by Agnes a Paris
Wed Nov 30th, 2005 at 06:45:26 PM EST
From the diaries. Don't miss AgnesaParis' other diaries on related topics, but let's use this thread for all comments on all related issues. -- Jérôme
First of all, a warm "thank you" to all those who commented on my two diaries on prostitution and provided well-documented contributions. Debating on such a topic leads to lashing disputes among most discussion groups. It not only addresses our intellect and sense but triggers our sensitivity. Openness to discussion and alternative views is all the more to be praised -I may have found this just normal had I been on ET for several months as most of you, I guess.
My purpose today is not to pile up yet another diary on this subject, but to further some of the issues raised in the comments and also share a bit of personal experience.
Truly understanding the phenomenon of prostitution will be missed to some extent if we stick to the following beliefs:
- prostitution always goes with poverty
- like other repellent professional occupations, the key issue is about improving the conditions of work (like coalminers or textile factory workers in the 19th century) and avoiding financial abuse
- like any other professional occupation, prostitution meets a demand that needs to be fulfilled
I spent some time with an association in Paris called Mouvement du Nid. The driving principle behind our action was to help prostitutes by improving their work conditions (offer access to medical care, educate about VIH). Giving them a chance to talk in a safe, anonymous, environment was a significant part of the help provided. Indeed, prostitution is about being false, not admitting, even to yourself, that you are demeaned by what you do. Most of the women we talked with were not even able to consider wanting out, as if some kind of brainwash had convinced them that they did not deserve a better life (their self-esteem had been totally annihilated) or worse, that they were not unhappy doing that (denial of self-inflicted violence).
This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to put a dam on prostitution. My point here is that apart from poverty, financial implications of human trade, need for provision of "sexual services", prostitution thrives on the fact that some girls are just unable to want out. What is to be questioned here is a society where a woman's body has become a consumable. It can be traded, merchandised, valued at a high price, as is the case for multilingual, well-educated escort girls accompanying businessmen and politicians to dinners in the classiest restaurants and to private parties of our Western capital cities. This is not about glamour. This is not about entertaining a man for the price of a gourmet dinner and then kissing him good-bye almost like on a normal date. Many escort agencies recruit among the less attractive girls booked with sometimes prestigious model agencies.
Which teenage girl has never dreamt of being on Elle or Vogue cover page? As anywhere in the business world, there is no room for everyone in the first row. When top models become icons (as movie stars used to be) and little girls want to be Gisele or Naomi, and not a nurse, a teacher or an astronaut, there is something deeply flawed and corrupted in our western culture. Appearance can buy you anything. Why be surprised when the altar of appearance, the human body, is for sale?