What’s the difference between a writer and a whore?

The Latin word ‘prostituta’ is the etymological root of the word ‘prostitute’; the former is in turn a composition of ‘pro’ (forward) and ‘statuere’ (to cause, to effect). Therefore, the literal translation of the composition would be “to place forward”, “to proffer”. That being said, I will now assume the liberty to dissociate the word from its meaning in order to elaborate on its other domains of applicability. By virtue of being the world’s oldest profession, the coinage of said label for the practice calls into question the very nature of prostitution owing to the seeming semantic incongruence.

For instance, the offering of sexual services in return for monetary compensation hardly deserves the vague conference of such a term that has acquired any connotations in a non-autotelic manner. In that case, a simpler recourse could be suggested that the word be replaced with one more, in a manner of speaking, “meaningful”. However, that is not the purpose of this discourse.

Now, consider the nature of these sexual services in whose regard the aforementioned connotations exist. If not for the indignity associated with trading such commodities, the essential transfer is quite similar to one governed by literature by way of the writing and reading of books. Let me rephrase, rather paraphrase, the question: what is the difference between two trades, one of which allows for the performance of sexual activities in return for money, while the other allows for the exhibition of literary skills in return for money? Further, if a congruence can be established, within the bounds of reason, between the performance of sexual services and the exhibition of literary skills, would the congruence imply that authorship and prostitution are congruent, too?

First off, it is important to address the purpose of a sexual service, namely gratification. This gratification may be for the purpose of satiating an opinion that a reward is necessary in order to appease a growing sense of disorientation on a “hard day‘s night”. In other words, the sexual gratification awarded by a sex worker becomes the reward for some work performed, the representation of which, in this context, is the money paid to avail that gratification.

(Work gives money – work is supposed to be rewarding – money is translated to gratification – gratification becomes the reward)

At other times, sexual services may be procured as an occupation of relief, with the same, rather similar, contractual mechanics. Similarly, what is the “kind” of gratification received from, say, reading a good book? It must be noted that only if the contractual mechanics are different from those of the procurement of a sexual service will the gratification received from engaging in a sexual activity differ from the gratification received by reading a book. However, such an argument excludes a purely “qualitative” contention, which will be addressed later.

The effects of reading a good book can be summarized by an important aesthetic dimension the act of reading proffers: by the employment of a language that may or may not represent (through references) the material world, literary texts provide an impression that the reader is wrapped in one that touches him or her in the lightest possible ways, making him or her feel a part of the world, of its objects, and of its bodies.

In keeping with the truism that artistic expression is a collateral of man’s search for meaning, it can be concluded that the creation of an artistic product is a form of declaration, one that establishes some (although fixed) meaning in the eyes of the artist, and the subscription of which is established by a person who conforms to that system and character of thought, the conclusion of which is the proof of its semantic validity. Therefore, the procurement of a book, a journal, or any product whose contents include something of literary value, represents a gratification received by the purchase through the validation of certain doubts expressed by him or her.

In such a case, is not the writer prostituting his or her skills for money? How is this trade not congruent with that of prostitution? In furtherance of this discussion, if a defence is put forth that establishes incongruence of the contracts by calling to attention that our bodies are all that we “enter this world” with (akin to the definition of a system in the context of thermodynamic analysis), and that prostitutes (in the modern connotation of the term) debase the dignity of the same institution that is the source of a state’s constitution as well as definition, I would point out that the same body is also the source of our literary skills, and in corroboration of this position, I would nominate the contributions of Noam Chomsky and, more recently, Steven Pinker.

Thus, in conclusion of this discussion: a reasonable parallelism exists between the creation of literature and the performance of sexual services while, surprisingly, there exists an incongruence of perspectives, especially in the jurisprudential domain (if a constructivist approach is given prominence).

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