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Marx and Spencer on Rape and Prostitution

Nichole Fern Listeman
Ohio Northern University

The paper begins with a discussion of the contemporary problem, prostitution and the rape of prostitutes.  This includes an operational definition of the topic in addition to the context in which it is to be analyzed.  An extensive literature review follows to include the relevant background and writings of the classical theorists Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx.  Each theorist’s work is used uniquely to explain the phenomena.  The application of Marx’s theory focuses on the influence of the capitalist system in the creation of prostitutes and rapists, as well as the environment which allows the phenomena to occur.  The application of Spencer’s theory centers around the biological influences of the actors involved with the phenomena and explains the phenomena in terms of social evolution.  The discussion then proceeds to compare and contrast the two theories as applied.  The key similarity is the status of both the prostitute and the rapist as victims, the difference being the source of the victimization, one from the social structure, one from the inevitability of one’s own genetic construct.  The importance of the topic as matter for social concern is stressed, and the importance of and suggestions for future research in the area of prostitution and the rape of prostitutes is also considered.  

North Central Sociological Association; Cleveland, OH
Psychology and Sociology