Prostitution as a Form of Deviance
In sociology, the term deviance refers to all violations of social rules, regardless of their seriousness (Essentials of Sociology 136). Deviance is an individual or organizational behavior that violates societal norms and is usually accompanied by negative reactions from others. According to a sociologist S. Becker, he stated that it is not the act itself that makes an action deviant, but rather how society reacts to it.
A particular state of being that has been labeled as being deviant in the U.S. is prostitution. Prostitution is the direct selling of sexual acts for financial gains.
In some form or other, prostitution has been recognized throughout history and all over the world. There has been alternating phases of repression and toleration of prostitution. Official Christian morality has always opposed prostitution, but in big cities prostitution has been rather open and tolerated in Christian societies until the sixteenth century when venereal disease became a major public problem. At that time public authorities began denouncing prostitution and took severe measures to eliminate it. By the nineteenth century, official enforcement of rules against prostitution had become lax in the U.S. and England; while in nations such as France had rather wide open houses of prostitution in major cities. The U.S. launched a campaign to suppress prostitution. Industrialization and mass communication seem to have been associated with increased repression of deviance in general and sexual deviance in particular.
During the twentieth century, repression and toleration continued, but today in urban areas the trend seems to be toward toleration, and prostitution is becoming increasingly visible.
There have been strong movements to legalize prostitution in the U.S. but it still remains illegal except in some counties in Nevada. According to Dr. Marshall B. Clinard of the University of Wisconsin, prostitution is opposed for five reasons. First, the degradation of women is involved. Second, the threat to public health because of transmission of venereal disease. Third, the effect on general law enforcement through police protection that includes protection of prostitutes who steal from their patrons and use narcotics. Fourth, the effect on marital relations where recourse is had to prostitutes. Finally, the patronage of prostitutes by young persons, soldiers in particular, and its...