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Question 6: Prostitution

Most feminists believe that prostitution exploits and objectifies women. Simultaneously, both Simone de Beauvoir and Andrea Dworkin felt that the institution of marriage was also a form of prostitution. They both agreed that both marriage and prostitution are extremely oppressive and dangerous for women. In Simon de Beauvoir's Prostitutes and Hetairas, she said, "The only difference between prostitution and those who sell themselves into marriage, is in the price and length of the contract (de Beavoir, pg. 555)." In Feminism: An Agenda, Andrea Dworkin said that in marriage women lose rights over their own bodies. "You must have sex with your husband when he wants. That is his legal right and your obligation." She went on to say that "In marriage you only have to make a deal with one man (Dworkin, pg. 146)."

Both feminists seemed to agree that as long as we live in a predominantly patriarchal society, many women will be economically dependent on men, and there will always be those forced to use their body as a commodity. Dworkin said that "The economic exploitation of women as a class (unequal pay for the same work as men) means that we have to sell sex and that makes us, as a class, not irrationally viewed as prostitutes by men whether they call us a prostitute or not (Dworkin, pg. 146)." This is the very reason why egotistical rich men think they can buy trophy wives, and in many cases they are right. Many women perpetuate the idea that women can be bought; they marry solely for money and become financially dependent on a man.

Beauvoir mentioned how some people believe prostitutes must exist in order for other women to be treated respectfully in society. In both Prostitutes and Hetairas, and Feminism: An Agenda, the authors listed unemployment, poverty, incest and sexual abuse as factors influential in a woman's decision to take up prostitution. These conditions are usually rampant in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. In...
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