Essay Example on Sex Workers and Prostitution

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Prostitution can be defined as the buying of sexual services, which is a questionable sexual behavior. The importance of this study is to analyses the experience that prostitutes face in their occupation and ways that can be implemented in order to curb this immoral activity (Lombardi & Fonio n.d.). Many folks, especially those with religious, conservative views, believe it is immoral since it involves offering sex get money rewards hence it is a sign of moral decay in society. According to many feminists, prostitution is degrading women as it provides a platform where prostitutes are beaten, robbed, and raped. Conservative and religious believers have strong negative views about this sexual activity (Ditum, 2017). They also believe that prostitution is one of the sexual activities that contribute largely to the spread of HIV/AIDs and others STDs. These groups of people believe that prostitution should be illegal and stricter laws to be enforced curb emergence of prostitution. Also, many other people in the society dislike prostitution. However, they believe that the laws against sex workers are harmful and have less benefit to the prostitutes or the society in general. They believe that if prostitution is legalized, various harms brought by prostitution will reduce by a large margin. They view that, the fact that the society believes that prostitution is immoral; it should not avert the society from dealing with prostitution in a more wise way than what it does now. This paper will mainly focus on how prostitution has evolved over the years and the perspective of Marx criminology in relation to commercial sex workers.

History of Prostitution

Prostitution is known as the oldest profession in the world because it is believed that it has been taking place since ancient times. Ancient Greece had legal brothels that most rendered sexual services to the political leaders and other top class citizens (Laite n.d.). In ancient Mesopotamia, priests used to have sex with prostitutes. During the middle ages up to 19th century, prostitution was acceptable although as a necessary evil. This is because legal brothels were operated in Europe and they used to be a vital source of tax. After the dangers of venereal ailments became evident, most of the cities started to shut down their brothels. Other cities, started to demand regular medical examination for prostitutes who operated in brothels.

In the United States, prostitution was common throughout the 19th century as it offered a source of income to poor women when it was hard to get any other type of jobs. Some prostitutes used to work in the streets independently and others worked in permitted brothels across various cities in the U.S. During the Civil War, a significant number of soldiers were customers for the prostitutes. During the construction of railroads, many prostitute camps were built along the railroad as the workers used to be the primary customers. At around 1910s, many groups especially the religious groups started to talk more about the immorality brought about by prostitution claiming that most of the poor girls were joining prostitution industry. Their relentless efforts enabled them to succeed in closing down most of the legal brothels nationwide. Most of the brothels thrived in San Francisco, but by 1940s, they did not exist legally (Laite n.d). Most of the clients were politicians and leading businessmen. Those who worked in these brothels were required to have a regular medical check-up in order to prevent the transmission of venereal diseases.

Todays Prostitution

Prostitution is illegal in most countries across the world, and nobody knows their number currently. This is because no government that allocates resources to compile their statistics as it does in other professionals such as plumbers, physicians, teachers, and other legal occupations (Laite, n.d.). However, in the U.S, one analyzed research found that there are about 70,000 women who are prostitutes who engage in about 700 prostitution acts annually (Weitzer, 2011). However, other studies that have been conducted in estimates that in U.S only; about 500,000 prostitutes are working part-time because most of them work in other legal occupations. This estimate included all those individuals who said that since their 18th birthday, they had engaged in sexual activity with someone who paid them. According to Weitzer (2011), 11.9 % of men and 1.8% women confessed that they had engaged in sexual activity for money. This translates to 13.5 million male who have involved themselves in prostitution activities mostly as clients and 2.1 million women. The number of prostitutes is still high even though it is illegal. In 2010, police officers and other agents who deal with law enforcement made about 63,000 arrests for prostitution and other commercialized activity (Weitzer, 2012). Most of these people who were arrested were engaging in prostitution although some were male customers. 69% of these individuals who were arrested were women.

Types of Prostitutes

There are many types of prostitution that are practiced in the world today. Streetwalkers are at the bottom of prostitution, and they get their clients from somewhere in the street and engage in a quick sex act in a cheap room, in the vehicle of a customer, or other secluded areas. They account for 20% of all prostitutes (Witzer, 2011). The other 80% of prostitutes work indoors, and it is mostly composed of escorts and call girls. Call girls normally work independently and operate in their homes or fancy hotels and their services is highly charged. The escorts work for agencies who advertise heavily on various media such internet or by use of phone books. Other types of a prostitute are brothel workers who operate in brothels. In the U.S, legal brothels are found in rural states such as Nevada, which made prostitution legal in 1971 (Lombardi & Fonio n.d.). Workers in these brothels have to pay income tax since their employers require them to have regular health exams and use a condom whenever they are engaging in sexual activity. This means that the risk of getting STDs in these brothels is low. Lastly, massage parlor workers are individuals who work in massage parlors most of them do not engage in prostitution activities at all. However, some masturbate their client and bring him to a happy ending. Massage parlors are completely legal as they do not report any prostitution.

