The unfortunate women who turn to prostitution, sexual activity in exchange for payment, are publically and privately pilloried, and when they get savagely attacked and abjectly abused, they seemed to be portrayed as just worthless trash, rather than the tragic real-life victims they actually are, don’t you think?
It is a source of constant annoyance to some of us that the newspapers NEVER fail to mention in their reports of attacks on females that the person suffering the outrage was or is a prostitute, if that was indeed her background. Now just WHY that is deemed to be relevant to the situation by the press is a mystery, but it is certainly done with the intention of subliminally implying that “she deserved it” or “she knew the risks”, or “she’s just a whore anyway”, it would seem?
Well, prostitution is often said to be “the oldest profession in the world”, but of course that phrase is applied these days not as an accolade but as a derogatory euphemism to belittle those involved in it. That phrase only began to acquire its scandalous sense a hundred-and-thirty years ago, as before then in earlier times it was tagged to various work and trades such as farming and tailoring.
Oh yes, prostitution has been around forever, like ‘in ancient Rome, ladies used to go to baths to meet a certain class of men, while men resorted thither to meet a certain class of ladies’, while back in 1900 the morals of the aristocracy was questioned when ‘the most ancient profession in the world is carried on in Piccadilly, Regent street, and other parts of London with great energy every night’. We see even in the Bible that prostitution in ancient times was equally fair game for scorn, with the likes of ‘A prostitute is loud and brash, and never has enough of lust and shame’, ‘Come home with me, she urges simpletons’, [thought subsequently it has been claimed that revered Mary Magdalene was herself a repentant prostitute, eh?].
There are of course also a number of other ways used by the media and ‘polite society’ to refer to prostitutes, with euphemistic descriptions such as – on the game, working girl, sex worker, call girl, model, escort, masseuse, moll, hooker, hustler, tart, streetwalker, woman of the night, scarlet woman, courtesan, strumpet, harlot, trollop, woman of ill repute, lady of pleasure, etc, but they are similarly deployed in a manner to deride and stigmatize the women involved.
Just recently there has been a public spat regarding the vile killing escapade in Victorian London’s Whitechapel, carried out by the still-unknown ‘Jack the Ripper’, back in 1888. A historian’s years of diligent research has been published and claims that four of the five killed and knife mutilated victims were NOT prostitutes at all, as has been constantly reiterated for the past century and more, but were simply working but homeless women, cruelly slain while lying down in their sleep.
One might understand why back in those days, it was convenient for the sexist police of the times to reassure the city’s frightened public that the maniac killer was targeting only prostitutes, but there can’t really be any excuse for those amateur sleuths, fascinated with the prospect of identifying the actual killer, to have perpetrated that myth about the slaughtered women, even to the modern day, can there?
Apparently, the female author of the research has faced persistent attacks and attempts to discredit her by “raging” others, who wish to justify their personal fascination with the psychopathic Ripper and the unsolved murder mystery, together with defending their own less diligent work on the victims, and somehow obsessively viewing it significant to maintain the record that prostitutes were the targets for those brutal murders. One notable and illuminating contribution to the learned debate from such a male chauvinist moron was “I think you need to get your facts right young woman. I have no flawed view of women, other than you need us men, because vibrators can’t cut the grass”.
In more modern times though, we get a similar scenario, with the 1970s police failure on the sensational case of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe (dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper) who was convicted of murdering 13 women and attempting to murder another seven over a period of five years [those are just the ‘known’ murder and attempted murder victims – others may be in the many dozens?].
A number of women were indeed prostitutes, so were vulnerable. If you read the Wikipedia article about the attacks and murders though, you will see that even today it records “…the public were especially shocked by the murders of women who were not prostitutes.” So, the implication there HAS to be that the ones who WERE ‘good-time girls’ had it coming, eh?
There can be little doubt that 1970s community and police attitudes towards women [and prostitutes in particular, as demonstrate by some of the language used to label them like ‘a good-time girl’ that differentiated them from ‘respectable’ women!] allowed the Yorkshire Ripper free to kill, don’t you think? [The police categorised Wilma McCann, the first woman murdered, as just a prostitute, and assessed the killer as a “whore hater” [but Sutcliffe was a man who actually regularly used their services, eh?] – THOSE PROFILES PROVED TO HAVE A DISASTEROUS OUTCOME as many many more (?) women were murdered or attacked as a consequence].
Furthermore, Sutcliffe‘s seven ‘attempted murder’ victims, for which he is actually convicted, have simply been air brushed out of the scene and their names and memory don’t even figure in current reports of those events – perhaps because they were all deemed just prostitutes, do you think?
You see, the problem our society creates when women who work as prostitutes get attacked, is that all the focus reverts to the wicked attacker and their background, rather than the sympathetically review and reporting on the lives and real stories of the victims, doesn’t it?
[In Great Britain, prostitution itself (the exchange of sexual services for money) is legal, but a number of related activities, including soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, owning or managing a brothel, pimping and pandering, are crimes].
But make no mistake about it, but prostitution is most certainly NOT a ‘job’ – use by men of the sexual internals of a woman’s body is anything but equivalent an employer using a man muscles and sweat in manual work. Once society classifies prostitution just as “sex work”, then logically, rape must merely become theft – a minor misdemeanor?
Women don’t voluntarily CHOOSE ‘prostitution’ instead of say ‘floristry’ as a profession, but they for one reason or another they are thrust into it. Increasing numbers are migrant women or are trafficked, with others basically forced into prostitution, but many sex workers essentially do it to get money because they face financial hardship, and a significant number of them are single mothers who entered that sordid world to support their families. Many sell sex intermittently to meet occasional financial needs like debts – even university students can get dragged into that way of funding their lives due to inadequate financial support. Some women have a drug habit, often encouraged and supported by criminals and pimps, so have to do sex for money to buy their drugs or repay the suppliers.
For many prostitutes it is indeed ‘a choice’ but a horrible one nevertheless. Those women in that so called ‘industry’, are to be pitied, if not admired for their self sacrifice, and courage working within a dangerous environment often involving unstable, violent and abusive individuals, yet us safe, superior, better-off others in society, denounce and condemn them as immoral sluts who shame us all – how dare we? [Sex workers are often victims of crime, but rarely report such incidents to the police as they are in an essentially covert industry]
It is OK apparently in wider society for ‘reputable’ men to ogle ‘respectable’ women’s breasts in their low cut tops and indeed for the women to dress like that socially, but not for street women to use sex for money? It’s equally fine for newspapers and magazines to show women unclothed with their breasts fully exposed as long for some unthamonable, incomprehensible reason the nipples are covered? Women are permitted to use body displays and casual sex to attract a male and thereby enjoy free expensive entertainment, weekends in hotels, obtain gifts and holidays, or even end-up with a long-term partner to provide for them and children for life – but that’s not seen as equivalent to actual prostitution because cash isn’t ‘initially’ passed over, is it?
Worst still is the male hypocritical elite who publically rant against prostitution while surreptitiously in their hidden private lives, use strip clubs, lap dancers, private sex parties, and the like for personal sexual gratification, or even use high-class hookers to get their sexual thrills, and do it all behind their wives and families backs, eh?
[While prostitution is not an activity to be encouraged in any which way, it is not going to go away while there is a market for it and where vulnerable women can be exploited, or alternatively they have a survival need for it. However, the least our society should do is to protect and treat those women who ply that trade with respect for their right to be treated with exactly the same regard as afforded to all other women who don’t. That can start with the media desisting from EVER identifying women as working or past prostitutes, can’t it?]