Summary

In summary, the active logical component that degrades women here is not to be found in the word prostitution. The logical component that degrades is to be found in individual actions that go against strongly held cultural values. In other words, prostitution does not degrade people, people degrade themselves by falling into objectifiably discernible patterns of behavior. The word prostitution implies the more passive component, while the “going against values” is the more active component. In general, prostitution is a result of an action or description of an action that alters a person’s social standing with regard to cultural values. In subsequent writings, when the idea of degradation is extended to pornography, there is an implied degradation of the civility of men to control their impulses rather than a degradation of women in general. While this would seem applicable to the presence of prostitutes in society, the issues are quite different. There are counterbalancing forces in prostitution that can limit destructive effects on the civility of men that may not be evident with pornography.
Radical feminists’ views on prostitution are thoughtful but not always delineated well enough to firm up a credible social theory that prostitution is wrong because it degrades women. The argument that prostitution is degrading is a view that is part of a larger ethical view of human behavior that finds some actions generative and others degenerative.
57 There are many other competing degenerative behaviors to be considered in the larger picture of human affairs. Radical feminists have contributions to make to the discussion of prostitution, but their frequent narrowness of perspective, presented as global truth, leaves much to be desired in examining prostitution as a complex issue.
The goal of feminism can be seen as an attempt to improve the quality of women’s lives by promoting a world in which they can thrive equally with men. Feminists have explored many facets of the problem and have come to divergent opinions on how to achieve such a goal. It is difficult to understand why some feminists feel the presence of prostitutes in society is so threatening. What they want, and what most of us want, is a better world and a society that is morally, socially, and intellectually viable.
Prostitutes have been singled out and scorned for thousands of years. It seems almost to be a wired-in reaction of religion and politics to attack the weakest and most disenfranchised as symbols of the problems of society. Our society is a fiercely competitive one in which unfairness and exploitation are rife, thrusting some to the bottom where their only avenue to survival is to become prostitutes. Upon finding an occupation in which they finally can view themselves as successful competitors, prostitutes are often attacked by feminists as perpetrators of the degradation of all women. It is amazing how creative societies are at coming up with new varieties of the same old complaints that view prostitutes with scorn. But having already endured centuries of exploitation, abuse, murder, and slavery for what they do, there is not much prostitutes have to worry about from feminists. The intentions of feminists are essentially benign. They make a compelling argument that the problem of oppression by men is every woman’s problem. In this respect it is incumbent upon prostitutes to become aware of the problems that women are trying to work out with men. If prostitutes show some interest in the issues of feminism, feminists may become more familiar with prostitutes’ lives in such a way that there may be a mutually beneficial influence in understanding the issue of prostitution.

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Existential Feminism

Radical Feminism

Liberal Feminism

Marxist Feminism

Socialist Feminism

Moral Considerations

Theoretical View of the Degrading
Nature of Prostitution

Figurative, Not Actual Degradation

Summary

Footnotes