Sexual Behaviour in Canada: Patterns and Problems

By Benjamin Schlesinger | Go to book overview

A feminist looks at prostitution

JOHANNA STUCKEY


INTRODUCTION

Prostitution is, as I see it, the basic, the central, the raw experience of women in our society. It is the core of our female experience, for, it is my contention that, at some level, most women in Canada today have at some point prostituted themselves - not necessarily for money, but often for that or its equivalent.

As I define it, prostitution is the use of sexual stimulation to gain non-sexual ends. The woman who gives her body to her husband as soon as she gets something she wants is doing what a prostitute does to live. A woman who gives in to a casual Saturday night date because she does not want to become a social misfit or be rejected is being paid not in cash but in emotional or social currency. A married woman who contracts in law to pay for her keep with her sexual favours is at that level little different from the prostitute. Of course, we all know that in marriage what is basic may be tempered by love and generosity, but the law is the law. Love and generosity ameliorate individual situations, it is true, but they do not basically make marriage any the less what it is - exchange of sex for keep. When love and generosity are absent, or limited, what essential difference is there between the married woman (or the single woman on an evening out) and the prostitute? At least the prostitute is involved - directly, honestly, and openly - in a cash transaction!

When I began this research, I started from a basic premise - that radical feminist political analysis would help me approach and understand prostitution; and, since prostitution is one of the simplest forms of direct exchange between men and women, the study of prostitutes and their attitudes would help me clarify my feminist analysis.

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