Last updated on: 2/15/2008 8:29:00 AM PST
Does Prostitution Demean Women?

PRO (yes)

Bill O'Donnell, former Nevada state senator (R-Las Vegas), was quoted by Alexa Albert in Brothel (2001) as having said:

"It bothers me that we're [Nevada] making money off the backs of women. Condoning prostitution is the most demeaning and degrading thing that the state can do to women. What we do as a state is essentially put a U.S.-grade stamp on the butt of every prostitute. Instead, we should be turning them around by helping them get back into society."

2001 - Bill O'Donnell, MBA 

Genevieve Wood, Director of Strategic Operations at The Heritage Foundation, said June 27, 2003 on Cable News Network (CNN) that:

"The fact is why would any government, and certainly why would the government of the United States, legalize something [prostitution] that is demeaning to women, that hurts women? I mean that is appalling. The fact that we would do something that would actually maybe encourage more women to enter into this type of so-called business. I think it's terrible for the people of New Zealand and I certainly hope it stays there and that movement doesn't come here."

June 27, 2003 - Genevieve Wood 

Bonnie Erbe, JD, journalist, wrote in her June 15, 2006 column "Cry Foul on World Cup Prostitution" for Scripps Howard News Service that:

"Whether women enter the sex trade willingly or not, no government should sanction prostitution. By its very nature, prostitution is demeaning to women and encourages anti-social, some would say depraved, behavior by men."

June 15, 2006 - Bonnie Erbe, JD 

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board wrote "A Foolish Proposal To Legalize Hookers" on Aug. 2, 1996 stating that:

"Legalize prostitution and roll out a red carpet for any footloose hustler or pimp who would like to move to San Francisco, bringing with them all the attendant drugs, disease, crimes and perversions that accompany their demeaning and violent occupation."

Aug. 2, 1996 - San Francisco Chronicle 

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) President Dr. Janice Raymond said in the May 28, 2004 speech "The Consequences of Legal Policy on Prostitution and Trafficking in Women" in Budapest, Hungary that:

"My organization, the international Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), advocates against state-tolerated prostitution in many parts of the globe. We work with legislators to devise legal and program remedies that do not involve decriminalizing the sex industry and abandoning women in prostitution to what has to be 'the most demeaning job in the world.'"

May 28, 2004 - Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) 

CON (no)

Veronica Monet, prostitute and author, in the 1994 Gauntlet article "Sex Worker and Incest Survivor: A Healthy Choice?" wrote:

"The truth for me and many sex workers I know is that we chose sex work for money, independence, freedom and dignity. If you can't understand the last word, dignity, then you are mired in a viewpoint about sex in general, and sex and women in particular, that this patriarchal society wants you to buy.

There is another truth consequently about sex work. Yes, sex work can be dignified, honest and honorable. If you don't believe me, you may never have asked yourself why is the source of human life (of most life) considered a source of shame? Try to find the answer to that question for yourself and you will unlock a universe of hidden truths."

1994 - Veronica Monet 

Lenore Kuo, PhD, Professor of Women Studies at California State University at Fresno, in 2002 Prostitution Policy: Revolutionizing Practice Through A Gendered Perspective, wrote:

"For I am convinced that women will never be normalized, will never cease being 'other,' until sex and sexual activity are normalized. And sex and sexual activity will never be normalized until the sale of sexual activity is normalized (and vice versa.) If sexual activity is normalized, then its sale is unremarkable. Even if one believes that sexual activity is, or involves, or should involve intimacy, its sale, like that of psychological counseling, massage, or professional physical aid for geriatric patients, should be unremarkable."

2002 - Lenore Kuo, PhD 

Hugh Loebner, PhD, President of Crown Industries, in 1996 wrote the "Magna Carta for Sex Work" and posted it on his website stating:

"[C]ommercial sex is demeaning only when an intolerant and puritanical society defines it to be so, and makes it a crime."

1996 - Hugh Loebner, PhD 

Julian Marlowe, author and escort, wrote the chapter "It's Different for Boys" in the 1997 book Whores and Other Feminists, which said:

"Men can engage in commercial sex without being regarded as victims of exploitive men or as propagators of demeaning attitudes. Any prostitute (or anyone else) may be victim of circumstances beyond his or her control, and measures should be in place to help those who wish to get out of oppressive circumstances. However, to suggest that prostitutes who do not see themselves as victims just don't know any better is patronizing and contradicts the very essence of feminism -- the freedom to make one's own choices."

1997 - Julian Marlowe