The Sex Industry: Empowering or degrading to women?

~Jennifer - posted on 04/29/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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Realizing that there are men in the sex industry, this debate is focusing on the role of women.

Is the sex industry (porn, stripping / exotic dancing, prostitution) empowering or degrading to women's sexuality?
Why or why not?

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Charlie - posted on 04/29/2010

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There are aspects of both .

I have close friends who are strippers and love their job , i once worked as a lingerie waitress and i too loved it not to mention the pay was sweet and i think it can be totally empowering , some women are incredible sexual creatures who enjoy using their bodies and do so willingly , there is a great sense of power in being able to drive men crazy with their sexuality , Someone mentioned Jenna Jamison , she is an example of a woman empowered by her sexuality , she has built an empire on sex and the porn industry , in fact she is the Proud owner and CEO of a fortune 500 company , we are talking major blue chip investments , her tattoo on her back states a quote she lives by “I am not afraid…I was born to do this.”

On the flip side we have the degradation of women in particular the prostitution side of the sex industry especially in countries where prostitution is illegal and unmonitored , however even in monitored legalized prostitution you still face "sex slaves " being held against their will , women in the lower levels who do it as a last resort ect .

Personally aside from the sex industry i think there is great power in our sexuality if more women would wake up to it and use it to their advantage instead of cowering in male oppression and what they think is right or wrong for us perhaps we wouldn't be the " weaker sex " .

Johnny - posted on 04/29/2010

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The idea that sex needs to be "special" and reserved for marriage is a moral concept, but not everyone shares that. There are plenty of people who feel that sex does not have to be constrained by limitations like that, and those people may choose to make a living in the sex industry. Like I said, for some people, sex is dirty, for others, it is "sacred", and others it is just a fun way to spend some time. How one views the sex industry really depends on how we view sex, as I think is evident from this thread. My personal feelings about sex are that it is simply for my husband and I to share, but politically/morally, my only rules are that it be conducted between consenting human adults. I think that our society constructs sex as shameful and harmful but also as fantastic and "the best thing ever". It is those contradicting ideas which are really what leads to degradation, not the sex itself. The messages people receive about sex are very twisted and confusing, full of moral judgments yet overtly encouraging.

ME - posted on 04/29/2010

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HAAAAAA!!!! I agree with Christa...who'd 'a thought it...

I think that pornography sexualizes violence against, as well as the objectification of, women and girls...I'm not foolish enough to think that we can ban it...but I do think that the complicity of women in these male pornographic fantasies is a huge problem...I think it's quite sad that women feel this is a viable option for them, or all they can do, or that they are pressured to do...or whatever sends them down that road...

I do think that legalizing SOME of the sex industry stuff would make women safer, and if it wouldn't stop their objectification by the general population, it would stop the objectification by pimps, and it might also mediate some of the self-loathing that goes along with this lifestyle....

Krista - posted on 04/29/2010

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I can see the point that you're making, Christa -- that the sex industry can lead some men to look at women solely as sexual objects for their gratification, with no will or opinions of their own.

I don't know how big a part it plays, though. I think you're overestimating it. Women, sadly, have been objectified by numerous cultures throughout the course of history. Daughters used to be married or sold off to the highest bidder or for the greatest political advantage. Women were often (and are still often) spoils of war. Is that due to the sex industry?

I do think that it's very possible that with some men, the sex industry makes them more likely to look upon women as sexual objects. But can we lay a large part of the blame for the overall objectification of women on the sex industry? No, I don't think we can. I think that there are other factors that are more at play.

Ez - posted on 04/29/2010

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I fail to see how being a stripper or hooker or porn star can be empowering. Is it the absolute worst crime in the world? Obviously not. But in no way do I want my daughter to grow up thinking it's acceptable, or alluring, or glamorous.

