A dream to some; a nightmare to others. – Merlin (Nicol Williamson) in Excalibur
One of the central goals of this blog is to help people realize that prostitution is completely natural female behavior; it actually predates marriage in human development and similar behaviors appear even in non-primate species. Most women will not hesitate to use their “erotic capital” (as Catherine Hakim calls it) to get ahead, and many have no qualms about openly using sex for material gain. About 10% of all women have directly taken money for sex at least once, and about 1% have actually worked as prostitutes at some time in their lives. As George Bataille put it, “Not every woman is a prostitute, but prostitution is the natural apotheosis of the feminine attitude”; in other words, full-time professional prostitution occupies one end of a whole spectrum of female behaviors on which it is impossible to draw a line separating the whore from the non-whore.
Obviously, only about 5% of all women (the historical percentage of the female population involved in the trade at any given time) feel comfortable enough with formal, professional prostitution to be able to actually make a living at it; in my column of one year ago today I discussed Amanda Brooks’ theory that such women, who often feel drawn to the profession from an early age as I did, might actually be genetically predisposed to it. In other words, there might be a “hooker gene”, and harlotry might be a sexual orientation just as homosexuality is. The comparison is an apt one: just as some men find ecstasy in homosexual activity while others are utterly repulsed by it, so for some women whoring is a dream job while others find it a total nightmare.
Those who consider homosexuality “unnatural” might be inclined to use the comparison to argue that prostitution is equally unnatural (despite this view flying in the face of facts); for those who are so tempted, let me point out that motherhood is as natural a role for women as one could ever imagine, yet I doubt any sane person would disagree that there are some women who are totally unfit for it. No life-path or career is suitable for everyone, and as long as those who are unsuited to a given role avoid it there is no issue. But when a woman who is repulsed by motherhood becomes pregnant, or one who has difficulties dealing with people is forced into a job in which public contact is unavoidable, nobody should be surprised when serious problems ensue. And if a woman who dislikes men or has sexual hang-ups (or both) is forced by circumstance into prostitution, the result can be an unmitigated disaster.
I’m not talking about women who simply aren’t cut out for whoredom; there are lots of those, which is why 10x as many women have tried hooking as have actually stuck with it for a time. The majority of women who directly take money for sex once or a few times simply decide it’s not for them (for whatever reason) and find some other way to make a living. But there are a small number who should never have even tried it in the first place, yet are driven by necessity, desperation or actual coercion to practice it for weeks, months or even years; such women are among the worst enemies our profession ever had. Because they hate the work, they tend to see and remember only the negative aspects. And because many of them are emotionally damaged even before entering prostitution (due to whatever trauma caused them to hate men and/or sex), and virtually all of them became even more damaged by having to endure what for them was a loathsome existence, they either become fanatics on their own or are easily driven to fanaticism by the prohibitionists. These are the women who call themselves “survivors” and learn to “reframe their experiences” (i.e. lie to make their stories more lurid and to more closely conform to anti-whore rhetoric). They are the mainstays of “john schools” and provide ammunition to prohibitionists who represent their highly-embroidered claims as typical of sex work and even multiply the accounts by changing small details so as to make them sound like different-but-similar tales rather than one repeated ad nauseum. The very worst of them (as typified by Somaly Mam) are so obsessed with their own darkness that they are willing to utterly destroy the lives of any real human beings who get in the way of their quixotic crusades against private behavior that is literally impossible to eradicate as long as humans remain human.
In a world where individuals were allowed control over their own bodies and the decisions of adults (however strange those choices might seem to others) were always respected by the “authorities”, fanatics who were harmed through ill-fortune or harmed themselves through their own poor choices would have no power over other, less damaged individuals. But unfortunately we do not yet live in such a world; even in jurisdictions which have legalized prostitution to one degree or another, governments believe they have the authority to abrogate the rights of individuals for whatever excuse strikes their collective fancy (provided they can convince the masses to lie still for it). As we saw in Rhode Island two years ago, a small group of vocal fanatics can easily convince the “authorities” to strip away rights held without challenge for decades, and one of the chief weapons of such fanatics is the emotionally-damaged “reluctant whore” who refuses to accept that her feelings or experiences are anything other than typical.