This is Why Prostitution is Rape

This is Why Prostitution is Rape


I wrote a pretty lengthy post concerning prostitution myths a few weeks back. At 5,800 words, I’m afraid a TL;DR audience might never be able to digest it. In consideration of consolidating some of that information, as well as providing additional statistics and materials validated by human rights organizations around the world, here are some underpinnings (subject to evolve and expand as I learn more) regarding why the act of prostitution, in both its legal and illegal paradigms, is rape.

Prostitution is not consensual sex. Prostitution is rape. This is why:

We do not recognize a minor’s consent to sexual activity; one reason for this is that minors do not have the ability to recognize all of the physical, emotional, mental, and social ramifications of engaging in it.

  • 20% of all prostituted adults were trafficked in as minors.
  • A quarter of all persons presently locked into prostitution are minors.
  • Minors engaged in prostitution do not magically consent when they turn eighteen years old.

Therefore, prostituted minors and persons who began as minors cannot be said to be consenting of their prostitution.

We do not recognize consent to sexual activity when one participant is intoxicated; one reason for this is that  people with drugs or alcohol in their system have lowered inhibitions and do not have the capacity to recognize all of the physical, emotional, mental, and social ramifications of engaging in sex.

  • Two-thirds of women and children become addicted to drugs and alcohol after being trafficked into prostitution.
  • One-third of prostituted women and children are addicted to “harder” substances, such as meth, crack, or heroin.
  • Buyers of prostitution can not readily distinguish between a sober prostituted person and one who is intoxicated.

Therefore, the vast majority of prostituted persons cannot be said to be consenting of their prostitution.

We do not recognize consent to sexual activity when one participant is coerced; one reason for this is that coerced people do not make decisions in accordance with their own human agency.

  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution by physical force.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution by threat of physical force.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution with death threats.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution financially.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution by being told they own a debt to their pimps.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution by being physically locked into their brothels.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution by having their passports stolen.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution with lies.
  • Women and children are coerced into prostitution when threatened that they will be reported to the police unless they continue.
  • 20% of all prostituted adults are coerced in as minors.
  • Women and children are coerced (through any / all of the above tactics) to tell their client (the john; the buyer of prostitution) that they enjoy what they do.
  • The vast majority of women and children have been coerced into prostitution.
  • Survivors of prostitution maintain that they were raped.
  • Survivors of prostitution contend that prostitution was a violation of their human rights.

Therefore, the vast majority of prostituted persons cannot be said to be consenting of their prostitution.

We do not recognize consent to sexual activity when one participant is tortured; one reason for this is that tortured people do not have the option to act in accordance with their free will.

  • Here are some of the documented ways in which prostituted persons (in both legal and illegal transactions of prostitution) have been tortured:
    • Death.
    • Pouring boiling water into women’s vaginas.
    • Dildos forced into minors’ vaginas, which expand while minors sits in bathtubs for multiple hours.
    • Biting  and / or otherwise mutilating women’s nipples.
    • Biting and / or otherwise mutilating women’s clitorises.
    • Biting  and / or otherwise mutilating boy’s penises.
    • Being urinated on.
    • Being defecated on.
    • Beating with sticks, belts, chains, blunt instruments until blood is drawn.
    • Cutting with sharp objects.
    • Stabbing with sharp objects.
    • Forced penetration by penises.
    • Forced penetration by physical objects.
    • Forced penetration in multiple orifices by penises and /or physical objects at the same time.
    • Forced removal of condoms.
    • Smothering with pillows.
    • Slapping.
    • Punching.
    • Biting.
    • Verbal abuse, including threatening any / all of the above.

Therefore, prostituted persons in both legal and illegal paradigms of prostitution, who at some point, if not daily, are tortured, cannot be said to be consenting of their prostitution.

We do not recognize consent to sexual activity when one participant is trafficked; one reason for this is that trafficked people are purchased and commodified as slaves. Note that trafficking and prostitution are essentially the same; prostitution is the forced and / or coerced selling of a person for the sexual exploitation of others, while trafficking is the forced and / or coerced trading, recruitment, transportation, or transferring of humans for the purpose of being sexually exploited.

We do not recognize consent to sexual activity when the situational hazard for the sexual activity is death. Note that women in prostitution are eighteen times more likely to die in their “profession” than other women.

Additionally, note that the Underpinnings in each of these sections occur in both legal and illegal paradigms of prostitution.

