Daily Archives: June 10th, 2009

What’s with the ‘sex positive’ response to prostitution?

I am writing in response to this post. In the blurb attached to a report on sex workers in India, the commentator writes:

“For these women in poverty working in the sex trade, sex itself is not the violation.

Being dehumanized, brutalized, infected, neglected and reviled because they are women is the great violation.”

Firstly, says who? I’ve skimmed through the text of the report, and it doesn’t come from there, it is purely the commentator’s own opinion. How is compulsory sexual activity itself not dehumanising and brutalising, and not an intrinsic part of what makes prostitution dehumanising and brutalising? Of course poverty is dehumanising and brutalising in itself, I am not denying that in any way, but why deny the harm of having to engage in unwanted sex, and why ignore the intersection between women’s low status and the status of women as the sex class?

This is what I really do not understand about the ‘sex positive’ response to prostitution; sex is a wonderful, important part of life, but if a woman is forced, through poverty or some more direct form of coercion, to engage in unwanted sex, suddenly, sex means absolutely nothing.

Surely to be truly positive about sex, to say that what happens to women really matters, would mean absolutely condemning any kind of compulsory sexual activity?