Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE CONSENSUAL CRIMES
- LET'S FACE IT: WE'RE ALL whores. We've all done something with our bodies we wouldn't have done if we hadn't gotten paid for it. We've all worshiped at the shrine labeled "In God We Trust."
- We do things every day that we wouldn't do if we had a billion dollars. When we reach the point of having so much money we no longer have to put out, we start buying. We become the procurer, the customer, the john. But please don't be upsetwe're in good company:
I'm a whore. All actors are whores. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder. William Holden
I do everything for a reason. Most of the time the reason is money.Suzy Parker
People think I sit here and push buttons and get things accomplished. Well, I spent today kissing behinds.Harry S. Truman
I did it for the loot, honey, always the loot.Ava Gardner
I went into the business for the money, and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can't help it. It's the truth.Charlie Chaplin
I've been in trouble most of my life; I've done the most unutterable rubbish, all because of money. I didn't need it . . . the lure of the zeros was simply too great.Richard Burton
Sometimes I feel like an old hooker.Cher
Sometimes at the end of the day when I'm smiling and shaking hands, I want to kick them.Richard Nixon
I am never quite sure if I am one of the cinema's elder statesmen or just the oldest whore on the block.Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The only reason I'm in Hollywood is that I don't have the moral courage to refuse the money.Marlon Brando
I made appearances at cocktail parties in Florida for $500 a pop, pretending to be an old friend of the host.Mickey Rooney
I'd love to sell out completely. It's just that nobody has been willing to buy.John Waters
- I view prostitution as a purely economic exchange, inherently no more or less degrading for either buyer or seller than any other professional relationship. The same arguments against prostitutionbuying or sellingcould be made against any professional service: psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor, lawyer, priest, ministeryou name it.
- "You mean you sell your knowledge of God?"
- "Well, not exactly, I, well . . ."
- "Do you get paid for it?"
- "Well, I do get a salary, yes. A small stipend."
- "Do you have to do any manual labor; I mean, do you have to landscape the grounds or sweep out the church or anything?"
- "No, but I do have other duties."
- "Such as?"
- "I counsel people, I have administrative duties in the church, I perform marriage ceremonies . . ."
- "You get paid to officiate in the spiritual union of two human beings? Do you do anything in your job in which you are not the representative of God?"
- "Well, there is the administrative work."
- "Do you have training in administration?"
- "No. Among my pastoral duties is running the church."
- "But you don't have a degree in administration."
- "No, my degree is in divinity."
- "So, you sell divinity."
- "Well, if you put it that wayyou know, you're really distorting this whole thing."
to the NBC Orchtra
- Yes, it is a distorted way of looking at it. It is, however, the same distortion people apply to prostitution. Some people become prostitutes because they like it; others become prostitutes because they feel they are providing a service; many become prostitutes becauseall things consideredit's the best job they can get.
- But isn't prostitution degrading?
- Other than the unjustified cultural taboos against it, prostitution is no more degrading than any other job, and, in talking with prostitutes, one discovers that many find prostitution less degrading than other jobs.
- "I make good money. That's why I do it," commented one prostitute; "if I worked at McDonald's for minimum wage, then I'd feel degraded."
- One of the myths about prostitution is that it is full of drugged-out, washed-out, otherwise worthless men and women. This is not the case. "I find that the women, generally, are ambitious, clever, intelligent, gregarious, and usually like people," says Margo St. James, founder of C.O.Y.O.T.E.., the organization for prostitutes' rights. C.O.Y.O.T.E. stands for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics. "The profession itself is not abusive; it's the illegality; it's the humiliation and degradation that is dealt to them at the hands of the police."
- Norma Jean Almodovar agrees, and she knows whereof she speaks: Ms. Almodovar was a Los Angeles police officer for ten years and, tired of police corruption and genuinely immoral acts she was asked to condone daily, she quit and became a prostitute. If a prostitute went on to become a police officer, her prostitute friends would probably throw her a party. When a police officer became a prostitute, however, the police considered it a personal insult and felt they had to do something about it. They did. She was targeted, entrapped, and jailed. Ms. Almodovar's story is told in her 1993 book, Cop to Call Girl: Why I Left the LAPD to Make an Honest Living as a Beverly Hills Prostitute. In her book, she gives her views on whether or not prostitution is degrading:
That really depends on the individual involved or how one views sex. It was not degrading to me because I think that sex is a positive, nurturing act, and whether it is given out of love or rendered as a service, as long as it is consensual it is still positive.
On a scale of the pain or pleasure human beings can inflict on each other, if murder, rape, and torture are the worst, certainly giving another person an orgasm must be among the best. I cannot fathom how one could think that making another human being feel good for a fee could be degrading or demeaning unless it is degrading to make other people feel good.
