Further Adventures In Framing

To further illustrate the persuasive power of framing, I’ve chosen a few pretty hot topics. I’m hoping to stir us all up a little. 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. http://www.walnet.org/csis/groups/icpr_charter.html Upon further research, I found another organization called C.O.Y.O.T.E. The letters stand for call off your old tired ethics. They bill themselves as a sex worker’s rights organization. Old frame: prostitutes. New frame: sex workers. There’s a pretty strong movement in the U.S. and all over Europe, to decriminalize prostitution and ensure rights and protection to the people working in the industry. To me, that’s a new frame. I had never heard of such a thing and it really struck me as interesting. Proponents of this frame differentiate between the prostitutes who are being victimized and the sex workers who feel empowered in the industry. The issue is certainly complex with the emotional fire that politics and sexuality can inspire. Another part of the frame is that sex work is an important part of the economy. Legalizing it, as it is in Nevada and in other countries, shows how some of the dangers associated with the industry can be lessened through regulation. For example, if there are no pimps, the violence is cut down. With mandatory medical checkups and regulated practices, the health and medical dangers are nearly eliminated. 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. However, this is simply an exercise in framing and as with any frame, whoever has the stronger one, wins.