Last week, Donna Asutaits was sent to jail after failing to pay taxes on earnings of over £300,000 ove the course of her career as a prostitute. A career which she began as a student in order to pay for her … Continue reading
The occupation of ‘Prostitute’ has long been assosciated with smut, disgrace and low class women. These helpless, often drug abusing women are looking to make a quick buck out of sleazy old rich men, but is this the case? Who is becoming involved in prostitution and why are they turning to such a sordid way of earning money?
The National Union of Students has claimed that the vast majority of students that are being forced to turn to prostitution according to their records have been those taking part in longer courses, such as Medical Science and Veterinary Science. They add that these are often students from a more advantaged background.
A study carried out in Canada by the Canadian Medical Asasociation suggested that students studying Medical Science tended to come from more advantaged background, their parents tended to have professional highly paid jobs and they tended to be from White, Chinese or Indian heritage.
This suggests that the students that are turning to prostitution to make ends meet have hailed from particularly well off families. Are they shocked by the transition to living on their own and struggling to maintain the lifestyle to which they have become acostom?
Has the desire to look after themselves driven them to sex work?
The image of the conventional sterotypical prostitute is definitely evolving but in to what?
A posh naive medical student with a taste for caviar and designer handbags?
What do you think? Let us know : @investigatesp
Torn between the empowerment of women in control of their sexuality and earning money for it and those that are seen as nothing more than victims of a male dominated society, the feminist view offers critical thinking on prostitution.
Emily Rose offers summaries and discussions on the varying feminist views on prostitution. The article suggests that Existentialist feminists see that “prostitution can be liberating and empowering to women and prostitutes are entrepreneurs”. However many see the negative side of the industry…
In response to About.com’s “Is Prostitution a Victimless Crime?”, they note that “What’s Recreational Sex for Some Men is Abuse for Many Women”.
Calling upon writer and anti-pornography activist, Andrea Dworkin, they expose the view on prostitution that it is not built on the empowerment of women but is a business of degrading women.
“Andrea Dworkin made it her life’s work to focus on the sex trade and reveal it for what it is – not a free enterprise but a business built on the backs, the blood, and the debasement of women.”
She highlights what she sees as the truth about prostitution and “refutes the argument that a high-priced call girl charging $5,000 an evening is any more empowered and independent than a 13-year-old runaway beaten by her pimp.”
“[F]rom the perspective of a woman in prostitution or a woman who has been in prostitution–the distinctions other people make between whether the event took place in the Plaza Hotel or somewhere more inelegant are not the distinctions that matter….The circumstances don’t mitigate or modify what prostitution is.”
Dworkin is not alone in her strong view on the reality of the sex industry. From University of Rhode Island, professor in women’s studies, Donna M is a leading researcher on the trafficking of women.
“There is no dignity in prostitution. Many of the acts of prostitution, including those that are photographed in the making of pornography, are intended to degrade, humiliate and express domination over women. They are acts of misogyny, not respect or affection, and have nothing to do with love or intimacy. Women don’t emerge from sexual exploitation into positions of power, respect or admiration. They remain powerless as individuals and an underclass as a group…..
Prostitution and trafficking are extreme forms of gender discrimination and exist as a result of the powerlessness of women as a class.”
These ideas suggest that at any age, prostitution is an industry built on the objectification of women and thrives on their lower position in society.
Are the numerous dangers and the evident degradation of women in the industry outweighed by those women that find empowerment in the industry?
Let us know your thoughts and experiences by commenting below or email us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing for Yahoo Lifestyle, Catherine Maillard certainly thinks so.
Catherine writes that “on the point of being trivialised within the student community, it goes hand in hand with crisis and insecurity, but not just this: the internet and its wide access to different options contributes to the growth of the problem.”
However, she fails to note that there are students, and particularly females, involved in sex work that enjoy and feel empowered by their work.
Catherine touches on the idea that “prostitution can equally be a deliberate choice” but follows by suggesting that in the case of internet ads for such jobs, “it is nothing more than a trap”.
Empowering, dangerous or degrading?
It appears that very few people find themselves sat on the fence when it comes to prostitution, especially student prostitution.
Catherine calls upon a 19-year-old student, Stephanie who “gradually started to offer sexual favours to her social landlord” when she couldn’t pay off her rent.
There are certainly serious and obvious dangers apparent in the sex trade. Especially when such students are taking on roles that “do not have proper contracts” which may lead them into “ambiguous situations, …find[ing] themselves drawn into things they did not sign up for in the first place. “
The sex industry is one that society often wishes to sweep under the carpet and pretend isn’t happening but addressing the real problems and issues that are still occurring is a crucial step for improving one of the oldest professions in the books.
The very real dangers faced by prostitutes include rape, abuse and violent death… dangers that may be faced on a daily basis. In 2000, Melissa Farley (PhD) summarised in a fact sheet on human rights violations, specifically considering prostitution, that…
a) sexual harassment
d) verbal abuse
e) domestic violence
f) a racist practice
g) a violation of human rights
h) childhood sexual abuse
i) a consequence of male domination of women
j) a means of maintaining male domination of women
k) all of the above”
So perhaps student prostitution or prostitution as a whole should be completely illegalised and stamped out?
But what about those women that rely on the income to survive, surely the answer is not to get rid of a trade that does offer some positives that are often neglected. Perhaps the real need for change is the attitude to the profession. If the sex trade was viewed as a profession and treated with the same consideration, the case of violence and health dangers could be better dealt with. If formal laws and regulations became commonplace within the industry that has been demonised with a seedy reputation, the people employed within it would be safer, which is ultimately one of the root problems within the industry.
If the women, and men, in the industry were properly protected perhaps the room for those empowered by their choice of work would leave more approval for the sex trade.
So, perhaps we shouldn’t be asking whether we should we be putting a stop to student prostitution, or prostitution as whole, but asking how the industry can be improved to care for the workers.