Of course it's always going to be there, because the demand for these services will remain. The only way it will decrease is with better education rates and more skills training among girls. If there are fewer people below the poverty line, there will be fewer girls willing to go into this line of work. Yes, there will still be some that don't do it out of necessity, but I have to believe those numbers are minimal compared to those who enter the sex industry because they feel they've run out of options.

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Charlie - posted on 04/30/2010

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I totally agree that sexual repression , making sex the enemy , a sin , dirty ect is what in most cases causes a person to commit sex crimes .

Emma - posted on 04/30/2010

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@ Christa

If you look at places like the Netherlands, where Prostitution is legal and regulated there Rape's per capita are lower, than places like the US, where it is not. the Netherlands could actually teach the world a thing or to about teen pregnancy and drug usage.

Im trying to find the paper on-line link for you will post when i find the study.

But there has been quite a lot of interesting work been going on regarding peoples repression of sexuality and sexual freedom that suggests that the more taboo sex is the more likely sex crimes are to become with in that society.



Anyway in till i find it

how can it be degrading for an adult woman who has chosen to enter the sex industry of her own free will.

It is something i would not chose to do but that dose not mean there is anything wrong with it.

Look at how successful a woman like Jenna Jameson is she is in complete control of her career, she owns her own adult film company and has crossed over into the main stream.

I know a couple of striper's and ex striper's

one put her self through medical school, another now owns her own real estate business, she bought her first property cash did it up as her working hours where flexible sold it and moved on from there, she is a very wealthy woman now and she would be the first to tell you she would not of gotten where she is to day with out the money she made while striping. She is 30 .



I think woman use the it's degrading argument because they personally find it distasteful or have an issue with porn ect

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Jenny, I think it's more that they are being desensitized. And I agree with you that it's occurring in all areas. I believe that’s what the sex industry is doing to sex, they make it seem like no big deal.

That is what I'm getting at with the rape thing. I agree that some rape for non-sexual reasons, but for others it is about sex. Particularly the "date rape" situations. Boys see these sexual images, not to mention the "rape fantasy" type things that some do for fun and they want to act them out.

Many (I would hope all but that's just not the case) parents try and teach their children that sex is special and IMO be reserved for marriage (at the very least a committed relationship), but then they are constantly bombarded with these other messages being sent by the sex industry and Hollywood and their peers that sex is casual and fun and everyone should enjoy themselves. Teenagers are running on hormones and their brains are not done developing so all these mixed messages get lost and to some that leads to rape to some unhealthy relationships. I see nothing good coming from that industry.

Jenny - posted on 04/29/2010

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I think that would maybe come down to the fact that our species is losing it's ability to empathize. We are seeing it in several areas of our culture. We had a situation here with a group of teens beating on a homeless guy while shoppers ignored it, the man drug himself to a bus stop to get help. We have all compartmentalized our lives and are seperating ourselves from a caring community. This is our fallout.

Jenny - posted on 04/29/2010

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I'm disagreeing that it is a cultural thing. I believe it is something wrong in the rapist's head that causes them to rape hence the wide variety and background of rape victims. I don't think it's fair to attach any part of the blame to the victim.

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Jenny, I never said it was the womens fault. Its our culture that makes men feel that women are something they can take for themselves. I think the sex industry plays a big part of this culture.

Jenny - posted on 04/29/2010

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Seeing as my partner has the last three years worth of Easyrider magazine I gaurantee they will come across some boobs. Not nice boobs mind you but the bikes make up for it. I was in Grade 2 the first time I found porn. We were building forts in the bush across the street from my Grandma's house and found an old Penthouse. We kept that nasty old thing for a long time in the woods and would sneak in for peeks whenever we were playing.



On the rape issue, rape comes from a position of control and domination, it is not a sexual act. Whether the woman is butt naked or wearing a mumu it is no more her "fault" for being too appealing to the animalistic man. It is demeaning to men, as well as women, to suggest otherwise.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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I don't really care about porn, pictures or video myself. I don't watch it. I don't own any of it. My partner doesn't watch it and he doesn't own any of it and the time he's on the computer we're sitting right here in the same room with him so he can't really look it up either.



