The “Empowerment” Myth


Today we throw that word around as if it were some sort of fashion trend, claiming empowerment from one thing or another for anyone and everyone. But what does it really mean? And why is it that in the commercial sex industry there’s this myth that stripping, prostitution, porn, etc. empowers women?

In porn, women are often shown as victims of gang rapes, violent and degrading acts, and language I feel nowhere near comfortable writing. Women are demeaned and their value diminished, objectified for everyone to see. And this is supposed to be empowering?

In prostitution, women are commodities – bought and sold for the satisfaction of another. Up to 75% of women in prostitution have been raped, 95% have been physically assaulted, and 68% meet the criteria for severe post-traumatic stress disorder (Journal of Trauma Practice). Does empowerment mean to regularly be exposed to such things?

When you google empowerment, the definition you’ll find is as follows: authority or power given to someone to do something; the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.

There are a few things that stick out in this.

Confidence is not an external perception – you can’t find it in others or really even yourself. True confidence and empowerment comes from the one who created us and empowered us in the first place. The idea that women choose to be in the commercial sex industry because it empowers them does not fall in line with the very definition of the word. Confidence comes from being able to be who you were truly made to be. Were women created solely for the purpose of being bought and sold for sex? Our existence and genetic makeup begs us to believe otherwise. Women are complex creatures – a divine mix of intelligence, affection, bravery, loyalty, and much much more. We were created to be far beyond what the commercial sex industry claims us to be, therefore empowerment cannot be sourced from it. 

Control of your life is not bred from a lack of choice. Being in control means being able to determine what is best for your life and pick from a range of options what the best road is for you to take. While there are some exceptions, many women who have claimed to “choose” to work in the commercial sex industry did so because they felt they had no other option.

If we view this as empowering we come to accept the idea that we are no more than objects created for the sexual pleasure of others, and that is the furthest thing from empowerment to me. Have we chosen to believe that to be loved and accepted, or to feel any sort of power in the world, women have to ‘show some skin’? Have we believed in the false reality that the only power a woman has lies in her sexuality?

True empowerment lies in the ability to believe in who you are created to be. Empowerment is being more than society and commercial sexualization says you are. Empowerment is knowing that no matter what, you are covered by the love of a Father; He cherishes you and validates you without you having to show more skin, participate in more dehumanizing acts, or exposing yourself to the harms of the sex industry.


Abby Shrewsbury

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2 Replies to “The “Empowerment” Myth”

  1. Thank you for tackling one of the biggest myths that surrounds sex trafficking. It’s something more people need to realise in order for our perspective on true empowerment, and what “empowerment” in the “sex trade” is


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