Yenwen Peng


This paper starts with a reflection on the main tactic adopted during the Taipei prostitutes’ movement, namely, the “poverty as force” rationale, and argues that a campaign strategy that focuses on the justification of prostitutes’ consent to their job does not help them much; instead, it reinforces the stigma on “voluntary” prostitutes. I suggest that sex workers’ activism abandons the now dominant “voluntary vs. forced” division of prostitution and, emphasizes the working conditions of sex workers rather than the reasons that underlie those workers’ consent. This suggestion by no means implies that we neglect the critical moral value of consent. Rather, in light of the vague, contingent, and relative nature of consent, I argue that a focus on the practical working condition of sex workers is a more realistic and feasible strategy to prevent sex workers from being victimized. Finally, the examination of the workers’ consent, while necessary, should be placed on a macro level, and to encourage the realization that prostitution and more readily accepted social institutions are equally a repetition of certain hegemonies. It is only through this approach that sex work and sex workers can gradually be de-specialized and de-stigmatized.

Author Biography

Yenwen Peng, Assistant Professor, Shih-Hsin University, Taiwan Department of Public Policy and Management, Taipei, Taiwan