We don't really watch movies or TV that are all that adult... and I won't be subjecting him to pornographic imagery or anything like that but I'm just not willing to allow myself the idea that my son won't be interested in looking, at some point. I can't think of a single boy (+ men) I know who hasn't hidden a dirty mag under their mattress.



I figure I might as well just be prepared to deal with it. I'm not going to bring him a magazine and be like "Okay Gabriel, you now know about vaginas... this is what you CAN NOT DO!" or any of that non-sense lol



But he's going to see a magazine at some point... he's going to hear about / see naked women... he might go into a strip club at some point in his life, willingly or for a friend - only time will tell - and I want him to be prepared to deal with it.



It's not that *I* will expose him to those images... I just know that he will see them. And hollywood, TV, magazines are getting more and more 'nudie' these days than they were when I was a kid. There's movie channels now that show soft core porn!



I don't want him to feel ashamed of being interested in women or their bodies, but I do want him to understand he has to respect women, no matter what they are doing.



I don't think there is anything wrong with my son looking at women while appreciating and respecting them, understanding that a womans body is NOT all that she is 'good for'.





And I also have to be prepared to teach him that some of those girls WILL be trying to sway him to do things that he doesn't have to do, because there ARE women in all aspects of life that DO 'abuse the power of a woman' and men need to be taught both ways.



If I have a daughter I will teach her the same. She will be taught to understand that she has to appreciate and respect men. As well as teach her to understand her body is deserves as much respect and appreciation as her mind does.

Johnny - posted on 04/29/2010

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It depends on the person doing it and the person paying for it. Many women in the sex industry are doing it for their own interests, desires and want to make money. And many others are forced into it or have troubled lives that have lead them to the last available source of income. Many people who frequent sex workers (of any sort) view them as equals who are providing a service just like any other industry. And many (arguably most men) see sex workers as lesser people whom they can degrade and abuse (at least prostitutes, although porn stars & strippers to a much lesser extent). But I'm not sure that it is really that different than other industries. People objectify women's bodies in fashion modeling and art. But we don't consider that objectification inherently degrading, because sex isn't the main goal. And many customers treat waitresses and other service professionals like crap, but that is seen as anti-social behavior. I personally think that the onus should be on the patron to treat their sex worker with the same dignity that anyone deserves. It is only seen as degrading because so many people think that sex and all things sexual are dirty and wrong. People who celebrate sex and see it as a thing of beauty might find sex work to be uplifting and wonderful.

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Krista, I never said it would eliminate rape, I just think it would help.



I guess instead of looking to legalize prostitution to protect women, I'd rather focus on discouraging women to put themselves in that position in the first place. I think by legalizing it you give the green light to some girls because now it's "safe". I don't feel that it (or porn or strippers etc) is a healthy thing for ANY women to do, despite what some people who are or have been in those positions. We were not meant to be treated that way and I don't think it's physiologically healthy for anyone. Not to mention damaging to any relationships they might have. IMO.

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Ok, that makes me feel better Jo, I got a little worried. :-) You do bring up an interesting perspective, that I wouldn't have thought of.



I was sheltered, obviously I saw porn when the pigs I hung out with in high school watched it, but I never wanted to and usually left the room. I just knew they weren't images I needed to see. Truthfully I’m still not comfortable with seeing them. I plan on doing the same with my kids, it will not be acceptable in any way shape or form. Men/boys have vivid enough imaginations, they don't need help. I think you can teach them to be a gentlemen without having to expose them to these images. If I have a son, I plan to raise him so he knows that we don't look at them, so if he does come to a situation he will know to turn his head. I know that sounds idealistic, but I went to high school with several guys raised this way so I have seen it's possible.

