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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Debate over the place of prostitution in legal regulation

Recently, the debate about the place of prostitution in legal regulation has intensified significantly. We are talking about the legal regulation of prostitution in Bulgaria, but this debate is being conducted not only in our country. This debate is not new at all, although with the creation of feminist movements and ideologies it acquires more modern foundations and includes increasingly scientific and ideological arguments. Feminism itself is not a clearly structured holistic ideology, but rather a collection of political, cultural, economic and social movements, the common goal of which is to ensure more and more rights for women to achieve their equality with men. Feminist theory seeks to give a new understanding of gender difference and the social inequality of men and women based on it.

Arguing their opinion on the legal regulation of prostitution, all these areas “start” from the idea of ​​freedom, more specifically, the freedom of women. The difference manifests itself in relation to freedom itself – positive and negative freedom. Radical feminists are seeking for women freedom FROM prostitution, its legal abolition (somewhere they are called abolitionists, like those who fought for the abolition of slavery in the United States in the 19th century). Sex radicals base their attitude to prostitution on positive freedom – the freedom to engage in prostitution, as an expression of a woman’s free will, as a form of her self-expression, and as a means of social and economic independence from men.

One of the strengths of radical feminists is the belief that women should be given the opportunity to make informed choices as an alternative to prostitution. At the same time, they promote awareness and education among women. Women should ensure freedom from prostitution by abolishing prostitution as an institution, similar to the abolition of slavery in the United States in the 19th century. Radical feminists rely on primordial moral values, which gives strength to their position – a certain legal norm becomes strong if through it a legally defined moral norm is recognized. The theory of radical feminists seeks changes in legal, not moral norms.

Sex radicals take a different approach – they are looking for a change in morality, making arguments in favor of freedom – Freedom to prostitute. In their opinion, modern morality has not changed especially from antiquity to the present day, while, meanwhile, the ideas of humanism and enlightenment led to the recognition of the freedom of the individual – man and citizen. It is this freedom that is today limited by outdated public morality. Sex radicals are looking for freedom for a woman so that she can make money in prostitution as in any other activity. Here is part of their argument: “Some women prostitute with their fingers like typists, others prostitute with their minds like university teachers – it’s all the same. Prostitution is an occupation like any other. ” [Weitzer]. They are looking for self-expression, emancipation, economic independence from men.

Their arguments boil down to the following three main points:

-If it does not harm others, a woman is free to do whatever she wants with her body, even to sell it for money.

-Prostitution is an expression of free will and is a consensual act between adults, without coercion, of free will.

-Prostitution is work like any other, and should be recognized as legal.


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