Wang, Y. Yvon. “Commercial Sex Introduction” (written specifically for Zannegaar Journal)
Y. Yvon Wang is a PhD candidate in Stanford University’s Department of History. She is currently completing a dissertation on the emergence of pornography as concept and commodity in China across the turn of the twentieth century, with a focus on Beijing.
Alexander, Priscilla. “4.8 Prostitution: A Difficult Issue for Feminists.” Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader. Columbia University Press, 1996.
This article was originally published in the book Sex Work (1988), edited by Priscilla Alexander and Frederique Delacoste.
Feminists account for prostitution as a consequence of women’s subordination. Difficulties arise, however, in maintaining a distinction between a critique of prostitution and a critique of sex workers themselves. Priscilla Alexander examines some of the problems this has created, arguing that both prohibition and legalisation of prostitutes’ activities can cause problems for the women. She advocates for the decriminalization of prostitution on the grounds that this offers the best chance of prostitutes controlling their own working conditions.
HØigård, Cecilie and Liv Finstad. “4.9 Prostitutes and Their Clients.” Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader. Columbia University Press, 1996.
Cecilie HØigård is a Professor of Criminology at the University of Oslo, who has written extensively on prostitution, social work, and unemployment. Liv Finstad is Director and Lecturer of Criminology at the University of Oslo, and president of the Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology. She has similarly written various books and articles about prostitution, prisons, and drug abuse.
HØigård and Finstad’s piece is originally from their book Backstreets: Prostitution, Love, and Money, published in 1992, and details research HØigård and Finstad each conducted on the experiences of 26 prostitutes in Norway .
Cameron, Deborah and Elizabeth Frazer. “4.6 On the Question of Pornography and Sexual Violence: Moving Beyond Cause and Effect.” Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader. Columbia
University Press, 1996.
Deborah Cameron is a Scottish feminist linguist, who currently holds the Rupert Murdoch Professors in Language and Communication at Worcester College, University of Oxford. Elizabeth Frazer has her D Phil in Sociology from Oxford University, and is currently the Official Fellow and Tutor in Politics at New College, University of Oxford. Cameron and Frazer’s piece is taken from their book The Lust To Kill: Feminist Investigation of Sexual Murder, published in 1987.
Opposition to pornography sometimes rests on the assumption that it causes sexual violence and abuse. Deborah Cameron and Elizabeth Frazer argue that this view of cause and effect oversimplifies the issues. Drawing on their work on sexual murder, they seek to demonstrate that while there is no direct causal link, pornographic representations do provide ideas and narratives that violent men can draw upon. In particular, they emphasize the themes of mastery and transcendence that appear in sexual murderer’s accounts of their actions.
Truong, Thanh-Dan. “4.11 Serving the Tourist Market: Female Labour in International Tourism.” Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader. Columbia University Press, 1996.
This article is an original piece featured in Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader, published in 1996.
Prostitution, and sex work in general, has become part of the global economy, primarily through the development of sexual tourism. This is particularly well documented in South East Asia, the geographical focus of this study. Thanh-Dan Truong argues that women’s involvement in sex-work should be placed in the content of global and local economic and social conditions. In this light, women’s work in this sphere is seen as part of the service sector and an aspect of an international, gendered division of labour.
From nineteenth-century campaigns against prostitution in England to pornography on the World Wide Web today, commodified sex has been a central controversy for modern feminist movements around the world. Does the sale of women's bodies, as well as of representations of those bodies, represent enslavement by the patriarchy, or a radical possibility for women to use their sexuality as they wish? Is there any value whatsoever to society or the individual in pornographic media, or in the exchange of sex for money and goods?
The writings included in this issue of Zannegaar reflect a wide range of positions and approaches in the answering of these questions. Ultimately, the subject remains emotionally fraught and deeply divisive, especially as new technologies and institutions intensify global connections. Precisely because there has been no clear resolution to the problem of prostitution and pornography, examining how feminists have considered them provides us a revealing look beyond an all-encompassing "Feminism," revealing instead multiple feminisms: like women themselves, these are complex, conflicted, and change over time. Loaded Words
Even the very words "prostitution" and "pornography" are more complicated than they seem. The Oxford English Dictionary's definitions for the former are telling. While prostitution refers to "the practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment," it may also refer metaphorically to "[d]evotion or application to an unworthy or corrupt cause or purpose…debasement or corruption."