Prostitution, feminist perspectives
Élaine Audet presents an overview of perspectives on prostitution, ranging from the immediate need for measures to combat poverty and violence affecting women to a longer-term questioning of the existing social, economic and sexual relationships of domination.
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"This book presents arguments in a vivid and individual style and aesthetic. But make no mistake. This is the particular singular voice speaking a truth and a warning of a wide and growing movement of feminists toward the abolition of prostitution."
In Canada, as elsewhere, there is a debate about whether all aspects of prostitution should be decriminalized through legislation. Doing so would impact society as a whole in order to meet the demands of a minority claiming that prostitution is a choice. Many feminist researchers from different perspectives and countries challenge the idea of such legislation, given that the majority of prostituted women do not see what they do as just another type of work and would escape prostitution if they could.
Élaine Audet, feminist poet, essayist and publisher, has long been engaged in the study of prostitution. She presents an overview of perspectives on prostitution, ranging from the immediate need for measures to combat poverty and violence affecting women to a longer-term questioning of the existing social, economic and sexual relationships of domination.
Relying on documented researches and testimonies, the author shows that decriminalizing prostitution will in no way fulfill the hopes of prostituted women looking for solutions to the problems they encounter related to health, violence, stigmatization and security. She analyses the central role played by clients in perpetuating prostitution. At the root of all patriarchal societies throughout history, she points out, there is the fundamental proposition that a group of women must be constantly available to satisfy the sexual needs of men. Thus, the client has always remained anonymous and invisible. This paradigm denies that sexuality is socially and culturally constructed, which is the only perspective that will enable us to understand and influence it.
Élaine Audet also denounces the vast extent to which procurers have deeply penetrated our media, culture, politics and economies, as well as numerous NGOs. The sex industry could never function as profitably as it does were it not for the contracts given to pimps to break down, through violence and intimidation, the young women and children recruited for prostitution. Contrary to the claims of those who advocate “sex work,” traffickers and pimps have a stronger hold than ever on women in prostitution.
In her foreword, Lee Lakeman, representative for B.C. and the Yukon of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, writes : "This book presents arguments in a vivid and individual style and aesthetic. But make no mistake. This is the particular singular voice speaking a truth and a warning of a wide and growing movement of feminists toward the abolition of prostitution."
Élaine Audet, Prostitution - Feminist perspectives, Les éditions Sisyphe, Coll. Contrepoint, Montreal, 2009, 136 pages. Foreword : Lee Lakeman. Translation by Carol Card and Philippe Robert de Massy. In bookstore : 13$ + 3$ (postal charges for Quebec and Canada only)= 16$. ISBN : 978-2-923456-11-9. Available.
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Original French version : Prostitution, perspectives féministes, see this page.
Read excerps of this book in this page : "The Prostitutors".
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Press excerpts for the French version
"A well understood feminism, that is not puritan but progressive, would nevertheless be unable to tolerate an industry which violates women’s freedom".
"I firmly suggest the reading of Prostitution, a model of chiselled, well argued and strongly informed text. […] Élaine Audet invites us to follow her in the meanders of the prostitutionnal system by challenging us to come out of it unaffected". André Baril, Combats, Autumn-Winter 2005-2006
"One could disagree with the author’s "abolitionist" position, but has to recognize the relevance of the discussions".
"For well weighted up analyses which take a stand for the respect of human beings". Lucie Dumoulin, Châtelaine, February, 2006
"This essay calls for a social debate on prostitution, which cannot be left in the hands of the promoters of a questionable market". Louise Dionne, Relations, October-November, 2006.
Les éditions Sisyphe, July 9, 2009