that we obsess about, rather than those of their potential as yet faceless, unnamed victims for whom all this handwringing and sympathy after the fact inevitably comes way too late.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

The whole point of paid sex is that it must be paid. It is not mutually desired by both parties ” one party is there unwillingly, in exchange for money …

Yes, that’s the essence of work. That’s why it’s called sex work. If I work stacking shelves in Asda it isn’t because I equally desire the stacking of Asda’s shelves. I don’t do it for the sheer joy of stacking shelves. It’s for the money. But the work is equally wanted by both parties. Asda wants the work done. I want the money.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 years ago

If s e x is a right, and if it’s the state’s duty to ensure that nobody is denied that right, why stop at disabled people? Why shouldn’t anyone who can’t get a woman phone up his local authority hottie-line and have services provided at the ratepayer’s expense? That seems to be the logical consequence of this case.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Only because that is how the author has framed it. TLC campaign for: the “right” of disabled people to access “sexual service providers” (this authors words). This is not the same as saying that all men should have s e x provided by some equivalent of the NHS.

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I wonder how long it will be before that IS actually the case?

As I recall, Brave New World had a similar sort of service available, since the women there were conditioned to think of providing s e x as similar to loaning a neighbour a cup of sugar…

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

Actually our attitude is ambiguous, and is likely to remain so. On the one hand, having s e x with someone you don’t know for a one night stand is fine – s e x is that casual and valueless.

But to take it without clear consent is the worst thing that could possibly happen short of murder. It’s that serious.

So to use your analogy, s e x can be as trivial as lending a neighbour a cup of sugar – but as terrible as burning down their house and killing their family.

I think this is because, as a culture, we cannot quite make up our minds about s e x. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Robert G
Robert G
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

In the case of a disabled person in the care of the state, the government is acting in loco parentis and has broader responsibilities than to other citizens. Since the government exercises absolute control over the disabled person, the government takes on responsibility for the well being of that person. In the circumstances outlined, failing to accommodate the request would effectively condemn the person to celibacy. Whether that’s appropriate or acceptable is another question.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

You did not read the article. The patient’s circumstances are unique – even the heavily biased author admitted that. He has no means to address his problem, for the reasons described in the article. I suggest you read before judging.

Stuart Mill
Stuart Mill
3 years ago

This article would be enhanced if it were stated that Julie Bindel is in fact an anti-prostitution activist.

jodybigfoot
jodybigfoot
3 years ago

Really need to stop making sex workers out as some kind of super victim. Everyone sells their body and soul to capitalism in different ways and has physical and mental health repercussions from doing so. A construction worker commits suicide every day, I’m an arborist for barely double minimum wage and have a few injuries as well as the potential to die on any given day, the list goes on and on and sex workers aren’t some kind of bottom rung in the ladder of capitalisms abuse of humans

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
3 years ago

It is reprehensible that the author attempts to hijack this case to make her biased and inappropriate point. There are of course many issues about this case that beg questions, especially around mental disorder and offending, the role and responsibility of health workers to meet their patient’s needs and the right of such a patient to have consensual carnal relations with another person. The article sees the whole right to an intimate relationship (I understand I cannot use the word I require!) as one sided. I know several women who demand to be fulfilled, There are hundreds who use their bodies, willingly to earn a living or to simply enjoy themselves. Look at Pornhub etc. I have known several women who conduct intimate relationships on-line and who take the lead in instigating such trysts, even on poetry sites! The relationship between men and women is complicated and the legitimacy of the whole thing (the bargain) revolves around willingness and consent and of course mutual desire if it is to have any feeling and meaning. To suggest men are all demanding misogynists and women innocent victims is really rather offensive, shallow and sick! It is also manipulative and immoral to use this case to try to make such a point.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

Z is a bad choice here – though perhaps a deliberate one by the author – since his deviant sexual tastes complicate the moral issue.

I don’t think that we can say that anyone has an absolute right to sex, since sex by definition involves another person and must be dependant on their consent. As a result of this, and issues such as social awkwardness or just plain ugliness, many people go without sex, some for their whole lives.

