Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prostitution is a Choice Not a Crime: Make It Legal in Massachusetts

Memphis Christie
ENGL 102-048
Rogerian Argument Essay
3 March 2013
Prostitution is a Choice Not a Crime: Make It Legal Everywhere in the U.S
            Americans are given the freedom of choice in making their own decisions. However, in the matter of prostitution there is no freedom of choice. Within many states in the United States, prostitution is viewed as wrong without scope for debate. According to state prostitution laws: “any person who engages, agrees to engage, or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee… may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction…”(“Should Prostitution Be Legal?”). Prostitution needs not be banned but supported in a way that can help women and young girls that are trapped in the lifestyle. Criminalization only helps in developing the fear that they will be punished for wanting help when their safety is jeopardized. What makes prostitution such a hideous crime that it requires punishment by law? Why is an individual not allowed to make decisions when it comes to matters of their own body? Prostitution should be legalized, not to commend the activity or justify its nature but because it abolishes the American right to freedom of choice.
 Fig. 1. (“My Body”)
            Those individuals who argue against prostitution do not feel as though it should be in the realms of, a right to choice as individuals usually “choose” prostitution for economic reasons. For example, Hughes states, “Surely no one can argue that this is free choice any more than the cattle in the squeeze chute choose to go to their death (“Legalizing Prostitution”).” Anti-supporters believe that a women’s body should never become a commodity for sale, and by permitting such behavior, it is making a statement that it is okay for women to be inferior to men. Instead, they argue that people in this predicament should be given alternative options. This argument is true in the sense that women should be given alternative options but ignores the fact that for some women this is the option they choose. Many women do not see the harm in making a living out of something that they already engage in regularly. These women should have the right to make that choice as a consenting adult without punishment by law.
            It is not hard to understand such an opinion; economic hardship is a factor that plays a strong role in the lifestyle choice of prostitution and to some degree this activity may cause women to be viewed as less than men according to Donna M. Hughes. In common opinion with this understanding, Valor Segura, Francisca Exposito, and Miguel Moya all state, “Sexism serves to justify and reinforce gender inequality, and has traditionally degraded women by expounding that it is convenient to exercise some dominance over them… (“Attitudes toward Prostitution”)” But the truth in this statement only exists because prostitution is in higher demand by men, causing these feelings of inferiority in women. There are many occupations that cater to one sex; the only difference in this situation is the nature of the work sparks more controversy than that of nursing or construction. Prostitution should never be a goal any person strives towards, and to a high degree should be frowned upon because it is belittling to woman and can lead into a slippery slope of self-destructive behaviors. It is also important to clarify that just because it may seem like an extreme form of gender discrimination for a female to offer themselves as a commodity, it does not warrant that the female gender as an entirety is going to be summoned under man.
However, the fact still remains that women should have the right to do as they please with their own bodies. They are given free discretion in regards to an abortion, a right protected by law, therefore, where do the boundaries cross between legally being able to kill a child, and the exchange of sex for money? Which crime seems worse, the one defended by law or the one banned according to laws? An argument of whether or not the choice is morally and ethically correct is one that can be debated for years without closure; the real issue for discussion is why it is not a women’s choice to be able to prostitute her body. Kelly expresses this idea well by saying, “Yes, prostitution hurts women, but so does abortion. So what’s the difference?” (“Pro-Choice vs. Prostitution”).  It is hypocritical that government laws protect a woman’s rights to her body in regards to taking the life of an innocent child, but have a no tolerance attitude for that same women’s choice to sell her body.
 A person can attempt to state that it is not a choice if the decision was poverty induced, but so are many other decisions. Without a need to provide for their family, some people may choose not to work altogether; if this notion were allowed to dictate everyone’s life, poverty would have to be abolished in whole. Yes, there are other jobs out there, but it is the individual’s right to choose whether she will select such employment. People often forget to take into account that most cases of prostitution are results of coercion and trafficking where the women are the victims. A certain mindset is associated with anyone who becomes a prostitute. Hughes says, “Most existing laws concerning prostitution were formulated on the assumption that prostitution is immoral activity, with women being the most immoral participants. Therefore, laws that ban prostitution usually criminalize the women” (“Making the Harm Visible”). If prostitution were legalized women who are really at risk and in the need of help would be more prone to getting this aid without the fear of punishment. Legalization will also help to ensure that the actual criminals- pimps, traffickers, and brothel owners- are held responsible for their crime. It is only in these cases that are surrounded in coercion in which a woman has lost her right to choice where an action needs to be taken. Kathleen Paratis, in this regard, states, “One need not romanticize prostitution to distinguish between prostitution as coercion or slavery and prostitution as an economic choice” (“Is Prostitution a freely”).
Legalizing prostitution will not encourage individuals to involve themselves in such an unjust lifestyle, but legalization will provide a sense of security to those already stuck in this hardship, especially in that they no longer have to fear the help and support of authorities when placed in vulnerable situations that may arise in such a profession. As the law stands, these individuals are viewed as unworthy outcasts in society instead of being given an equal opportunity to see the other options available to them. “If we, as a society, really care about women, we will not only provide them with equal rights and opportunity, but we will stop turning some of them into criminals merely because they have chosen to exchange sex for money. Women, who, for whatever reason, choose to engage in prostitution, do not need to be incarcerated for their own good” (“Is Prostitution a freely”). It is time that society stopped making it hard on the women who have chosen to engage in prostitution but instead help them Legalizing prostitution in all parts of the United States will not only give Americans back their right to such choice but can give women the option and opportunity to speak out against this lifestyle without ridicule, in ways that can potentially help women in girls everywhere. 

Works Cited
"Google." My Body My Choice. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2013.
Hughes, Donna M. "Legalizing Prostitution Will Not Stop the Harm."Making the Harm Visible, GlobalSexual Exploitation of Women and Girls, Speaking Out and Providing Services.
Kelly, Ian. "“Pro-Choice” vs. Prostitution." Bound4LIFE ProChoice vs Prostitution Comments. Bound4Life Blog, 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
Paratis, Kathleen. "Is Prostitution a Freely Chosen Profession?" ProCon- Prostitution. N.p., 17 July 2000. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.
Post, Diane. Legalizing Prostitution: A Systematic Rebuttal. N.p.: Off Our Backs, 1999. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. "Should prostitution be legal?", 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 5 Mar. 2013.
Valor-Segura, Inmaculada, Francisca ExpĆ³sito, and Miguel Moya. "Attitudes Toward Prostitution: is it an Ideological Issue?" The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context 3.2 (2011): n. pag. 25 Apr. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.


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