Should Prostitution Become Legal?

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When anyone hears the word prostitute, it is immediately thought of in a negative connotation. The term carries with it; health issues, an “unclean” image, stereotypes, and ideas of human rights. In the United States, prostitution is obviously, currently, illegal. But what if it wasn’t? In other countries, there are different laws surrounding prostitution. Some countries, such as North Korea and Sudan, consider prostitution to be punishable by the death penalty. In a few European countries, Germany and Belgium (for example), prostitution is legal, but brothels are not. In most parts of Africa, prostitution is illegal, yet widely practiced—just like in the United States. This common practice of an illegal work is due to the large percentage of poverty in Africa (so many women turn to sex work). This is one of the most common motivations for women to turn to prostitution—but why not for men? There is something about current day society that objectifies women—constantly tuning them into sexual objects. Clearly the global view on prostitution is very divided, different, and conflicted. There seem to be many different opinions and feelings towards sex work and why (or where) it is originating from and if it should be practiced or not.

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In the documentary film, Buying Sex, by Director Teresa McInnes (2003) the idea of legalizing sex in Canada is discussed. It is an interesting topic I had never really thought about before. Prostitution has always been illegal (in the United States) as long as I have been alive, and I have never even considered the idea of it becoming legal. When I actually think about what prostitution and sex work is it makes me mad. Men are buying women and almost, in a way, owning them. They are basically dehumanizing the woman body and paying women for sex. The male population already significantly sexualizes women’s bodies and prostitution continues to encourage it and makes objectifying women the norm. However, if Canada were to legalize prostitution, sex workers could potentially hire body guards, drivers, and (obviously) perform their work without restraint. So while the country is encouraging prostitution, the sexualization of women, and it’s legalization, sex workers may become more protected and safer from the violent and dangerous nature of their job. But are both sides of the spectrum equal?

If prostitution is to be legalized everywhere what would happen? It is hard for me to even pick a stance on this because the concept makes it somewhat confusing to pick a side. There are a lot of serious aspects to take into consideration. If sex work is legal I think it would subject women to much more sexualization from men than there already is. Also, women would perhaps experience even more abusive and violent relationships or behavior from males. If it becomes the “norm” for women to sell their bodies for sex and become even more of a sexual object and piece of property, I think that men would take advantage of that… in a bad way. Alongside these negative sides to legalizing prostitution, I think the legalization could also make prostitution a seemingly much more normal job and lifestyle. Although this would mean the term would become decriminalized, young women all over the world may begin to see prostitution as more acceptable and a normal life to live out. While it would be good that prostitutes would (maybe) not be discriminated against, I don’t know if society would want the sex work force to grow larger and larger due to it becoming more widely acceptable. Do we really want the younger generation of women to grow up thinking that all they are capable of becoming is a sexual object?

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If prostitution is illegal everywhere what would happen? Sex work already embodies a bad image. Society typically thinks of prostitution as dirty, grimy, and impure. If it is to stay illegal and become illegal everywhere, this negative association will become even more prevalent. There is a mass amount of discrimination within the image of prostitution—mainly because it’s illegal, and therefore bad and wrong. But on the other hand, women should be able to do what they want with their own body. Many women turn to prostitution for various different reasons. For some it is money struggles, family issues, sexual curiosity, and others it’s because they want to. Despite which reason motivates a woman to become involved in sex work, it should be up to her to make her own decisions. Prostitution provides women with a stronger sense of agency and more power, although it can also bring about large amounts of danger as well. If prostitution is illegal in all parts of the world, young girls may potentially stay away from that type of sex work. Instead of turning themselves into a sexual object for men, women will find work somewhere else that is more empowering and less demeaning. Although it takes away a woman’s right to choose how she wants to use her body, it would affect women in positive ways and encourage a healthier lifestyle not dominated by a male presence. Along with all this, prostitution is already illegal in the United States, but that obviously has not stopped women from practicing. Sex work is extremely common all over the U.S. and the fact that it is illegal has not stopped anybody so far. Therefore, if it continues to stay illegal, I don’t think much will change. I feel like men will continue to treat women the same exact way and prostitution/sex work will maintain it’s disapproving image.

Works Cited

“World News: Canada Making Prostitution Completely Legal.” Rant Lifestyle. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.rantlifestyle.com/2013/12/20/world-news-canada-making-prostitution-completely-legal/&gt;.

“Legalize Prostitution to Fight Sex Trafficking? Sex Workers Say “Yes””YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oLC2mA1i30&gt;.

“DVD Review: Buying Sex.” Wellington Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.wellingtondailynews.com/article/20131211/BLOGS/312119953&gt;.

“DVD Review: Buying Sex.” Wellington Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <http://www.wellingtondailynews.com/article/20131211/BLOGS/312119953&gt;.

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