Provided someone is willing to have sex with a person with particular disabilities, whether for money or not, and provided they are fully informed about the person concerned, then I don’t really see this as a moral problem.

I don’t think it can be framed as a human right though – and perhaps shows that framing morality in terms of rights simply leads to contradiction.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Of course having access to s e x isn’t a basic human right.

This gentleman, if he has the ability to have s e x, also has the means to relieve himself and privately satisfy those urges without causing immediate obvious harm to others and without putting his unfortunate carers in the invidious position where they effectively have to ‘pimp’ for him and the state has to pay, doubtless handsomely, for this pleasure.

Furthermore, if he holds a genuine threat to the public at large, as this piece suggests, then he should be made by law to take the appropriate medication to suppress those urges, presumably along with the others he is required to take for his own safety, let alone that of those around him.

Whatever the mitigating reasons for them might be, all too often it is the rights and freedoms of those who likely pose a very real and present, yet perfectly preventable danger to everyone else that we obsess about, rather than those of their poor, unsuspecting potential victims by simple virtue of the obvious fact that they have yet to become one.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

Men don’t have a right to SWEATY NAKED TWISTER [edited to conform to moderation policy], but what about the right to pursue SWEATY NAKED TWISTER? Where I come from there is no promise of happiness, but you are free to pursue happiness in whichever ways you think you can find it. Should not SWEATY NAKED TWISTER be similar?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago

In the pomo world all the value giving narratives of the culture have been “deconstructed”, the entire metaphysical dimension, elided. We are just another species driven by appetites in accordance with the laws of nature. Which being the case all societal ‘laws’ are purely expressions of the will-to-power of the alpha she/male –in our case, corporate capital. There are no “rights” in the old sense, only approved management practice. Neither is there any basis for the Right to ‘consent’ –they have only to submit or fight it out.

However the West is not yet fully transitioned from Modern to Postmodern, so the judge is faced with the contradiction of an old dispensation concept of acknowledged ‘rights’ sued for as applied in to postmodern sexual practice. Way to go, Zed!

Robert Cannon
Robert Cannon
3 years ago

I agree with the content and conclusion of this article. However, the statement that “[b]uying sex is not illegal in this country” is incorrect as regards the U.K.

In at least one part of the U.K., Northern Ireland, buying sex has been illegal for the past five years, under Clause 6 of The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008. Of course, there’s no particular reason that an English court considering English law would take Northern Ireland law into account.

Why do many articles on this site and in the media use the term “this country” when what is being referred to is only England, or England and Wales, and not the U.K. as a whole?

My father and Ed West’s mother grew up as next-door neighbours in Dublin. He may call himself half-Irish but to the rest of us he is full Irish (while being full English as well). It would be great if he could keep half an eye on having pieces published on Unherd reflect that England and the U.K. are not synonymous.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

I’m not convinced that you can draw rules that apply to the whole prostitution debate by finding a very unusual case like Z. His ‘right’, or not, to have sex doesn’t have a strong bearing on whether the industry should exist. I liked the point about whether sex is a human right or as trivial as getting your nails done, but I guess it’s like a drink of water. It’s only becomes important when you don’t have it. Has no-one ever died for want of sex? I’d say a lack of opposite-sex companionship is fairly high on the list for depression and suicide. I don’t care about Z, but I’d be careful about using him as the rule.

Robert Cannon
Robert Cannon
3 years ago

I agree with the content and conclusion of this article. However, the statement that “[b]uying sex is not illegal in this country” is incorrect as regards the U.K.

In at least one part of the U.K., Northern Ireland, buying sex has been illegal for the past five years, under Clause 6 of The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008. Of course, there’s no particular reason that an English court considering English law would take Northern Ireland law into account.

Why do many articles on this site and in the media use the term “this country” when what is being referred to is only England, or England and Wales, and not the U.K. as a whole?

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
3 years ago

I can’t imagine the basis on which TLC is a charity – educational? religious?

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Charity is an odd way to describe paying some poor wretch to perform such on this creep.

Peter KE
Peter KE
3 years ago

What a sad and twisted society we have become when the state is involved in paying for sex life of individuals. Surely we are missing the point sex is a want not a need hence the option of celibacy, the sooner we are away from the ECHR and we can return to Christian values the better. This individual is in court to advantage the pressure groups and lawyers not him or society.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Of course having access to ‘it’ isn’t a basic human right.

