I have been thinking about writing a post about why prostitution is wrong. I have been thinking about the ways I could engage you all in my passion for the subject, in my quest to make a difference for the girls living this life.

And the problem is that I don’t quite no where to begin. But maybe it’s by saying this:

When I moved into my neighbourhood 4 years ago, I didn’t know much about prostitution. I knew it existed. I had a classmate that put herself through University working as a call girl. But street level prostitution, well, I knew it existed, out there somewhere. If you asked me about it, I might have said something like “Well, I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s a good idea, but really, it’s between the women who do it, and then men who hire them.”

And then I moved to somewhere.

Just the words I have used give me pause now. The women who “do” this, and the men who “hire” them. As easily and casually as if they were hiring someone to clean their house or watch their children. Except, not really.

One of the things that astounded me about the entire subject was to realize that prostitution isn’t about sex. Mostly it’s about possession and control and power. It is exactly what those John’s say it is – it’s about buying a woman. That’s the term they use “buying a woman”.

Now, I know someone will come along, sooner or later and point out that maybe selling sex is a viable economic prospect for these women, and who am I, with my moral puritanical-ness to tell them what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

And I suppose that’s why I haven’t written a blog about it. Because I know, deep within me that selling sex may be big business, but it’s not ever going to empower women to sell their bodies and not their minds. I think we can all agree that men aren’t hiring any woman: be she on a street corner, in a massage parlour, in a high priced hotel, or in a yellow pages ad for “escort services”; for her mind. Frankly, if they wanted someone for her mind, they could go and strike up a conversation with a woman. You know, have a relationship.

No, there’s a problem with saying that it’s ok for women to sell their bodies, but frankly, I’m still not sure how to articulate it, other than to call it a form of slavery.

But really, that’s not what strikes me most about prostitution. You see, when someone asks me why prostitution is wrong, I think of the woman I saw, standing on a street corner 2 years ago, on Christmas Day.

She was standing kiddy-corner to my house, at about 8:30 am. It was cold, I think. She was standing there, waiting for a man to pick her up. On Christmas Day. Now, you can tell me that women might consider this to be empowerment, a valid way to make a living, but the truth is, did you work outside on Christmas day? When I was going to open presents and have eggs Benedict, she was standing, looking, waiting for a John.

Did you stand outside, looking for work on Christmas?

And lest you start thinking of this as a terribly Dickensian scene, she was standing there, freezing, stoned out of her mind. Frankly, the girls in my neighbourhood usually are stoned. I hardly wonder why, I’m sure I would have to be too.

Could we all just agree, irregardless of what you think of women’s rights, irregardless of your position on empowerment, that she probably, in whatever lucid bit of her was left, she probably didn’t want to be there either.

Could we leave the issue of whether she should be there, or wants to be there, or even if this is an economically viable method of supporting yourself aside. Could we say that when you have to be stoned out of your mind to do a job, when your job supports being stoned out of your mind, and when that job has you performing risky work on Christmas Day, that we have an obligation to stand up and help you?

Irregardless of the politics, could we make it about the people – the women? And could we be their voice?

This entry was posted in Feminism, Politics, Practical Philosophy, Prostitution. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to prostitution

  1. JuliaS says:

    Christmas day? Wow. What saddens me is that the motivation for some women is because it is the only thing they feel they have of any value or that someone would want them for (and it’s not really “them” that is wanted).

    I’m trying to juxtapose the image of your garden and the dogs with the image of a woman selling herself on the street corner in the same neighborhood.

    Thought provoking as ever Mrs. Spit.

  2. Martha says:

    It fascinates me that in Nevada, prostitution is legal, but just a few miles away, it’s illegal.

  3. Gary says:

    I definitely feel that street prostitution has more problem, and more girls with problems getting involved with it. But sophisticated sex worker/John communities like Naughty Reviews tend to show the business in a different light. It’s a business, pure and simple…and it will never go away.

  4. alicia says:

    ohh Mrs Spit you have brought up one of my passions. I worked with young girls involved in prostitution for many years. The young girls are actually tricked into the life, and then cannot escape. The older ones are most often controlled by a pimp and they also cannot escape. Their are some women who do it on their own, but it is a rare thing. I do not believe these women want to be out there on the cold streets, never knowing if the next John will be the one to beat them to death, give them a STA, aids, or a unwanted pregnancy (for which they will suffer for by the hands of their pimps). It is a brutal existence. One I saw first hand with many of the girls I worked with. I have a passion to be a voice for these girls. I actually started a small organization called “tricks aren’t for kids” and spoke in churches about the possibility of any of our young girls being tricked into the life. It happens most frequently in malls, West Ed being one of the largest grounds for pimps to pick out new girls. There is actually a while male prostitution business run out of West Ed. I could talk for hours about this subject. It breaks my heart to see those women out there, and I actually believe prostitution should be legalized, but that is another debate!

