Prostitution is one of those topics that incites very strong reactions–making it very difficult to discuss in the classroom. In the Fall 2007 issue of Contexts, Ronald Weitzer provides us with a balanced, classroom-friendly way to get your students thinking about this issue beyond their gut reactions. Read the article here!
Use the discussion questions and the activity below to get the conversation started:
1) Define the oppression and celebratory models of prostitution. How would you characterize the alternative model proposed by the author?
2) What is your reaction to Weitzer’s claim that some prostitutes are empowered by their jobs? Do you agree that sex work can be empowering for women or do you agree more with the oppression model?
3) The article states that 17 percent of American men have paid for sex at some point in their lives. Do you think this is a high or low number? Why do you think there is a stigma against paying for sex?
ACTIVITY: Organize a class debate with one side arguing that prostitution should be legalized and regulated in the United States, and the other side arguing that it should remain illegal.