This gentleman, if he has the ability to have to indulge in ‘it’, he also has the means to relieve himself and privately and individually satisfy those urges without causing immediate obvious harm to others and without putting his unfortunate carers in the invidious position where they effectively have to ‘pimp’ for him and the state has to pay, doubtless handsomely, for this pleasure.

Furthermore, if he holds a genuine threat to the public at large, as this piece suggests, then he should be made by law to take the appropriate medication to suppress those urges, presumably along with the others he is required to take for his own safety, let alone that of those around him.

Whatever the mitigating reasons for them might be, all too often it is the rights and freedoms of those who likely pose a very real and present, yet perfectly preventable danger to everyone else that we obsess about, rather than those of their poor, unsuspecting potential victims by simple virtue of the obvious fact that they have yet to become one.

*A certain word was removed from here by me even though it was central to the discussion, otherwise I couldn’t get it passed the moderator.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

Men do not have the right to sex. But what about the right to pursue sex? You don’t have the right to happiness in my country’s founding philosophy, but you do have the right to pursue happiness in whatever ways you wish. The happiness itself is not garraunteed. Why should sex not be seen in a similar light?

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

Men don’t have the right to sex. But what about the right to pursue sex? Like happiness: can’t promise you’ll get it, but you have the right to pursue it in any ways that don’t pick pockets or break legs.

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

[…] a charity called the TLC Trust, who provide a registry of self-employed escorts who are willing to have sex with disabled people in exchange for money.

There is something both amusing & depressing about the w***e with a heart of gold becoming a government-supported institution.

John Aronsson
John Aronsson
3 years ago

Judge Hayden’s comment “I cannot think of any more obviously fundamental human right than the right of a man to have sex with his wife;” does not agree with my understanding of the English common law. Denial of access during a marriage is grounds for divorce and nothing more.

Julia Wallis-Martin
Julia Wallis-Martin
3 years ago

If Z were to argue that his sexual needs could only be met if he was granted access to children against who he could commit acts of violence, a line would be drawn. Why not draw the line earlier, and castrate him? Problem solved.

Andy Duncan
Andy Duncan
3 years ago

Why draw the line at castration?

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 years ago

‘ find someone prepared to have sex with him.’ How depressing.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Surely in a marital relationship, unless there is some serious physical dysfunction, both parties should have a right to a sexual relationship unless together they deem it unwanted or unnecessary?

peterdebarra
peterdebarra
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

… bizarre though it may sound, the human race possesses some sort of entitlement or right to… perpetuate itself.

Jim Costello
Jim Costello
3 years ago

There is no right to having s e x with another person. Providing a s e x worker doesn’t guarantee satisfaction, if the person said they needed to be kissed, S/M, a**l or to watch illegal porn to get stimulated… Where is the line?
The state doesn’t provide s e x services to involuntary celebate people, the military, the lonely, prisoners, or those that can’t get stimulated or come.