I guess that’s how I think we address the problems I was talking about earlier. Knowing they will never go away, we as parents need to teach our kids that it’s not ok, for the sons to look and for the daughters to do. Maybe we can shrink the industry a little at a time, I like to think our world is not a total lost cause to immorality. Call me naïve or hopelessly optimistic, but that’s my opinion on the subject. :-)

Krista - posted on 04/29/2010

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"If Hollywood would portray women better, and men didn’t have strip clubs to go to, and you couldn’t find a hooker down on the corner and there was no porn, etc a naked women would be a treat."



I think your logic is flawed in this one. Look at cultures where there is absolutely no pornography and where women are covered from head to toe. Rape still exists in those cultures. If 99% of the body is covered, that 1% becomes titillating.



I think that in a way, pornography/strippers/prostitutes can be a help to certain segments of society. There are some men out there who are just completely and utterly unable to get laid or receive "legitimate" female attention, some due to crippling shyness or social awkwardness, and some due to a complete lack of physical attractiveness. The sex industry provides a way for these men to blow off that...ahem...steam.



Frankly, I think that prostitution should be legalized and regulated. This will go a long way towards ending the degradation of women in that industry. Right now, a lot of prostitutes won't seek aid from the police if they are being abused by a john or a pimp, because they know that they will wind up being arrested too. If it's regulated, then that eliminates pimps, which eliminates a LOT of the abuse right there. And if the cops and lawyers are on the side of the girls, then that will also make it a lot less likely for some john to think he can get away with smacking one around (or worse.)

Sharon - posted on 04/29/2010

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Get over it. This is here to stay. Exotic, erotic dancers have been perogative of men of thousands of years.

I don't know what you're doing in your house but in mine, little boys aren't allowed to see those images.

In general this crap gets started well into puberty... from common curiousity. If they don't have access to a magazine, they might try to peep a neighbor.

I can promise you that even without being exposed to these images they want to know what the big hubub is about womens naked bodies & sex. Being matter of fact about it - is helpful but doesn't make the morning boner go away.

Men may have figured out that picturing their grandmother naked wit 3 foot long boobs will make it go away but teenaged boys have not and frankly they don't want it to go away, well not like that, they want it to go away the fun way.

So these images will be in there heads. Eventually they're drawing boobs on their desk at school.

GOD GIVE IT UP. Its here. Lets just make it safer attach less stigma? to it.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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No, don't be silly Christa lol I don't want him to see them any time soon, but he will at some point... I can't stop him from seeing them... he's going to walk into 7/11 at some point and see Playboy.. or talk to an old man who has nothing to live for and only talks about the tight lil ass that walks around in her thong...



If he doesn't know how to deal with that... well then he will just do whatever his hormones will let him do.



Sorry I editted to add that lil bit on my last post after re-reading it, I wanted to clarify there as well.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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Ugh, Jenna Jamison... the fact that she's having twins disturbs the hell outta me... I'm sorry but your kids shouldn't be able to just walk out of your vagina *barf*



I wasn't meaning to imply that you thought it was possible to eliminate it... I just meant that just the idea of 'getting rid of it' isn't something even worth entertaining at this point.



If my son never sees a dirty mag, tits on TV, strippers, a whore on the side of the road... it will mean that I did him a disservice and raised him way too sheltered. Men are encouraged to be pigs as much as women are made to feel degraded. We need boys to be able to be exposed to those things so that we can appropriately teach them how to react, behave, be respectful and be a good man, instead of a pig.



I never meant to imply that you think it is possible, I don't see how it would ever be possible... unless we get rid of everything technological and hide away everyone in basements lol



I was kind of agree'ing with you, while pointing out the opposite affect it would have to do that... I guess that didn't come out as well as I thought it did........ hell it probably isn't coming out well now !



ANYWAYS... we already know what we CAN'T do, so we might as well focus on what we can do... Stating rape stats, abuse, stalking, etc are worse because of the sex industry doesn't do all that much except take away from the real issues behind rape, assault and all the other bad behavior.



