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This essay shall systematically discuss the title question looking at the complexities of both liberal and radical feminist arguments. Though acknowledging that sex work takes many forms, this essay will focus on prostitution. They argue it is essential to work with prostituted individuals to improve regulation and the conditions women, transsexuals and men, currently work in.
I conclude by proposing the Swedish method as the pre-eminent method to address prostitution — for although abolitionist, it is sensitive to the complexities of the abolitionist paradigm.
Liberals confer that greater public respect will improve prostitutes social security and reduce the experience of harm, violence and discrimination towards them. They show how if orchestrated professionally, sex work can be a legitimate profession which has important social value. Liberals also advocate that individuals should have a right to choose what they do with their body.
Abolitionists succinctly delegitimize this liberal argument.
They argue that sex work is inherently harmful to prostitutes psychologically, it is unavoidably violent and instils patriarchy in its most essential form. Furthermore, by legitimising sex work you normalise these values and perpetuate the social construction of inequalities between men and women. Miriam endorses this in her essay Prostitution is unique — prostitutes are expected to subordinate their own will entirely for the sexual gratification of the customers — thus it cannot be considered a legitimate enactment of agency.
Since prostitution remains an explicitly segregated service dominated by women, it seems fair to argue that such a practice instils patriarchy and subordination over women in its most innate and intimate form.
Jeffreys reiterates the argument, highlighting the sordid nature of the industry using intentionally uncomfortable and graphic language. Abolitionist feminist expose the painful and very real, physical impact prostitution has on the body and mind to explore in overt ways why prostitution is an exploitative, harmful and illegitimate form of labour, that it is, effectively, publically accepted sexual abuse.
In terms of instilling patriarchal values, radical feminism highlights the inherently harmful and dominative nature of sex work, how it affects the ways men regard women. Supporting this argument, Sullivan discusses the impact of legalising prostitution in Victoria, Australia.
Instead of tackling the violence by legalising prostitution, she claims that treating prostitution as a mainstream business has obscured the intrinsic violence of prostitution. By legalising and legitimising sex work, one incidentally normalises subjugation of prostitutes predominantly women.
Is sex work an expression of women’s choice and agency?
Legalisation masks and entrenches these problems rather than addressing them. Until the essence of harmful female domination is tackled, prostitution will always and inherently be exploitative of women and the practice subsumes the overarching structures of patriarchy. I shall not consider sex trafficking or sex migration in this paragraph, for in most instances, the women are held by debt bondage. Some feminists and prostitutes such as Dolores Frenchcited in Jenness, argue that sex work is empowering for women and that women have every right to sell sexual services.
Further, studies show that self—esteem increases when one begins sex work in high-end prostitution Weitzer, What became apparent was the fact in all instances the women have turned to sex work as they had very limited options available to them:. The majority of sex workers enter the industry due to mitigating circumstances and economic motives which incline them to choosing sex work. Furthermore, the majority of women interviewed, initially saw their work as something temporary, usually a quick solution to economic difficulties.
Instances of gang rape were remarkably common and girls were often threatened my men if they asked them to wear a condom.
The women explained how they lived in constant fear of abuse, often struggled to remain out of poverty and were very concerned of contracting sexually transmitted infections Agha and Ncima, She poses the question, that even if all prostitutes made a genuinely free choice to participate in sex work, if their freely made choice hinders the freedoms of other women, can that choice be deemed legitimate? Brison, She frames her argument by questioning whether pornography may make rape and other forms of harm to girls and women more likely. I consider her argument equally applicable when questioning the legitimacy of choice in prostitution.
Even if the women or man in question independently chooses to work in the sex industry, I am reluctant to support the choice of the individual. As discussed earlier, prostitution is arguably inherent to the preservation of patriarchal values, generally encapsulates female subordination and insights stigmatised sexualisation of all women within society.
Sex trafficking of women and girls
Where my empathy to the radical feminist argument deviates and becomes uncertain however, is when it comes to discussing how to mediate and support women and men working within the profession. Ditmore and Djordjevic highlight the contentious ways that appalling treatment towards sex workers and poor practices within the sex work profession are exacerbated due to the fact it is an illegal practice at regional and international levels.
