Last updated on: 5/12/2008 | Author:

Is Legal Prostitution an Aspect of Sexual Liberation?

PRO (yes)


Kimberly Klinger, writer, in the Jan.-Feb. 2003 The Humanist article “Prostitution, Humanism, and a Woman’s Choice,” explained:

“Feminism has always advocated for women to enjoy freedom of choice. Women have made great strides in the courtrooms, the boardrooms, and the bedrooms. But there remains a long way to go. Negative attitudes toward sexuality, in particular, have made it hard for women to be fully liberated. But thanks to feminists, prostitute activists, and their supporters, things are slowly changing. Only when women have their sexual and personal choices protected and respected can they truly be free.”

Jan.-Feb. 2003


Annie Sprinkle, PhD, sexologist and former prostitute, wrote in “40 Reasons Why Whores Are My Heroes” on her website (accessed Jan. 24, 2007):

“Whores endure in the face of fierce prejudice… Whores help people explore their sexual desires… Whores explore their own sexual desires… Whores are not afraid of sex… Whores are rebelling against the absurd, patriarchal, sex-negative laws against their profession and are fighting for the legal right to receive financial compensation for their valuable work.”

Jan. 24, 2007


Emi Koyama, sex worker activist, wrote in her Apr. 2001 essay “Instigations from the Whore Revolution: A Third Wave Feminist Response to the Sex Work ‘Controversy'” posted on

“Everybody is entitled to her or his definition of sexuality, and there is nothing wrong with holding the view that sexuality and romance should go hand in hand. However, when a dominant group forces its version of sexual ideology on the marginalized group, it becomes a sexual oppression. A common example of this is homophobia. It is no wonder that gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people have historically been persecuted in so-called ‘vice sweeps’ along with prostitutes, or that lesbians and female sex workers were lumped together as ‘sinful women’ and put in concentration camps during the Nazi era, once we realize that the oppression against sex workers is tightly linked to the oppression against other sexual minorities. It should be self evident which side progressive activists should stand on.”

Apr. 2001


Camille Paglia, PhD, Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts, said in an interview in the Winter 1993 Puritan that:

“I’ve always felt that prostitutes are in control of the streets, not victims. I admire that — zooming here and there, escaping the police, being shrewd, living by your wits, being street smart. I think that with prostitution, getting the money is control. I identify with that. In college and even in high school, I did not as a woman like the situation of giving it away for free.

I view the prostitute as one of the few women who is totally in control of her fate, totally in control of the realm of sex.”

Winter 1993

CON (no)


Gunilla S. Ekberg, Special Advisor on issues of prostitution and trafficking in women at the Swedish Division for Gender Equality, at the Nov. 2002 Seminar on the Effects of Legalisation of Prostitution Activities in Stockholm, said:

“In prostitution, men use women’s and girls’ bodies, vaginas, anuses, mouths for their sexual pleasures and as vessels of ejaculation, over and over and over again. Prostitution is not sexual liberation; it is humiliation, it is torture, it is rape, it is sexual exploitation and should be named as such. Consequently, males who use women and girls in prostitution are sexual predators and rapists.”

Nov. 2002


Diane Post, JD, in the July 1999 off our backs article “Legalizing Prostitution: A Systematic Rebuttal,” wrote:

“If women enter prostitution for ‘sexual liberation,’ what is it they need to be liberated from? Are they seeking liberation from a male-imposed double standard of sexuality? Are they seeking liberation from their own moral or religious qualms – preached by mail priests and ministers? What are they seeking liberation to? To do what they want when they want it – or when someone else does? If women were truly free, we would not need to be liberated from anything. The reason women need liberation at all is because males imprison us. To seek escape from a prison cell is liberation, but when women are living in a global patriarchy, we can never escape the cell.”

July 1999


The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) in the “About Us” section of its website (accessed Jan. 25, 2007) stated:

“All prostitution exploits women, regardless of women’s consent.

Prostitution affects all women, justifies the sale of any woman, and reduces all women to sex.

Our challenge, in opposition to the enormous power and resources of the sex industry that portrays prostitution as sexual liberation, work or even glamorous, has been to make the harm of prostitution visible.”

Jan. 25, 2007


J. Robert Flores, JD, Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote in July 17, 2000 Insight on the News that:

“The sad fact is prostitution has not received significant attention from law enforcement in this country or in the rest of the world for 50 years. Prostitution has been variously portrayed as a ‘victimless’ crime, a private matter and even evidence of female sexual empowerment.

While there certainly may be those who work as prostitutes by what they define as their own choice and who claim to find fulfillment, these statistically insignificant cases should not be the basis for international or domestic law or policy.”

July 17, 2000