shiroemakabe
shiroemakabe
3 years ago

And Mary Warrington’s radical feminism continues to reach new depths of irrational thinking she tries to pass for logic. I mean, just the fact that she tried to pass off the Catholic Church as evidence that celibacy can be successful should discredit every opinion she offers in this piece. And, as with her other pieces, that’s too bad, because she’s making false equivalencies about important causes that need to be discussed and debated.
I don’t know where people get the idea that the only people who want to buy sex are men. Lots of women would buy sex for themselves if it were socially acceptable, so blaming men that women don’t is rather disingenuous and frankly misandristic. This is particularly jarring when one considers that it’s not men, but women who enforce this double standard, and while some academics might try to recategorize it all as “patriarchy,” the truth is it was women who came up with it. Men don’t shame women for wanting sex, other women do. (One might even argue that the only way women who want and openly enjoy sex can live that affectation is by becoming those escorts, or porn stars, strip dancers, and other sex-based workers!)
The two assumptions that Ms. Warrington says contradict one another are actually such compliments that the author even illustrates how while she is claiming the opposite. Instead of sex, let’s pretend it’s food: everyone gets hungry, but are you going to eat wild berries straight from the plant, or are you going to eat at a 5-star gourmet restaurant with a celebrity chef? Odds are pretty good you’re going to settle for the best available food you can get, because you have to fill that biological need for food. Some food might be higher or lower quality, and you might have a single food you can rely on all the time, but the quality of your food does not negate the fact that you need it.
So yes, sex is a biological need that can just as easily be fulfilled casually and without intimacy as it can be with deep intimacy. Just as we would prefer the flavor of the gourmet meal over the hastily-picked berries, intimacy is more desirable and fulfilling, but the bodily act itself should not be conflated with the intimacy because intimacy is not required for sex ““ nor is sex required for intimacy.
As for your puritan complaints about the sex industry, that is your pseudo-patriarchy at work. Decrying the sex industry altogether is exactly why all the illegal and unethical stuff gets to happen. It is what enables the exploitation.
Not getting sex may not directly kill people, but it eats their mental health so deeply that the stress creates a huge host of mental and biological problems, from depression and anxiety (often written off as “toxic masculinity”) to diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. It is far healthier for people of both sexes to buy sex and the completed purchase, if handled with agency on the part of the seller, IS consent, so your assumption of sexual violation of women is more extremist feminist claptrap.
Screeds like this infantilize women and do the exact opposite of what their fervent believers intended.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago

” It is not mutually desired by both parties ” one party is there unwillingly, in exchange for money, or sometimes other goods” You could say the same about any job where a service is provided for a fee. I’m not arguing that the sex trade is good or moral but if it is to be made illegal both participants in the transaction must be prosecuted

Val Cox
Val Cox
3 years ago

A amazing article. Thankyou for your clarity. The “right” to sex is Darwinian based on desirability as a partner. Anything else is rape.

peterdebarra
peterdebarra
3 years ago

… this tendentious, double digit IQ piece, lazily placed in its inevitable Victim penumbra reads like something my grandmother might have flung across the room as she read a 1950’s woman’s magazine … Editor: standards please – this is not the feminised New FT .

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Louise seems to be clearly opposed to female prostitution, but what is Julie Bindel’s position? Louise writes that Julie’s research shows: “[I]t [the charity TLC] is really in the business of ‘peddling the commercial services of individuals and escort agencies advertising sexual services. Checking the websites of the escorts listed shows that they are not particularly targeting disabled men, but simply adding to their customer base.'” The point being what, exactly? Does Julie approve of female prostitutes who limit their clientele to disabled men, but disapprove of those who service able-bodied men? The passage certainly suggests so. Would prostitutes who service disabled jihadis returned from service with ISIS make Julie’s cut, or would she disapprove of them too? Where does Julie draw her lines?

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

I don’t think Bindel likes the idea of women having sex with men, at all.

Adrian Clark
Adrian Clark
3 years ago

Good work Louise, thanks. Sex as a commodity is a wicked ideology.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago

Women don’t have the right to sex, either.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

This case isn’t about men’s right to sex, it’s about the right of a disabled person to sex, in fact, to pay for it while in state care. It could just as easily apply to women. The court judgement should be considered to apply to both disabled men and women in state care.

Sex industry workers do not generally consider their work to be at their expense. Unless they are being forced into such work, sex workers have made a decision to engage in sex for money. Which some would say that competent adults should be allowed to do.

Whether the state wants to cover paid sexual activity for the disabled is the question.

Peter Ian Staker
Peter Ian Staker
3 years ago

I agree that sex is not a right, because it is trumped by another person’s right not to give it. There is an assumption that someone must be willing to have sex with him, given enough money or enough desperation, and they may be right. I agree that sex shouldn’t be guaranteed in a marriage but then a man has the right to end the marriage. It sounds like there is still a hangover in attitudes, from an earlier period, when society encouraged the oppression of women in marriage.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

the “right” of disabled people to access “sexual service providers”

Ah – so not actually the right to sex at all!

So a misleading headline and largely misleading article.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago

I (somewhat reluctantly) agree with you, for the simple reason that I hate the idea that our bodies are merchandise that can be bought and sold. I want life to be more than just soulless commerce, and that means that I must be against, among other things, prostitution.

