Archives de Tag: Prostitution

During the rece…

During the recent years of struggle – by all women, not only prostitutes – it has become clear that the state is the prime target to attack, not the pimp or the client, who are merely secondary objectives. The state is the biggest “pimp” of all. Through fines and imprisonment it is always trying to reduce prostitute’s income to the average female level – low. The state is the true exploiter of both houseworkers and sexworkers, and all women should and must continue to unite internationally in struggle against the criminalization of prostitutes. It is every woman’s struggle.

Leopoldina Fortunati, The Arcane of Reproduction : Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital; Autonomedia, 1996, p. 56

Durant les récentes années de lutte – de toutes les femmes, pas seulement des prostituées- il est devenu clair que l’Etat est la première cible à attaquer, non le proxénète ou le client, qui ne sont que des objectifs secondaires. L’Etat est le plus gros “proxénète” de tous. Par les amendes et l’emprisonnement il tente sans cesse de réduire le revenu des prostituées au niveau moyen féminin ) bas. L’Etat est le véritable exploiteur tant des travailleuses ménagères que des travailleuses du sexe, et toutes les femmes devraient et doivent continuer à s’unir internationalement dans la lutte contre la criminalisation des prostituées. c’est la lutte de toutes les femmes.

One the one han…

One the one hand, the woman is formally prevented from selling herself as houseworker and as prostitute in the same time, given that one person cannot at the formal level exist as legal (houseworker) and illegal (prostitute) subjects simultaneously. On the other hand for the prostitute to sell her labor-power as its capacity for production would also be formally incompatible. But in practice she can and she does. Nowadays, for example, with the crisis of family so rampant, housewives and others are becoming part-time prostitutes, as too are students, workers, teachers, secretaries, etc. The division in the female job market between prostitute and non-prostitute is thus blurring. Entering and leaving the two markets has become far easiest than in the past […]. The rise in prostitution, coupled with women’s increasing absenteeism from housework, is dangerously changing the face of the male worker’s consumption, where his consumption of housework should not only be complementary but also fundamental to his consumption of prostitution work, and vice versa. In response, capital has intensified its efforts to regain its quantitative control over the supply of prostitution work. The wave of repression of prostitutes is in reality capital’s attempt to re-establish the complementary aspects of the exchange, and to once more place prostitution work in a secondary position to housework in terms of the male worker’s quantitative consumption of it.

Leopoldina Fortunati, The Arcane of Reproduction : Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital; Autonomedia, 1996, p. 44-45

D’un côté, la femme est formellement empêchée de se vendre comme ménagère et comme prostituée en même temps, étant donné qu’une personne ne peut, au niveau formel, exister simultanément en tant que sujet légal (la ménagère) et illégal (la prostituée). D’un autre côté, pour la prostituée, vendre sa force de travail comme sa capacité pour la production serait aussi formellement incompatible. Mais en pratique, elle le peut et elle le fait. De nos jours, par exemple, avec la crise si endémique de la famille, les femmes au foyer et autres deviennent des prostituées à temps partiel, de même que les étudiantes, travailleuses, enseignantes, secrétaires, etc. La division dans le marché du travail féminin entre prostituée et non-prostituée devient brouillée. Entrer et quitter ces deux marchés est devenu bien plus facile que par le passé […] L’augmentation de la prostitution, couplée au croissant absentéisme  des femmes du travail ménager, est en train de dangereusement changer le visage de la consommation du travailleur, puisque sa consommation de travail ménager ne devrait pas être seulement complémentaire, mais fondamentale, par rapport à sa consommation de travail de prostitution, et vice versa. En réponse, le capital a intensifié ses efforts pour récupérer un contrôle quantitatif sur la réserve de travail de prostitution. La vague de répression des prostituées est en réalité une tentative du capital pour rétablir les aspects complémentaires de l’échange, et pour, une fois de plus, placer le travail de la prostitution dans une position secondaire par rapport au travail ménager en ce qui concerne la quantité qu’en consomme le travailleur.

Similar conside…

Similar considerations apply to the efforts that feminists have made to convince governments to criminalize domestic violence and the “traffic” in women. These initiatives do not go to the roots of the abuses perpetrated against women.
Can punishments remedy the situation of abject poverty that leads parents in some countries to sell their children into prostitution? And how can governments in Asia or Africa upgrade the condition of women when the World Bank and the IMF force them to cut all social spending and adopt the strictest austerity programs?47 How can these governments give women equal access to education or better health care when structural adjustment requires them to cut all subsidies to these programs? And will parents be likely to send their daughters to schools when their sons are unemployed after obtaining a diploma?
If international feminism and global sisterhood are to be possible, feminists must campaign against structural adjustment, the payment of the foreign debt, and the introduction of intellectual property laws, which are the means by which the new international division of labor is being organized, and the livelihood of the majority of the world population is undermined.

