Challenging Prostitution & the Myths That Sustain It

Challenging Prostitution & the Myths That Sustain It

I am recanting my complicity and contribution to the horrific oppression of women and children that sex industry apologists refer to as “sex work,” but you may know better as “prostitution.”

My beliefs about prostitution – that it is an inevitability, that women willingly opt-in, that legislation will keep it safe, that there is a distinction between being trafficked and being prostituted, that it is defensible in the name of empowerment – were all wrong.  I’ve allowed myself to be misinformed for years and to shrug off the reality of what prostitution actually is: sexual slavery. I’ve lent my voice – on the web & conversationally – in favor of the legalization of sexual services without assessing where my beliefs came from. Well, I’ve assessed. And I was wrong.

The buying of people for sexual exploitation has become normalized to such a degree that its stigmas are largely invisible to the public. My mistake was embracing our cultural shrug towards prostitution and favoring its legislation. I promoted the principle that because women had a right to choose what they do with their own bodies, they should be able to sell their bodies, yet I never considered that the practice of prostitution actually relinquishes all control to a buyer. This is a contradiction, and one I wish I had considered years previous.

While I can pinpoint early examples that swayed my opinion (As a child, my favorite comedian was George Carlin, who said: “Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn’t selling fucking legal?”), it’d be impossible to pick out every through line because of its casual pervasiveness. Prostituted persons are targets for jokes. “Bitch-ass / nasty-ass ho” are common ways of assassinating character.  The online landscape is marred with marginalizing meme-billboards that ask, “If you rape a prostitute, is it considered shoplifting?” Add “whore” after a noun and the listener always understands “whore” as “consumes with insatiable desire.” Network television sensationalizes and portrays, regularly, the graphically murdered bodies of prostituted persons for entertainment value. 1 For those genuinely concerned about the women and children of prostitution, there is hardly room to breathe.

The language and imagery surrounding prostitution have curbed the conversation away from a discussion that matters. This attitude has infiltrated social media, informed belief, influenced thinking, normalized behavior, and skewed true societal progress in sex equality. We have come to perpetuate the agendas, encoded into a powerful image-based culture that objectifies woman and commodifies sex on a exponentially-growing scale, of the people who do profit from prostitution.  We are contributing to these places of influence, and the affect is oppressive: systems of power – such as pimps, traffickers, brothel operators, and other profiteers of prostitution – abuse, gain, grow, and cyclically abuse again, while public discourse spirals around the wrong issues.

Take the hyper-sexualization of women. The repetition of objectified female imagery has damaged perception of femininity to such a degree that an alarming number of women think it’s necessary to surgically alter their bodies to be acceptable. The norm in movies rarely allows two or more women to speak about anything other than a man; films that feature a cast predominantly of women are deemed “Chick Flick,” a derisive term that actively reinforces gender stereotypes.  Our culture has internalized the notion that women exist for and to be penetrated by men to the degree that it’s not uncommon for women to stay silent when they have been raped. Imagine that: rape as a normal, everyday, invisible occurrence. The “hurt them, then heal them” strategists profit while conversations focus on how we can coexist with sexist imagery, rather than discussing the possibility of eliminating this danger altogether. The same goes for prostitution. Public policy discussions about prostitution lean towards making the industry safer instead of simply removing the buyer’s market of selling women and children altogether. 2

When it was once okay to own another human being, pro-slavery strategists didn’t have the advent of the internet or television to promote their oppression instantaneously; they did have publications, however, and preferred pseudonyms for slave, such as “assistant-planter,” 3 slowly helped to remove the notion that their slaving (and profiting of) was wrong. Conversations on slavery policy hinged on harm-reduction strategies, rather than for the abolition of selling and buying humans. And now we have “sex worker,” a dubious term fabricated by profiteers of sexual slavery that have successfully removed the pain from the conversation. When I first heard that “sex worker” was the new “prostitute,” it sounded pretty liberating to me. And it is: its infiltration into dialogues about prostitution allows for just as much autonomy for the sexual opportunists controlling the trafficked women and children as “assistant-planter” did for slavers.