Having that said, though, I have a few major objections to your reasoning. Firstly, that “sex is an essential need” is in conflict with “sex is fundamentally meaningless.” I’d say that the two claims are if anything complimentary. Essential needs are always meaningless – when you have to do something, it’s just a chore for you to get through. Eating is an essential need, but we don’t romanticise it; you rarely if ever hear about a meal being “meaningful.”

Secondly, in your last paragraph you declare that essential needs must be impossible to live without. That’s putting the bar excceedingly low. People should preferably be entitled to a little more than just mere survival. Precisely how much we can afford to give those who can’t provide for themselves is, of course, a harder question… but “they won’t physically die without this thing” is a decidedly cold place to draw the line.

Thirdly, are you under the impression that we don’t talk about whether women have a right to sex because women are so gosh-darn selfless and free of desire? Because I’m pretty sure the real reason is that women doesn’t want sex all that badly and (for much the same reason) find it trivially easy to find some man who’s willing to have sex with them if they decide they absolutely must have it. If you’re going to stick your nose in the air about how “you don’t hear us asking for that!”, then hey, how about abortions? You’ve never heard of a man acting like he’s entitled to one of those, so clearly then that means that women don’t actually need them either, right?

And again, I actually agree with your conclusion.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

I’m afraid the author has out bindelled Bindel with this one.

She shows no empathy whatsoever for people with disabilities, has made Z a stand in for all disabled people, has misconstrued the arguments involved (no one is proposing a universal male right to sex regardless of consent) and has used the whole thing to launch yet another anti male rant. There’s even the customary nod to this being a western problem.

She also fails to see that our attitudes to sex are completely ambiguous – we want it to be special, sacred even – but at the same time we know it isn’t. It’s not an ambiguity that can, or should, be resolved. And it certainly can’t be resolved to launch a specious argument.

She ends by suggesting that the only right we really have is the right not to die:

no one has ever died for want of sex.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago

THE MONEY QUOTE

“[There are] two assumptions about sex that hold sway among many Westerners in the 21st century, despite the fact that they are in tension with one another.

1) The first is that sex is not a want, but a need: that it is impossible to live a happy and fulfilled life without sexual intimacy…
2) The second assumption is that sex is a leisure activity that is only invested with meaning if the participants choose to give it meaning… it can therefore be commodified without any trouble.”

Both assumptions are wildly mistaken, their contradictory claims (note: not tension, contradiction), demonstrate their falsity. I love cases like this, because our humanistic/leftist/secularist/liberal/bullshit-ist culture doesn’t have a clue what to do.

I fully anticipate degenero-puritanism to reign supreme; it’s already highly influential. We will have brothels and burkhas in equal measure.

bob alob
bob alob
3 years ago

“It will also affirm the idea that sex is both meaningless and a “right” to be claimed by men, at the expense of women.” It certainly won’t be meaningless to Z and will never be a “right”, since a willing partner is required, even for Z. Not all prostitutes are poor defenceless girls who are down on their luck, some have a very good lifestyle and work hard to maintain it, the author seems to view all sex workers as poor kittens with no say in their own lives, it’s simply not true.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago

No one here has commented that for a mentally disabled person, Z has a very clear understanding of his rights under the Human Rights Act, and he can afford to employ the right lawyers to ensure he gets his oats rights. So even before his first ejaculation, this guy is costing us a fortune.

Why don’t we just tell him to w**k off. Even a mentally disabled guy should be capable of that.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
3 years ago