They frame their argument within the discourse of human rights.
Ditmore illustrates how development policies of the UN protocol appear to disacknowledge the benefits of NGOs working with sex workers. These ideological restrictions unfortunately meant some projects working productively with sex workers to promote their human rights and their health are condemned and refused funding: This ideological agenda affected successful projects whose efficiency was widely praised.
Female sex tourism
Ditmore explains why projects that involve sex workers have greater success combating abuses within the industry: it gives the women greater agency and strengthens their human rights to better conditions and greater protection while working. However, such projects may be refused funding for ideologically supporting legalisation Ditmore, Djordjevic agrees, she purports that the way to address prostitution is not with authority from above but by changing the structures from within. She argues we should listen to the demands of prostitutes and sex-workers organisations.
By challenging the stigma of sex work and tackling the attitudes embodied in the framework of society and state institution, we will enable sex workers to protect themselves, build their skills and eventually mobilise them into a place where they have enhanced choices of whether or not to remain in sex work, Djordjevic claims Through legalisation of sex work, you re-establish the prostitutes place in society, bringing them back from the alienated and marginalised peripheries.
These arguments highlight explicitly the potentially harmful consequences for the prostitutes that can occur through the delegitimization of sex work. Although I strongly advocate illegalising sex work, there are obvious negative implications of such a policy, and I recognise the value of the pro-legalisation discussion.
However, I determine that liberals settle to working within rather than challenging the wider structures of patriarchy. The quintessential reason I cannot advocate legalising prostitution is on the grounds that it fails to address the real roots of exploitation and patriarchy.
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By suggesting solutions and improvements of the conditions of prostitution within existing social structures, it falls short of tackling the heart of the problem. Some argue, however, that prostitution has and will always exist — implying we should try to improve on the existing situation — though this notion appears largely defeatist. For the potential of real reform of the sex industry, radical feminist are inclined to supporting ideological, social and historical transformation of the gendered constructs framing our society.
Although advocating illegalisation of sex work, it is essential that such policies do not impinge on the work of successful, grass-roots organisations working alongside and supporting prostitutes.
In addition — I claim that Swedish policies and legislation on sex work has been and is largely successful. Although the problem of prostitution is very small in comparison to many other countries, the Swedish approach has concentrated on addressing prostitution as a social issue. Inlegislation was introduced which criminalised the buying of sexual services with the intention to target the clients who use the service rather than the sex workers Ibid.
Although I do not compare the Swedish sex work industry to that of countries within South East Asia, where sex trafficking and sex work is on a far greater, global scale Remote Sensing:I endorse the Swedish approach for recognising the overarching social issues and patriarchal structures and which uphold and support the practice of prostitution. However, I recognise that censoring and upholding such prosecution is difficult in areas in which prostitution is endemic, yet this should be no reason to impinge change.
Sullivan illustrated how in instances of legalisation, instead of tackling the inherent violence prostitutes were subject to, it incidentally normalised the violence. Finally, because sex work reinforces and upholds gendered sociological assumptions of society, instilling patriarchy, I advocate that it remain an illegitimate form of work.
This has harmful implications on conditions of the prostitutes and inhibits their voice in society. I conclude by suggesting that one possible way to tackle this is by recognising prostitution as a social problem.
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As in Sweden, we must recognise the gendered and patriarchal institutions that uphold prostitution and face the issue by delegitimizing and penalising those who use the service. The primary understanding that needs to be established for this perspective to be effective is that prostitution is not legitimate work. Adams, N. Anti-Trafficking Legislation: Protection or Deportation?. Feminist Review, No. Anderson, S, A. Ethics, Vol.
Brison, S. Hepatia, Vol. Ditmore, M. In Cornwall, A. Djordjevic, J. Social and Political inclusion as sex workers as a preventative measure against trafficking: Serbian experiences. In: Cornwall, A. Kilvington, J. Miriam, K. Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. The Rights and Wrongs of Prostitution.
Remote Sensing. Sullivan, M.