Accueil > Manifeste du CLAS > La prostitution (en anglais) Traduction : Martin Dufresne

La prostitution (en anglais) Traduction : Martin Dufresne

vendredi 22 janvier 2016, par clas

Prostitution is one of the basic pillars of Puritanism and patriarchy. Even if all prostitutes do not identify with the “woman” category, rarely do they identify as belonging to a “male” gender, as do clients.

Indeed, prostitution supports the myth according to which only male gender persons experience true interest in sexual activities, and nurtures the myth of a “natural” venality specific to those assigned to the female gender.

In prostitution, patriarchy, Puritanism and capitalism interact in mutual reinforcement. Patriarchy builds, in order to sustain itself, identity shackles that women must comply with. These are divided in two broad categories. On the one hand is the "purified" woman that belongs to only one man and is cleansed from her "original impurity" in accessing the sacred role of the mother who “gives birth in pain” and sees her sexuality amputated. On the other, is the “impure” woman, who belongs to all men and serves as a receptacle for the sexual impulses of the dominants, in order to preserve the other woman’s “virtue”.

Whether sacralized or despised, these objects are opposed despite being both sides of the same woman, alienable or alienated, never her own person. There are many forms of prostitution relationships that are not acknowledged as such (e.g. economic dependence, and the “conjugal duty” of “housewives”). Prostitution contributes to perpetuating these relationships through images broadcast by its mere existence.

The Catholic Church was supportive of prostitution earlier in the middle Ages. “To remove prostitutes, would be to let libertines disturb social order," had written St. Augustine. In reality, puritan ideology rejects sexual freedom even more than it does prostitution since the latter functions as a sexual outlet. It has a vested interest in maintaining confusion between the two in order to hide the potential existence or experienced reality of inalienable pleasure.

The “sex workers” who seek to legitimize prostitution claim to be selling not their body but a “sexual service”. Nevertheless, this “service” translates into providing someone with a right of access to the body, a form of leasing, as if a person’s body was an object external to herself. And it is to such an alienated relationship to their own body that the prostituted are forced to submit in order to satisfy their clients’ requirements.

This relation of externality to the body is normalized by becoming deeply embedded in people’s minds. It is the result of the puritan mind conditioning which consists in separating what is deemed “the body” from what is deemed “the mind” and given hierarchical precedence. Since the body is considered “inferior”, it can then serve as a mere utensil or work tool.

Moreover, given its use of so-called “professional” commercial pornography, sexist advertising, and various forms of prostitution, capitalism has a vested interest in passing off sex consumption as sexual freedom, sexuality and in turning sex into a product that sells rather than a pleasure to be shared. The French word for “work,” travail, is etymologically derived from a Latin word tripalium, which was a torture instrument. In fact, it is an activity that gets turned by capitalism – through salaries and commercial relationships – into coercion and an obligation to provide labour. For work to be abolished, socially useful activities would have to be distributed and performed in a dynamic of sharing and gratuity, in compliance with the needs and desires of each person, rather than in a maintaining of commercial relationships based on a logic of exchange.

Prostitution is the alienation of sexuality by capitalism !

The French law banning "passive soliciting," passed in 2003 by President Sarkozy, has had the effect of criminalizing prostitutes. The overwhelming majority of them did not choose to prostitute because they so desired, but to survive in the hope that this situation would be temporary. One often hears the fall-back argument : “If they say it’s their choice, where is the problem ?” First, only a minority of the prostituted assert that “it is a choice,” and yet they speak out on behalf of all. Second, what do we mean by the words “it’s a choice”.

Every human act is the result of a choice, but this choice is oftentimes laden with spite, consent devoid of desire. This is where the notion of “consent” loses its meaning. There is a huge difference between the majority of prostitutes and those who deem themselves "sex workers." The latter propagandize by deed and advocacy for prostitution. Rather than a libertarian choice, theirs reflects neo-liberal ideology and politics, opposed to sexual freedom. (...)

To confer a professional status to "sex workers" is to grant a social function to prostitution, thus supporting Puritan morality, commoditization and patriarchy. A few dozen “sex workers”, organized in regulationist and legitimist associations, are claiming this status. In media and political environments, such claims obscure a reality of prostitution of concern to the great majority of the sexually exploited. To believe that regulationism would stifle sexual exploitation is to ignore the huge financial benefits accrued through the trafficking of hundreds of thousands, including children, and the international dimension of this phenomenon.

When capitalism, Puritanism and patriarchy have been abolished, prostitution in all its forms will have disappeared.