Rape Isn’t Just Part of the Job Description

The conflation all prostitution with rape and the attitude that prostitutes can’t be raped may seem like opposite positions of the surface, but they’re really both harmful positions. Both positions deny sex workers agency over our own bodies, and disrespect our right to set our boundaries.

To say that all prostitution is rape and to say that prostitutes can’t be raped treat rape like it’s just part of the job description. Saying that a prostitute can’t be raped is making the claim that rape is such an inherent part of the job that  a prostitute can’t say no, which is the same as saying all prostitution is rape.

Both positions are extremely dangerous, as they trivialize and water down the seriousness of rape. If we accept these positions, then what do we do when a prostitute actually is raped…just blow if off as part of the job? With such attitudes in existence, it’s not surprising that violence against sex workers so often isn’t taken seriously, with reactions like “what did you expect”.  These attitudes also encourage rape because they could cause some people to think it’s just normal to rape prostitutes and perceive nothing wrong with this. 

 Rape against prostitutes needs to be taken seriously, and recognized as rape, not just a necessary danger that’s bound to happen in prostitution. Hopefully someday, rape will no longer exist inside or outside of prostitution.  An important step to achieving this is for us all as a society to take rape seriously. Treating rape like it’s an inherent part of prostitution does nothing to prevent rape or help people who are raped.

6 responses

  1. It’s a very bizarre combination of attitudes, one which treats all prostitutes as victims even when they don’t consider themselves as such, then refuses to recognize a prostitute as a victim in a case where she actually is.

    The common thread is a rejection of individual self-determination and agency. In both cases they’re saying “What you wanted or didn’t want isn’t important and isn’t relevant to the definition of hat happened.”

    It’s part of the repugnant older attitude about sexuality which treats sexual morality as a matter of defending rules of “purity” rather than defending individual rights to self-determination, as real morality does.

    No one ever thinks that, because a man earns a living as a car salesman, he has no right to complain if his car is stolen.

  2. “Rape against prostitutes needs to be taken seriously, and recognized as rape, not just a necessary danger that’s bound to happen in prostitution”

    Absolutely. Everyone should be equal before the law and have their rights respected.

    Earlier this year, there was a case in Bradford, England where a man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raping two sex workers. Obviously, in countries where sex work is criminalized, it is much less likely for evil men like him to even be charged with a crime.

  3. Some people may argue that prostitution is rape based on the notion that once clients pay us, we’re under their control. Some may argue that no prostitution is rape for the same reason. However, my brothel clients compensate me for mutually agreed upon time and services, which isn’t the same as rape because I consent to provide the time and services. This is one of the things I love about working legally and one of the reasons why I support decriminalization so much…because we can communicate with each other and be upfront about what will be provided for what amount of time. Communication is so important. Yet, this doesn’t mean that prostitutes can’t be raped, either.

    Also, not all rape against sex workers is by paying clients. Some of the violence against sex workers that happens occurs during negotiations before the client pays and in some cases, by non clients. Violence is still violence,either way, and rape is a type of violence.

  4. Pingback: Porn, Rape and Consent « Random musings

  5. Though I can’t speak for Gumdeo, I believe this person is saying that criminalizing prostitution creates a context where rape and other forms of violence are nothing more than “part of the job description”. The focus under criminalization is on prohibition rather than harm reduction, and prohibition doesn’t work. Also when criminalized, sex workers in prostitution cannot report rape or other forms of violence without incriminating oneself in the process. Also, sex workers in criminalized systems are put in a position where they need to protect themselves from the police rather than being able to go to the police for protection. This would make people much less likely to report violence.

  6. Pingback: Stop Trivializing Sex Workers’ Efforts to Protect Ourselves | Vegan Vixen

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