The societal through line of comprehending that owning people is morally reprehensible has taken hundreds of years to solidify, and yet we still allow and even promote it, ironically, in the name of human rights and in policy grounded in its alleged inevitability. Prostitution, the buying and selling of persons, an obvious violation of human rights and sex equality, is sexual slavery. There is no gray area. Yet the buying of women and children has become so normalized that most people feel reticent speaking out against it; ignorance and false truisms (“Boys will be boys”; “prostitution is the oldest profession”) stay rooted in the gap where knowledge and activism should be taking off. People have become conditioned to believe that prostitution can be okay. It can’t, and it’s not.

In the interest of changing your mind and preventing you from contributing henceforth to the modern sexual slavery of women and children, I urge you to challenge what you have become conditioned to believe about it and continue reading (below) about some of the most commonly-held untruths regarding prostitution and the prostituted persons imprisoned by its normalization.

Myth: “Prostitution is Inevitable”

Prostitution is not inevitable. This defeatist attitude is repeated time and again by the media, NGOs, and conversationally as though its re-iterance is a fact. Granting arguments for “inevitability” allows for compliance, such as believing gays with rights will rape animals 4 and the Jewish will dominate the world unless murdered. Humankind has a a very consistent tendency of committing murder, but that doesn’t mean governments should collect taxes on it. So long as prostitution is viewed as a fixed framework, policy and legislation will continue to build from its base, effectively sustaining it. Just because an oppression has existed for ages doesn’t mean it ought to continue.

Myth: “Women Willfully Decide to Become Prostituted Persons”

Women do not wake up and decide they want to be prostitutes. Women who fall outside the paradigm of “typical” entrapment into the sex industry – who haven’t had their passports stolen, who aren’t the 20% who began as minors, 5 who haven’t been violently & sexually & financially coerced – do so as a last means of survival. Those that opt-in “willingly” are abused with indignity, the same as any other prostituted person. Though “sex work” is recognized as a job in some locations, note the lack of active prostituted persons speaking positively on behalf of it who don’t have their managers – or pimps – lurking in the shadows behind them.6 There are rampant coping techniques when one is a part of an industry that repeatedly objectifies them; stating one’s satisfaction with a job that physically, verbally, sexually exploits oneself is a means of rationalization. Survivors of the sex industry frequently stand in agreement that prostitution was a violation of their human rights.

Most of my clients were very insensitive and rough… They would beat us before intercourse with sticks, belts or chains till we bled… There were some clients who inserted coke bottles into the girls’ vaginas… and poured boiling water into it…

— Thai survivor, trafficked to Japan

Myth: “Boys Will Be Boys

Men are predominant in the equation of sexual exploitation; if men aren’t buying, there’s no market for selling. Sexual slavery is validated not only through policy (in the form of decriminalized & legalized prostitution) and tradition (the rite of passage wherein a boy loses his virginity to a prostituted person), but also because there’s a rampant systemic complacency to males as the entitled sex. The present architecture of normalized prostitution need not stay in place for a male’s libido to be satiated: men can be taught at an early age how to alleviate their alleged needs independently (ie – masturbation). The insistence that men absolutely must have a sexual outlet (for reasons arduous & fatiguing), lest they become forceful, has perpetuated the notion that women exist for men. They don’t. And their “needs” must be taken out of the discussion.

The first words that come to mind are degraded, dehumanized, used, victims, ashamed, humiliated, embarrassed, insulted, slave, rape, violated… 99% of them fit these words: pig, dog, animal, uncaring, user, slave owner, asshole, mean, thoughtless, rude, crude, blind.

— Daisy, survivor

Myth: “Most Prostitutes Begin Sex Work as Adults”

Indoctrination and compliance into the debilitating sex industry starts at a young age. A minimum of 20% of the women presently in prostitution begin as minors,7 while 25% (or more) of trafficked victims are underage.8 In the case of minors as young as ten, some girls are forced to sit in tubs of water for hours on end while dildos – lodged inside their vaginas – expand. 9

Myth: “Prostitution is a Human Right”

Men have the human right to do what they want with their bodies. Women have the human right to do what they want with their bodies. When a man purchases a women’s body, he is not exerting his own human right to do what he wants with his body but violating hers. Women who enter into prostitution do so as a last measure to survive; various forms of coercion force women, who often have a history of sexual traumas, substance addictions, and often a lack of education, into a role of compliance. One cannot argue, in good conscience, that a woman who has been systemically abused and daily endures being raped by dozens of men is executing her human right to agency. Prostitution is a violation of human rights.

