18 Dec 2013
Prostitution in Society
Prostitution, a practice that has existed likely since the very dawn of relations between individuals, can be loosely defined as the transaction between two or more parties where one party trades sexual services for currency or other services. The debate about prostitution, whether it be about legalization or abolition, though political at its core, has seldom been limited in discussion to a strictly political dominion. The talk of the subject often time sparks conflicts over morality and other easily heated topics that, due to their obviously touchy nature, can quickly dissolve into less of a discussion and more of battle of equally rigid moral frameworks that refuse to hear any side than their own. The debate over morality brings up certain sociological issues pertaining to deviance, deviance as defined by Durkheim’s theory of deviance states that “There is nothing inherently deviant or criminal in any act; the key is how society responds to the act.”(Durkheim,142),Prostitution at its core is viewed as a lowly profession that people of status often scoff at for being morally and socially unacceptable therefore the profession is viewed as deviant behavior. Beyond the immediate blind controversy however, there do lie opposing sides of the story that concern themselves with realities more than some of the other more idealistic positions.
Among the many less conventional arguments, one that has been particularly important in the establishment of any kind of legislation is the position of feminist activists within their countries on both sides of the coin. Feminism, which refers to the social movement that demands equal and fair treatment of women in the political and societal arenas, has had a difficult time adopting a singular position on the subject. Two general positions have been taken up by these groups of so called feminists are those who classify prostitution as an act of sexual domination, and those who classify prostitution as an act of sex work. Those who define prostitution as the former often cite the subjugative, often oppressive qualities of prostitution and argue in favor of abolition. Those who adopt the latter view see prostitution as a way to make ends meet for a lot of struggling women who would otherwise starve or continue to be unemployed. These feminists also argue that government restriction on prostitution would only reinforce its subjugative or oppressive qualities by formally telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her body. Feminist sociologists tend to view prostitution as a complete negative; they see prostitution as objectification of women and nothing else. Feminist theory at its core states that women in all aspects of society whether it be social, economic, or political should be equal to that of their male counterparts but there is another realm of prostitution that not only gives women the upper hand but tends to go unnoticed by the greater agenda of society.
Male prostitution, which undeniably happens, seems to be ignored or viewed as somehow different in nature then its female counterpart, which conflicts with the feminist theory of equal treatment in all aspects of society and contradicts the very core of the feminist movement if they fail to recognize the hypocracy associated with male prostitution. This is a trend that is widespread across many countries that both have laws in favor of abolition and legalization. Exploration and explanation on the topic are not very easy to come by, which is likely because nobody seems to be talking about it whenever prostitution discussion actually happens.
One of the most famous cases of prostitution legislation, and the one most often referred to whenever the subject is brought up, is the case of The Netherlands, which is one of the first countries in the western world to formally adopt laws in favor of the legalization of prostitution. These laws...
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