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Alisha Jane Hiskey

Prof. Sheila Fielding

Writing 103
21 February 2016

The Prostitution Power Struggle

The vivid way that the world and media paints prostitutes is not pretty. Not many have
respect for these women, as they are often perceived as less than human. Instead of an existing
human being, many see prostitutes as bodies that can be sold and bought. Angela White, the
editor of American Jurist, argues there is an ongoing debate over who has control over the
prostitutes bodythe prostitute or the pimp that sells her. This discrepancy extends into the
platforms of legalization and decriminalization of prostitution. Throughout Whites article
Legalization and Decriminalization of Prostitution Would Not Help Prostitutes, she examines
both liberal and conservative feminist views on prostitution as well as analyses of previous and
current laws about prostitution both within and outside of the United States. The PSA that is
based off Whites article aims to persuade the audience to realize the urgency of this issue. The
PSA was created by Alisha Hiskey and it could be published on a website such as,
an organization geared towards helping prostitute survivors. Whites article and the PSA both use
a combination of ethos, logos and pathos rhetorical appeals to persuade the audience to change
their perspective on prostitution and those involved in the practice.
The history of prostitution and sexual slavery dates back to the ancient times. In the
modern day, there are some countries who have legalized or regulated prostitution including

entities within the United States. However, the prostitutes themselves are treated as less than
human, and the pimps and johns (customers) that benefit off of their bodies are exceedingly the
only ones profiting from the legalization and decriminalization of the practice. White contends
that the legalization of prostitution gives the state permanent control of prostitutes and therefore
does not make prostitution less demeaning. The intended audience is those who are within the
legal system that have control over the laws surrounding prostitution, and those who believe
prostitutes should be heavily prosecuted. White asserts that decriminalization would not benefit
prostitutes because they would remain virtual prisoners of their pimps, nor will it end the practice
of illegal prostitution (White 2012). Whites argument is that laws against pimps and johns
should not be abolished, but strengthened. The style of the piece is scholarly and informational.
It is organized topically as beginning with background, then viewpoints that support the
legalization of prostitution, next the arguments that oppose legalizing prostitution, and then
statistics, and finally facts about the legalization in Nevada. This article does a good job of
mentioning the opposing viewpoints and then giving reasons against the legalization of the
practice. Prostitutes are not criminals, but are a class all its own that desperately needs
The ethos rhetorical strategies extend mostly from Angela Whites status as a reputable
editor for a peer-reviewed journal and numerous feminists stances and opinions mentioned in
the article. Angela White is an editor for American Jurist, a publication of American Universitys
Washington College of Law (White 2012). This confirms that White has credibility and sufficient
knowledge of the laws surrounding prostitution. In her article, White also includes the opposing
viewpoints of liberal feminists who view the right to prostitution as they do the right to abortion
womens bodies, womens choice. Feminist scholar Catherine MacKinnon is mentioned in

Whites article as proposing the idea that prostitutes sue their pimps and customers under the
Thirteenth Amendment for indentured servitude (White 2012). Other credible names mentioned
in the article include Ice-T and Kid Rock, who are self-proclaimed pimps that are adored
throughout American media. Whites credibility makes the audience able to trust her and the
claims she makes in her article.
The pathetic rhetorical strategies used in Whites article are powerful enough to persuade
the reader to both sympathize with prostitutes and hate the pimps and johns that enslave them.
White introduces prostitutes as whores, tramps, sluts, pieces of meatnames for what society
perceives as less than human (2012). White also notes that prostitutes, especially those that
work on the streets, are the most raped class of women. These descriptions and findings about
prostitutes might make someone think twice before they pity someone who is already constantly
put down and walked over. Pimps and clients/johns hold the majority of power in this
relationship because clients hold power over prostitutes through the ability to pay (or even not to
pay) White compares pimps to abusive boyfriends and husbands by stating that pimps hold the
power to intimidate while appearing to care for and coddle the victims, a talent they share with
abusive husbands and boyfriends (2012). These quotes show how White convinces her audience
to empathize with prostitutes, and hold their pimps accountable.
The logos used in this article is its strongest rhetorical appeal. White mentions laws
passed in Texas and Nevada that have an effect on prostitution. In Nevada, there are eight
counties with active brothels (White 2012). Significant studies and statistics on prostitution are
also mentioned in her article. For example, White quotes a Toronto study that once found that
90 percent of prostitutes questioned wanted to get out of prostitution but felt the could not