Myth: “Ethical John Campaigns Can Help Identify and Save Prostitutes in Danger”

There have been various government- and NGO-funded campaigns that have promoted the tolerance and continuation of johns as buyers under the presumption that they are willing to help prostitutes when they recognize their being exploited. These campaigns, seemingly well-intended, perpetuate the false line between forced and unforced sexual exploitation. Ethical johns are encouraged to report to private hotlines and / or authorities any instance when the prostituted women appears fearful, has bruising, admits to being forced or having high debts with their management. These hotlines are never used; they weren’t used during the 2006 World Cup Games in Germany, 10 they weren’t used in the Netherlands Crimestoppers Campaign, and they weren’t used when the Ministry of Social Affairs in Denmark put out a number. 11 When a prostituted person has no means of leaving the location where she is tortured daily, when they cannot occupy a space or go outside by themselves, when they have no way of knowing who to trust, when they have been told to comply or they will be murdered, when the “quality” of their sexual services are frequently monitored, why would they risk their lives to tell a stranger who’s molested them that they are unhappy? In the alleged interest of preventing violence, “ethical john” campaigns have encouraged it.

I hate having sex. I have nowhere to sleep unless I find a man. Sometimes I don’t have money and food for two days. A man without a condom will pay more, so obviously I say O.K. because I need money.

— Mbali, survivor, 16

Myth: “Pragmatic Legislation Will Improve Working Conditions For Women”

It’s incredibly tempting to believe that a pragmatic legislation of prostitution would lead to better working conditions for the women and children entrenched in the spiderweb of sexual exploitation. But under a legal framework, legislation makes it difficult to discriminate against a customer; it’s not as though prostitutes can go to the local authorities and make a claim that they were raped when their “job” necessitates dozens of men to rape them. Ultimately, the prostituted person is still chosen by a man – one of dozens within a day’s span – who will take her to a room and sexually exploit her; this involves forced vaginal / anal penetration, verbal abuse, removing the condom, biting, punching, choking, and various other forms of traumatizing the women and children. Legislation does work, however, for pimps, elevated to entrepreneurial agents, for brothel owners, who become successful businessmen, and the johns, born again as clients.

Myth: “In a Recession, Prostitution Use Diminishes”

In both legal and illegal systems of prostitution, the buying and selling of prostituted women and children actually increases. Stag parties arrive from abroad to take advantage of a buyer’s market where women and children are forced to participate in considerably worse acts of sexual exploitation, lest the john go elsewhere. Brothels compete for attention: if one offers 17-year-olds, the other will offer 16-year-olds. If one allows for anal penetration, the other will offer the same without a condom. And so on. Buyers can demand lower rates for higher risk activities. 12 Strip clubs, modeling jobs, and porn shoots (often entryways into being trafficked / prostituted) report that more women apply for positions in recessions than would otherwise; the spectrum of applicants widens, 13 and the normalization of prostitution cascades outwardly to damaging affect.

Myth: “Removing the Pimp / Allowing For ‘Autonomy’ Would Make Prostitution Safer”

Noting that many of the dangers of prostitution stem from the existence of the intermediaries – the pimps, the brothel operators, the traffickers – sex work apologists stand behind the naïve thought that removing them would make the industry safer. This presents a false dichotomy that suggests the existence or lack of intermediaries makes a difference in the safety of the woman and children being rented for penetration. The removal of an intermediary does not account for the buyers themselves, who perpetuate the market and who pose a very real and equivalent harm. A report of women working “independently” in New York in 2005  – “Behind Closed Doors” – found that 46% of the women had experienced violence from a buyer. 14 Another report – “Indoor and Outdoor Prostitution Venues” – found that one third of the women operating from their own homes reported rape and forced penetration. 15 In Hong Kong of 2008, four intermediary-free prostitutes were killed by johns in the privacy of their own homes. That the occupational hazards for these independent, sex working entrepreneurs is rape or death has encouraged discussion about self-defense classes, installing safety alarms, reporting bad clients to the police 16 – rather than for the abolishment of sexual slavery.

