I have been thinking this morning about how ardently some women argue that prostitution is an acceptable way to earn a living… for other women.
The attitude that prostitution is alright and okay and tolerable and acceptable – and every other form of adequate you can think of – is passionately and enthusiastically expressed by some non-prostituted women. It is an attitude which contrasts wildly with their own life choices, which convey, very revealingly, that prostitution may well be all these things for other women, but certainly not for themselves.
Of course this begs the question, why is that? Why would any woman argue the acceptability of prostitution for other women while clearly regarding it unacceptable for herself?
One woman I know of, who spends an extraordinary amount of time online arguing the acceptability of prostitution for other women, is herself unemployed. She types relentlessly about her perceived notions of prostitutions acceptability for other women, while quite possibly entertaining fears about how long her internet connection and electricity supply are going to hold out.
Why would any woman put so much energy into arguing the acceptability of something that, obviously, she does not consider acceptable for herself? I cannot answer that, though I would be very interested in knowing the answer. If a woman’s attitude is that prostitution is empowering and liberating and as acceptable as it gets, well then why on earth would she be unprepared to use this self-espoused wonderfully affirmative mechanism to keep the wolf from her own door?
Prostitution apologists do not gel well with such bald common sense. In fact, it enrages them. Time and again I have witnessed questions like these provoke furious anger and seething resentment, and I have come to understand that these reactions are both defensive and offensive, and are composed so because of a powerful rejection of anything that exposes the nonsensical nucleus of their position.
The thing, I think, that most dishonours the position of these women is their treatment of formerly prostituted women who have made the painful decision to speak out about the shape of prostitution as they have lived it. Women who express these negative interpretations of prostitution based on their own real life experience are shouted down in a particularly devious and derogatory manner by those who just don’t want to hear it. They are told, in language that is designed to be alienating, that their experiences are irrelevant. That they are told this by women who have no experiences of their own to draw on is only one bizarre aspect of the situation. What is perhaps more telling is that these non-prostituted pro-prostitution women are clearly determined to refute, by any means possible, the evidence of prostitution presented by the women who’ve lived it.
It is important to see that and to know that, and so instead of becoming enraged ourselves, as would be so easy to do, we may as well take stock here and as calmly as possible take a look at the revealing nature of these non-prostituted women’s positions. Since they are willing to affirm any opinion that does not challenge their own, and to reject any position that does, then they are clearly invested in believing the version of prostitution they would prefer to believe. Their investment is most clearly evidenced by their dogged determination to silence prostituted women, regardless the inevitable cruelty that is inescapably involved in doing that.
This enthusiastic willingness to resort to a psychologically abusive form of silencing speaks of a need to refute that runs very deep, and we women who have been abused in systems of prostitution would do better to dissect and deconstruct and really examine the reasons behind this inhumane way that we are treated.
Of course, this is difficult to do. It is difficult, when you are wounded sexually, spiritually, emotionally and mentally, to maintain your composure while you are further wounded by the attitudes of others who say this wounding is not relevant, or, at best, is just specific to you, when you know damn well you saw it everywhere you looked. And it is galling, by God is it galling, that those who espouse this theory are not only women, but women who’ve never spent a moment being abused in the system they maintain you need not have experienced as abusive! And so the reality of our abuse is dismissed and ignored and rejected, and by this system of determined ignorance, we are abused all over again.
So – what to do with our sense of appal? I would advise that we pour the cooling waters of common sense on it, because just as much as common sense is offensively inconvenient for those who refute the reality of our lived experiences, it is a sincerely calming comfort for ourselves. Common sense tells us here, for example, that if a woman sincerely believes prostitution to be an unobjectionable way of earning a living, the same woman, when faced with impoverishment, should not find taking a position in a brothel objectionable herself.
A woman who says that prostitution is fine, yet accepts unemployment over prostitution in her own life, may say what she likes – what she has demonstrated is that it is not fine.
Let us remember that actions speak louder than words, and that the insincerity of such women is clearly expressed when they shape their lives so as to communicate ‘prostitution is fine… but not for me’.