Re-Thinking Prostitution: Feminism, Sex, and the Self

Re-Thinking Prostitution: Feminism, Sex, and the Self

Re-Thinking Prostitution: Feminism, Sex, and the Self

Re-Thinking Prostitution: Feminism, Sex, and the Self

Synopsis

Belinda J. Carpenter is Lecturer in the School of Justice Studies, Faculty of Law, at Queensland University of Technology.

Excerpt

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the ways in which we have come to know the prostitute and the client. Generally speaking, the prostitute is known through discourses on deviance, while knowledge of the client comes to us through discourses on nature. This does not mean, however, that the prostitute is only positioned as acting in a deviant manner, nor that the client is only considered to be acting naturally. Rather, it is these discourses that organize access to our ways of knowing them.

The Problem's in the Psyche

For psychoanalysts, problems in the individual psyche are used to understand and explain behavior. When dealing with prostitution, it is the deviant sexual act that attracts their attention. Although such sexual deviance is understood to include all prostitutes, it only includes psychopathological clients. Thus begins our relationship with the discourses of deviance and nature. Psychoanalysis, it is argued, is useful only to understand the behavior of a minority of clients. Most clients are healthy and normal. in contrast, all prostitutes gain from some psychoanalytic understanding of their promiscuous sexual behavior. All prostitutes are in some way acting unnaturally.

For psychoanalysts interested in understanding prostitution, the Oedipus complex is central. Theoretically, the Oedipus phase enables the child to identify with the parent of the same sex and relocate a love interest in the parent of the opposite sex. By puberty, normal psychosexual development . . .

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