The international day of violence against women is celebrated on November 25. And that day the feminist movement calls mobilizations in many cities of the world to show that patriarchal violence is a social disease that exposes power relations between the sexes.
The uniqueness of this November 25 is that Spanish feminism has decided to include prostitution in its political struggle. However, placing prostitution at the heart of the feminist political agenda forces us to ask ourselves why feminism chooses as a political objective a violence that affects a small group of women in our country who, moreover, is mostly a migrant. Feminism has analyzed prostitution as a fundamental reality of the patriarchal system, but also of the capitalist. On the one hand, prostitution is a founding institution of patriarchy that aims to guarantee the straight of men to sexually access the body of a small group of women to satisfy their desires for power.
On the other hand, until recently more than three decades ago, prostitution consisted of a group of small artisan businesses that did not have any economic impact. Today, these small businesses have become a large global industry, with a functioning mode of a large multinational. Brothels, flats, hotels, tourist agencies, massage parlors, sale of sexual items and the business of pornography, among other economic actors, make up an industry that mostly takes place within the framework of the illicit economy. The sex industry has become a development strategy for some countries and, in turn, this criminal business allows these countries to engage in the global economy.
Prostitution confirms the core of the patriarchal mandate: women are for others and not for themselves
The patriarchal system demands female bodies at the disposal of men and neoliberal capitalism demands the conversion of these bodies into merchandise. Women with limited economic resources, racialized, without citizenship rights, many of them with a past in their childhood of sexual abuse and arrivals in Spain through mafia circuits are conducted to the sex industry so that 40% of the male population can sexually access their bodies.
Feminism has chosen the fight against prostitution as one of the most brutal forms of patriarchal violence this 25-N because prostitution confirms the core of the patriarchal mandate: women are for others and not for themselves. But not only because of that: also because it is necessary to put limits to the voracity of the market. The bodies of poor and racialized women can not and should not be a commodity.
Rosa Cobo is Professor of Gender Sociology at the University of A Coruña.