Women as merchandise: 'Fear factor of the penis'


"Man's discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times," wrote Susan Brownmiller in her 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. She goes on to analyse, "Rape's critical function is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear."

From their ability to exercise power over women, men through the centuries started using them as merchandise. When in early civilisation men discovered how to trade, they found the demand for women as a sexual commodity for exploitation the easiest to trade. The way the trading worth of roses was increased by bestowing it the value of expressing subtle love, young women were sold as sex merchandise. The difference? Innumerable roses could be scientifically produced, but women with a mind of their own had to be stolen or lured for trading.

The end of such trading is prostitution. Nowadays, some difference is made between voluntary vs forced prostitution, although I don't subscribe to this distinction. As France's Green Party corroborates, "The concept of 'free choice' of the prostitute is indeed relative in a society where gender inequality is institutionalised." Without initially falling into some trap, whether for money or social rejection after rape, no woman ever chooses to fulfill a sexual need or desire with unknown men. If that were the case, we would have heard of male brothels exclusively for women. In male prostitution, it's generally men offering themselves to other men. However, there can be women who sell their bodies out of greed, fulfilling an unfortunate demand created by men. Apart from underprivileged women kidnapped into city brothels in India, a survey reported by Azad India Foundation found women from Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Karnataka are bought for supply to Thailand, Kenya, South Africa, the Middle East, Britain, South Korea and the Philippines. They are severely abused, forced into sex work and become vulnerable to HIV infection. Unrelenting poverty and unemployment are making trafficking in women and girls rampant.

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