This article explores answers to three questions: Why is prostitution as controversial today as it was 4,000 years ago? Why are feminists embroiled in the prostitution controversy? And, what are the effects of this controversy on the working prostitute? The author suggests that the answers rest historically in a fundamental contradiction in Western culture that arises from the institutionalization of a sexual double standard in patriarchal societies, wherein prostitution owes its existence to an interplay of social and economic arrangements that involve promiscuity, chastity, and inequality. The article looks beyond theoretical issues and examines social policy and its impact on the women who work as prostitutes.