Silvia Federici, « Reproduction and Feminist struggle in the new international division of labor » (1999), in Revolution at point Zero : Housework Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, p. 73-74


ôtez de l’échange économico-sexuel le stigmate de putain, et la prostitution s’évapore.

Gail Pheterson, Le Prisme de la prostitution, p. 11

Police harassment of prostitutes has increased – they can be forced to appear in court to provide testimony against the client (they can refuse to be witnessed, but they are still summoned and sometimes escorted to courtrooms), and whenever they are caught with a client their belongings are searched and they may be frisked. Anything that police think they can use as evidence against clients (such as condoms) is confiscated. This practice clearly has consequences for condom use among sex workers. It provides them with strong incentives to avoid using them. The law has been a catastrophe for non-Swedish sex workers – if the prostitute found with a client is not a citizen or legal resident of Sweden, she is immediately deported; in fact government prosecutors complain that in a number of cases they were unable to gain convictions against clients because the pros- titutes they were found with had been deported before they could even give a statement (BRÅ, 2000:4, p. 44; also Expressen, 01–09–30).8 This fact affects the willingness of non- residents to report on violence. A police chief in the north of Sweden observes that, ‘I don’t think for example that a Russian woman would dare to report a man for violence against her, because then she would risk not being given a visa if she ever wanted to come back to Sweden, because it would have become known that she is a prostitute’ (Tidnin- gen Svensk Polis, 02–04–18).

Don KULICK, “Sex in the New Europe, The Criminalization of Clients and Swedish Fear of Penetration, Anthropological Theory 2003 3: 199

Immediately after the law began to be enforced, police noted a drop in the numbers of street prostitutes (again, we are not talking about massive numbers to begin with – in 1999, reports indicate that there were less than 800 prostitutes in the entire country). This may have something to do with the fact that policemen, who had been allotted 7 million Swedish kronor (US$650,000) to enforce the new law, immediately began making their presence on the streets where sex workers worked very visible. Armed with video cameras, which they ostentatiously pointed at any car that slowed down near a sex worker, they effectively frightened away clients, thus driving the sex workers off the streets. By the middle of 1999, however, it seems that many of the sex workers who initially left the streets were back again. In August of 2002, social workers in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, estimated that there were about 200 street prostitutes there, which is the same number that was estimated before the passage of the law in 1999 (Kvällsposten, 02–08–09). Since the law came into effect, three government reports have been commissioned to evaluate it and to recommend how it might be enforced (BRå, 2000: 4; Nord and Rosenberg, 2001; SoS, 2000: 5) None of these reports has concluded that the law has resulted in a significant drop in prostitution in Sweden.
While street prostitution was initially (and, it seems, temporarily) affected (see note 9), researchers report that the passage of the law corresponded to an increase of the number of sex advertisements on the Internet. The number of bordellos – which in practice seems to mean apartments on the periphery of large cities, in which Baltic women work, often, it seems, under oppressive conditions – appears to have increased since the law was passed. Prostitutes interviewed in the mass media report that women with drug problems have been driven to desperation and even suicide by the new law, since they have been unable to put advertisements on the Internet and make up for the clients they lost as a result of the law. Social workers agree that the law has made it more difficult for them to reach prostitutes. Police report that their efforts to prosecute pimps and traffickers has been made more difficult, because clients, who before the passage of the law were sometimes willing to serve as witnesses, are now disinclined to cooperate, since they themselves are guilty of a crime (Nord and Rosenberg, 2001: 4). Social workers and street prostitutes say that the quality of clients has declined, and a recent report commissioned by the National Board of Police has concluded that women are now forced to accept not only more clients (since prices have dropped), but also more unstable and dangerous clients than they would have accepted before the law, when there were more clients and, hence, more choice (e.g. GT/Expressen, 00–04–22; DN, 98–08–02; DN, 99–01–18; Nord and Rosenberg, 2001: 27).

Don KULICK, “Sex in the New Europe, The Criminalization of Clients and Swedish Fear of Penetration, Anthropological Theory 2003 3: 199


La société capitaliste est le lieu caché de nombreux cas de pauvreté et d’oppression qui ne sont pas directement visibles. Les familles éclatées originaires de la petite-bourgeoisie, d’artisans, d’ouvriers industriels, d’employés et de domestiques sont pauvres de manière indescriptible. Des millions et des millions de femmes dans de telles familles vivent (ou plutôt survivent) comme esclaves domestiques, enchaînées par l’effort quotidien désespérant de nourrir et vêtir leur famille avec quelques sous, économisant chaque chose sauf leur labeur.