We do not recognize nonconsensual sex as consensual sex. We recognize nonconsensual sex as rape. Compounding all of the information provided, it is evident that engaging in sex with prostituted persons is engaging in rape.

cc Kian Lovett

10 Comments

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  1. Amy

    When the threat of physical violence is ever-present in the lives of women & even more so for prostituted women, it’s common understanding that resistance leads to more harm. For people with a history of sexual trauma (i.e. the majority of women, whether they are aware of it or not), there are psychological coping mechanisms in which the woman will not resist abuse because of what is known as “learned helplessness”. Why fight? They’re going to hurt you anyway. Is it consent when a trauma survivor surrenders control of her body to a john because she fears for her life? Perhaps the only consolation that a woman can get from the abuse that is inflicted on her body is to charge money & not to fight it. And that goes for “straight sex” as well. Other forms of bodily harm are not the only ways in which women are tortured. Penile penetration without a struggle is just as harmful & painful to a woman who does not feel safe and is not sexually aroused. Johns who believe that they have not harmed women because they have had protected “consensual” intercourse delude themselves into thinking that the sex they engage in is not an act of violence. And only other johns (not them) are the ones hurting these women. Perhaps it takes these examples of extreme acts of violence for people to realize the scope of harm done to prostitutes, but sex, molestation, fondling, ogling… ALL unwanted sexualization hurts.

    • michael

      Thank you Amy. Your voice is powerful and insightful.

      You bring up the matter of prostituted persons and their resistance to rape, which is something I didn’t directly address in this post though it clearly has a huge, horrid place within the scope of this conversation. Johns contend that because a woman doesn’t say “No,” she wants and / or deserves what he has done to her. As you brought up, this attitude isn’t exclusive to transactions of prostitution; when one in six women has been the victim of a complete or attempted rape in her lifetime, we clearly have a global epidemic that needs proactive and thoughtful attention. This “learned helplessness” is pervasive; it has moved beyond women entrenched in abusive, torturous dynamics and has stagnated momentum towards true gender-equality on a worldwide scale.

      I am only just beginning to recognize the horror story that is “sex work.” It is distressing – and I can not even imagine what it would be like as a woman, to see rape normalized, women oppressed and shamed for no good reason whatsoever.

      I don’t know if my listing the actual atrocities of prostitution will have any sway on anyone whatsoever, but in the interim, I want sex industry apologists to get a very clear, horrifying, realistic image of what it is they are defending. It’s inexcusable to defend prostitution when it is actually considered, thoughtfully, in its practice.

  2. Three Women You Truly Love

    […] on loop so that you can condition your limbic system to associate their pain with your orgasm. Coercion is never recognized as consent for sex. This applies to economic coercion, as well. Were the circumstances different for any of the three […]

  3. Savy

    Hi,
    I read your mega-piece (5800 words worth the reading)
    I like the way this piece is organized.
    Maybe a piece on poverty – poverty of the fear of starving does not make consensual sex.

  4. Lessons of a Year Lived Fully - i'm not a motivational speaker

    […] Support for any paradigm of prostitution often hinges on disproven prostitution myths, the narratives of a handful of self-proclaimed “empowered” individuals, and men’s right to access women’s bodies. What’s missing in nearly all discussions of prostitution (aside from the common sense that conflating bodily autonomy with transaction is inherently dehumanizing) is the fundamental reality that the vast, vast majority of these women and children are coerced into selling their bodies, be it through intoxication (can’t consent), physical force (can’t consent), emotional manipulation (can’t consent), torture (can’t consent), financial desperation (can’t consent), or that at least 20% of all prostituted persons were trafficked in as minors (obviously, minors can’t consent to that which they don’t know the ramifications of, and their subjugation doesn’t magically become empowerment the day they turn eighteen). Coercion is rape. Prostitution is rape. […]

  5. PhiPhi

    As a prossie & junkie, who works for Heroin, my partner & true love, who also happens to be a child prodigy, I can say that your argument on the basis of age is flawed; understanding is not intrinsically tied to arbitrary calander age, but to mental experience. I work as a minor, beginning well before legal age of consent, and yet I did so quite aware of what I was doing. My first sexual relationship began in late infancy, and lasted until I had but half a decade of years behind me. I would be raped again before beginning street work. I thus do fit part of your paradigm, but only part — I would say that my street work has been in turns empowering and violating, often both at once — & I do note that the same is true of my highly respected career work in science & art — and therefor agree in part with what you say about an an equivalence between rape and prostitution; yet the difference in my experience is that, though I have been raped (most terribly via the needle, which due to my orientation as a junkie was in fact the most horrid of all forms of it) & abused as a prossie, I do have, in most circumstances, more power as a prossie than I have had as a performing child — and less hypocrisy from my users while at it. Yes, there is great sorrow & tradgedie in this work — but so there is in every field of This Sadly Imperfect World. Legalizing prostitution would be the best thing to do for people like me short of fully legalizing all drugs — in which case most of us could & would avoid street work altogether, for we could so much more easily, affordably, and licitly, be with our lovers, respected instead of despised in our orientation as that sort of queer which is a junkie! But to say that all of we children on the street are but victims is to very unwittingly undermine our enterprise, wit, and strategic powers — there is with any line of work a game to play — & many of us play this game quite open-eyed, skillfully, and well. Not all of my clients have been cruel — many are very decent, upstanding men who sincerely care. Please to not paint either all of them or all of us with one fell stroke each. I do truly thank you for your passion and love on our behalf — I hope only to expand the dialog & aid you in your dedication to helping us by this note.
    With Love & Thanks,
    PhiPhi
    New York

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