Charming how society always turns out to support a man’s access to women’s bodies, but rarely does society turn out to support a woman’s right to total legal ownership and decisions about her own body.
That in itself is all one needs to look at to see what the situation is.
Men do not have a right to sex, nor to use tax money to procure it. Unfortunately, government sets a precedent by using tax money to gain access to sex quite a bit from what we see in the news.
As for those supporting prostitution, even the highest paid escorts and porn stars are coming forward to speak of their abuse and having been raped, as they are eventually (and often frequently) coerced under circumstances they know they’ll never be able to fight back at since the courts and cop shops are ruled by men, and those men still believe it is their right to do as they please to the “lesser sex.”
Women still have a fraction of the rights men have. But hey, let a dude put on a dress and some makeup, and that sacred cow can’t be touched. If only women had this magical ability to shape shift and have the law protect us under all circumstances.
Here’s a thought: why don’t men just f**k each other?
The Nordic model is the only system that actually protects and cares about the well-being and safety of women who are selling sex. Let’s make it a criminal act to traffic, pimp, or buy another human being, and decrim8nalize the desperate act of being the one being sold.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago

There appears to be a cancel culture at Unherd. My comments just disappear.

Well, two can play at that game. If they are not reinstated, I will just cancel Unherd (unsubscribe in the modern parlance).”

James Kay
James Kay
3 years ago

Some exaggeration and conflation going on here. Wants versus needs – an entirely unnecessary dichotomy. S e x is one of our basic drives so let’s not be sidetracked into trying to define it as (merely) a want or (essentially) a need. Nothing wrong with a person desiring s e x nor for recognising that this can be painfully and unhealthily experienced if not satisfied. None of which means that anyone has the right to impose sex on any unwilling partner.

Off course that desire can only legitimately be consummated through consensual s e x and if no other willing partners are available – then going to a s e x worker is one way to get it fulfilled consensually.

Sadly we live in a world where we still suffer from the malign influences of repressive religionists who saw (some still see) s e x as only available as a mechanism procreation aka recruitment of children into the religion. S e x for pleasure from such a perspective is wicked – hence all our restrictions.

So, IMHO – nothing wrong here. All the stuff about the s e x industry being (in parts) oppressive doesn’t alter the case. Where oppression exists it should be dealt with – most easily by legitimating the industry – then by dealing robustly with those who don’t follow the rules. We manage clubs and bars where a dangerous drug (alcohol) is sold and consumed – often with harmful consequences. So s e x clubs and brothels should not be beyond our wits to manage.

The argument about the charity organisation which might facilitate the arrangement, being only “technically” a charity makes little sense to me. Either it is or it isn’t. The person quoted seems as though she didn’t approve of sex being sold in any circumstances.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago

Can’t they just ask for volunteers?

And if the volunteers want their expenses paid then….

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

[…] today most people look with horror at an idea that implies women’s bodies are a resource.

Would these be the same people who support ‘sex work’ as a career option?

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

This analysis applies to women as well.

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

this is an excellent companion piece to the lead story on the current splash page…How the mob can silence you

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

and where do transgendered figure in?

Eric Crow
Eric Crow
3 years ago

It amazes me how the concept of “inalienable”, “universal” human rights time and time again finds itself pushing more and more ridiculous frontiers and yet somehow more people don’t see it for the nonsense it is. Instead they bicker over where the boundary line should be for this castle built on sand.

Article 16: One has the right to found a family [which requires and implies a right to the act of s e x].

Article 24: One has the right to leisure [which includes access to paid services].

Article 25: (1) One has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and of one’s family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26: One has the right to education. Education shall be free.

From articles 25 and 26: One HAS the human right to s e x ually satisfy oneself as much as one is consensually able, and it IS the responsibility of the state to foot the bill for the consequences for this DESIRE, regardless of the cost, the long and short term effects of subsidising this moral and social morass or the effect of raising increasing numbers of children in this morass or how unpleasant and distasteful some find subsidising this practice and its consequences .

The above is inalienable and one’s birth right for existing and if anyone were to deprive one of these rights (presumably financial difficulties aren’t an excuse for violating human rights), they would be committing a grievous sin. We are entitled to be free from the consequences of s e x (at great financial and societal cost) and even to have the act financially incentivised but the state paying for the act is beyond the pale?

Article 22: One is entitled to realisation of economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for one’s dignity and the free development of one’s personality. [presumably including access to and financial support for articles 16, 24, 25, 26.]

Article 27: One also has right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [which in our increasingly libertine age, includes the commodification of s e x.]