C’est de loin parmi ces femmes que les capitalistes sont plus avides de recruter des travailleuses ménagères et qui sont préparées à « accepter » des salaires monstrueusement bas pour apporter davantage de nourriture pour elles-mêmes et leur famille. C’est parmi elles que les capitalistes de tous les pays( comme les propriétaires d’esclaves de l’antiquité et les seigneurs féodaux du moyen-âge) choisissent nombre de concubines au plus favorable prix. Aucune « indignation morale » ( hypocrite dans 99% des cas) sur la prostitution ne peut rien faire pour empêcher ce commerce du corps des femmes ; aussi longtemps que l’esclavage salarié existera, la prostitution continuera inévitablement. A travers l’histoire, toutes les classes opprimées et exploitées ont toujours été réduites (leur exploitation consiste en cela) par leurs oppresseurs, en premier au travail non rémunéré, en second, leurs femmes à être les concubines des « maîtres ».

LENINE, “capitalisme et travail féminin”

Dernièrement, à Londres, s’est terminé le « cinquième congrès international de lutte contre la prostitution ».
Ce fut une rencontre de duchesses, de comtesses, d’évêques, de pasteurs, de rabbins, de fonctionnaires de la police et de philanthropes bourgeois de tout poil ! Et combien de dîners solennels, combien de fastueuses réceptions officielles eurent lieu à cette occasion ! Combien de discours emphatiques y furent prononcés sur la nocivité et l’infamie de la prostitution !
Quels étaient donc les moyens de lutte réclamés par les délégués bourgeois au congrès, ces gens délicats ? Deux moyens avant tout : la religion et la police. Il paraît que c’est là tout ce qu’il y a de bon et de sûr contre la prostitution. D’après le correspondant londonien de la Volkszeitung de Leipzig, un délégué anglais s’est vanté d’avoir proposé au Parlement d’appliquer un châtiment corporel aux entremetteurs. Voilà un héros « civilisé » de la lutte contre la prostitution telle qu’on la pratique de nos jours !
Une dame canadienne était ravie de la police et de la surveillance exercée par la police féminine sur les femmes « tombées », mais à propos d’une augmentation des salaires elle disait que les ouvrières ne méritaient pas un meilleur paiement.Un pasteur allemand fulmina contre le matérialisme contemporain qui se répand de plus en plus dans le peuple et contribue aux progrès de l’amour libre. Lorsque le délégué autrichien, Hertner, essaya d’aborder les causes sociales de la prostitution, la misère et la pauvreté des familles ouvrières, l’exploitation du travail des enfants, les conditions de logement insupportables, etc., le congrès, par des exclamations hostiles, obligea l’orateur à se taire ! En revanche, on racontait, dans les groupes de délégués, des choses édifiantes et solennelles sur de hautes personnalités. Par exemple, quand l’impératrice allemande rend visite à une maison d’accouchement à Berlin, on met des alliances aux doigts des mères des enfants « illégitimes », afin de ne pas choquer la haute personnalité par l’aspect de mères non mariées !
Cela permet de juger quelle dégoûtante hypocrisie bourgeoise règne à ces congrès aristocratiques et bourgeois. Les acrobates de la charité et les policiers pour qui la misère et la pauvreté sont des objets de dérision se rassemblent pour « lutter contre la prostitution », qui est soutenue précisément par l’aristocratie et la bourgeoisie…

Lénine : « Le cinquième congrès international de lutte contre la prostitution », Rabotchaïa Pravda,

13/26 Juillet 1913,

Œuvres, t. XVI, p. 516-517. (Edit russe.)

