Why is the world okay with sex, but not okay selling it?
Hooker. Bawd. Concubine. Harlot. Streetwalker. Whore. Working girl. Gigolo. No matter what you call them, prostitutes have held a prominent place in society throughout the timeline of humanity. They also do so much more than provide sexual release. If you had ever engaged their services, you would know that prostitutes are also very capable councilors and massage therapists. Sex workers may provide a way for people to play out their fantasies without the risk of offending or harming someone. In some rare cases, sex workers even keep people from serious offenses by granting consent for the illusion of non-consent.
Since the dawn of time, humans have spent a significant amount of time devoted to the pursuit of sexual contact. We join online dating apps, hang out in bars, and approach strangers with the intention of getting to know them better. In the Victorian Age, writers became famous based on their erotica. The ruins of Pompeii are a smorgasbord of nude art, and sex was so plentiful that the women there brought a plant capable of preventing pregnancy to extinction. In modern times, people are encouraged to live out their fantasies, as long as it only involves consenting adult partners. So, why is it that we still have an issue with prostitution?
Why are we so offended at the thought of people selling their truest possession? Is it religion? Society? Maybe the media is to blame. I think it’s a combination of many factors. Societies are often built around religion, and the media plays a strong role in what we believe. When we surround ourselves with a constant barrage of information from others, we tend to form our beliefs from that input. We mirror the thoughts of our friends and family. It’s very hard to change those ideals, even when presented with conflicting information. If we meet someone who is a sex worker, we may judge them based on nothing but that, because that’s what we have been told to think.
So, here’s the challenge. Many of you reading this may know me personally. I’m sure you have opinions about who I am as an individual. I’ve worked hard to build a solidly positive reputation. To break this taboo, I’m going to share something personal:
I was once a prostitute. That’s right … me. I advertised my services through a website and would take clients after they had been vetted by the company I contracted with. I was very popular and received requests from all over the state. My work provided me with a comfortable living, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me. Living as a woman was hard enough; but as a transgender man, being treated like one during intimate scenarios just proved too much as my dysphoria worsened. I do not, however, regret a moment of my work, and in many ways found it rewarding. What’s better than giving someone happiness, or providing a release they may not find otherwise? The lack of sexual contact can result in depression and social anxiety. By giving someone an orgasm and allowing them to feel intimate contact, a person can provide them with a momentary distraction from their loneliness.
The next time someone you know brings up the topic of prostitution, challenge the taboo. Speak openly about the subject, without fear or shame. Do what you can to change an opinion respectfully. If you hear someone making fun of a sex worker, let them know that it’s not okay to shame anyone, regardless of their chosen profession–especially considering that many sex workers have fallen into this industry due to the fact that they’ve run out of options. In challenging others, you may find your own opinions evolving as well. Get to know someone for who they are, not what they do. Imagine scenarios where you could have had to do anything to survive, and know that not everyone who lives this way is desperate. In the end, you may find a respect for sex workers you never thought possible. It’s time to realize that the oldest profession humanity has ever established isn’t shameful, after all.