Prostitution can be defined as the practice or act of offering sexual services to other people in exchange for a payment. A prostitute is that person who receives the payment. Prostitution is a division of the sex industry and its legality differs from country to country. The prostitution industry is such an enormous that recent research puts the estimated revenue generated globally at a staggering $100 billion. There are various forms, which prostitution takes; it could be carried out in brothels, escort form of prostitution, street prostitution and sex tourism. In her article, “A Feminist's Argument on How Sex Work Can Benefit Women” (2008), Kelly J. Bell establishes a strong ethos based on her wide readership of commercial sex work materials, and by carefully applying pathos and ethos, she  presents a compelling, deep readership against  most societies’ take on prostitution.

Over the years, commercial sex work has received considerable criticism and stigmatization in many societies. A significant number of the members of the society consider sex work not only as being immoral, but also as degrading to women. Despite the fact sex work is a global phenomena, it is often illegal. This makes it to be difficult to fathom the extent of the sex industry’s growth, although the industry has experienced a sharp growth in recent years. Several factors contribute to this increase, including but not limited to changes in civil, political and socioeconomic status and improved population mobility.

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Commercial sex work gains its almost collective rejection because it brings with it numerous social ills. For instance, appreciably higher rates of HIV infection are evident among commercial sex workers together with their clients as opposed to other population groups in a country. Research also shows that HIV infection usually circulates among sex workers prior to spreading throughout the larger population. However, the true figures concerning the HIV transmission by sex workers and clients to the general population remain unclear. Research shows that sex workers are more receptive to prevention programmes that relate to HIV and STIs by, for example, taking caution to use condoms with clients.

In the article, Kelly quotes Carole Pateman as having argued in her essay, “What is wrong with prostitution”, that prostitution embodies patriarchy. Pateman relates to the historical societies where men literally owned their wives. However, while she acknowledges that men lack absolute ownership of women in today’s society, she argues that prostitution provides men with an avenue to exercise ownership over women, albeit temporarily. As much as this proposition is open for discussion, I tend to see some truth in it. In today’s society, this draws considerable public outcry, especially from human rights activists and feminists because it degrades women.

Pateman raises another issue that reflects the sentiments of the larger society on prostitution. This is the fact that sexuality deeply sits within an individual’s identity and personality, such that selling sex is tantamount to selling oneself. In the society’s view, sex workers are, therefore, people suffering form low self-esteem, do not value their selves and are morally rotten. This becomes a basis for criticism and stigmatization by the communities in which they live.

Prostitution faces challenges from the society because it is a leading factor in human trafficking, especially for sexual reasons. This is modern-day slavery and there are laws and regulations aimed at containing this vice. Young males and females under the age of 18 years face force or coercion, either physically or psychologically,  to engage in sex work against their will, mostly by a  third party manager. This act is a serious contravention of federal law and the disgusts the society too.  

The article uses the tools of persuasion extensively to try to woo the readers so that they may agree with what she is to put forward. The writer’s personal character, as can be inferred from the article, is persuasive and credible. She achieves this by carefully crafting her ethos in her plot development. Ethos is the appeal to authority and/or honesty demonstrated by the speaker/author. In my opinion, Kelly (the author) demonstrates ethos in her writing by quoting from several other distinguished author of materials on sex work. For instance, she quotes extensively from authors like Carole Pateman (2006) and Priscilla Alexander (2007), among many others. She also evaluates and analyzes each author’s argument and clearly puts it clear the reason she agrees or does not agree with them. To me, this just confirms that she is sufficiently knowledgeable and an authority in this field.

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The writer demonstrates a strong sense of ethical appeal. She is extremely categorical that without proper practice of ethics, the subject of her article, which is legalization of sex work, will not be successful. She argues that sex workers are prone to exploitation because of the faulty laws governing the sex industry.  She asserts that it is not prostitution that empowers men to exploit women, but rather the laws and regulations that govern prostitution. She, therefore, advocates the elimination of these retrogressive laws, so that laws that reflect modern thinking on sex work can replace them. This way, sex workers will get a conducive environment in which they can make legitimate money, a move that will benefit both the individual and the entire economy.

The writer uses strong logos to drive her outstanding propositions and arguments home. For instance, she argues that morality is relative, and all people should not be ruled under the same laws based on morality. I totally agree with her on this because such a move would precisely lead to disparities in the dispensation of justice. Effectively, many people’s basic rights will be liable to violation.  She also argues against Pateman’s statement that prostitution gives men a chance to exercise temporary ownership on women by, more or less, equating the services offered by a prostitute to those of a factory worker. Such strong arguments make the writer appear confident and competent about the topic to write.

The other rhetorical element that Kelly employs significantly in her article is logos. Logos refers to the logical appeal of one’s speech or piece of writing. Logos and logic are at times used interchangeably. A staunch logos appeal enhances one’s ethos most importantly because possession of information portrays the speaker/writer as knowledgeable and up to the task. It should, however, be noted that logos could in some cases be inaccurate or misleading. As pointed earlier, the style in which the article presents its arguments demonstrates considerable use of logos, obviously to make the reader agree with the writer’s arguments, opinions and recommendations. For instance, she argues that sex work is not all the time harmful to women. It all depends on the circumstances under which they work. Defective sex laws will subject them to exploitation, but laws that reflect modern-day situations will be immensely beneficial to them, financially and otherwise.

In further demonstration of her use of logos, the writer argues that the out-of-date laws are impractical and deny women of their basic rights such as control of their own bodies. She quotes Priscilla Alexander as arguing that the womankind was never free as long as police arrested them for being sexually assertive. According to her, therefore, the right to gain control over their sexuality is as weighty to feminism as their right to control their reproductive health.

Pathos is the appeal to an audience’s emotions. It could take the form of similes, metaphors, passionate deliveries or even a mere claim that an issue is unjust or unfair. For pathos to be most effective, the author has to connect with a value that the reader appreciates. Pathos can also be used in a way that appeals to fear so that the audience sways. In the article, for instance, the writer terms sex work as just work. This phrase has the effect of making those involved in the sex work feel accepted, and it evokes their desire to read the article more.  In the first line of the second paragraph, the writer asserts that every person has an entitlement to the right of making informed decisions concerning their own bodies. This statement appeals to one’s emotions and makes them appreciate the fact that sex workers deserve fair treatment and their decisions should be respected.

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In her argument, the writer uses the analogy of workers in the entertainment business and equates the prostitute to an entertainer, who receives their payment for the actual labor provided. She says that the principal objective of both the entertainer and the prostitute is the same- providing pleasurable experiences for their customers. In addition to this, the writer argues that managers get compensation for their unique leadership abilities, while teachers receive payment for their patience and waiters paid due to their extroversion. From the premises, she wonders why prostitutes should not be allowed to benefit from their sexuality. These metaphors, passionate deliveries, and analogies appeal, strongly to one’s emotions, and they act as eye-openers that make the audience rethink their stances about the legalization of sex work.

The use of the three rhetoric elements effectively is the secret to writing a persuasive rhetoric.  These three elements are logos, pathos and ethos. However, it is not a must that they all be used in single rhetoric writing. They must also be used with a certain amount of caution for maximum effect. For instance, misinformed use of logos might lead to misleading and inaccurate conclusions. In addition, the writer should pick on those topics that his/her target audience is familiar or can identify with fro maximum effect on their emotions.  Ethos should be verifiable and fully supported by the writer to make the article/essay more credible, while at the same time portraying him/her as an authority in that field.

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