Prostitution has long been thought of as a way for men to degrade women by making them available for their sexual pleasures. The generally held belief that women should be eligible for men’s sexual access violates human rights and international law. The prevalence of prostitution and commercial sex has increased due to systemic discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, and class. While politicians, advocates, and government agencies have differing views on whether prostitution or commercial sex should be legalized, such differences endanger all citizens’ human dignity and equality.
Race, Class, Gender, and Prostitution Laws
It is a widely held misconception that prostitution is practiced by women of low economic and social class who go to the streets to exchange sexual favors for money to earn a living. However, Johnston, Friedman and Sobel (250), argue that prostitution cuts across all the social and economic class only that not all prostitutes go the streets. Approximately 20% of commercial sex workers go to the streets while others carry out their activities in massage parlors, brothels, and other escort services.
According to Whittier (179), prostitutes are stereotyped based on the characteristics of a small minority of their members. Moreover, such stereotypical views are more advanced on Black Women and Immigrants compared to the Native Americans. Policymakers formulate and implement a policy that targets women from low socio-economic class particularly Black Americans (Anthias 168). Black women tend to suffer more arrests and police harassments compared their counterparts from the Native American population. Despite the fact that women from African American population only amount to 40% of the prostitutes, they, however, represent 85% of those arrested and sentenced to a jail sentence (Johnston, Friedman and Sobel 246).
Activists have raised concerns about the way policies to target women but ignore men who are the primary customers served by these commercial sex workers. Unlike men who are protected by such laws, women are stigmatized and denied essential social services. Anti-prostitution policies are gender biased since they only focus on sex workers who are women but ignore the men who act as the market served by such services.
How Media Depict Prostitution
The media depicts prostitutes as people who strive to live a luxurious life through all means. Such portrayal reveals the vulnerability of commercial sex workers as they satisfy their demands of living such life against the legal requirements. Moreover, the recent move to legalize prostitution have been reported as a means of maintaining inequality by viewing women as sex commodities. On the other hand, the media is playing a role in advocating for the legal protection, provision of sexual health services, and recognition.
Anthias (166) points out that media have failed to reveal the real issues that need to be addressed like child abuse, trafficking, low wages, and lack of personal choices in choosing partners. While the media are quick on passing moral judgment on the commercial sex workers, it’s clear that majority of this population resorted for this activity because they had no other options (Whittier 181). Like the police and policymakers, media have ignored the role that men play in prostitution. In fact, they always view women as sex commodities but have failed to report the fact that women meet the sexual desires of men.
Consequences of Eliminating Pornography
Although the question of banning pornographic movies have met divergent opinions from lawmakers and individuals, it is clear that such move will have both negative and positive consequences to individuals and society as a whole. Currently, the majority of the population believe that pornography and hardcore films negatively influence the society by promoting violence, prostitution, and crime (Anthias 173). Johnston, Friedman and Sobel (248), however, argue that eliminating pornography from televisions and the internet not only limits individuals freedom of speech but also the rational choices they make to meet their demands.
Attempts to protect women, children, and civil rights of the minority groups can achieve by eliminating materials like pornographic films that tend to demean their rights. Moreover, laws drafted to curb access to such materials will be instrumental in the realization of gender equality and morality in the society. Every U.S citizen desire to live in a society where there are no crime, prostitution, or any other form of immorality. Having such a wholesome society would require limitation of individual freedom and exercising some powers to ensure community security. Eliminating pornography will be the first step to curbing crime since it will make it possible to promote moral values to young generation (Whittier 181).
The society views commercial sex workers as individuals who satisfy men’s sexual pleasures to maintain luxurious life. However, the demographics of sex workers indicate the presence of women from diverse race, social, and economic class. The media, on the other hand, portray prostitutes as sex commodities. Banning all forms of pornography across the U.S is the first step to solving the social problems like prostitution, violence, and other crimes. Young generation could be more responsible if parents and the government were able to control the kind of materials they access on the internet. Curbing pornographic films will help in restoring gender equality and eradicating all social evils.
Anthias, Floya. “The intersections of class, gender, sexuality and ‘race’: the political economy of gendered violence.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 27.2 (2014): 153-171.
Johnston, Anne, Barbara Friedman, and Meghan Sobel. “Framing an emerging issue: how US print and broadcast news media covered sex trafficking, 2008–2012.” Journal of Human Trafficking1.3 (2015): 235-254.
Whittier, Nancy. “Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements.” Social Problems 61.2 (2014): 175-193.