Conflict, Functionalist, Feminiist Perspective View on Prostitution
In sociology, conflict theory states that the society or organization functions so that each individual participant and its groups struggle to maximize their benefits, which inevitably contributes to social change such as changes in politics and revolutions. Prostitution is a way for an individual to maximize their monetary intake (benefit) by selling the thing that have readily, their bodies. Because this power that individuals have, the government had to come in and outlaw prostitution.
The Conflict Perspective
The conflict perspective highlights the relationship between power in society and sex work. The laws that make prostitution illegal are created by powerful dominant group members who seek to maintain cultural dominance by criminalizing sexual conduct that they consider immoral or in bad taste.
Conflict theorists argue that women become prostitutes because of structural factors such as economic inequality and patriarchy. Capitalism and patriarchy foster economic inequality between men and women and force women to view their bodies as commodities.
Conflict theorists suggest that criminalizing prostitution uniquely affects poor women, especially poor women of color, who are overrepresented among street prostitutes. The Functionalist Perspective
The functionalist perspective argues that the presence of a certain amount of deviance in society contributes to its overall stability. According to Emile Durkheim, deviance clarifies social norms and helps societies to maintain social control over people’s behavior. By punishing those who engage in deviant behavior such as prostitution, the society reaffirms its commitment to its sexual norms and creates loyalty to the society as people bind together to oppose this behavior.
According to Kingsley Davis, in societies that have restrictive norms governing sexual conduct—including the United States—prostitution will always exist because it serves important functions:
Prostitution provides quick, impersonal sexual gratification that does not require emotional attachment or a continuing relationship with another person
Prostitution provides a sexual outlet for men who do not have ongoing sexual relationships because they are not married or have heavy work schedules
It provides people with the opportunity to engage in sexual practices (e.g., multiple sex partners, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal intercourse, sadomasochism) that regular sex partners or spouses may view as distasteful or immoral
Prostitution protects the family as a social institution by making a distinction between “bad girls” and “bad boys”—with whom one engages in promiscuous sexual behavior—and those “good girls” and “good boys” with whom one establishes a family
Prostitution benefits the economy by providing jobs for people who have limited formal education and job skills Some ask why prostitution spreads like a wildfire through our cities and streets.
This is an easy question for functionalists, prostitution flourishes because it satisfies sexual needs that are not able to be met elsewhere(Henslin 51). Prostitutes almost seem to serve as an outlet for sexually frustrated men. When a man is unable to find a partner he always holds the option of paying for sexual pleasure.
A functionalist, Kingsley Davis, concluded that prostitutes provide a sexual outlet for men who: have difficulty in establishing sexual relationships, cannot find long-term partners, have a broken relationship, want sexual gratification that is defined as immoral, desire quick sexual gratification without attachment, are curious, and are sexually dissatisfied in marriage.
From this, it is shown that by meeting such needs prostitution functions as a form of social control over sexual behavior. This is beneficial because it brings men with sexual desires away from unwilling partners to partners that are willing but for a certain price. This undoubtedly helps bring down the number of rapes and sexual assaults for any given society. Also, it brings in trashy hookers or prostitutes that seem to degrade any given city or society.
The functionalist theory is the best way to view prostitution through a sociological perspective. Functionalists see prostitution as a means of controlling or channeling sexual behaviors (Henslin 53).
Prostitutes meet the needs of men who otherwise do not have women always available to them. Also it meets the needs of a man because it is inexpensive, non-emotional and a fleeting relationship. Through looking at prostitution we see that it persists because it serves social functions.
This works by servicing people who are sexually frustrated. Prostitutes relieve pressures that otherwise might be placed on people who are unwilling to participate. Without aid from prostitutes stimulating the un-stimulated, there might be other social problems that become bigger issues such as, rape sexual assault, kidnap and many more. Functionalism allows seeing each function that prostitution serves in a society.