Recently, while I was on a plane, I came across a movie in which college women were sleeping with older men for money in order to pay tuition and family medical bills while also obtaining expensive gifts, and much more. This movie showed the glamour and the danger involved with the profession in a way that repulsed and fascinated me at the same time. I never found out the name of the movie as I started watching it mid way through and my plane landed before the end, but I was intrigued. I decided to do some research on prostitution and the people who participated in it, and what I learned truly made me reexamine the profession.
All too often in modern media we hear about a student prostitution scandal and about women selling their bodies in order to make ends meet. Often these women are degraded. In pop culture, prostitutes are depicted as drug-addicted failures “associated with crime, corruption, class, mass sexual exploitation and human trafficking” (Somswasdi). Or these women are portrayed as gold-digging glamour queens, living a high-end lifestyle with a billionaire on their arm. But the life of a prostitute is not always “a lifestyle of cocaine, speed and French champagne” (Taylor). Not all prostitutes are drug addicts just trying to make enough money to score their next fix, or stylish dominatrices. Some people can fall into this line of work for reasons that are not only understandable, but also almost respectable. Prostitution is not completely immoral; in fact, in some cases women sell their bodies for a noble cause. I believe that the profession of prostitution needs to be reexamined, not to justify it, but to understand it.
After the economic downfalls in our county, companies have been hesitant to hire new workers, people have been laid off, and the average pay of each individual has been drastically reduced. To make matters worse, prices are continuously going up, and the job market gets increasingly competitive each day. The world that we live in can no longer guarantee financial security and job stability so long as a person has a college degree. Today, even people with Master’s or Doctoral degrees can be found flipping burgers or bagging groceries to pay their rent. There are also many prostitutes that are mothers, Ivy League college students, or even accomplished businesswomen that simply need money for things such as life-saving medical operations or college educations for their children. The economic situation is only growing worse; people cannot survive on the salaries that they are given. So why shouldn’t people use whatever method they can to help themselves? Or even save the life of someone they love? Take Ava Xi’an as an example.
Ava Xi’an worked as a realtor in Long Island until her father needed heart surgery and didn’t have the funds or the insurance to pay for the procedure. Ava’s degrees in psychology and finance from a prestigious university in the South were simply not enough to get her the money she so desperately needed. Ava needed $35,000 just to pay the deposit. There was no way for her parents to come up with the funds on their own, and she could not pay it with her salary as a realtor, so she started to sell her body in an attempt to save her father’s life (Buckley and Jacobs).
Ava is a consenting adult with the right to do whatever she wants with her body, so why should it be wrong for her to go out and make money in whatever way she chooses? Why shouldn’t she be able to sell sexual activities, so long as she and her partner are both consenting individuals? Why is it a problem for her to make money doing something she is not only good at, but enjoys? Within a year she was making up to $8,000 a day, meaning she was earning an annual income of around $200,000, and she actually found the job enjoyable. She confessed that she never realized how much fun the job would be or how much she would truly like her clients (Buckley and Jacobs).
Many people believe that “Prostitution as an institution is evil.” (Checkley). They claim that the entire business is immoral and that, by making sex a commodity, society is allowing the greatest aspects of humanity, such as love, intimacy, monogamy, and acceptance, to slip away. They argue that prostitution is putting a price on “love, obligation, and commitment,” ideals that people believe should be free from monetary value, allowing the world to become even more detached from the traditional values than it already has (Sandel, 50). However, is there a more noble cause than saving the life of someone you love, or trying to pay for your education?
The life of a prostitute is not a life as a sexual salve. One high-end call girl known as Niki even said that “there really isn’t a least favorite aspect of the job.” She loves every moment of her work, despite getting robbed, raped, taken advantage of, and arrested. For Nikki and many other high-end prostitutes the job isn’t just about good pay: they genuinely enjoy it, and they consider themselves “sex therapists” (Bui). They truly believe that they are benefiting their clients by giving them comfort, satisfaction and reassurance (Bui). Niki even believes she is doing society a service; she is projecting positive energy out into the world, helping her clients to feel compassion and satisfaction, and giving them something to take home to the women that they truly love (Bui).
Prostitution can bring a lavish lifestyle where a high-end working girl can drop thousands on clothes, cars and penthouse apartments while experiencing expensive dinners and traveling to exotic locations. However, there are some major issues with the profession that cannot be overlooked (Taylor). The profession brings access to hard drugs, such as cocaine and speed, along with many other risks. It is easy to glamorize the industry, “but it’s not the easiest profession to be in” because “once you’ve done it, you can’t take it back” (Taylor). It is all too easy too “lose your life” when working alone (Cook).
There are many serious dangers in this line of work other than rampant drug use and the constant fear of STDs. Women have been robbed, raped, beaten, ripped off, and constantly disrespected. Of course, security measures are taken, but once a girl is “in a room with a guy, it doesn’t matter what kind of security you have. It’s you and him” (Bui). Even Niki, who loves every aspect of her job, has been through hell and back during her time in the industry. “Niki and her girls take precautions and bring mace, switchblades and even take self-defense classes. When it comes down to it they would rather get ripped off than get raped or beaten, but sometimes there is only so much a working girl can do” (Bui). Morally, the world of prostitution is also questionable, for no matter how noble the cause, putting sex, love, and intimacy up for sale greatly diminishes their value. Also, by enabling people to buy sex and intimacy, it allows such things to be taken for granted and for people to stop valuing other individuals. A major fear for prostitutes working alone, particularly for street walkers, is the fear that other girls might tell their pimps about them, resulting in harassment, beatings, and complete domination (Cook).
It is a constant struggle for some working girls to be valued as human beings, due to the disrespect associated with their profession, but “why is it illegal to charge for what can be freely dispensed? Sex work is no more moral or immoral than the chocolate or distilling industries” (Criox). All women should have the right to do as they please with their bodies and make their own independent decisions. So why should it be morally wrong for a woman to choose to use sex as her economic source? If people are willing to pay, and women have a service that they are willing to give, then why shouldn’t consenting women take advantage of the financial benefits that come with prostitution?
The major question is: how much of a risk are we, as a society, willing to take? Could the sex industry be destroying the intrinsic joy people are supposed to experience from love and intimacy? Is prostitution further detaching us from our traditional morals?
Anonymous. “Hot Hedge Fund Gossip and Sexy Women Wild on Wall Street.” Hot Hedge Fund Gossip and Sexy Women Wild on Wall Street. Hedge Ho, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Buckley, Cara, and Andrew Jacobs. “The Double Lives of High-Priced Call Girls.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Mar. 2008. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Bui, Natalie. “Confessions of an Escort Girl: On Sex, Love and All the Naughty
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Checkley, Dorn. “Dorn Checkley – Legal Prostitution – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. ProCon.org, 22 Jan. 2008. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Cook, Rachel. “Prostitute ‘Nancy’ Shares Her Story: ‘You Can Lose Your Life If You’re Out Here'” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.
La Criox, Catherine. “Catherine La Croix – Legal Prostitution -ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. ProCon.ord, 1 Sept. 2009. Web. 06 Oct. 2014
Sandel, Michael J. What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets.
NewYork: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. Print
Somswasdi, Virada. “Virada Somswasdi, JD – Legal Prostitution – ProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. ProCon.org, 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.
Taylor, Victoria. “Former Escort Who Has Slept with More than 10,000 Men Penn Salacious Book about Her Life of Sex, Drugs and Wealth.” New York Daily News. Daily News, 14 July 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2014