This month we want to tackle some of the most prevalent myths surrounding prostitution. Misinformation and misunderstanding circling around prostitution, and arguments for legalization, undermine efforts to end trafficking and sexual exploitation. In the first of our two-part series we will examine the first 5 myths about prostitution.
1.Prostitution is a choice: No, it’s not. Most women in prostitution are suffering from poverty and are pulled into the industry by their desperate need for money just to survive. But the sad fact is that almost no one gets out of poverty through prostitution. In fact, as legal scholar Catherine Mackinnon put it, “they are lucky to get out with their lives given the mortality figures.” No one chooses to be poor when given other options, [a ploy often used to lure women in]. In addition to poverty, a prior history of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse is commonplace amongst prostituted women. No one chooses to be abused.
2. Prostitution is the oldest profession: Prostitution is the oldest form of female oppression. Saying it is the oldest profession implies humanity hasn’t progressed. There was a time when traditional slavery had always existed, yet we literally fought a war to end it in our country; but we’re ok with women being subjugated, bought, and used? Existence does not excuse continuation.
3. Prostitution is a legitimate job choice: There has been a push in recent years to consider prostitution as a legitimate job choice. But if you had a daughter, would you consider prostitution a legitimate career choice? Encourage her to explore prostitution as a serious option? Would you be comfortable with a prostitution table at a job fair? Over 30 years of data collected on prostitution found that 75% of women were raped, 95% were physically assaulted, 68% have PTSD at levels of combat vets and state organized torture, and 89% said they urgently wanted to escape. Over half of murdered prostitutes die from traumatic brain injury. Prostitution is an institutionalized form of violence against women, not a job choice.
4. Prostitution is a victimless crime: This myth ignores the horror of prostitution, based upon the idea of it being between 2 consenting adults. “Consent” makes it tolerable, we can ignore the violence and exploitation. It would be extremely hard to find someone who has participated in prostitution who hasn’t been affected, whether that is the buyer or person being bought. Not to mention spouses, friends, or family, who may additionally be hurt.
5. Prostitution is a form of women’s empowerment: There is a massive feminist movement pushing prostitution and sex work as an empowerment of women owning their sexuality. But they ignore facts like those listed in Myth #1 and Myth #3. The reality is that “Prostitution is a system of gender inequality in which women are being bought [as a commodity and service], and men are the buyer; perpetuating a system of male domination and female subordination.”- Laila, Exodus Cry “Prostitution is one of the most overt expressions of gender inequality that exists in our world today”
To hear more commentary and further discussion of the Myths of Prostitution, we encourage you to listen to the Exodus Cry Podcast, Episode 25.
The first step to prevention is education, awareness, and understanding. Greenlight Operation offers age appropriate education and trainings at schools, churches, clubs, events, or other community gatherings. If you would like to schedule a speaking engagement or training event please go to https://www.greenlightoperation.org/schedule-a-training/.
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