I too would have given you the same answers if you asked me back then when I was a prostitute. I would have told you, ‘Yes, I do this voluntarily.’ I would have been incapable of telling you otherwise. I had resigned myself to my fate. And furthermore, I would have never been able to say to the man that each of his acts was in fact a rape.

— Elena, survivor

Myth: “Indoor Sex Work is Safer than Outdoor Sex Work”

Sex work advocates argue that women in prostitution are much safer in legal regimes than in illegal ones, though there is little to no evidence that supports there being any discernible difference in treatment and outcome of women in paradigms of indoor versus outdoor sex work. Aside from the system of legality offering barriers of impunity to rapists and exploiters, indoor, legislated sex work takes women and children off-street and away from a public that can, potentially, offer assistance. More than 50% of the women involved in strip clubs in Chicago, for instance, reported being threatened with weapons. 17 Outdoor prostitution, on the other hand, has no system wherein the pimp can make sure that their employee – the merchandise – is still breathing after the transaction so that they can move onto the next john. The location of the sex work being done has no bearing on how viciously the victim will be victimized.

Myth: “The Legalization of Prostitution Will Reduce Trafficking”

One year after prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 1998, the trafficking of victims increased by 23%.18 In legal chains of sex work, women can receive legal entry permits to “work” in the country. Because of the legality that stands against a brothel being thoroughly examined, police investigations hinge on whether the women have legal documents or not. What their papers do not say is how the women are being abused, nor which of the many propagated lies convinced her to put her trust in her traffickers in the first place (assuming she had a choice at all). In European countries, especially, it is considerably easier to traffic people across borders, but legal legislation makes it a risk-free endeavor for traffickers. Legal documents are not only papers of exemption from codified rape but an aid to complicate trafficking with language barriers. 19

Myth: “Legal Prostitution Brings HIV / AIDS Down”

Prostitution has contributed largely to the onslaught of HIV / AIDS and the notion of legal paradigms combating it fuels an outrageous lack of common sense prevalent in discussions about prostitution today. The abolition of the industry alone will combat an unnecessary epidemic that presently is transmitted globally in a countless number of sexual acts hourly. In legal industries of sex work, the buyer’s market forces the prostitutes in competing brothels to take bigger risks; 20 often, condoms are foregone due to financial coercion, though all a john need do is physically threaten or force penetration to remove it. In India – a legal sex economy – the largest truck stop in Asia, Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, serves as an on-the-go brothel for truckers (up to 18% of whom are HIV-positive), servicing hundreds of men daily. Even in instances when the condom is used at this brothel, the risk of transmission is simply minimized – not absent. 21 Only in prostitution’s elimination can it be used in the same sentiment as reducing the spread of HID / AIDS.

You tell the lie – ‘I like it’ – so much that you believe it yourself. You make it OK by saying, ‘I haven’t been beat up today…’ Women have to justify it: they can’t tell themselves or anyone else the reality of it or else they’d die.

— Survivor

Myth: “There is a Difference Between Trafficking and Prostitution”

One of the most abhorrent, popular myths is that prostitution is distinct from human trafficking. Prostitution is the forced and / or coerced selling of a person for the sexual exploitation of others. Trafficking is the forced and / or coerced trading, recruitment, transportation, or transferring of humans for the purpose of being exploited; “trafficking can occur with or without the victim’s consent.”22 Prostitutes needn’t be forced overseas to be victims of trafficking; being moved domestically, even from one’s living quarters to the brothel, is trafficking. Arguing for the distinction between trafficking and prostitution divides the two and perpetuates the notion that if trafficking isn’t okay then prostitution must be, despite the fact that the irreparable and harmful consequences are one and the same.

Myth: “Prostitution is a Consensual Act”

Acts of prostitution are dependent on there being a transaction. The guilt of every man hinges on the money, as though their currency buys consent. But who consents in an act of prostitution? The prostituted minor? The economically-disadvantaged & abused? The violently-coerced teenager? The only consent in prostitution happens between the buyer (the john) and the pimp. Prostitutes entangled in the industry are there regardless of their consent. Engaging in the buying of people for sexual exploitation is, simply, the act of using money to silence rape. 23 Consider survivor, Trisha Baptiste, who says that when in the sex industry, she would have told people that “it was empowering and liberating – how could I look at myself in the mirror otherwise?”

