Over the past decade, public policies on prostitution and other types of sex work have been increasingly contested, both in academia and in popular debates.
One perspective, the oppression paradigm, is increasingly reflected in media reporting on the sex industry and is steadily being articulated by government officials in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere. The proliferation of myths based on the oppression paradigm is responsible for the rise of a resurgent mythology of prostitution. This article examines the claims made by organizations, activists, and scholars who embrace the oppression paradigm, evaluates the reasoning and evidence used in support of their claims, and highlights some of the ways in which this perspective has influenced recent legislation and public policy in selected nations. The author presents an alternative perspective, the polymorphous paradigm, and suggests that public policy on prostitution would be better informed by this evidence-based perspective.