“Whenever consent is presented as a product of freedom, reason and autonomy seem unquestionable. Accepting to have sex with consent, but without the bilateral desire to sustain them would then be the result of an error of calculation, not a widespread social phenomenon”
Spain encounters data in 2019 such as: that women earn 22.35% less than men in the same position or that the amounts of their pensions are 37.79% lower. However, according to the report of the EIGE (European Institute of Investigation for Gender Equality) Spain ranks ninth position in the ranking created by EIGE when making this report. With this figure, Spain ranks 2.7 points above the average result for the EU as a whole, indicating that it is moving towards gender equality at a faster pace than other countries in the European Union. Even so, Spain is the second country in demand for prostitution. Spanish men say they resort to prostitution because of the impersonality of sexual intercourse, the lack of need to establish an emotional bond with the other person. In this article I would like to propose a new reflection: the definition of the word consent and its relationship with the will to justify prostitution.
Sexual situations resulted from the consumption of prostitution, are based on the inequality of the different parts that take part in them, since the economic exchange, of which the relationship is the fruit, establishes a hierarchy between product and consumer.
The ability of the autonomous, free and rational individual to give his consent is a structural phenomenon characteristic of modernity.
At this point, I would like to raise a debate on this situation by linking the words consent and will. We say that a sexual relationship in which there is no physical or verbal opposition from either party is a consensual relationship. But what about the will?
The first point of analysis of the word consent will fall within its democratic sense. Therefore, consent will be related to the absence of direct coercion on the person exercising prostitution. Secondly, the voluntary exercise of prostitution is linked to the sphere of autonomy of the individual. That is, within a Democratic State of law, the individual has the right to freely practice his profession, even if it involves the use of one’s body as a means of income.
The reconceptualization of prostitution and the concept of autonomy were related from the sexual revolution of the 1960s, which claimed that if there is freedom of choice and there is consent, prostitution is voluntary and therefore accepted. We go back again on this argument: consent. The ability of the autonomous, free and rational individual to give his consent is a structural phenomenon characteristic of modernity.
Whenever consent is presented as a product of freedom, reason and autonomy seem unquestionable.
Created from a series of ethical, moral and political values developed since the Enlightenment, the right to refuse sex has been a great political conquest by feminism as a demonstration of sexual freedom. I quote here Yolinliztli Pérez Hernández, in his doctoral study “Sexual consent: an analysis with a gender perspective”: “Watching or unveiling the body, protecting or exposing sex, subversion or submission, then become issues of the realm of the intimate, the private and the individual. In other words, whenever consent is presented as a product of freedom, reason and autonomy seem unquestionable. Accepting to have sex with consent, but without the bilateral desire to sustain them would then be the result of an error of calculation, not a widespread social phenomenon.“
As mentioned above, I would like to highlight at this time the meaning of the word consent. According to the Legal dictionary: “Action and effect of consent; of Latin consentire, of cum, with, and will feel, feel; share the feeling, the opinion. Allow one thing or patronize it to be done. It is the manifestation of the will between the offer and the acceptance thereof, and one of the essential requirements required by the codes for contracts“. This definition refers to the parties’ conformity with respect to the content of an agreement within legal contracts. On the other hand, the SAR also states that consent is: “He who provides a sick person or, if it is impossible for him, his relatives, before starting a medical or surgical intervention, after the information to be transmitted to him by the doctor of the reasons and risks of such treatment”, this being the definition of informed consent.
These clarifications result from the relationship between consent and will that we have raised above. A person may agree to have a sexual relationship formally, therefore, recognizing consent, but may not want to participate in that relationship thereby showing unwillingness.
I do not intend to reach a unanimous solution with this article; however, I do intend to leave this question floating in the air: is the existence of consent sufficient to justify the perpetuation of prostitution services?
Concepción Mejías Carrascosa: Graduated in Human Rights and Government by the Autónoma University of Madrid.
Pérez Hernández, Y. (2016). Consentimiento sexual: un análisis con perspectiva de género. Revista Mexicana de Sociología, 4. Recuperado de http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0188-25032016000400741