Myth: “Prostitution is the Oldest Profession”

This aphorism is used religiously as an explanation, as though its repetition in history is a justification for its continuation. Adhering to any tradition of prostitution is adhering to men making decisions on behalf of women and their bodies. It is a paradigm that subordinates females to a second-class sex. Furthermore, it’s incorrect: as Janice G. Raymond points out in her pro-abolishment book Not a Choice, Not a Job, the oldest profession is actually pimping. 24

People want to think that trafficking is being chained to a bed, basement, or locked in a cage, but it’s not. The chains are mental. And they know when you’re broken and you don’t have a voice, that you’re not going to say anything. They pick up on that, and they know that. And he knew that.

— Lexie, survivor

Myth: “Allowing Prostitution is Allowing for Women to Have Agency Over Their Own Bodies”

In countries with legislated / decriminalized prostitution, prostituted women are instructed to make sure there is no pillow in the room, lest the john smother them. Women have little to no control in sexual encounters; frequently the men are verbally & physically abusive and forceful in their penetration. That some johns, self-proclaimed responsible or ethical, are relatively tame in comparison is of no consolation to the prostituted person: what is relief that one john doesn’t force anal penetration without a condom when he’s followed by upwards of forty men the same day who may? Whether forced or coerced into becoming a prostituted person, women and children do not have control over the ways in which they are exploited.

Myth: “Prostitution Buyers Are Helping the Women”

Regardless of intentions, the act of buying someone for sexual services perpetuates the market for sexual slavery. One argument johns make is that they are helping the prostituted persons financially. Logic dictates that if one wanted to help a prostituted person financially, they could just give them the money – without sexually exploiting them. Common sense has it that while some of the money might go to the victim, clearly the money wouldn’t be dispersed in its entirety to her; frequently, the majority of it is dispersed to the pimp, the brothel operator, the driver, and other intermediaries.

I wonder sometimes at the amount of women who would be shocked, not only to know their husbands are visiting prostitutes, but also to know the depth of their own husbands’ contempt and misogynistic hatred of women.

— Survivor

Myth: “Prostitution is Just as Valid a Profession as…” 

Frequent common denominators among prostituted persons include a history of sexual abuse, a history of mental vulnerabilities, drug and/or alcohol dependence, poverty, a lack of education, and various other traumas. Desire or willingness by the sex worker to be physically penetrated, manipulated, beaten, systemically broken down is not necessary. There are no age requirements, even in countries with legislated and legalized sex work with a minimum age requirement. When prostitution is validated as a profession, women in prostitution are locked into a profession wherein “they are eighteen times more vulnerable to be killed than other women.” 25 The occupational hazard of prostitution is death. Considering that the vast majority of women and children do not willingly opt into it, its legitimacy as a job should be thrown out of the discussion altogether.

Myth: “The Decriminalization of Prostitution Will Protect Women”

One problem with the criminalization of prostitution is that prostituted women are very susceptible to the penalty of law; they are often thrown into jail rather than assisted with safe exit strategies from the sex industry. This fact is exploited by sex industry apologists, curbing the conversation bilaterally instead of questioning the existence of codified rape altogether. This short-sighted argument distracts and does not mean that prostitution should be decriminalized, as the decriminalization of prostitution is a gateway to offering impunity to pimps and brothel operators. 26 The harm is exacerbated when authorities cannot proceed with investigations due to the legal barriers that stand in their way.

Myth: “Legalizing the Buying of Women will Make Prostitution Safer”

In-depth examinations of legalized sex industries, in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and Thailand, prove that the legal paradigm makes prostitution more dangerous.  It’s difficult enough to uproot illegal organized crime, but when legal, police have less cause to investigate. Legalizing an industry known for the systematic rape, torture,27 moral degradation, and murder of women and children makes it much easier for traffickers to bring in minors, to physically trap their victims in brothels and steal their passports, to force the sex workers to marry the pimps (which offers an additional layer of complicated impunity), and a multitude of other violations of human rights. Legalizing prostitution allows violent men to throw women and children into deep wells with walls too high to climb.

Before each sexual encounter, I am seized with the fear of client violence or of contracting disease.