There is a precedent for:
– a right to the act of s e x
– a right to financial subsidy for the consequences of s e x
– a right to leisure
– a right to state subsidy for personal and social fulfilment

States providing access to s e x services is a natural progression of the sacred texts of human rights, no matter how distasteful Ms Perry finds it.

Ms Perry’s problem is that she has seen a glitch in the matrix and is no longer in communion with the progressive faithful (presumably why she is writing here). Unfortunately for her, one cannot stop “progress” while still in the progressive frame of equalities and rights, as any embittered conservative here will tell you.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago

Odd article. It seems it is more concerned about prostitution issues. That Mr Z has desires is obvious, but his desires are not necessary to his well being. The EU rights aren’t violated so much as limited by his circumstances. He ought to be perfectly capable of urge relief all by himself, as all humans can. Should he desire a bigger house are his caretakers responsible for finding him one? What if he desires alcohol (or street narcotics) that he could normally buy except he isn’t allowed to have the money to do that. Are his minders required to get that for him?

Oddly, were he allowed to place adverts for the services he wishes, I might imagine that some community minded persons of either gender would volunteer. Or are his desires so specific his caretakers must procure them? His social anxieties are resolved by volunteers and the advert can be created by his minders.

peterdebarra
peterdebarra
3 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

… Graham Greene, in novel after novel, is very sound on prostitution, brothels, madams etcetera… no victims there – a service industry existing to purely satisfy a need. Each establishment a no nonsense cog in the Sexual Industrial Complex.

echo.foxtrot.9
echo.foxtrot.9
3 years ago

women don’t have the right to a man’s money. But the system thinks they do. So men avoid women and go MGTOW. A lot of women will grow old alone. Nice work, feminists!

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

“Men do not have the ‘right’ to sex”
Of course they don’t. I’ve never known a man who thinks he does.
On the contrary, most men understand that they must pay for female company, whether it’s a coffee date, a dinner date, a steady girlfriend, or even a wife. Men must pay, men must provide resources.
All men know and understand this.

dyerou
dyerou
3 years ago

Sex
Firstly, is just a-
desire (“hottest one” for a human male). It is not a mental-commodity. Nature oblige an average man to desire to seed a women. When its done lovingly, at-a mutual consent, Its a “Love-making”. When it’s not, say a rape, or a one sided seduction, there will be some regrets. Not by Nature/God. For nature/God planting the seed in any way, is just fine.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

What did I just read? A statistically negligible outlier is somehow the norm? And whether or not there is a right to sex, it is a strong likelihood that a marriage without it is not going to go well, and that works for women, too. I hear they also like sex; sometimes, I hear it from writers like this one when they’re not tilting at phallic windmills.

Andy Duncan
Andy Duncan
3 years ago

The same two assumptions (that secks is a need and that it has no intrinsic value) are what makes incels possible. Noteworthy perhaps that it is not taken for granted that secks is a mutually enjoyable consensual bodily dance between grown ups. That more commonly in the languages we have at our disposal secks is given, taken or exchanged, sometimes also owned and often used as the grounds of identification. It is a short step from here to demanding secks as right.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago

The author states from her lofty judgemental throne “it is not the responsibility of the state to sexually satisfy every frustrated, entitled and potentially dangerous man who demands it”. Here’s a thought – how many rapes or sexual assaults would be prevented if frustrated, entitled and potentially dangerous men had that frustration assuaged?

Daniel Hake
Daniel Hake
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

They can assuage their frustration by themselves. has the right to another person’s body.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  Daniel Hake

Nothing in my comment suggested what I’m assuming you meant to say. (What you said makes no sense, but proof reading what you wrote is clearly not your strong point).

angelalangat
angelalangat
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

This shifts responsibility from the rapists and those who commit sexual assault to the victims and those who rejected those men. Should women accept any and every man to prevent them from assaulting others?

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  angelalangat

Nobody is saying that – you’re straw-manning.

And good luck getting rapists to take responsibility for their acts and change their ways. The whole point is that they won’t, and don’t, hence the problem in the first place. It’s not that they didn’t go to Sunday school!

