Friday, October 2, 2009

Feminist Discussion Question #1

Welcome to our first feminist discussion forum post! Please leave a comment to respond, feel free to respond anonymously, and engage with each other on the following challenge using your thoughts, experiences and knowledge:

Should women engaged in forced sex work be legally or morally penalized? Should they be treated differently from women who enage in voluntary sex work?


Shahida Arabi said...

I'll start the discussion.

Women who engage in forced sex work should not be legally or morally penalized because they were not doing it out of their own voilition. The legal system should shift the focus to persecuting the men who take away a woman's choice; however, as we saw in the documentary "Very Young Girls," what should happen is not what always happens. Though I believe that women who engage in voluntary sex work should not be morally penalized or judged because these women can come from circumstances that limit their choices, legal persecution is still the norm for prostitution. Whether it should remain the norm is another question that raises controversy: is prostitution a means of female empowerment, a utilization of sexuality to gain economic status, or is it a devaluation of a woman's character and integrity?

annushka said...

I completely agree that women that engaged in forced sex work should not be morally penalized. Unfortunately, this is not the case in real life. Lots of women and girls that have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation face moral humiliation in their own societies. They often can't fit at home anymore, and become moral outcasts, who are not able to have friends, or create a family.

I personally think that even women who willingly engage in sex work should not be judged. It is not our right to judge them. What if an extremely poor single mother can't find another way of providing for her child except selling her own body? This is true for many poor countries in the world.

We should judge ourselves when we buy expensive clothes or spend money on drinks at a bar, instead of helping other people who are struggling to put food on their tables in many parts of the world.

Kathryn said...

Prostitution is a career field like any other. It's the law that makes it something else. If it were legal, it would be safer, it would not be hidden underground, and much (though certainly not all, at least for several generations) of the social stigma would dissipate. Is it, in its current, illegal form, a means of female empowerment? Probably, usually not. But we, as a society, can't tell a prostitute whether or not she feels or should feel empowered.

Shahida Arabi said...

If prostitution becomes legalized, what sort of limits, if any, should we impose upon this legalization? Can all women, of all ages become prostitutes, or is there an age of consent? To what extent will legalization promote safe sex and give sex workers, both voluntary and forced, rights? To what extent will it limit their rights in terms of violent or abusive reactions from society? Although legalization of prostitution appears to be an ideal state, it will still take a while before the stigma disappears, if at all. Legalization may provide more incentive for conservative groups like the religious right to protest and demean these women. Though working underground is very unsafe for sex workers, legalization would still provoke some issues with safety.