Myths about prostitution

From time to time, RealStars is invited to schools to hold presentations and lectures in order to inform and talk about Fair Sex. During these lectures we often receive questions regarding prostitution — sometimes about the myths surrounding ”sex work,” or about the right to ones own body. Kajsa Ekis Ekman has written an article that very well shows what the reality looks like for those involved in sex trade. 

Kajsa Ekis Ekman argues that prostitution in fact is quit simple. It is sexual intercourse between two people; one that has given consent, and one that has not. Instead of attraction and pleasure, there is a payment plan. All prostitution, she means, has this in common. One person is willing, and the other one is not. If this where not the case, then there would be no need

for an exchange of money. ”For this, prostitution is an enemy of sexual liberation; to lust and to free will”, says Ekman. Other issues linked to prostitution is violence, poverty, rape and pandering. These are all problems that mainly affect women and girls, and even more so those involved in human trafficking.

However, the act of selling sex is today often spoken about as if it were any job. Those in favor of prostitution claim that a decriminalization of the act would lead to a better control of the market, and that the negative aspects would come to disappear. Those involved in the business would profit from a legalization as they would be given the right to organize themselves – thus getting an increased salary and other benefits, they claim.

This type of reasoning is extra evident in countries as Germany and Holland, where prostitution has already been legalized. But reality shows different. In the two countries mentioned above, ”sex workers” have yet to organize themselves, and the harmfull effects of this so called profession are still noticeable.   As has been mentioned earlier, prostitution is not a sexual act between two consent-giving adults. There will always be an abuse of power present, as well as harassment of basic human rights. However, by using terms such as ”sex work”, the negative aspects become less obvious – this alongside with terms such as customers, sellers, self-employment and service providers. All of these neutral words conceal that there is a perpetrator and a victim involved. (The term Customer has also been critized by the European Commission’s anti-trafficking coordinator)

Ekman emphasizes the fact that these so-called neutral words are chosen to give the impression that what is happening is nothing but a business transaction – nothing to do with the injustice of power between men and women. What remains is the fact that the majority of all victims within prostitution  are women and girls, and that the buyers most often are men. Instead of speaking about the men and women involved, words such as customers and sellers are used. Using the term ”sex work” is beneficial for industry, as it increases the acceptance for the business. Ekman mentions that by using the terms above, it also excuses so called feminist and left oriented political parties from acting on the issue.

The truth is that the mortality rate is 40 times higher for women involved in prostitution – in no other professions is the mortality rate so high. To further continue – for women involved in prostitution, 71 percent have experienced violence, 63 percent are victims of rape and a staggering 79 percent say that they would quit the business had they had a chance of providing for themselves elsewhere. What other profession can compare to this? Ekman asks.

Just as Kajsa Ekis Ekman so well has emphasized, we at RealStars also want to see a chance regarding these harmful rhetorics in order to change the overall attitude towards human trafficking and prostitution. But it is also important to change the attitude of those who contribute most to this ”business” – that is the buyers.

This is why Sweden criminalized the act of buying sex in 1999. The law has given results. Before it took effect, it was estimated that every eighth man in Sweden had bought sex. But today, the act of buying sex has become socially unacceptable – the statistic is now estimated to only one out of thirteen. This number is incredibly low compared to other european countries who have yet to criminalize prostitution. In Germany, for instance, it is estimated that 25 percent of all men have engaged in the act of buying sex. With this said it is important to point out that prostitution still exists in Sweden, all though we are on the right track. As Ekman writes, there is nothing natural at all when it comes to prostitution and buying sex, even though the industry would like for us to think so.

”Their biggest fear is that everyone will have sex for free, because we want to – that would mean the end of their market”.

Kajsa Ekis Ekmans article can be found here.