Prostitution & the female body

From the UK court's judgment1, prostitute can be regarded as "a woman who (1) supplies sex on a commercial basis; or (2) contributes her talents and efforts to base purposes for some rewards. " Another secular definition can be found in the Oxford English Online Dictionary, "(A) devotion or application to an unworthy or corrupt cause or purpose, esp. for personal gain; debasement or corruption. (A prostitute is) a person entirely or abjectly devoted to another; a 'slave'. "

Words such as, "unworthy", "corrupt", "abjectly" and "slave", which carry pejorative connotations, pragmatically suggested that prostitution is a corrupted act and it is socially discourage. However, it could be view as a politically incorrect statement because there is no such moral rule which measure "unworthiness" and "corruptness". Based on such definitions, I will explore the spectrum of perceptions towards female prostitution2 and how such views can affects the perceptions of the female body and women in this essay.

Hereinafter, I will deduce whether or not prostitution should be strictly controlled and ultimately eradicated with the aid of relevant legal authorities and academic commentaries. A noted feminist, Kathleen Barry, sees prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation. In her masterpiece, "The Prostitution of Sexuality", her major criticism towards prostitution is it objectifies the female body, which is the most degraded and scorned side of the patriarchal society. Therefore, it should not only be strictly regulated, but completely eradicated.

The radical feminists see prostitution harmful to women because when a woman is turning herself to a prostitute, she is dissociating her emotion from her body. Barry describes this process as "sexual objectification", which a woman has to overcome four states of dehumanisation3. In this sense, when the human being is reduced to a body, objectivities to sexually service another, whether or not there is consent, violation of human rights has already been taken place. 4 Hence, women are not only constructed as the sexual slavery of men, but intensified the view of female body as a commodity5.

Such act violates women's human rights because it is a violation of Article 1, 3, 5 and 6 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights… "; "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude"; "No one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment… "; and "… everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law". Although one may argue that every time, each male customer may hire a prostitute for several hours, technically, they could not be called as slave.

But in actual sense, they are "abused" by men constantly, one after another. Many prostitutes often think that their bodies are dirty after being touched by the customers. 6 Their feelings are imprisoned and oppressed for such "business transactions". In this sense, prostitution is the product of male domination. It reinforces the sexual characteristics of women, being the subordinates of men and continues to provide grounds that it is normal for men to "buy" sexual service from women.