If the reason society continues to arrest men and women who engage in prostitution is that it is degrading, then perhaps someone could explain how going to jail, being strip-searched, checked for lice, and asked to undress in front of dozens of insensitive guards and inmates somehow resolves this problem. Jail and prison were degrading to me, not prostitution.
- When asked if prostitution is immoral, Ms. Almodovar replied,
Morality is the belief of the person. I don't consider it immoral. Everyone who works "sells" one or more parts of his or her body. Athletes, actors, actresses, and construction workers "sell" their body. The body is what is needed to engage in physical work. It would be difficult to engage in any profession without the use and therefore "sale" of one's body.
Perhaps because the genitalia are involved, people object to prostitution. In a free country people should be able to engage in behavior that others find immoral or objectionable as long as no force or fraud is involved. As an adult I feel confident that I can make my own moral judgments. For me it is not immoral to make other people feel good in a sexual way and receive payment for providing the service.
- People are often surprised to learn that many prostitutes actually enjoy their work. Like all professionals who feel they are filling a need, prostitutes can feel a profound psychological satisfaction. Here is what Barbara, a Los Angeles prostitute, had to say:
I derive a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I'm turning some guy on, more than he's ever been turned on in his life. And I know I'm turning him on more than his wife. That's not that difficult to do, because the average American housewife, from what I've been able to tell through the husband, most definitely is not very adept. Most of them have this typical Anglo-SaxonAmerican guilt complex, and use sex as a tool against their husbands. They definitely don't know how to give pleasure to their husband.
- Which brings us to the question, "Why do people visit prostitutes?" First, we must accept that sex and the desire to be touched in a nurturing way are human needs, like eating. (If not a need, after enough time they're certainly high on the list of wants.)
- Sex always involves some sort of exchange. Those who are attractive enough exchange their attractiveness with other peopletheir attractiveness is the coin with which they pay for sex. Some people have a good personality; they trade charm for sex. Others spend time with and do things for the people (or person) they have sex with. Some people exchange the exclusivity of their emotional affection, tenderness, and care. The list of what people "spend" in order to have sexual and sensual needs fulfilled goes on and on.
- Those who are too busy, not very attractive, too shy, or who simply don't want to be bothered with the dating game sometimes visit prostitutes. People also visit prostitutes because they want a walk on the wild side; some have a specific sexual fantasy they would like fulfilled. (Here, I am not necessarily talking about outrageously kinky things: many men, for example, visit prostitutes simply to receive oral sexThe Hugh Grant Syndrome, Part IV.)
- There is no more need to pity or censure someone who visits prostitutes than there is to pity someone who doesn't always get home-cooked meals. Perhaps the person doesn't want all that comes with home-cooked meals. Perhaps the person hasn't found someone who wants to stay home and cook his or her meals. Or perhaps the person is simply tired of home-cooked meals and wants a little variety. As Sophie Tucker explained, "All men like a little piece of mutton on the side." And a good many women, too.
Some people are hypocritical about their purchase of sex: they know their interest in another is primarily sexual and will "buy" that person with candy, flowers, dinners, shows, concerts, gifts, and, perhaps, a few words of affection. They might even pay for sex by using the magic word that flings open the portals of sexual pleasurelove.
People on the receiving end of this are sometimes deceived, but often they're just playing the game, too. They want the attention, flattery, companionship, presents, and experiences ("I haven't been to that new restaurant, have you?") and are willing to trade sex for those.
There are two reasons prostitution is so despised in our culture: hatred of women and the taboos against paganism. In ancient times (pre-1985) women were valued for either domestic abilities (having children, raising children, keeping house, making clothes, cooking food) or entertainment (sex, pleasant talk, sex, dancing, sex, and sex). As women were not viewed as human beings but as necessary (and often burdensome) means to an end, a split developedwhat we now call the "madonna/whore complex." A woman is either put on a pedestal, protected, taken care of, seen as "the mother of my children and the light of my life"; or she is used for sex, emotionally and perhaps physically abused, and seen as nothing more than "a slut." In the minds of many men, women must fall into one of these two categories. One seldom goes from the whore category to the madonna category, but the slide from madonna to whore (at least in the eyes of the man) is fairly common.
- In the ancient Judaic culture, for example, the only woman with independence was the prostitute. All professions were filled by men. Everything was owned by men. The only valuable commodity a woman was allowed to own was her body and her charm. Women became whores because they didn't want to prostitute themselves to one man in marriage.
- What men really resented about prostitution was the woman's independence.
- In pagan cultures, however, women could aspire to a parallel but very different profession: temple (or sacred) prostitute. Pagans believed that physical pleasure signified the presence of the gods. Sexual pleasureamong the greatest of physical pleasureswas one of the gods' greatest gifts. Not only was sex pleasurable, it was essential to fertility, and fertility was life. The fertile ground gave its crops; the fertile livestock gave their young; the fertile trees gave their fruit. Human fertility was necessary for the propagation of the species. Everything was viewed in sexual terms: the rain falling on the receptive earth, the seed planted in the receptive ground, the net thrown into the receptive sea.