— Mon, survivor

Myth: “Being a Prostitute is Empowering”

A popular fabrication of the sex industry is equating “sex worker” to a person having sovereignty over one’s own body. This is a brutal lie guised as philosophy; it’s cheerleading for a simplistic abstraction over reality. A push for prostitution is social advocacy for the right to pimp; 28 it’s about legalizing barriers of impunity to profit from the torture, rape, and degradation of women and children. More than two-thirds of women and children become habitual drug users after being ushered into prostitution; the other third moves onto “harder” substances, such as meth, crack, or heroin. The looming danger of criminals operating from within the sex industry is powerful to the degree that authorities, threatened with murder, are often unwilling to have their names included in newspaper articles about it (even in legal systems). The myth of prostitution-as-agency is funded by and for pimps, brothel operators, traffickers, and various interweaved criminals in the interest of growing the sex trade.

Myth: “Making Prostitution Illegal Will Force Prostitution Underground”

Underground prostitution is more prevalent in countries where it is tolerated than in tolerance-free ones. Consider that a decade ago in South Korea, legal and illegal paradigms of prostitution had an accumulative 5,500 women in prostitution before the country abolished it altogether with the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution. By offering legal protection to the prostituted women, penalizing the users, and confiscating all assets and profits of the brothels, use diminished dramatically and less than two years later the number of women entrenched reduced by nearly 50%. 29 The takeaway from South Korea’s groundbreaking political reversal is that prostitution is not inevitable; sexual opportunists are not eager to conduct business where they can be prosecuted. When there is room for tolerance, however, that space will be filled with those eager to oppressively expand the compliance of sexual exploitation outwardly.

Myth: “Sex Workers Make a Good Financial Living”

In comparison to other low-paying jobs, prostitution is often economically-rationalized as a legitimate alternative; a very select few individuals – very few and far between – who have made large financial gains are used as a justification at the forefront of this argument, conflating dignity with sexual commodification. Even when disregarding other horrific regularities about the sex industry, the average annual income of a prostituted person is not defensible against the accumulated harm that these women and children absorb. A 2006 case study of Canadian sex workers 30 found that the average income was approximately $27,000 – before pimp, driver, agency taxation (deduct more than $10,000) and drug & alcohol consumption (deduct more than $12,000). That leaves approximately $5,000 (if paid at all) for a year of daily sexual abuse, and does not account for lost earnings due to medical care (injuries from violent johns), incarcerations, court appearances, living wages, and so on. Compounded with the fact that women and children, who have managed to exit the industry, have significant difficulty post-prostitution gaining employment (due to a lack of marketable skills, substance abuse addiction, chronic health conditions, PTSD), it is clear that justifying sex work as a healthy financial option marginalizes sex workers and contextualizes them with naïve misinformation.

I was raped by many men every day. I hate the people who bought me and pushed me into this as much as I hate the men who were my clients.

— Meena Sheikh, survivor

Myth: “The Solution for Sex Workers is Unions”

Recognizing a union, wherein the prostituted persons would organize to manage the benefits of their sex work, is validating sexual slavery as employment and pimping as an entrepreneurial profession. There is something blatantly insidious in offering labor protection through a union when considering that prostitution is violence in itself; offering protection from sexual harassment against fellow employees and employers when johns receive impunity in their salacious rape is a damaging contradiction. In legal paradigms of prostitution across Europe, very few women actually opt-in: they don’t want their time as a sex worker made public. The sentiment that women and children should be afforded equal and moral treatment is a human rights issue; the unionizing of their torture is a mockery of it.31

Myth: “We Can Rely on Groups or the Media to Inform People”

A sex worker as the face of a movement in favor of the legislation of sex work, versus a survivor who calls the industry a horrific perpetrator of human rights: which is sexier, perpetuates the subordination of women, and consequently more likely to get media attention? Disproportionately, pro-prostitution arguments are headlined, resulting in a stream of normalized, uninformed, naïve support in addition to funding from both the government (for the legislation) and from the johns themselves (for their molestation). Chances are that any sex work-focused NGOs, projects, and organizations you’ve heard of are confounded by myth (pro-sex work COYOTE, for instance, is not comprised of prostituted persons).32 Many argue for the distinction between prostitution and trafficking (The Heritage Foundation, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, La Strada), while others favor abolishment of trafficking while simultaneously supporting sex work as a profession (The National Council of German Women’s Organizations).33 These groups are handsomely funded (UNICEF); organizations that favor abolishment altogether are not. 34

