Consent, Coercion, and Culpability: Is Prostitution Stigmatized Work or an Exploitive and Violent Practice Rooted in Sex, Race, and Class Inequality?

  • Rachel Moran
  • Melissa FarleyEmail author

While calling for facts rather than opinion in their Target Article, Benoit, Smith, Jansson, Healey, and Magnuson (2018) have omitted evidence and made conceptual errors. They erroneously claim that those of us who understand prostitution as sex inequality, sexual exploitation, and sexual violence also ignore prostitution’s race and class inequality. We don’t. Poverty, racist lack of opportunity/education, targeting of marginalized women of color, those with disabilities, or those who have experienced prior sexual abuse and emotional and physical neglect—all of these factors channel women into prostitution, which is the business of sexual exploitation. Prostitution exists because of the male demand for it, and racial and economic inequalities render women vulnerable to it. This means that prostitution is produced from an entwinement of sex, race, and economic inequalities (Frye, 1983; MacKinnon, 2011). Prostitution is also connected with childhood abuse and neglect (Farley, 2018;...



Thank you Inge Kleine and Ingeborg Kraus for information about locations in Germany where condomless sex is promoted. Thank you Katharina Bracher for assistance in translation of Detective Inspector Helmut Sporer’s Reality of Prostitution, 2013.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Survivors of Prostitution Abuse Calling for Enlightenment (SPACE International)DublinRepublic of Ireland
  2. 2.Prostitution Research and EducationSan FranciscoUSA

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