The ONLY part of the sex industry that I think rape stats can be legitimately caused by the profession is prostitution...

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Jo I never said it would be possible to eliminate it. I live in the real world and know how it is. I agree with you about not having the "release", that's why I said over a few generations. If little boys NEVER see those images, they don't lust for them. They'll still have sexual urges of course as they hit puberty, but they won't have the ideas that get put in their heads by various medias. I know this will NEVER happen, but I was just answering the question. I think it's bad for women and bad for society and it would be great if we could do without. I definitely think people like Jenna Jamison need to not go around selling the "glamour" of the life she's chose. We need to discourage these behaviors, not encourage them.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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That could lead to the opposite issue, with the naked body being so 'available' these days, those men can go and jerk off in a bathroom and then he won't have this... insatiable urge to TAKE what he wants. Even though all of that is available to them, there are still women and men being raped every day - removing that release will only make it worse.



Men aren't exactly gentlemen all the time lol and with the mental instability of most rapists and addicts being a core issue... there's just too many factors to account for.



I completely understand what you're saying, realistically though, it will only lead to other problems that are just as dangerous if not more so. Using the rape / addict idea - knowing the fundamental problems in our society and the entitlement issue that people already have -- removing the release (for lack of a better word) will leave those men with the exact same feelings without a release and leaving all of those women in the sex industry even more vulnerable to those violent attacks.



I honestly think that all we can really do on that front is teach our lil boys to grow up to be gentlemen.







I'll also add that we could eliminate street whores... close the strip clubs... close down all the pornographic companies... where REAL men and women work there.. but then we also have to completely obliterate anything that can generate imagery.



Computer graphics, hollywood, anime, cartoons, etc etc etc. And then it will all go underground...



What we need to do is make it safer, not make it more dangerous and more susceptable to bad behavior.



I don't know exactly how that can be achieved but realistically, the sex industry isn't going to go away just by taking whores off the street or closing strip clubs or closing down porno's...

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Jo I wasn't talking about raping the strippers. I'm talking about the general attitude here in America (I imagine other countries too but I can't speak for them) towards women. That women are sexual objects and many feel that, as a man, they have a "right" to them. I think the sex industry helps continue or encourage that attitude. If Hollywood would portray women better, and men didn’t have strip clubs to go to, and you couldn’t find a hooker down on the corner and there was no porn, etc a naked women would be a treat. It would be something (really SOMEONE) you had to appreciate and value to see. Also there is proof that looking at those images can create an addiction, people need their fix and some get it in a violent manner. If they never had those images to get them “hooked” in the first place they wouldn’t need their fix.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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I don't know about specific cultures and tribes and what not, but there are just as many cultures where the woman is the property as there are that women are held with higher respect than men. In many tribes, cultures, foreign places... it's the women who have the voice and it's the men that do the grunt work and have to answer to the elder women. There may be a man 'chief' but he doesn't do anything without the nod from the women.

So I don't think that's really here nor there. There are places where women are property and there are places where their aren't.

As for rape, I don't know a single dancer that was raped because of her profession. And all the dancers that I do know, when they've felt 'unsure' they've been given personal security from the club that they worked at.

Not saying that strippers or porn stars aren't raped or even sexually assaulted, but the amount of them that are stalked, raped, assaulted aren't any more or less than regular women, grocery cashiers or business ladies... again neither here nor there.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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And here I thought the bigger the vag the bigger the pay, the bigger the poker the bigger the pay !

haha

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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Krista, that's true, but they hold women to a lower standard then we do. That's their problem. Women are truly property in those places. Here we've been fighting for equality for so long, but we still have no problem using sex to control men. If we don't stop then neither will they.

Jenny - posted on 04/29/2010

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I think if you look at the paycheques of women vs. men in porn it is the men being degraded.

?? - posted on 04/29/2010

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I think it absolutely depends on the individual, and even more importantly, the enviroment in which that individual is partaking in the industry.



