Women Are Less Likely Than Men to Support Legalizing Prostitution

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A highly unreliable poll by YouGov, a website that rather exhaustingly allows users to “share their views every minute,” found a sizable gender gap on the question of legalizing prostitution.


According to the site, 51 percent of men agreed that prostitution should be legalized, compared to 30 percent of women. Overall, Americans narrowly agreed that sex work should remain illegal; only 40 percent supported its legalization, whereas 43 percent said it should remain illegal.

Always ready to levy moral judgment, however, Americans overwhelmingly agreed that prostitution is “morally wrong.” Pretty much everyone agreed that accepting money in exchange for sex was terrible, as was going to work as a prostitute. YouGov’s poll apparently didn’t ask whether paying for sex was as morally degrading as accepting it, but unsurprisingly, the poll also found that men were more likely to pay for sex.

The Cut notes that, while the poll is unreliable, that its data could “spur more detailed studies on why women might view prostitution more harshly than men.” If the debate over sex work in the feminist community is any indication, then unraveling women’s views will likely be contentious.

In August 2015, Amnesty International voted to decriminalize sex work, arguing that decriminalization would reduce the stigma associated with such labor and create safer work environments. That decision was met with criticism; detractors argued that decriminalization would lead to further exploitation.

Contact the author at stassa.edwards@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty.



Super unpopular opinion- I really don’t like legalizing prostitution because of the commodification of (mostly) female bodies. I think if it was a small scale with women having total control over being paid for what they decide on, it would be different. But, it’s not. For the most part, when prostitution is legal, there are higher levels of human trafficking. It’s also very related to exploitation and pimping- which is awful. I think a lot of people tend to view the idea of a sex worker that has control over her clients and power in every situation- if that was the case, I’d be on board. It may be for some women, and that is great. But I feel like, overwhelming, it’s an exploitative arrangement. I would never support arresting sex workers. I think it is an extremely nuanced conversation that goes beyond simply legal or illegal.