(2012). This statistic is also included in the PSA and helps drive home the fact that most
prostitutes are not in this business willingly. Studies have also consistently placed the average
age of girls entering prostitution to be in the early teens. (White 2012). This would mean that
many of the girls who enter prostitution are not legally adults and should not be able to work,
especially in such a volatile industry. White also includes facts about the history of prostitution,
noting that it has its roots in the Victorian era, and how prostitution was seen as a necessary evil
to keep mens uncontrollable desires from being taken out on respectable women (2012). This
continues the trend that prostitutes are not to be respected, or considered in the category of
women at all. Prostitutes are considered more along the lines of an object that a man can
purchase and possess. White also notes a statistic that cities spend millions of dollars each year to
arrest and incarcerate prostitutes. This is money that could be spent on housing and medical care
for the women.

This PSA was

created by a JMU
student with the
intention of
educating the
public about the
serious dangers that
prostitutes face.

The main claim of the PSA is that prostitutes are heavily controlled by their pimps and
the johns that purchase their services. The story that the PSA represents is the ongoing power
struggle between the pimps and their prostitutes. This can be very scary as many prostitutes rely
on their pimps for shelter, money and even food. The intended audience is the public that is
uneducated about the dangers of prostitution. The audience is also the classmates of Professor
Fieldings Writing 103 class. The dominant image is that of the four scared girls who are silenced
and bound with duct tape. The dominant colors are red, yellow and black to promote the urgent
nature of the content.
The ethos of the PSA is not very strong as the author is only educated about the topic of
sexual slavery, not the laws surrounding prostitution. The author has researched and written two
papers on sexual slavery. This PSA is biased in that the pimps are depicted as the villains. The
tone and diction of the PSA is urgent, yet suitable for the audience. The PSA is professionally
made, however the quality of the image is not at the highest resolution. The creator of the PSA
linked the ad to a credible non-profit organization, The Organization for
Prostitute Survivors is based in Seattle, Washington and works to provide medical care and
housing for prostitute survivors.
The PSA invokes significant emotional rhetoric using the picture and the striking
statistics. At the bottom of the PSA it invites the audience to Help those who cannot help
themselves and donate to The picture and main focus of the PSA attempts to
evoke sadness and empathy toward the girls and anger toward the pimps that put them in their
terrified state. The duct tape over the girls mouths symbolizes the restrictions put on prostitutes,
and their inability to stand up for themselves against their controlling pimps. Vivid language and

colors are used to emphasize the urgency and severity of the issue. The creator appealed to the
values and beliefs of the audience in that they are young adults, just as the girls in the picture are.
While the pathos is the PSAs strongest appeal, the logos rhetoric used in the PSA
significantly helps improve the effectiveness. The PSA features the staggering statistic that the
murder rate for prostitutes is 20 times more than the national average, 209 prostitutes out of
every 100,000 die each year ( This makes prostitution the most dangerous job
in America. Another statistic in the PSA is that 90% of prostitutes interviewed in Toronto
revealed that they wished to get out of the practice but felt they could not (White 2012). This
study was mentioned in Whites article, and it helps increase the effectiveness of the PSA
because the controlling pimps are the ones preventing the girls from getting out of prostitution.
The facts are presented in a logical order starting with the title of the ad, The Prostitution Power
Struggle then following with the two statistics and ending with the websites.
The rhetorical appeals used in both the PSA and article help to increase the effectiveness
of both pieces. They do differ slightly in the fact that the article is more focused on the laws
surrounding the practice and the potential decriminalization and legalization of prostitution. The
PSA has the same intention of the article though; both pieces aim for the audience to sympathize
with the prostitutes and hate the pimps that take advantage of them. The logos appeal is the most
effective strategy used in Whites article, while pathos is the strongest rhetorical appeal in the
PSA. This is due to the fact that in the PSA, you can put a face to the prostitutes that need
assistance. Overall, the article is more convincing given there is more legitimate information and
the ethos of the article is superior to that in the PSA.

Works Cited
Fox, Jim. "High Court Strikes Down Canada Prostitution Laws." Tampa Bay Times [St.
Petersburg, FL] 22 Dec. 2013: 19A. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.
White, Angela. Legalization and Decriminalization of Prostitution Would Not Help
Prostitutes. American Jurist. Jan. 2012. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.