Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Essays

No. 1 (2020)

Prostitution in the western capitalist world between moral problem and social issue: paths, voices, analyses

  • Arianna Friso
DOI
https://doi.org/10.13130/balthazar/13940
Submitted
July 18, 2020
Published
2020-07-18

Abstract

Prostitution has always found place within institutions and imageries that perform an exclusion, that conceptualize it as “other”, drawing out a separation that is both material and ideological. Such discourses intersect with the development and strengthening of the capitalistic system; however, the profound mutation of the modes of production, of consumption and of living related to the processes of industrialization and urbanization constitutes the material precondition that will allow prostitutes to reconceptualize their own figure and to partially reorganize their existence and their own positioning in the social world during the second half of the XX century.

The story of C.O.Y.O.T.E. is considered here as an example of the construction of a political subject with the use of pre-existent discourses, connected to the socioeconomical changes cited above and to the actions and analyses of the feminist movements, which were confronting during those years with the issue of sexuality and the governance of female bodies, framing it in the context of the critique of unequal power relations between sexual classes. Using the language of work, prostitutes assert their autonomy and the erosion of traditional imagery. This approach, which we can consider an emancipatory strategy, is criticised by some wings of radical feminism, as it would not place itself in the broader revolutionary horizon of the abolition of the market of bodies and sex; nonetheless, they must be confronted with the actual potential projects such as C.O.Y.O.T.E.’s have in terms of viability and real acquisition of autonomy. A feminist analysis of prostitution that wants to be exhaustive in its description must then show the limits of that reality as well as clarify its political and critical merits.