Female Empowerment or Voluntary Objectification?: Women and the The Sex Industry


The sex industry is the only industry where women make more than men. In an industry including pornography, escorting, erotic dancing and prostitution, it is difficult to say whether this is female empowerment or voluntary objectification. While there are always two sides to every argument, this argument is one with a massive grey area. Some would applaud the women for choosing a career where they earn more than men, others would condemn them for willingly objectifying themselves. It is definitely a complicated issue with no straightforward answer.

It would be possible to argue that working in the sex industry, if it is truly the woman’s choice, is an empowering decision. We could claim that it is her body, and therefore her choice to do with it what ever she pleases. We could congratulate her for owning her life and taking control, and choosing to work in an industry where women are the dominant sex. An industry where women not only earn more money than men, but make their money from men. Women have claimed that they have experienced more respect and power working in the sex industry than they would have if they worked ‘straight’ jobs. This is definitely sounds like an empowering career choice, right?

However, the other side of the argument is the question of why is the sex industry the only one that doesn’t pay women less than men? It could be suggested that women who work in the sex industry are voluntarily objectifying themselves. By choosing to work in this industry, not only are they are allowing men to objectify them; they are voluntarily reducing themselves to sex objects. The sex industry promotes the notion that women are only good for sex, and that selling their bodies is the only way that they can be viewed as ‘superior’ to men. It supports the idea that the sole occasion that women are not inferior is when they are giving themselves up to the desire of men. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that many women end up in the sex industry is because they have no other choice, either because they desperately need to earn money or because they are forced or coerced into working in porn or prostitution; a famous example of this would be Linda Lovelace. However, this argument focuses on the women who choose to work in the industry, and the aftermath of their choice.

If a woman decides to work in the sex industry, whether that be in porn, erotic dancing or prostitution, and she is truly happy with this decision, then that’s great for her. Let’s congratulate her for taking charge and working in an industry where women dominate. However, it is an uncomfortable feeling knowing that women only earn more by selling themselves, that they earn respect through objectification, that they are only valued for pleasing men, and the only way they aren’t victims of pay discrimination is through having sex.

It is difficult to say whether a career in the sex industry is an empowering one or not. However, it would be fair to claim that women are objectified in every aspect of life. At least in the sex industry they’re being paid for it.


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