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Wilson Valarezo

Essay 2
Prostitution is known as the worlds oldest profession. Prostitution is one of many
forms of sexual services provided by the illegal sex industry that is estimated to be valued
around 14 billion in the United States. How to deal with this giant underground billiondollar industry has been hotly debated among social reformers. One way that
governments try to address this underground industry is by making it illegal and
criminalizing buyers and sellers of commercial sex. Criminalization of the sex work
industry is ineffective and does not protect sex workers; therefore legalizing sex work
would be more effective in protecting sex workers.
Sex work should be legalized because it functions like any other business. Workers
who operate independently are responsible for identifying markets, assessing rates and
conducting cost-benefit analysis (Mcclelland, 2016). Workers are given responsibilities
such as having shifts, participating in shift meetings and scheduling. Some places known
as Dungeons have receptionists that make appointments where customers pay and are
matched with the best fit (Grant, 2014). Supply and demand affects prices in their
industry, for example the influx of immigrants willing to work for a lower price drives
prices down. Niche markets such as certain fetishes or specific sexual acts have
premiums attached to them. Market forces such as global recessions affect sex workers
income.
Sex work should be legalized because it will provide sex workers with basic workers
rights. There is much debate concerning the legalization of sex work but there is a
consensus in sex workers desire to be able to seek the protection of the law without

prosecution (Mcclelland, 2016). Many sex workers who experience rape dont go to
police enforcement to report the incident due to fear of being prosecuted. Some sex
workers escort as a side job and maintain a legal formal job throughout the week. They
use escorting as a way to supplement their income but fear that if they were caught they
would have a criminal record that could potentially jeopardize their legal formal job
(Mcclelland, 2016). Many sex workers do not have benefits provided by their employer
and therefore must rely on themselves to seek out medical care. This can be problematic
due to the illegality of their work because many sex workers fear their profession might
be revealed and get them in trouble when seeking treatment.
Opponents of legalization support the Nordic model, which punishes buyers, brothels,
and pimps but not the sex workers themselves. The idea behind the Nordic model is to
ultimately end the trade without harming the women who are seen as the victims of the
sex trade. They argue by going after the consumers this will bring down and ultimately
eliminate demand for commercial sex.
The Nordic model whose ultimate goal is to eliminate demand is not as effective as
legalization because complete elimination of the demand of sex is virtually impossible.
Prohibition has proven to be ineffective as made evident in the war against drugs and
alcohol prohibition. The sex industry is driven by demand and most of the consumers are
men that dont differ than much from the general population. Most are not violent
criminals nor do they have serious mental disorders (Shively, 2012). One study found that
one out of every five or six men admitted to purchasing sex (Shively, 2012). To lock up
and penalize every single consumer would be virtually impossible and a costly effort
similar to that of the war waged on drugs that has proven to be ineffective. This forces the

industry to be pushed towards the underground where much of the industry goes
unregulated and is more dangerous for the sex worker.
Opponents of legalization argue that legalizing sex work would support a system of
gender inequality where vulnerable women are inevitably the victims. Criminalizing the
sex industry is portrayed as an effort to protect women who are seen as victims of an
exploitative and abusive industry. It is seen as a way of protecting vulnerable women
from being recruited in the sex industry.
When asked, many dancers felt that work outside of the sex industry was exploitative,
exclusionary and without hope for social mobility or financial stability (Mcclelland,
2016). The Internet has provided a platform for women to become entrepreneurs as sex
workers and dont see themselves as victims but as business owners. The internet has also
made it possible for many sex workers to eliminate the middlemen such as pimps or
madams and work independently. Many sex workers expressed that they believe it is
condescending and paternalistic to let others decide what is best for them. Completing
trying to abolish sex workers means denying women the freedom to be free economic
agents, capable of making choices in their own self-interest and disempowers them.
In conclusion sex work should be legalized because the only thing that differentiates
the sex work industry from any other legal industry is the stigma surrounding it. Many
sex work business operate like any other business and its workers responsibilities are
similar to that of any other employee in a legal formal industry. Legalizing sex work
would provide basic working rights and legal rights for sex workers. Sex workers would
not fear utilizing public services like the police or medical treatment. Opponents of
legalizing sex work argue for punitive measures towards consumers of sex commercial in

an effort to bring down demand. Prohibition has proven to be ineffective and ultimately
results in more dangerous working conditions for the sexual worker. Prohibition results in
creating criminal records for non-violent offenders and does more harm than good similar
to war waged on drugs. Opponents also argue that legalization of sex work contributes to
gender inequality and will continue to prey on vulnerable women. Their argument is
flawed because it is assumes most women are victims when in fact it is more complicated
than that. The Internet has allowed many sex workers to cut out the middleman and
provide many women a pathway to upper social mobility and newfound empowerment.

References
Grant, M. (2014). Let's Call Sex Work What It Is: Work. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from
http://www.thenation.com/article/lets-call-sex-work-what-it-work/

Shively, M., Kliorys, K., Wheeler, K., & Hunt, D. (2012, June). A National Overview of
Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Efforts, Final Report.
Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/238796.pdf

Mcclelland, M. (2016). Is Prostitution Just Another Job? Retrieved March 29, 2016, from
http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/03/sex-workers-legalization-c-v-r.html