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"When we know male domination is directly connected to rape culture, we have to talk about toxic masculinity and how it links to the sex trade." Avery, Former CATW Intern in 'Prostitution as Financial Aid'

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We live in patriarchal societies premised on male superiority over women and girls. Many of the images we see and the media we consume sexualize and objectify women and girls, feeding a system grounded on discrimination and violence against women. These images and attitudes contribute to normalizing sex-based and gender-based violence and discrimination. The sex trade is both a cause and consequence of this system. By its very nature, it reduces women to sexual objects that can be bought and sold for the pleasure and entertainment of men and the profit of third-party exploiters. The media and academia often glamorize the sex trade, ignoring its inherent harms and life-long consequences. A culture that accepts the sex trade is one that normalizes violence and discrimination against women and girls. When women are objectified, bought and sold, all women can be perceived as commodities by society.

Other branches of the sex trade, like strip clubs and pornography, play a major role in normalizing these attitudes toward women and girls as well as the entire trade itself. While strip clubs are mistakenly believed to be harmless to the women they employ, these establishments are rife with sexual harassment, violence and exploitation.

A lot of pop culture has been molded by and has generated harmful gender norms. Pornography has done the same to pop culture. Porn has influenced much of the media and entertainment that is part of our daily lives, from advertisements to song lyrics to video games, normalizing and desensitizing us to sexualized inequality. With 88% of porn videos showing physical aggression, sexual violence against women is normalized. Together, this creates what sociologist Gail Dines calls porn culture, where women are reduced to sexual objects for consumption and the notion of consent is redefined.

Glorifying any aspect of the sex trade perpetuates dehumanization, gender-based violence and discrimination, and porn culture. Without understanding these connections, we’ll never be able to achieve equality.

Further reading:

Prostitution as Financial Aid: Three College Students Speak Out | An Evolution from Selling “Sex Tips” to Selling Porn: Cosmopolitan Joins Forces with the Porn Industry

To watch:

#WomenNotObjects | The Truth About Porn

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