The myths of prostitution and pornography

Recently in the news, former adult film actor Harry Reems, who co-stared in the, erm, seminal? porno classic “Deep Throat.” The AP article notes how Reems, a military veteran, hated his adult film career and simply couldn’t make money doing anything else. His life ended in much more wholesome circumstances than those surrounding his film career launch, as a happily married real estate agent in Utah.

This news, somber though it is, provides a nice springboard for a healthy and long-overdue discussion of forced, either directly or indirectly, sexual activity.

I recently encountered some very sleezy content in a professional capacity, only the fewest of the few of you may know what I’m talking about, and it spurred me to initiate some sort of dialogue with my few blog visitors (few but treasured).

I’d like to propose a theory: “Voluntary” prostitution is a myth. Now I know that is perhaps a controversial stance to take, but it’s not unprecedented. I’ve always had a gnawing feeling in my gut that while the Hollywood-friendly arch type of the high-dollar empowered escort may exist, it’s more than not, an utter mythical creature that has no bearing on prostitution today. My gut tells me that prostitutes in all corners of the world are resorting to the money out of a desperate lack of alternatives, or as I suspect, out of direct or indirect threat to their well being or the well being of their family. Why do I have this feeling? Because I’m a woman who need not stretch my imagination to understand that ’empowerment’ is the last characteristic that would accompany a transaction of flesh. So, in the heat of the moment, I did what any of us would do; trolled the internet for affirmation of my gut. E voila! (yes I know the Internet can affirm most anything). But I found this nice and neat little presentation from a Danish NGO that offers social services to women prostitutes.

Now the fact that these points came from the Danes is just icing on the cake, since when it comes to the counter-argument for outlawing prostitution, Denmark and the Netherlands are the go-to examples. Ha! Even the region’s own people know this is bullshit! Pardon my feeling victorious. So the presentation is called “10 Myths of Prostitution.” I could easily and happily relay all 10 debunked myths from KFUKs Sociale Aberjde, the NGO, but in the interest of keeping you captivated, I’ll just relay my favorite.

Myth 2
“Prostitution is a woman’s free choice”

To which they say:

“If prostitution is a woman’s free choice,
then why is it only women with little or no
education, women who have been marginalised
from a young age and single mothers
on welfare who choose a life in prostitution?
Neither social workers, economists, doctors
nor journalists seem to be tempted by the
”easy” money. The so-called free choice only
applies to those who can see no other options.

In June 2004, Pro-Tema, under the Danish
Centre for Research on Social Vulnerability,
published a large-scale survey based on
interviews with Danish women in prostitution
in massage parlours. The survey drew a
general picture showing that their financial
situation is a major reason why women prostitute
themselves. The reasons mentioned by
the women included having debts to repay or
wanting their children to have more material

So as you see, even in a place where the prostitutes are supposedly of the most protected and regulated in the world, the individuals are RESORTING to prostitution, not choosing it off a platter of career tracks. So even when it’s quote “voluntary,” it’s kind of not.

You’ll note that even the late Mr. Reems was ‘resorting’ to pornography. And if there is nothing else i leave you with, please take away this fact: Given options, NO ONE WOULD CHOOSE THIS as a means for making money, so believe it when I say we don’t need to worry about ‘protecting a woman’s right’ to whore herself. Besides, as the KFUK rightly notes, if prostitution were fully legitimized, then it would be eligible for work placement for the unemployed right? And if someone goes on leave then you could hire a temp right? And could students also apply for internships with brothels? And what about protection against a hostile work environment? Can “sex workers” sue for sexual harassment? All of a sudden this whole ‘legalize and regulate prostitution’ argument sounds just plain stupid. If all of a sudden pimps and proprietors couldn’t resort to various brutal and coercive means to keep their “products” in line, no one would willingly continue on as a prostitute. It’s not just because of the risks like violence (by the way prostitutes are 5 times more likely to get raped than non prostitutes) and disease, it’s also because it perpetuates a mindset of having zero value as a human being. An eternity of therapy may never ease the psychological damage of persistent and routine degradation and the likely accompanying physical pain from rough ‘clients.’

Those close to Reems were quoted in the AP article as saying that the porn industry ‘nearly destroyed him.’ This is particularly telling coming from a man since porn has been said to disproportionately harm women.

Now that I’ve posed some questions on the idea of ‘voluntary’ deals in flesh, let’s discuss the more obvious detraction from this absurd argument for safeguarding prostitution. Buying the services of prostitutes maintains a steady demand for contracted sex, which is then satisfied by the even more abhorrent trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual slavery.

Every time someone buys a person for sex, they are contributing to a culture that makes sexual slavery and systematic rape possible. It’s simple supply and demand. If you’ve partaken of prostitutes before, you are dynamically linked to the 11-year-old girl (or boy) from a developing country that’s kidnapped, smuggled to another place, and routinely raped in a dirty backroom until any semblance of her or his humanity has been shredded, let alone their physical health. Congrats.

Now that I’ve shamed much of the world, if you have an alternative view point, by all means have a go here in the comments.



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