Many people across the world participate in sexual activities, both the young and the old. Sex goes beyond gender, racial, and social barriers. It is not only a form of procreation it is also something people do for fun. Many enjoy participating in sexual activities. Despite this, sex is a topic that is considered taboo in some cultures and subcultures. In some ways, sex is a hidden and buried topic. Prior to various liberal movements the occurred across the country including women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights, sex was a topic that people did not talk about publically. Even today, sex is a topic of controversy when it comes to educating children about the subject. People argue on what should be taught and how it should be taught. A lot of this is centered on providing youth the required resources to practice safe sex. Many feel that this is encouraging sex while others feel that it is better to be safe than sorry. No matter what one might feel about sex and all its surrounding controversies, it is still a topic that is argued and up for debate today. Instead the core of the discussion centers on promiscuity and prostitution. Both are considered sexual activities, except one is a form of employment while the other is a term for explicit behavior. Although prostitution is illegal, it is the same as promiscuity in that both have the same health risks and hazards involved.
Surprisingly, the term “promiscuity” when attempting to define the term, produced mix results. When searching for this term online, the answers were limited. Even when searching for this term in Webster’s Dictionary, the meaning continued to be illusive. Webster defines promiscuous as “confusedly or indiscriminately mixed; collected without order; indiscriminate; casual” (1992). However, this definition leaves out the most important part of promiscuity, sex. The definition, although out dated, does provide us with an understanding of what promiscuous actually means. However a better definition provided by definitions.net describes promiscuous as, “characterized by or having numerous sexual partners on a casual basis; casual, irregular, haphazard” (2012). Both meanings provide a clear picture of what promiscuity entails. These definitions suggest that promiscuity is indiscriminate casual sex. A better way to define this is having random sex with numerous partners without discrimination.
Today, this meaning has negative connotations. People, women in particular, are termed a slut, whore, easy, someone who sleeps around, or been around the block a few times. Either way, promiscuity is a term used to describe someone who sexually liberated. The promiscuous person enjoys sex, has sex often and regularly, and will have multiple sexual partners. This person has sex with whom they want, when they want, and without question. The promiscuous person is someone who has sex more than the average person.
Prostitution, on the other hand, entails something different entirely. Although prostitution involves sex, the definition for this is clear and straight to the point. “Prostitution is the sale of sexual services. The services may consist of any sexual acts” (Qualls-Corbett 2010). Google.com defines prostitution as, “the practice or occupation of engaging in sex with someone for payment” (2012). Consequently, prostitution is sex for money. Only when money is exchanged for sexual act is it then considered prostitution.
Until recently, many Americans did not talk about sex. It was something discussed behind closed doors. The topic was not up for discussion in classrooms nor was it something that could be observed on television. The topic of sex was considered taboo and spoken about in whispers. However, this was not always the case. Until World War I, prostitution was fairly legal across the United States (Prostitution 2012). As the United States continued to grow westward, so did brothels. Brothels are known for prostitution. A brothel is a home that houses prostitutes and is a place where men can go to find and purchase sexual services. Prior to the 1800’s prostitutes were not considered deviants or punishable by law. Brothels were a norm a known part of society and social structure. However, at the turn of the 1900’s Americans became more conservative and wanted to do away with sexualized services as a form of occupation. Massachusetts and then Missouri became the first states to pass ordinances against prostitution. This first started in 1699 in Massachusetts against “street walking” and in Missouri in 1870. However in 1875 prostitution became illegal across the country when Congress passed the Page Act, (Prostitution 2012). This prohibited sexual services for monetary compensation and the closing of brothels across the country.
