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This essay shall systematically discuss the title question looking at the complexities of both liberal and radical feminist arguments. Though acknowledging that sex work takes many forms, this essay will focus on prostitution. They argue it is essential to work with prostituted individuals to improve regulation and the conditions women, transsexuals and men, currently work in. I conclude by proposing the Swedish method as the pre-eminent method to address prostitution — for although abolitionist, it is sensitive to the complexities of the abolitionist paradigm.
Liberals confer that greater public respect will improve prostitutes social security and reduce the experience of harm, violence and discrimination towards them.
They show how if orchestrated professionally, sex work can be a legitimate profession which has important social value. Liberals also advocate that individuals should have a right to choose what they do with their body.
Abolitionists succinctly delegitimize this liberal argument. They argue that sex work is inherently harmful to prostitutes psychologically, it is unavoidably violent and instils patriarchy in its most essential form.
Furthermore, by legitimising sex work you normalise these values and perpetuate the social construction of inequalities between men and women. Miriam endorses this in her essay Prostitution is unique — prostitutes are expected to subordinate their own will entirely for the sexual gratification of the customers — thus it cannot be considered a legitimate enactment of agency. Since prostitution remains an explicitly segregated service dominated by women, it seems fair to argue that such a practice instils patriarchy and subordination over women in its most innate and intimate form.