Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our Choice of Words

How often do we stop to think how something as simple as a word choice can fuel misconceptions about sex trafficking? Think about the word prostitute or sex worker. What comes to mind?

What comes to mind more than likely is a woman who is willingly participating in the sex industry. As if it were a profession: a choice.  Prostitute is used like the word "doctor" or "lawyer": "shes a prostitute." However, these words fail to depict reality correctly. What seems to be a willing participant more often is a victim of sex trafficking and exploitation- an unwilling woman who is commercially raped. The words act as a white-washer, as a means to "normalize prostitution". 

Instead of using the words "prostitute" or "sex worker,"  use "prostituted woman," "prostituted people," or " women in prostitution". 

By using these words, you imply that there is an outside force coerced the woman into prostitution- it was not a choice. And if it was her choice- define choice for me keeping in mind structural and institutional forces. By choosing a different set of words, we stop implying that sex trafficking and exploitation is a profession- when in deed it is an oppression. We stop implying that the victim is willing.




To read more:

http://www.iast.net/documents/Howdowetalkaboutthis.pdf

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