26 Feb 2007, 2:52pm
by jordan

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QUANTOproject: prostitution for sale

this website showcases a really interesting selection of graphical images that address issues of sexual exploitation and trafficking around the world, apparently submitted for a contest juried by QUANTOproject, an Italian organization trying to increase awareness of the topic.

many of the images are stark and powerful, but at the same time, they reveal particular cultural perspectives on prostitution. many of the images portray women and women’s bodies, often alluding to pigs, meat, and money. i’m continually fascinated by how debates on prostitution tend to center around the women who sell sex for a living — where are the customers, mainly men, who fuel this trade? if demand is understood to create supply in a market economy, why don’t we crack down more on the men responsible for supporting the sex trade? where are the damning images of men objectifying and exploiting women and children?

as a related issue, i think a large part of the problem around sex work is precisely this constructed view that women sell their bodies, rather than selling sexual services. doctors, massage therapists, and other healthcare workers sell their skills to help people physically, but we never construe their actions in terms of making their bodies available wholesale. what is it about sexual services that connote temporary physical ownership of another? i’m find sexual slavery and forced prostitution abhorrent, but also i think we need to radically revisit our understanding of sex work in the first place, and how that view implicates particular cultural notions of women, bodies, gender, and sexuality.

(thanks to jwz for pointing out some of the images)

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