Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Caulfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Zoann Snyder-Joy

Third Advisor

Dr. Paula Brush

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


In this thesis, I explore the different ways that prostitute women's voices have been silenced by groups which have historically controlled the social and academic discourse on prostitution. Utilizing the research method of standpoint epistemology, I first discuss why the prostitute activist's voices must be considered as the central source for scientists theorizing on prostitution. Next, I give an account of some historical influences which have shaped the discourse on prostitution, affecting the development of legislation regulating prostitution. Then, I provide a history of the development of the liberal and radical feminist discourse on prostitution. I also include some contemporary writers representing both perspectives, as well as a description of each perspective's position on prostitution. Finally, I look at the development of the prostitute's rights movement, and present some of the central ideas spoken and written by prostitute activists. Overall, I show how the treatment of prostitute voices as central resources by social scientists, specifically feminist social scientists, will create better and more holistic theories, and will further legitimate the perspectives of prostitute women in the United States.

Included in

Sociology Commons