END Sexual Enslavement—Don't “Regulate” or Glorify It!
5 Myths of Making the Sex Industry “Friendly” to Women

by Sunsara Taylor

May 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The following was provoked by the May 5 New York Times Magazine cover story, “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?”

We don’t need a “choice” between criminalizing women who are used and abused in the sex industry or glorifying and “regulating” this industry that perpetrates—and can only perpetrate—the sexual enslavement, rape, abuse, and dehumanization of millions and millions of women and girls.

We need a whole different world: where women and girls are never again coerced, forced, sold by starving families, or tricked into sexual slavery; where men are no longer socialized to want and feel entitled to sexually exploit, degrade, and brutalize women and girls; and where all relations between all people—including intimate and sexual relations—are based on mutual respect and equality and mutual flourishing, not domination, degradation, desperation or getting over on others.



Five myths promoted by those who claim the sex industry can be made “friendly” to women:

Myth #1: Some women are harmed by the sex industry, but others find it “empowering,” therefore it’s too complex to say for sure its overall effect.

Truth: The true character of the sex industry is simple: it enslaves women.

The Break Down: The overwhelming majority of women in the sex industry are forced into it out of desperation, poverty, war, sexual violence, kidnapping, or abuse. In the U.S. the average age of entrance into prostitution is 13 years old. These are children—overwhelmingly girls who have been raped or molested. They are also LGBT children cast out by bigoted families. In Bangladesh, girls in sexual slavery are given cow steroids so that their breasts develop early and their bodies can endure more abuse. Everywhere, women are beaten and drugged, locked in brothels and raped. Their passports are confiscated. Often, the police and militaries are the most brutal and frequent in sexually violating them. This is the overwhelming character of the sex “industry” that destroys the lives of millions and millions of women and girls each year.

What about the tiny fraction of women who claims to find selling sex “empowering”? As it says in A Declaration: For Women’ s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity:

Even those who—for a time—are able to convince themselves that this “ choice ” is somehow empowering can only do so by accepting the terms that demean themselves and other women in a male-supremacist set-up. And even deeper, you don’t get the “right to be sexy” or to be the “owner of your own body as a sexual commodity” without a world that gives rise to the notion that women should be evaluated by their bodies and sexual attractiveness—and that world thrives on and mandates the shipment of women in droves across borders as human chattel, into brothels and “comfort stations” for U.S. troops, and as mail-order brides. No one should want to make peace with, or find their way in, that.


Myth #2: Prostitution has always existed and will always exist, so it’s best to legalize and regulate it.

Truth: Prostitution has not always existed, and it must be ended if women are ever going to be free.

The Break Down: For tens of thousands of years, women were not bought and sold for sex. Nor was their sexuality tightly controlled. In these earliest gathering and hunting societies, people lived more or less cooperatively, without masters and slaves. It was only with the development of antagonistic classes—where one section of society ruled over and lived off the labor of others—that this began to change. Men began to strictly control women’s sexual activity to ensure that the children they bore belonged to their husbands, and that property and social positions passed to the next generation. Since then, women have been treated as property of men—either virgins until marriage and then breeders of children, or “whores.”

Capitalism has not ended this oppression, nor can it. The patriarchal family remains the basic economic unit of society and place where children are socialized. For all its claims of “progress” and even the real changes in the form of this oppression, in the U.S. patriarchy is being violently reinforced—through a Christian fascist war on birth control and abortion and through brutal woman-hating pornography and a booming sex “industry” on a scale unseen in history.

Ending this oppression—and ending the sale of women’s flesh as part of that—is not only possible, it is urgently necessary. But it is only possible by overthrowing the system of capitalism-imperialism and going on, in a new society, to dig up the division of humanity into antagonistic classes. What is needed is genuine communist revolution. As Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has analyzed, the fight to break all the chains that bind women is completely bound up with the fight to end all divisions into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited and oppressors and oppressed. It is—and must be—a driving force in the fight to emancipate all of humanity.


Myth #3: It’s just human nature for men to dominate and treat women like sex objects.

