Prostitution: Legal or Abolish?

Essay by chuddy82College, Undergraduate June 2005

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The debate over prostitution is one that divides feminists into two groups: the Radical Feminists who want prostitution abolished, and the Liberal Feminists who would like to see prostitution decriminalized, and normalized in our society. There are the strong and weak points of both the radical feminists' and the liberals' arguments, with the most positive emphasis on the radical feminists position for abolishing the institution. A Dr. Maggie O'Neill would like to see brothel-keeping laws removed, so that women can work in environments with health and safety standards, and also for the protection that would come with operating in small groups of women with mutual interests. Many people who are against prostitution are very bias, describing the horror of violence from men who "are expressing pure hatred for the female body", who believe prostitution "is too patriarchal to be tolerated". And from the other extreme, who they call "sex-radical feminists" (but who share the same values and opinions as those others describe as liberals or liberal feminists), argue that sex work can be a good thing: a bold form of liberation for women, a way for some to take control of their lives.

Through the many websites I searched through, I read through the many descriptions and analysis of the institution of prostitution, its problems, and possible solutions. Based on the arguments presented, one site was the most thorough, well supported account of either side of the debate, and gives a credible conclusion: that prohibiting prostitution would be better for society in the long run, on the grounds that normalizing it would be, in fact, more degrading than it is in its current state, and would require the sacrifice of sexual autonomy. There many are possible societal outcomes of either normalizing the institution or abolishing it. In my analysis of...