There are plenty of organizations you likely have not heard of, but can use your support: International Federation of Human Rights; End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (EPCAT); Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

35 36 37 38 39 40 41

Show 41 footnotes

  1. TV Tropes
  2. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  3. The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 65
  4. Right Wing Watch
  5. “Let the Prostitutes Speak for Themselves” by Dorien Pels, Trouw, February 7, 2008
  6. National Police Service report: Beneath the Surface
  7. “Trafficking in Human Beings, First Report,” Bureau NRM
  8. “Unseen and Unheard: Child Trafficking in the Netherlands, a Preliminary Survey,” The Hague, 2004
  9. “Why the Sex Workers of India Marched to Parliament Demanding Repeal of the ITPA” by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, Self published
  10. “Germany: Invasion of the Body Pleasers” by Luke Harding
  11. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  12. Ibid.
  13. “More Women Go From Jobless to Topless” by Associated Press
  14. Behind Closed Doors: An Analysis of Indoor Sex Work in New York City
  15.  “Violence in Indoor and Outdoor Prostitution Venues” by Jody Raphael and Deborah L. Shapiro
  16. “Personal Safety of Sex Workers,” REACHING OUT
  17. “Violence in Indoor and Outdoor Prostitution Venues” by Jody Raphael and Deborah L. Shapiro
  18. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  19. 2008 National Police Service report: Beneath the Surface
  20. “Prostitutes Forced to Take More Risks, Says Charity” by Steven Carroll
  21. “Truckers Take India on Fast Lane to Aids” by Dan McDougall
  22. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  23. “Sex Worker? Never Met One!” by Trisha Baptiste
  24. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  25. Prostitution, Politics & Policy by Roger Matthews
  26. U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2003
  27. “Prostitutes Forced to Take More Risks, Says Charity” by Steven Carroll
  28. “Legalising Pimping, Dutch-style / Human’s Bodies on the world market” by Marie-Victoire Louise
  29. “Illegal Sex Trade Dying Hard” by Ton-hyung
  30. “A Human Capital Methodology for Estimating the Lifelong Personal Costs of Young Women Leaving the Sex Trade” by Linda DeRiviere
  31. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  32. Making it Work: The Prostitutes’ Rights Movement in Perspective
  33. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond
  34. “Learning the Thai Sex Trade” – Prospect Magazine
  35. Survivor quotes from Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond & Sex-trafficking survivor tells her story
  36. Images taken from a search for “prostitution” on Flickr
  37. Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti, Additional Reference
  38. Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry, Additional Reference
  39. Feminist Current, perpetually motivating this post
  40. Not a Choice, Not a Job by Janice G. Raymond, an amazing resource that you should read
  41. Conversations with Amy, my fiercely intelligent partner, fueled this post


Add yours
    • michael

      It took me a long while after your comment (11 months and 5 days) to understand that my posting these photos of prostituted persons was problematic. But I agree and have removed all of them.

  1. Inge

    Great article and exploding these myths is so important, again and again and again, thank you!
    About “the oldest profession” – bullerwhatever anyway, but as a French abolitionist remindest us: A quote by that great hero Rudyard Kipling. “the most ancient profession of the world” (in a short story, wickiquotes as source)… yes, him of the white man’s burden said it, so it must be true, right. And what a surprise that proponents and defenders of the sex-industry would be quoting colonialists, imperialists, racists…. The story is from 1888.

    • Savy

      Wow. I did not know that! Kipling!!
      It’s like all the freedom defenders that quote Voltaire. Who is also famous for saying that that the face of niggers, with their large noses and fat lips, showed that there were not intelligent species. And that we would never know if the niggers come from monkey, or the other way around.

      • Inge

        …. and out goes Voltaire to sleep in the recycling bin … ugh. So much for “freedom” in the mind of idiots and sloppy thinkers. I don’t think Voltaire came from monkeys, monkeys are quite intelligent as far as I know.

  2. Nicole

    Thank you for this … sometimes I feel like Im fighting a losing battle but your words and confirmation gave me the new strength I’ve needed. To the readers please dont just read and read and forget….arm yourselves with this knowledge and be ready to take the opportunity to reframe the debate whenever it presents itself – Survivor

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