Legalizing Prostitution: Are We Battling Objectification or Normalizing It?


Image from cnn.com

Image from cnn.com

It was a quote from Oscar Wilde that finally clicked with me once I heard my Abnormal Psychology professor say it during a lecture on sexual deviation: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” And while this was something I had known all along, at that moment while he discussed the prevalence of rape and the culture in which it thrives in, I finally understood that maybe 6 inch stripper heels weren’t empowering the self-enlightened woman selling her body on the street, but instead killing the perceived light inside her.

“If a woman is empowered by it, then it’s empowering to all women,” is a common biased sample fallacy that seems to dominate the realm of pop feminism,  in regards to sex positivity, pornonography, and the debate on the legality of prostitution. While it’s easy to tell women, and the 1,400 to 2.4 million juvenile prostitutes forced into prostitution in the United States alone, that prostitution is about sexual freedom and liberation, the sad reality is that prostitution is human trafficking and objectification, and supporting this act of violence, mainly gendered violence, supports the transaction of human bodies as products, the raping of over 300, 000 children, mainly females, as young as 13 to 14 years old, the 9.5 million dollar business sex trafficking generates for the United States alone, and the degradation of the female gender that comes with a multitude of psychological disorders, mainly that of PTSD.

Not only would the legalization of prostitution harm the individual personally, despite what Nevada and several countries such as Columbia that have already legalized prostitution fail to believe, but this issue harms the society as a whole, at least on a social level. The way prostitution stands now, which is rightfully illegal and disgusting, uses the human body as an object to be bought and sold, which leads to the consumers, which are mainly men, to view the female body as a vessel for their pleasure and a sex toy with flesh. While many disregard this viewpoint and proceed with how the act of prostituting one’s body is an act of selling one’s sexual experience, 62% of prostitutes have reported being raped in prostitution, 73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution, 72% were currently or formerly homeless, and 92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately. To view these statistics as isolated incidents and sexual liberation is outstandingly ignorant, and to view this as selling one’s sexual experience is further reinforceing seuxal violence and its normalcy.

So why is prostitution even being debated for legality at this point? Well, economically, it could possibly do America financial wonders. The international sex industry is a $30 billion a year business, despite the millions of women, men, and children forced into this scary and murderous trade. And while prostitution is being used as yet another scheme to enslave others for the economic profit their torture could potentially produce, why doesn’t America legalize all drugs as well? Because it’s only about the money and not the welfare of human beings, right?

The reason that analogy doesn’t exactly work is because it’s missing a huge component: sex. And we all know that sex, as reinforced by our culture obsessed with it, is actually about power. Women are not masterbation tools; men cannot keep using the body of a woman as an inflatable sex doll and continuously normalize the idea of “healthy sexuality,” because that is anything but healthy. To treat women as rented sex objects to enforce bizarre sexual perversions and racist sexual fantasies on is not liberating to the female, it is only further oppressing her. Phallocentric feminism is not feminism, and placing a man’s orgasm above a female’s physical and psychological well-being is the definition of sexual abuse.

Prostitution is a business built on millions of dollars and millions of exploited women and children used as masterbation toys; this is a global industry that supports human trafficking, not human freedom. Women find themselves in prostitution because they are desperate, have sometimes endured years of previous sexual abuse and physical/emotional assault, and have to support both themselves and a family. To support women who go into prostitution “willingly” is to support the women who did not, and the perceived privilege that prostitution brings women instead of the blatant oppression and exploitation that results.

Legalizing prostitution will not lower the acts of rape, it will only normalize it. Prostitution is sexual violence, and to legalize this gendered violence is to legalize the dehumanization of women.  However dirty and inhumane this multi-million dollar business is though, it goes without saying that sex workers must be defended at all costs, because we exist in a world that only defines them by the dollar sign.

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