Prostitution: Empowering or Degrading?

Prostitution: Empowering or Degrading?

Question of the day.
I’d love to hear how others feel about this topic.

On a feminist page I belong to on Facebook, there was an article about a brothel being sponsors for a soccer team in Greece. The women, who are feminists on this page, got into a big argument (that turned ugly) about prostitution. Some even espoused the idea that prostitution empowers women. (I’m not sure as opposed to what? Jail time?)

Perhaps, I am a prude, ignorant or what have you……I get that these women (supposedly) “choose” to be in this industry, and (supposedly) they are happy making lots of money doing it. I am for the freedom in doing whatever you choose with your own body as long as you are not hurting anyone else. I would never try to enact legislation to stop prostitution even if I was in a position to do so. This is simply my feeling about it.

BUT I long to see the day that women are not objectified and that a woman’s body is NOT a commodity to be bought or sold. This position has nothing to do with religion or morality. It has to do with societies having respect for women and women having respect for themselves. Sex is great whether for love, lust or fun or even just an anonymous good time, but I have an issue when it comes to any woman’s body being FOR SALE. Women are NOT “objects” to buy or sell.

A couple months ago, I received a notice in the mail that all Florida massage therapists (which I am) would now be required to show identification (what about a massage license?) on demand if authorities show up to the spa. This is a part of Florida Statutes 787.06 – Human trafficking. It took me quite a few minutes to piece this together (I was totally mystified at first, but then again, I can be pretty naive) and then suddenly it hit me. There is apparently human trafficking taking place, where ¬†people are being forced to work in the guise of “massage therapy” and perform sex acts. Of course, being in this industry for the past 13 years and literally breaking my back to do my legitimate work, having prostitution associated with therapeutic massage really pisses me off. (Sorry, got off topic and onto another tangent.)

So, would love to hear what other people feel about this topic. If you dare to comment. *smile* Is prostitution degrading to women or empowering?

~Kathy Lee 10/19/2012


3 comments on “Prostitution: Empowering or Degrading?

  1. I agree with you 100% We have a LACK of women in: Science, medicine, entrepreneurship, mathematics, NASA, etc. I could go on and on and on. We do not, however, have a lack of women in strip clubs, prostitution, Maxim, Playboy, porn in general. I am for legalizing prostitution too, and for the same reasons. However, (and these are actual anecdotal numbers) when I have 5 college professors and only ONE is a woman; when I only see male presidential candidates; when I know that only Oprah is in a group with Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet; we have a problem. Especially when I can pick up Playboy and find our missing woman president, our missing woman CEO, our missing woman Nobel laureate. That is not to say that I disrespect sex workers simply for how they make money, they’re not hurting anyone. But as a woman, and as an African American, I hate the idea of bodies being sold. Yes, I went there.

  2. I agree with Pricella,in that I have no disrespect for any sex worker, but I think its a symptom of women not living up to their full potential. I think its a combination of societal expectations, actual repression, and unequal opportunity, all that effect women at a young age.

  3. seebster says:

    Another MT here, though in Texas. I have to gently correct people who refer to me as a masseuse, since apparently that term has connections to the less legitimate kind of massage. Same with “massage parlor.” It’s kind of strange, isn’t it? It’s just so far from what massage is. On the subject of screening out shady clients over the phone, one MT years ago told me she would rather if prostitution were a legal business so she could nonchalantly refer customers to someone who does the happy-ending type massage, which of course she doesn’t do.

    From what I’ve learned in my feminist studies since the time of that conversation, I’m very much in horror of the whole concept of sex work as something that is normalized and accepted. The term “degrading” is so vague and has little meaning to me. More aptly I would say abusive, traumatizing, supportive of rape culture and the most extreme instance of commodification of the female body as an object–something that effects all women.

    Someone in that thread of Rabid Feminist’s Facebook post said:
    “what if one decides to replace the word prostitute with say ‘wife’ or ‘girlfriend’. you could say that with the later they are negotiating with a single buyer, rather then multiple. criminal activity is horrific..but if the woman has willingly negotiated a price for consent and receives a profit from it.. you tell her she’s evil? what about the wife that gives a bj so her husband will not make a fuss about her running up the credit cards?”
    THAT is the kind of thinking that prostitution allows; when the most intimate human interaction is reduced to a transaction in our cultural consciousness, it has the potential bleed into every human relationship. And, in fact, it has.

    When women in a given society can sell access to their body, women as a whole in that society are suspected of sleeping their way to the top, since sexuality is what women have to offer. And, indeed, that is one of the views feminists are fighting.

    When there are women available for any paying man’s pleasure at any time he wishes, women in general are seen through the eyes of men who feel they are entitled to sexual access. And, yes, we see this to be the case.

    I am glad for the very few women and girls who, for a very short time in their young lives (since I believe the average age for entering prostitution is 14 now?) feel “empowered” by being a sex worker. I worry for their well being, since (whether legal or not) sex is socially constructed to be eroticized dominance and subordination, and with that comes force to some degree or another. I worry that they are making this choice out of desperation rather than empowerment. I worry that 70% of prostitutes come from a history of sexual abuse, because I know first hand the kind of things rape does to your head, the rationalizations you make with the warped world view and view of self. I worry that the “happy hookers” are keeping calm and carrying on because the only way to get through the days of being penetrated by strangers who do not care for your emotional well being is to construct a reality in which you are fine, you are happy, you are empowered, only to suffer the psychological damage later when you are out of the ordeal and safe. (Have you seen this blog? – That’s her first post, I read it from the beginning straight through….it’s powerful and insightful.)

    So, both for the individuals involved and for our world’s view on the status of women as human beings, I rule: DEGRADING, not empowerful.

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