If you work in a trashy place, you can only expect to be treated like trash and degraded. If you work in a respectful enviroment, you can expect to be treated as a person and your 'talents' are more appreciated.



Porn, I don't think porn is really degrading to the woman any more than it is to the man. I think that women who enter the porn industry are ambitionless, to be honest. If your greatest amibition in life is to spread your legs in as many ways possible... well... I don't really have much else to say to that.



Stripping and exotic dancing CAN BE an artform. And I have been to quite a few places where the dancers are treated better than most celebrities. They are dancers, they are equal to ballet dancers or the showgirls in vegas. They aren't ALL skanky bitches that are flashing their tits around to get men to shove dollar bills in their g-string. I KNOW there are some that are doing it for that, but all the dancers I know, they all have more respect for themselves, take better care of their bodies and appreciate and value the people who show up to watch them than most celebrities and even more so, more than the executive women in business suits who will sell babies to make a profit in an office building.



And there are also the trash bag strip clubs that have the skanky girls and some respectable girls... and they are degraded on a regular basis.



Prostitution I don't even wanna go into.





On a whole... the sex industry has it's ups n downs and I think that the individual mindframe of the person matters and the enviroment matters. There are women exec's in office buildings that degrade women just as much as the whores on the street, and even more so in some aspects and there are dancers in the world that are given more respect than those suited up bitches will ever get, based on her talent, not on her T&A.

LaCi - posted on 04/29/2010

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why is it only degrading for women to use their bodies for money, but no one ever says it's degrading to men? they are both using their bodies, their sexuality, to make money.

It isn't degrading in the slightest. It isn't empowering either. Its a just a job, and like all jobs, some people love it and some people only do it for the paycheck.

Jenny - posted on 04/29/2010

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It depends on the woman. I spent a good deal of my bar days at the ballet (as we called it) and my roommate was a waitress at one so we were there alot. Most of the strippers I talked to loved their jobs. They worked for only a few hours a night, got paid well, wore fabulous costumes and got a good workout. Many of them had exhibitionist tendencies and really enjoyed being watched. There was a few though that came from bad backgrounds and were not emotionally suited to the industry.

As far as far as prostitution goes it is a woman using her natural (or not natural lol) resources to create a living for herself. It's very entrepunerial if you think about it. Look at all the trophy wives out there. They are doing the same thing but with a marriage certificate but it's the same transaction at it's root. If the men are getting what they want and the women is getting what she wants I see no harm done. Now let's legalise it so we can make the industry safer.

Krista - posted on 04/29/2010

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Hard to say, Christa. Look at someplace like the Democractic Republic of Congo. As far as I'm aware, there aren't a whole lot of strip clubs there. But the rape rates aren't exactly dropping.

Christa - posted on 04/29/2010

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I find it completely degrading. I think allowing men to use our bodies (visually or physically) continues their "control" over women, whether they pay for it or not. I think until women stop using their bodies as weapons or leverage or whatever, men won't start looking at women as equals. Not to mention the poor message it sends to young insecure girls.

I also think this contributes to the high rape rates. Women doing this to themselves for money gives men the thoughts that women’s bodies are for THEIR enjoyment. And like any other “good” some people are going to steal it. Do I think rape would stop if porn/stripping/prostitution etc went away completely, no. But I do think the rates would drop over the generations.

Joanna - posted on 04/29/2010

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I stripped for less than a year when I was 19 (I moved across the state from my parents and couldn't find a job so I did it to pay off my debt that was building up). While I didn't necessarily feel empowered, I definitely didn't feel degraded. I think it's how you go about it, and how the woman personally feel. Some women do feel empowered by it, using themselves to get into men's wallets doesn't feel like "using themselves" I guess. And some try it out and do feel degraded, all they can see is that they are being used for some guys to get their rocks off. It all depends on the woman in the industry's state of mind.

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