L’identification d’espaces et de lieux dévolus à la prostitution et au commerce sexuel génère leur stigmatisation et instaure une géographie morale qui fixe les limites entre l’acceptable et le répréhensible dans ce qui, de la sexualité, est donné à voir. Phil Hubbard, plus que d’autres, s’est intéressé aux modalités de construction, de négociation, de contestation de l’immoralité et de la présence des prostituées dans les espaces urbains. Citant David Sibley (1995) pour qui tout pouvoir s’exprime par une monopolisation de l’espace et par la relégation des plus faibles dans les lieux les moins convoités, il affirme que les quartiers chauds sont une condition de la marginalisation des prostituées.
Le fait que ceux-ci soient localisés dans des aires urbaines auxquelles collent des images de pauvreté, criminalité, drogue, trafic, participe effectivement à la stigmatisation et à la criminalisation des prostituées qui y exercent. Le rejet vers les périphéries urbaines des prostitutions les plus dévalorisées est un indicateur des hiérarchisations sociales au sein des mondes du commerce sexuel. La presse locale, qui est l’un des matériaux utilisés par Phil Hubbard pour saisir les jeux de représentations et d’acteurs, participe à la production de significations visant à mettre l’immoralité de la prostitution physiquement et psychiquement à distance des quartiers résidentiels les plus riches de la ville (Hubbard, Sanders, 2003, p. 79). Les acteurs politiques peuvent aussi contribuer à cette hiérarchisation des prostitutions selon les lieux d’exercice. […]
Le confinement dans les quartiers chauds est à la fois isolement spatial et relégation sociale. La création de frontières matérielles, symboliques et imaginaires, est l’un des moyens par lesquels les défenseurs des intérêts dominants peuvent définir des groupes comme déviants (Hubbard, 1997, p. 134). En inscrivant les pratiques prostitutionnelles de rue et la sexualité visible dans la forme spatiale spécifique que sont les red light districts, contraintes et interdits séparent l’hétérosexualité immorale d’avec ses formes respectables (Hubbard, 2000, p. 202). Plus largement, le placement ou déplacement des prostituées ressortit à leur catégorisation comme personnes immorales.

Soon all female work, if done in the home, was defined as “housekeeping”, and even when done outside the home it was paid less than men’s work, and never enough for women to be able to live by it. Marriage was now seen as a woman’s true career, and
women’s inability to support themselves was taken so much for granted, that when a single woman tried to settle in a village, she was driven away even if she earned a wag
Combined with land dispossession. this loss of power with regard to wage employment led to the massification of prostitution. As Le Roy Ladurie reports, the growth in the number of prostitutes in France was visible everywhere:

From Avignon to Narbonne to Barcelona “sporting women” (femmes de debauche) stationed themselves at the gates of the cities, in streets of red­-light districts …and on the bridges … [so that] by 1594 the “shameful traffic” was flourishing as never before (Le RoyLadurie 1 974: 1 12-13).

The situation was similar in England and Spain, where, everyday, in the cities, poor women arriving from the countryside, and even the wives of craftsmen, rounded up the familt income with this work. A proclamation issued by the political authorities in Madrid, in 1631, denounced the problem, complaining that many vagabond women
now wandering among the city’s streets, alleys, and taverns, enticing men to sin with them (Vigil 1986: 1 1 4-5). But no sooner had prostitution become the main form of subsistence for a large female population than the institutional attitude towards it changed. Whereas in the late Middle Ages it had been officially accepted as a necessary evil, and prostitutes had benefited from the high wage regime, in the 16th century, the situation was reversed.
In a climate of intense misogyny. characterized by the advance of the Protestant Reformation and witch-hunting, prostitution was first subjected to new restrictions and then criminalized. Everywhere, between 1 530 and 1 560. town brothels were closed and prostitutes, especially street-walkers, were subjected to severe penalties: banishment, flogging, and other cruel forms of chastisement. Among them was “the ducking stool” or
acabussade – “a piece of grim theatre,” as Nickle Roberts describes it – whereby the victims were tied up, sometimes they were forced into a cage, and then were repeatedly immersed in rivers or ponds, till they almost drowned (Roberts 1992: 16).
Meanwhile, in 16th-century France, the raping of a prostitute ceased to be a crime. In Madrid, as well, it was decided that female vagabonds and prostitutes should not be allowed to stay and sleep in the streets and under the porticos of the town, and if caught should be given a hundred lashes. and then should be banned from the city for six years in addition to having their heads and eyebrows shaved.
What can account for this drastic attack on female workers? And how does the exclusion of women from the sphere of socially recognized work and monetary relations relate to the impositon of forced maternity upon them, and the contemporary massification of the witch-huny?
Looking at these phenomena from the vantage point of the present, after four centuries of capitalist disiplining of women, the answers may seem to impose themselves. Though women’s waged work, housework, and (paid) sexual work are still studied often in isolation from each other, we are now in a better position to see that the discrimination that women have suffered in the waged work-force has been directly rooted in their function as unpaid laborers in the home. We can thus connect the banning of
prostitution and the expulsion of women from the organized workplace with the cre­ation of the housewife and the reconstruction of the family as the locus for the produc­tion of labor-power.

Silvia FEDERICI, Caliban and the Witch, p. 94-95