I have been thinking about writing a post about why prostitution is wrong. I have been thinking about the ways I could engage you all in my passion for the subject, in my quest to make a difference for the girls living this life.
And the problem is that I don't quite no where to begin. But maybe it's by saying this:
When I moved into my neighbourhood 4 years ago, I didn't know much about prostitution. I knew it existed. I had a classmate that put herself through University working as a call girl. But street level prostitution, well, I knew it existed, out there somewhere. If you asked me about it, I might have said something like "Well, I don't like it. I don't think it's a good idea, but really, it's between the women who do it, and then men who hire them."
And then I moved to somewhere.
Just the words I have used give me pause now. The women who "do" this, and the men who "hire" them. As easily and casually as if they were hiring someone to clean their house or watch their children. Except, not really.
One of the things that astounded me about the entire subject was to realize that prostitution isn't about sex. Mostly it's about possession and control and power. It is exactly what those John's say it is - it's about buying a woman. That's the term they use "buying a woman".
Now, I know someone will come along, sooner or later and point out that maybe selling sex is a viable economic prospect for these women, and who am I, with my moral puritanical-ness to tell them what they can and cannot do with their bodies.
And I suppose that's why I haven't written a blog about it. Because I know, deep within me that selling sex may be big business, but it's not ever going to empower women to sell their bodies and not their minds. I think we can all agree that men aren't hiring any woman: be she on a street corner, in a massage parlour, in a high priced hotel, or in a yellow pages ad for "escort services"; for her mind. Frankly, if they wanted someone for her mind, they could go and strike up a conversation with a woman. You know, have a relationship.
No, there's a problem with saying that it's ok for women to sell their bodies, but frankly, I'm still not sure how to articulate it, other than to call it a form of slavery.
But really, that's not what strikes me most about prostitution. You see, when someone asks me why prostitution is wrong, I think of the woman I saw, standing on a street corner 2 years ago, on Christmas Day.
She was standing kiddy-corner to my house, at about 8:30 am. It was cold, I think. She was standing there, waiting for a man to pick her up. On Christmas Day. Now, you can tell me that women might consider this to be empowerment, a valid way to make a living, but the truth is, did you work outside on Christmas day? When I was going to open presents and have eggs Benedict, she was standing, looking, waiting for a John.
Did you stand outside, looking for work on Christmas?
And lest you start thinking of this as a terribly Dickensian scene, she was standing there, freezing, stoned out of her mind. Frankly, the girls in my neighbourhood usually are stoned. I hardly wonder why, I'm sure I would have to be too.
Could we all just agree, irregardless of what you think of women's rights, irregardless of your position on empowerment, that she probably, in whatever lucid bit of her was left, she probably didn't want to be there either.
Could we leave the issue of whether she should be there, or wants to be there, or even if this is an economically viable method of supporting yourself aside. Could we say that when you have to be stoned out of your mind to do a job, when your job supports being stoned out of your mind, and when that job has you performing risky work on Christmas Day, that we have an obligation to stand up and help you?
Irregardless of the politics, could we make it about the people - the women? And could we be their voice?