As a result, prostitution and promiscuity are very similar in many ways. The obvious similarity between both definitions is sex. Both prostitution and promiscuity involves sex. From this perspective, it can be noted that prostitution entails promiscuity. To be a prostitute also means to be promiscuous. Someone who demands payment for sexual services is someone who has sex indiscriminately, with multiple partners, during casual encounters. In this manner, all prostitutes are therefore promiscuous. However, someone who is promiscuous does not mean they are also a prostitute. A promiscuous person will have casual and indiscriminate sex because they want to and not for monetary compensation. Once money is exchanged for sexual services, this makes the encounter prostitution. If money and compensation are not exchanged during casual and indiscriminate sexual encounters, then the individual is considered promiscuous. People who are prostitutes or promiscuous, engage in frequent sexual activities. These encounters are often with people who are virtual strangers. Weather they meet online, at a bar, or a public event, often the two people are not familiar with one another. They do not know the intimate details of their lives or may not know their last name. As a result, these encounters create risks and can be hazardous to their health and their lives.
Many prostitutes and promiscuous people are at risk of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases. Incidentally, many of these sexually transmitted diseases describe the various people at risk. This includes “IV drug users, prostitutes, prisoners, and sexually promiscuous persons”, (Gotensparre 2004). In this instance as well as many others, prostitutes and promiscuous people are listed in the same category of risk factors for STD’s. They do not differentiate one from the other and there is no significant difference between the two that minimizes the threat of illness, disease, or infection. Both promiscuous people and prostitutes are at equal risk of being infected by various STD’s including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and others. The risks are not associated with monetary compensation. Someone who is a prostitute is at equal risk as someone who is promiscuous.
The common denominator here is the number of individuals the person comes into sexual contact with. Therefore, “by knowing the number of sexual partners you had direct contact with, you may find the number of people you were exposed to” (Virgins 2010). The numbers and statistics for sexual contact and risk exposure are phenomenal. One study suggests that, “if the number of your sexual partners is 5, and every person of this 5 had 5 partners too, you were exposed to 31 people” (Virgin 2010). However when we changed 5 sexual partners to 12 sexual partners the risk of exposure climbs significantly to an astounding 4,095 people (Virgins 2010). For prostitutes and promiscuous people, they are at an even greater risk. Consider the prostitute or promiscuous person who has had sexual encounters with 75 or more people. This indicates that they are at grave risk of catching an STD with a high rate of exposure. Someone who has had sexual encounters with more than 50 people, according to this study, has been exposed to more than 10,000 other people. These high numbers indicate how easy it is for someone to catch an STD even if they are not considered a prostitute or promiscuous. It only takes one time to catch a STD. Considering the person who has casual and indiscriminate sex with multiple partners, their risk of exposure is significantly higher than their non-promiscuous counter parts.
Today, those who are prostitute or promiscuous is looked down upon in our society. Even as sexuality becomes part of American life, people are still looked down upon and thought of as sexual deviants. As the saying goes, sex sells. Everywhere one looks, sex is on the market. Prior to the 1960’s it was taboo to televise anything beyond a kiss. Yet today, many movies show men and women involved in sexual activities. It is even a topic for hit teen shows on Degrassi High and The Secret Life of an American Teenager. Despite the popularity of sex, people who are considered promiscuous or prostitute are looked down on. They are called bad names and associated with negative connotation. In addition to the negative backlash from society, people who are prostitutes or promiscuous are at high risk of exposure to STD’s. These risks can be devastating to the individual and their families. The disease they are exposed to can be life threatening, some of which carry no cure, immunization, or anti-virus. For this reason alone, it is imperative that people who participate in sexual activity practice safe sex. This means protecting against exposure by using a condom. Condoms are the only way to minimize these threats. Condoms create a barrier between two people during sexual activity that reduce risks and minimize threats. Weather someone is promiscuous or a prostitute they are at high risks of STD contamination due to their high rate of exposure.
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“promiscuous.” Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2012. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/promiscuous>.
“Promiscuity.” Virgins Until Marriage Civil Society Organization. The European Union, n.d. Web. 12 Nov 2012. <http://healthriskmanagement.eu/promiscuity.html>.
Qualls-Corbett, N. “Definitions.” Prostitution. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov 2012.<http://www.kahealani.com/articles/prostitution.html>.