Prostitution is an act that involves selling sex meaning money mainly motivates workers. Most of the prostitutes are from low-income backgrounds, and they enter into this profession with the hope of empowering themselves economically. Most of the prostitutes from streetwalkers to call girls assert that all forms of prostitutions are a well-paying occupation. The fact is that streetwalkers hardly becomes wealthy, but they get substantial income that enables them to pay their bills that they could not afford in other legal occupations since they have few skills required in these well-paying jobs. Although, the income can be termed as enticing to most women a large number chooses not to engage in this occupation. The study why some women chose to engage in prostitution while others do not is unethical and that is why it has not been conducted. Prostitution mostly thrives due to the availability of clients who are willing to pay for the services rendered by these women (Clinard & Meier, 2011). However, there are no studies that support why some men choose to engage in prostitution.

Most of these men come from different social class as both upper and lower class men engage in commercial sex activities. Clients have some particular motivations that make them choose to engage in prostitution. Some of the motivations include; the desire to engage in sex without a need of making an emotional commitment, the urge to make love with an individual with specific physical appearances such as age or race and lack of a sexual partner or satisfying partner, and the thrill of engaging in sexual deeds with a prostitute. One or more of these reasons may make a man engage commercial sexual activities, but some men may be dissatisfied with their partner or have no sexual partner, but they still do not engage in prostitution.

Marxist Criminology

Prostitution can be understood well by critically analyzing Marxism criminology perspectives. According to the Marxist position, prostitution is the act of engaging in sexual deeds with a person other than a friend or spouse, in an exchange of payment either in money form or other sexual activity. Sex with spouse is permitted and engaging in sex outside this relationship for the exchange of value can be termed as prostitution. The most famous quote about prostitution by Marx is that Prostitution is only a specific expression of the universal prostitution of the worker (Wickman, 2017). This quote suggests that prostitution is an issue of socialists although it has proved to be a real challenge to many people some advocating for its abolition and repression while others advocate for decriminalization and formation of union organization. Most of the debate in Marxist school of thought focuses on whether commercial sex work should be considered as an occupation or it should be dealt with it as a kind of violence against women. This has led to the proposition of two opposing strategies.

Some individuals believe that if prostitution is an occupation, then these people should start fighting for their rights and self-organization as a significant part of the socialist response. On the other hand, if prostitution is slavery, people who engage in it are victims who need to be rescued. These people argue that even if the union is formed it cannot be able to protect women in such as a vile industry. Women who engage in prostitution share a common label that they perform sex activities outside out of their wedlock where sex is permitted to help in reproduction and maintenance of a household. Prostitution is a necessary social institution for bourgeois just as the standing army, just as the police, and the church. Prostitution in capitalism varies depending on the mode of production and it a plays a major role in capitalistic society. Additionally, there is a close relationship between public and private sex and womens oppression as explained by Marxist.

Prostitution: the commodity

Prostitution is an activity that involves selling and purchasing of commodities just like any other commercial activity in a capitalistic society. A prostitute sells her body although the client does not own the body at the end of the transaction. The customer buys only the sexual pleasure or service. Most of socialist and feminist are against the idea that prostitute sells a service and not her body as they claim that this is a temporary sale or use of her body for other peoples sexual pleasure. But this is not always the case because, in places where prostitution takes place either in the streets, brothels or even through an agency, these workers have to pay a tariff. It not written down due to some legal restrictions but the fact is there is a price for sex, masturbation, and normally prices are higher for anal or oral sex. Some escort normally charges per hour, but they must agree with their client the kind of sexual services that will be rendered as fee differs depending on the kind of sexual activity involved.

Many people believe that turning sex into a good is a primary sin of prostitution. This is because prostitution can be termed as the commodification of sexual relations, taking it out of the arena of mutual pleasure and taking into the domain of the market. In the 21st century, there has been a significant sexual liberalization due to changes due to the social position of women as well as the...

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