  5. Azaera says:

    The thought of this scares me. I could not imagine if it were my daughter out there. (btw I tagged you in my blog)

  6. loribeth says:

    Re: Alicia's comment, I can remember reading a book in the late 1980s written by a Toronto mom whose teenaged daughter became a prostitute & wound up dead in a stairwell, just when they thought her life was turning around. She was recruited/seduced by a smooth-talking pimp at the Toronto Eaton Centre who first showered her with attention & drugs, & then turned her out on the street to work for him. I think it was called "Never Let Go" & the teenager's name was Kristy Mc-something, but I don't remember the rest.

    It's very sad. 🙁

  7. loribeth says:

    I Googled — it was "Never Let Go: The Tragedy of Kristy McFarlane" by Tom McDonnell (published in June 1987, & currently out of print).

  8. Debra She Who Seeks says:

    Hi Mrs. Spit, there’s a one-hour documentary tonight on TV that might interest you. It’s called “The Business of Sex” and examines prostitution in Canada. It’s on CTV (CFRN channel 2 here in Edmonton)and starts at 10:00 pm.

  9. Heidi says:

    Wow, Christmas day?? Forget the prostitute taking off, can’t the johns even take off for one day?

    My aunt was a prostitute for many many years. When she first started doing it I was very young and didn’t understand what everyone was talking about. But she always wore glittery clothes and I thought she was totally glamorous. Years later the glitter stopped hiding the trackmarks and the other signs of her drug use and I realized how totally sad it was.

    Then there is the movies…Pretty Woman…nothing like making it look like you’ll find your knight in shining armor!

  10. meinsideout says:

    I think I told you – I used to be a police officer and most of the street prostitutes I came into contact with did it to pay for their addictions. It is truly quite sad – these are women that have the same hopes and fears that we have and yet they got lost, they got addicted to heroin, crack, whatever and prostitution is the only economic model that gives them not only the funds they need, but the flexibility to have a life as a drug addict.

    Quite depressing. As for women who are addiction free and just do it because it is great money and a good business – intertwining a moral code into such business is similar to trying to add morality to Wall Street some days…

  11. Tash says:

    Lately, I’ve been up more on International Prostitution via Kristof at the NYT, and I guess what I get from his writing is that it’s seldom a choice. And so I wonder (taking Alicia’s great comment into consideration) how much of this really is a “choice” per se. And what evil lurks on the side where they decide not to do that anymore. More than any moral complaint, I worry most about their health and safety. And I’m not sure those interests are always paramount from law enforcement/officials who simply “try to stop it.” Complicated.

  12. ScientistMother says:

    I used think that prostitution should be legalized. That legalizing it would empower the women, provide security. But that is wrong, legalizing prostitution means that we are saying it is OK to buy and sell humans. It is not. There is something wrong with our society if the only way a woman can survive is by selling herself. Lord help us if we start to think that selling yourself is OK.

  13. charmedgirl says:

    just like illicit drugs, gambling, and a host of other consensual “crimes,” if it were a legal profession the atrocities you speak of (and much more) would not exist. i hate to be cliche, but just look at alcohol and tobacco. and sugar. and prescriptions.

    since i don’t want to equate sexual “slavery” to addictive substances (although i do think the politics and criminal networks can be validly compared), i will compare it to another profession. coal mining. no, coal miners do not sell their cocks, but they sell their bodies, time, and life expectancies to make a living. no, sexuality plays no part, but they toil away, forsaking their mental and physical safety, probably on holidays, LIKE SLAVES.

    until women can choose to sell their sex legally they are victims. and YES, i think it IS OK to do anything you choose as a consenting adult.

  14. Sheila says:

    First of all,the older women that are out on the street maybe there for a number of reasons. 1: they are addicted to drugs,2 money for food and clothing , rent for their kids. but a good majority of them are kids under 16. Runaways. Running from a place where they phyiscally, emotionally , or sexually abused homes, Running to find love, and they find it. At a very high price. Their called pimps. Also remember this. One of them could be your baby sister, a cousin, a niece. Most of all remember they are human beings. In 1985 I pushed for a law that made it illegal to purchase sex from a minor. John Crosby pass the law. All that did was make police officers have to prove the “John” knew how old the girl was. The ones that have been doing it for 25 years are lost . We need to look out for the young ones they are our future.

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