What does sex have to do with… religion?

Many people argue that religion and sex do not intertwine. Sex is often portrayed as a ‘fragile’ or ‘sacred’ topic that is seldom talked about. Religions around the world all have different views on sexual intercourse.

The most popular religion worldwide, Roman Catholicism preaches that sex is a precious virtue that should happen only after marriage. Engaging in sexual activity before marriage in considered a mortal sin. In Catholicism, mortal sins are considered the most severe type of sin, and it is recommended to go to communion before you receive the Holy Communion after committing a sin of this kind. However, in most churches, it is advised that activities like cuddling, holding hands, and sometimes kissing are thought of as okay when dealing with intimacy before marriage. Sex within marriage for Catholics is completely normal. Couples are encouraged to have sex as it is said to unite them.

Some forms of birth control are also aloud, so that couple can engage in sex without the wife having to worry about constantly having children. However abortion is viewed as murder. To Catholics, the beginning of life starts at conception, making abortion a mortal sin.

Regarding sex in Buddhism, buddhism.about.com says sex is seen as an okay act, as long as it is not abusive, and if the couple loves one another. It is not okay if sex between a married couple is abusive. Desire to have sex is described as a type of suffering, and is called tanha, which is the second noble truth.

In Judaism, sex is considered to be virtually the same type of evil as hunger or thirst. However, sex does come from an evil impulse and is told to be controlled. The only permissible sex is between a husband and wife and is called a mitzvah. This is a significant combination of both love and desire. Sexual contact outside of marriage is not allowed, as Jews believe such acts will lead to sexual intercourse.

In India, there are a group of girls who dedicate their lives to a Hindu deity and they support their families through sex work. On independent.co.uk, Sarah Harris talks about her experience traveling to and talking to the girls. Otherwise known as Temple prostitutes, the Devadasi practice was made illegal in 1988. However, this practice still continues, and ceremonies are held underground. Girls who participate in the practice are usually ashamed of what they do, and typically very poor. Some girls join the practice as early as two or three years old, and are raised in Devadasi communities, where there are no men. This way, the girls grow up not expecting to marry and have a husband, because they have never had a father figure.




Here is a video link to a documentary about Hindu girls in the Indian city of Sangli that sell their bodies to Hindu Goddess Yellamma.


If you traveled to India, and saw this practice, would you try and talk to one of these girls?

How does this make you feel knowing that this happens, especially at such a young age?

Do you think this is considered okay because it is part of a religion?

Do you think that law enforcement should further push to make this illegal and not let it slide in some of the more poor, rural areas?

Do you think this should be legalized?

Global and Transnational Sexualities

In class on October 24, we watched the documentary Rape in the Fields. We watched this documentary because it connects with the article we read in the book Introducing the New Sexuality Studies. The article that could connect with this documentary would be “Mexican Immigrants, Heterosexual Sex and Loving Relationships in the United States” an Interview w/Gloria Gonzales-Lopez (NSS pages 538-546). Sexuality is not strictly an identity for these women, but the idea of it has become a means of capital gain for other individuals (there bosses) through the sex trade, prostitution, and undocumented work. For those of you who haven’t watched the video there is a shorter clip right below.

Continue reading

Spotlight on…Magdalene House and Thistle Farms

In 1997, the Magdalene House was founded by Becca Stevens, a priest from Vanderbilt’s campus.  Magdalene House and Thistle Farms both work hand in hand to provide a safe and helpful community to women who have survived sex trafficking, prostitution, an abusive relationship, and/or addiction.  Magdalene House and Thistle Farms work together to help the lives of these women, but specifically Magdalene House is the residential community and Thistle Farms is their “social enterprise” (www.thistlefarms.org).


Continue reading

Buying Sex

In the film, Buying Sex addresses many women identifying themselves with the role of prostitution. As the video begins, a woman simply states that prostitution is about sex and money, so unless we stop money and stop sex it will never end. Women choose this lifestyle for many different reasons. Maybe because they enjoy it, or they are in need of financial support and that is the only option they have. It is proven that young and poor women are the main women who choose these actions for themselves.

Trisha Baptile, a former prostitute, speaks out saying that many hookers make prostitution their identity; others lead a double life keeping it hidden from those that they love. She chose to hide it from her children, telling them that she worked at a bar. Eventually her daughter figured it out when she was constantly coming home at two o’clock in the morning  In addition, she had not received child support while she was involved in prostitution. A very powerful point made by Trisha was that there is no talk of what forces women into prostitution.

Trisha’s argument was that the men are the reason these women are at harm. There should be criminalization of demand for paid sex, pimping, and trafficking and decriminalization of the women to stand up for the violence resulting in so many of these cases.

Angel is a daughter of one of the victims taken to a farm and murdered by Robert Pickton. She admits that she was not proud to be her mother’s daughter and that she had hatred for her mother for choosing “that life over us” Evidently, Angel’s mother was leading two identies involving prostitution which resulted in losing her life. Angel says, “I have to forgive her now because that was not who she was.” At the time, Angel could not understand why her mother would choose prostitution, but after meeting up with Trisha she took a stand to try to help regulate the laws.

Sex workers can work for themselves, in brothels, or on the streets. The business that the woman owned containing sex workers was a major standout for me. Whether people view prostitution as moral or immoral is their decision, but to teach these young women certain acts is astonishing to me. She states that she is like their mother, but would a mother actually want their daughter to be a prostitute? If a client attends the business eleven times, they receive a free session. At one point the boss compared these sessions to receiving a free coffee after purchasing a certain amount of cups. She views her job as a sort of recruitment during the time period in which she is in search for another worker. She generally looks for girls under 20, blonde or brunette, with a body type of a six to an eight.

When the clients called, they mainly had a preference of young women (as young as they can get them) and they want the new worker because they aren’t as familiar with the rules. The session is very expensive, 160 dollars for a half an hour or 180 for an hour, which was a Christmas special at the time of this video. They have different types of rooms for the client to choose from including: an erotic room, or a room providing a girlfriend experience.

We are searching for a brunette near the age of twenty:

Riley Parks

Buying Sex correlates with a Lifetime drama, The Client List. Riley’s husband walked away from her and their two children leaving her with many financial issues. She applied for a job at a day spa to find out that there were sexual favors on the side. Riley had to accept the offer because she had no other way of producing the money she needed to be able to afford her two children. Riley knew that her family would be disappointed so she keeps the sexual aspect of the job away from them. However, that is not the only reason she is leading a double life. The spa she works for is not known for giving sexual pleasure to men and if police find out then the spa will be shut down and the owner will face extreme repercussions. It’s interesting that in the film the men described that attend the business are often corporate and-clean cut. Riley is also a pretty, young brunette whose body is within the size of the expectations by many. She also plays many different roles and incorporates S&M in order to satisfy the man who is generally a business man or in this case, a professional football player.


Should business owners be teaching and encouraging young girls to be prositutes? Do you think it is challenging for these sex workers to lead a double life? Do you think it is common for them to make prostitution their identity? Is it discriminative to expect certain sizes or looks from women who work in these businesses? Should media be an influence on the issue of leading a double life? Will girls who watched this show will be influenced by these sex workers?