Truth: This is not human nature, this is the way the system has socialized men for thousands of years—but it can, and must, change!

The Break Down: It is NOT “human nature” for men to crave the sexual degradation and domination of women. Men are not born this way, they are systematically trained in this—through the saturation of society with porn that glorifies the brutal degradation and sexual torture of women, by religious scriptures in every major religion that preach the “rightful” submission of women to men, by thousands of years of oppressive relations and traditions in which women have been reduced to property of men, breeders of children or sexual objects. And then, in huge numbers, they act on this training—raping and stalking, repressing and shaming, beating and killing, buying and discarding the humanity of women.

But this can—and must—change. Right now, men need to break with this system’s patriarchal training and recognize that women are their sisters and comrades in the struggle to end all oppression. They need to take up communist morality (see below) and join the fight to overthrow the system that requires and reinforces the oppression of women as a cornerstone in maintaining a world of savage inequality, brutal exploitation, environmental destruction, and endless oppressive wars.


Myth #4: For many women, the sex industry is the best option they have so it is wrong to take this choice away.

Truth: The fact that so many other “choices” available are also degrading, exploitative and often brutal does not change the character of the sex “industry.” It points to the need for an actual revolution to overthrow all systems of exploitation and oppression, not to pick between forms of enslavement.

The Break Down: Today, the oppression and dehumanization of women is woven into and driven forward by the system of capitalism-imperialism. Capitalists scour the globe, viciously competing with each other to find the cheapest labor to exploit. They claw ahead, or get driven under. Whole countries are turned into sweatshops, people are thrown off their lands, the environment is plundered, vicious wars are waged to gain global advantage. Everywhere, capitalism preys on the oppressed and the extra vulnerable status of women, super-exploiting them in factories and fields and selling their sexual degradation and abuse as a commodity itself.

If you are horrified by the way millions of women are trapped in dangerous sweatshops, driven through dangerous migrations and separated from their children, abused and treated like slaves in their homes, raped and abused in the sex industry—and the way all of this is woven into a world of wars, racist terror, environmental destruction, and enforced ignorance—then you need to learn about and join the fight to make this total communist revolution. Don’t “choose” between forms of oppression. Fight to break ALL the chains and emancipate humanity.


Myth #5: There are two moralities to pick from—either you puritanically repress women’s sexual desires and activities, or you must “loosen up” and accept the sale of sex as just another harmless transaction.

Truth: In reality, puritanical repression of women’s sexuality and the commodification of women as sexual objects are two sides of the same patriarchal coin. The real alternative is communist morality that views women—like all people everywhere—as full human beings, capable of participating fully and equally with men in all spheres of human endeavor.

The Break Down: We need a world where women are not viewed as property of any kind—neither sex objects nor breeders of children—but as full human beings. And we need a morality that is rooted in that future and that serves bringing that future into being. This is communist morality.

Communist morality promotes mutual respect and equality between men and women and people of all genders and sexuality. It opposes imperialist domination of one nation over others and racism. It celebrates cultural diversity, prizes cooperation and the social good above cutthroat competition, and puts the needs of the humanity and safeguarding the environment above the drive to accumulate wealth. It fosters the unfettered search for the truth and critical thinking.

Bob Avakian, "A world of rape and sexual assault"

A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003 in the United States.

A key part of all this is taking on all the attacks on women—fighting the Christian fascist assault to take away birth control and abortion as well as fighting the rape culture and violent degradation of pornography and the sex “industry.” It means lifting people’s sights to a world without oppression and organizing people for an actual revolution.


The Way Out:

We do not need to accept the world as it is. Lift your sights to a world without oppression or exploitation of any form, where all of humanity works together to contribute what they can and get back what they need for a decent life. Dig into the leadership and new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian. Study his compendium, Break ALL the Chains ! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, and spread A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity. Join with the Revolution Clubs in fighting back against all the assaults on women as well as the many other crimes of this system as part of transforming the people and building up the strength to get ready for an actual revolution.



Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.