OK, I know attitudes towards prostitution have been getting less and less disapproving, but to get to the point where a sitcom can be made with a bunch of shiny women who, like, really like their jobs, is surely going a bit far? I used to work somewhere that took the bulk of its advertising revenue from strip clubs and prostitutes’ personal ads – I worked there for 15 months and I’m ashamed to say that’s not the reason I left.
(Two stories from there: when I went for the interview I went into reception and the company secretary called across – "are you here to see me, love?" I later found out that the Ladies paid for their adverts in cash, and she’d thought I was coming in to pay my bills. In that building "young woman"="prostitute". On another occasion, a middle aged woman was sat in reception with her teenage daughter, waiting to see the company secretary. It wasn’t hard to figure out what for. The daughter must have been barely legal. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, beg her to take a job at McDonalds, carry on with school, anything but that.)
Prostitution is not Pretty Woman, it’s not Belle du Jour, it’s not being whisked off to fancy restaurants by rich City bachelors, it’s not even women enjoying sex. It’s poor women, often with a history of being sexually abused, doing whatever they can to earn some money. Even if they’re not addicted to drugs or alcohol; even if they haven’t been trafficked into the country and held against their will; even if it’s their choice; it’s dangerous, unhealthy, poorly paid and degrading. I’ve just read a few reviews on Punternet and I’m stunned that these men actually seem to think the women enjoy servicing them. Seriously? Some complain that the women don’t enjoy it, or refuse to do certain things. Oh, you poor little men. Please try and understand this is not a TV that you bought at Currys and can take back if you’re not satisfied – this is a person who you are paying to screw, she has no interest in you, she probably has no desire to even be in the room. You disgust me. How can I put this: if you can only get it by paying for it, she’s not interested in you. And if you ‘choose’ to pay for it, she’s also not interested in you because you’re a pillock.
Even worse, some of the comments on that Guardian piece stunned me.
"Millions of people do jobs they detest because they haven’t got much of
a choice. Why should prostitution be regarded as less acceptable than
working behind a shop counter or writing for the Guardian? Because
effortlessly superior commentators like Kira Cochrane bear more than a
passing resemblance to the sort of permanently scandalised Victorian
sex-phobics who regarded John Stuart Mill as a dangerous extremist."
"If you treat sex for money as jsut [sic] another commodity and regulate it in
the same way as, say, the sale of alchohol, the sad image of 95% are
drug addicts nonsense would be seen for what it is (and come down very
hard on abuse by punters, difficult when the women at the moment are
criminalised). Go abroad, go to Australia go to Singapore, even go to
Thailand, yes some of the girls there are drug addicts but for the vast
majority it is actually a career choice, sleeping with a sweaty smelly
man for 100 dollars for 30 minutes is a damn sight better than working
16 hour days in a sweaty smelly factory for 3 dollars a day."
"I’ve got my own idea for a TV comedy show, called ‘Wimmin’. Four sassy
gals straight out of their media-studies finals join the Guardian and
set about putting the world of patriarchy to rights."
Thank God for some of the others:
"I agree. The idea of the happy hooker is an opiate made up so ‘straight society’ doesnt have to face reality. Its an opinion born formed during the nineteen eighties. My daily route to work took me through a red light district... The looks on those girls faces as the stamped their feet and or hugged
themselves to keep warm would sweep away any nonsense about happy
"I’m shocked at the mysogynism in some of the posts here. Selling one’s
body is not the same as selling any other commodity and prostitution is
not the same as flipping burgers. This is because the transaction is
based on exploitation, whether or not the working woman (or man) is
making a conscious choice or has been coerced through imprisonment,
violence or rape."
People wonder why I despair at times.