- In this system, the feminine (receptive) quality was not just appreciated; it was worshiped. The temple prostitutewhether female or maledeveloped this quality to an art.
- The temple prostitute performed many functions. She was the High Priestess (or he was the High Priest) of the temple. She or he would make offerings to the goddess or god of the temple, explore erotic visual delights through dance, play music, write and recite poetry, prepare sumptuous food, and concoct potions of love. The temple prostitute was, of course, also well trained in the arts of massage, touch, and erotic stimulation.
- Sex was a sacrament; orgasm, a religious experience. The community respected and revered the sacred prostitute as much as any other priest or priestess. Prostitution was a high calling, an honorable and exalted position.
- In Judaism and, later, Christianity, paganism did not fit. In the Old Testament, God demanded obedience, not orgasm. The temple prostitute was a sign of civilization, of refinement. For the Jews to wander in the desert for forty years and be successful warriors, all this pagan frivolity had to go. Among the most popular of the pagan frivolitiesnot surprisinglywas the temple prostitute.
- In the New Testament, Paul (in particular) denounced pagan practices at every opportunity. Paul speaks specifically against the temple prostitutes, not prostitution in general. Paul is condemning all pagan practicesthe work of the temple prostitute being just one of them.
|ONE NIGHT STANDS
WITH AMERICAN HISTORY
- Sex being their profession, prostitutes are better versed in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases than the average "amateur." Just as doctors, dentists, and other healthcare workers routinely put on rubber gloves for standard medical procedures, so too do prostitutes routinely insist customers wear condoms. Most prostitutes, in fact, have techniques for applying condoms that are nonobtrusive and erotic.
- Where prostitution is legal, prostitutes are professionals. They know how to protect themselves and their clients. For example, a study of 535 prostitutes working in legal Nevada brothels showed that none of them was infected with HIV. Prostitutes also show a lower incidence than the general public of all other sexually transmitted diseases. Prostitutes know how to (discreetly) examine a client for signs of sexually transmitted diseases. They know what herpes sores look like, for example, and are not going to fall for the I-just-caught-it-in-my-zipper deception. Prostitutes also know how to satisfy their clients in safe ways even if the client does have a sexually transmitted disease. (Masturbation, for example, can be erotic and safe.)
- In study after study, prostitutes who are not intravenous drug users have a lower rate of HIV infection than the general population. Prostitutes do not spread AIDS any more than drug use spreads AIDS. What spreads AIDS is unsafe sex and the use of contaminated needles. When the purchase of sex is legalized and the use of drugs is legalized, both of these transmission routes will be almost completely eliminated.
- It is unsafe sex that spreads AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and unsafe sex can only be eliminated through education, not by prohibition.
- Prostitution is not disgusting, but what's happening today in connection with prostitution is. In several cities, the names of men arrested for soliciting prostitutes are published in the newspaper. These men have not been convicted, mind youjust arrested. Some cities send letters to wives and employers. Spurred by the laws, vigilante groups of moralists have formed. One group writes down license numbers of cars driving in areas known for prostitution, gets the owner's address from the department of motor vehicles (which cooperates in this "effort"), and calls the wives and employers telling them drivers were seen "looking for prostitutes." Some cities use the assets forfeiture laws and confiscate carspermanentlyeven for a first offense.
- It's obscene.
- The police are thoroughly corrupted by the techniques they must use in order to enforce the laws against prostitution. According to The Washington Post,
The police engage in substantial perjury to avoid the charge of entrapment and to obtain sufficient evidence for conviction "beyond a reasonable doubt." And perhaps even more upsetting, the police often must suppress their best evidence because they cannot admit having sex with the prostitute before the arrest.
- The illegality of prostitution also creates an unsafe environment for the prostitutes. Those who object to prostitution because they find that it "degrades women" should realize that the women who take part in prostitution may or may not be degraded by the job, but are certainly degraded by the rape and other violence that can take place because prostitutes must ply their trade in clandestine ways and clandestine places. Further, these rapes and other acts of violence against prostitutes are seldom if ever reported to the police. If they are, the police dismiss them with, "That's part of the game. If you don't want it, don't be a hooker," or simply respond, "You can't rape a whore."
As with all consensual crimes, arresting women for prostitution sets them on a life of crime. As Margo St. James describes,
70% of all women who are in jail today were first arrested for prostitution. When a woman is charged for a sex crime, it's a stigma that lasts her lifetime, and it makes her unemployable.
Like entering any other profession, becoming a prostitute is a choice. Exercising free choice of professions is certainly guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We may not treat "sex workers" (as some prostitutes prefer to be called) with the reverence that once was given the sacred prostitute, but sexual professionals are entitled to the respect, protection against violence, and freedom to make a living anyone else has.
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Copyright © 1996 Peter McWilliams & Prelude Press