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  angelalangat

That isn’t what I said, but what is said seldom matters to people like you.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago
Reply to  angelalangat

Yes dear, exactly. Your comprehension of serious subject matter is truly astounding.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  angelalangat

This binary, simplistic understanding belongs in children’s arguments, not in here. It mirror’s the Author’s: “…And such a decision would embolden those who consider male feelings of sexual frustration to be very important ” but consider female feelings of sexual violation to not be important at all”.
Male sexual frustration and female violation do not play out as “either one, or the other”. It is perfectly possible for adults to deplore both and realise they are not inextricably linked. Male frustration and female violation are obviously not ranked equally, and pairing them is both unhelpful and unreasonable. Chero Tuga is just trying to demonize male libido, as if any sane man were stating that women have the duty to satisfy every man under pains of triggering mass rape, etc.
The adult discussion would gravitate towards effective, compassionate means to address both female violation and male long-term sexual frustration, acknowledging both as problems that deserve attention and honest discussion.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

None, or barely any, male rapists are not satisfied with one act they go on and on, indulging in greater acts of violence and if they get away with it continue as serial rapists. Men who have sexual desires which cannot be satisfied willingly by any female could perhaps be provided with the services of a male prostitute, preferably someone capable of offering BDSM who would be physically strong enough to deal with them. But that would not prevent them wanting to rape women.

Better to give them drugs that prevent sexual arousal.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

“Better to give them drugs that prevent sexual arousal.”

Against their consent?

And what about disabled people with “normal” desires where there is consent?

Are you suggesting people with disabilities who yet have sexual desires should be chemically castrated against their will?

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

That was a comment worthy of Chero Tuga above – well played sir.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Just 10 serial rapists have been identified as such in the UK since 1971. Because of this you would deny sex to a patient with a mental illness? Shame on you.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Just 10 serial r@pists have been identified as such in the UK since
1971. Because of this you would deny s e x to a patient with a mental
illness? Shame on you.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

I don’t know where to begin. So a woman consents to be a prostitute for a disabled man. Alison Houston thinks this is rape (??? by definition it could not be, as the woman is literally offering herself for the cripple’s cash, but whatever)…… so Alison suggests that we offer the disabled rapist a male prostitute specialising in BDSM.

You madam, are a treasure.

My favourite comment on UnHerd in months, keep ’em comin!

Gabriele
Gabriele
3 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

Here’s a thought – how many thefts or robberies would be prevented
if frustrated, entitled and potentially dangerous poor people were given everything they want?

Comparing something bad to something worse to make the bad thing look better is a common logical mistake. If something is bad you should oppose it. If you believe something is good you should say it explicitely and argue for it, not as a lesser of two evils.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Gabriele

I think, rather, Stephen is suggesting something similar to realpolitik. He is suggesting a pragmatic rather than a moralistic approach. He may be wrong, and it may be impractical, but it’s a reasonable point to make.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Thank you David, and yes you are correct.

Gabriele
Gabriele
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

The author of the comment chastises the author of the article, but then they do not really argue why they are right. He just says, what if the assumption of the article is wrong?

In my opinion, this leads nowhere. I am not saying that Stephen is wrong, I am just asking for a reason why he thinks that.

I do not think that a “pragmatic approach” can be used as an excuse for substituting a real argument with “common sense”.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Gabriele

“Here’s a thought – how many thefts or robberies would be prevented if frustrated, entitled and potentially dangerous poor people were given everything they want?”

I would argue that a case similar to this could be made in terms of the alleviation of poverty.

Gabriele
Gabriele
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I do not fully agree with that. Poor people are given something they want.
My understanding is that the main objective of the welfare state is to prevent people from becoming poor. You get healthcare and education so you do not become poor.

Of course some people still become poor and they still get some help. However, the issue is that poverty is very costly. I cannot find the article right now, but I remember reading that emergency care on homeless people in the US costs hundred of thousand of dollars. It costs less to give them an house and to help them getting back on their feet. It would cost even less to prevent them from losing their house in the first place.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Gabriele

“Poor people are given something they want.”

Precisely – you introduced the idea that this is about giving somebody everything they want. This just isn’t about that.

“My understanding is that the main objective of the welfare state is to prevent people from becoming poor.”

What a strange idea. It’s almost as if you think nobody starts poor. Of course they do. I did.