I Just Can’t Help Myself: Framing The Third And Fourth Taboos

I Just Can’t Help Myself: Framing The Third And Fourth Taboos
Framing is an amazing persuasion tool which I continue to explore and in this article, I’ve chosen some pretty volatile topics to make a pretty powerful point.

Everybody knows about the world’s ‘oldest profession’ and whether you’re an opponent or proponent, it’s not going anywhere. Prostitution is illegal in most of the U.S. and unfortunately is connected to drugs and violence, disease and abuse. That’s one frame. We can all agree on that, can’t we? But how about a different frame? An acquaintance and former student of mine sent me the following link in an e-mail. He wrote, ‘Check out this frame.’ His link connected me to the International Committee for Prostitute’s Rights.


I did a little further research and found that there’s an organization called C.O.Y.O.T.E. It stands for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics. This is a ‘sex worker’s’ rights organization. (Notice the shift from ‘prostitutes’ to ‘sex workers’.)

There is a strong movement in many major metropolitan cities in the USA and, in fact, all over the world, to decriminalize the profession and give ‘sex workers’ rights and protection by regulating the industry. Wow. Talk about a changing perspective. I had definitely never heard of such a thing and it totally blew me away.

The idea is to differentiate between people who are being victimized and people who feel empowered in this industry. It’s a hugely complex issue with the added emotional intensity that only religion, politics and sexuality, can incite.

The frame gets more complex, describing sex work as an important part of the economy. With Nevada and the Netherlands as examples, proponents of decriminalizing prostitution suggest that through regulation many of the dangers associated with the industry can be lessened. With mandatory medical check ups, the health dangers are drastically cut down. And with no pimps, the violence is lessened.

The issue of sex for money has been taken out of the frame of morality (which has been the strongest frame by far) and put it in the frame of being an important part of the economy. If you look at the argument for legalizing drugs, it’s very similar.

The idea of ‘victimless crimes’ is an appealing frame to me in that the amount of money spent each year on imprisoning pot growers/users and sex workers, is staggering. I am not advocating to ‘legalize it’ though I am intrigued to know that there are intelligent opponents to the cultural norm.

Again, this is just an exercise in framing and when you can reframe a very strong argument with another strong argument, whoever has the better frame, wins.

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