on responding to prostituted women and girls

Now.  You can accept or not accept the last post.  No matter. 

And you can be pro- or anti- prostitution.  No matter.

I don’t think anyone would disagree however that women who are prostituted, and who do not wish to be prostituted, should have to be so.   I cannot think of a reasonable person who could accept forced prostitution.  Indeed, it’s a tenant of sexpositive writing that anyone selling sex must desire to do so – otherwise this is not a Good Thing.

 Much of the dialouge/advocacy in feminist circles about prostitution (as far as I am aware, and I might not be very aware) tends to be about the pro or anti positions.  Which is fine, I think it’s an important debate to have.  None the less, the reality is some people selling sexual services wish to do so, some people whose sexual comodification is paid for do not wish to be in this position. 

So – what can we do to assist women who do not wish to be prostituted/who are engaged in the selling of sexual services?

In so far as I understand it from where I am, there are several vantage points for action.

  • Before an individual moves into prostituion/being prostituted/sex work.
  • While an individual is prostituted/sells sex.
  • When an individual wishes to stop being prostituted/selling sex.
  • After an individual is no longer prostitued/selling sex.

I break these up, because I think it raises various questions.  Every issue, and thus, response is dependent primarily on the women involved.  But they include:

  • What are the factors that might increase the chances of a woman/girl being trafficked/engaging in the sale of sex?  Economic factors.  Drug use.  Previous sexual exploitation.  Geographical location.  Familial history etc.
  • Why/how a woman came to be prostituted/selling sex?.  Tricked?  Economic reasons? Family reasons etc..
  • What her present motivations are.  Supporting a family?  Supporting herself?  She simply wished to?  etc.
  • What her long term motivations are.  Retuning to her familial home?  Living somewhere else?  Employment? Of what nature? etc.
  • The nature of the situation.  Closed or open brothel?  Street or brothel work?  Forced or voluntary? etc.
  • Existing skill sets and values.  What alternate employment options does she have?  Is she litterate?  If yes, is it a functional litteracy?   What “hidden” skills are there?  What does she enjoy doing?  What does she value?  etc.
  • Available support services.  North or south.  Can she get counselling if she wants it?  What about vocational training?  Is it in a field she’s interested in?  What about seed funding for a business idea? etc.

None of these questions really touch on whether or no prostitution should exist or not.  Answers need to be spoken to by the individuals or the circumstances in question, and the permiations are infinate.  Nor does it engage with the question of pro- or anti- prostitution positions.  I wished to post this though, as it speaks to the last post about choice. 

Where we provide women with choice, we allow them a degree of control over their lives.  In this place of choice, we plant the seeds of power, of opportunity – but most importantly, of dignity.  The dignity to decide for ones self.  

Personally, I think as long as men wish to commodify ‘fucking’, they will.  Such is the core issue.  If no one wished to buy sex, women would not be coerced into providing the object to be fucked.   Men, indeed, are the problem. 

Which leads to a post for another time – what constitutes prostitution?  And, forgive some freeforming here, i’ll not remember otherwise – the commodification of intimacy/the implications of loneliness and social ostracisation.


~ by Jael on September 23, 2008.

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