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Family Groups - Women - Burchill on prostitution

July 31, 2004

Julie Burchill on Prostitution

Never sleep with a woman called Honey

You know that old saying, Never eat at a restaurant called Mom’s, never play cards with a man called Doc and never sleep with a woman who has more problems than you do. Well, you might add, Never sleep with a woman called Honey, Misty or Fantasie, because chances are she’ll be a prostitute and you bet she’ll have more troubles than you do. And never doubt for a minute that, in the long run, you’ll be adding to them, even as you lighten her load and yours temporarily.
In these days when even Basher Blunkett is not too illiberal to countenance it in the shape of licensed brothels, managed zones where women can work under police surveillance and full taxation of filthy lucre earned thus to declare oneself against the legalisation of prostitution is considered as embarrassingly old-fashioned and inhumane as being in favour of sending children up chimneys or sterilising the blind on the ground that they are mentally defective. Even the word prostitute is thought to be somehow outdated and judgmental when applied to an actual seller of sex. For the rest of us, as a modish pop group once had it, We are all prostitutes. Except for hookers themselves, of course, who are, sickeningly, ?working girls?. Boy, I wish I could get a job which entailed getting off my face and lying in bed all day! Oh, hang on, I have.

It’s nothing personal coming from one lazy bitch to another, how could it be? No, on this issue, I find myself irreproachably the Christian I always claim to be; love the sinner, hate the sin. I can honestly say that I have never met a call girl I didn’t like; curiously, they are, with a few nasty exceptions, generally nice in an old-fashioned way that most modern girls are not understandably, seeing where it gets one. As a rule, when they were young, they trusted men and believed in romance which sadly left them wide open to being abused and exploited by every slime-ball they met. Too late they learnt their lesson, but this quality can still be seen in what Patrick Hamilton, in the Gorse Trilogy, described as the almost drivelingly sentimental loyalty and generosity which is part of the looseness of these loose livers.

There are lots of reasons why prostitution makes me cross, and this is one of them; even if it is the oldest profession, and even if it is always going to be with us both of which are far from proved conclusively it’s just so inefficient and inappropriate the way it is, mostly because the wrong women are doing it! The nice, the old-fashioned, the enslaved foreigner, the pitiably poor, the shamefully young none of them adds up to a natural sinner, guaranteed to put a grin on a guy’s face. As we’re always being told that posh girls are better at sex, might I venture the modest proposal that the prostitution of working-class women (who are naturally prudish, have very little desire to take drugs or accumulate material goods, desire motherhood and wifedom at an early age and are easily exploitable by pimps because of their trusting natures) might end, and that upper-middle and upper-class girls (with their no-nonsense promiscuity, desire for even more wealth and easy ability to wither upstart, bullying males with a look) might take it up en masse instead After all, there are only so many uses you can put a useless art history 2.2 to. These girls also tend to love drugs, too you’ll find more junkies, proportionally, in Debrett’s than in Deptford so the mandatory whorish crack habit would be like mother’s milk to them.

It won’t happen, of course just as even though posh boys often box at school, no posh boy ever becomes a boxer. Because the fact remains that no matter how much boxing is called a noble art and prostitution a worthwhile social service, NO ONE WOULD DO EITHER IF THEY HAD ANY CHANCE OF MAKING PROPER MONEY DOING SOMETHING ELSE. And this is the paradox at the bottom of prostitution, the true hypocrisy ? that though we talk about virtue as an admirable thing in women, it is vice which is rewarded every time. An attractive prostitute at the top of her game can earn in a week what a qualified nurse will work six months for; heartbreakingly, many call girls are former nurses whose willingness to help humanity left them so impoverished that giving succour to the male half alone seemed a more sensible option. Shockingly, some nurses moonlight as hookers, selling sex in order to subsidise their own altruism.
Before the state steps in to cut out the middle man and pimp/tax prostitutes itself, it might be better employed asking just why this is one of the very few careers in which uneducated, good-hearted women can make a decent living, and what it might do to rectify this surreal situation. For the rest of us, especially those of you who are cool with prostitution, you might like to test your own tolerance by asking yourself how you would feel if you found out that your mother had been a prostitute and the majority of them ARE mothers or that your daughter was about to become one. If you don’t mind, you’re weird. And if you do, you’re a filthy hypocrite, because they’re all someone’s mother and/or someone’s daughter.

Or son! Even those who swallow the Happy Hooker myth, I’ve noticed, back-pedal rapidly when the issue of young men selling sex to other men comes up; Happy Hooker, but Tragic Rentboy. Mmm, the idea of state-run Eros Centres don’t seem quite as acceptable, do they, when we imagine thousands of young men your son, your brother! bending over for the clammy hand of the STD doctor weekly, being approved as a nice clean receptacle for some salaryman to deposit his dirty secret into. And by the way, when some seat-sniffer is banging on about how civilised state-approved prostitution is in countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, they don’t tell you how once a woman is registered as a prostitute, it stays on her records all her life, making it well nigh impossible for her to stop selling herself and get a proper job. Is that really what we want? It certainly isn’t what the prostitutes themselves want, which is why so many of them work outside the system in countries where licensed brothels exist.
The Lord knows I’m not a narrow-minded woman. If people want to become prostitutes, let them. If people want to use prostitutes, let them. But it is not the business of a modern, civilised nation state to oil and facilitate this trade in human bodies and souls, or to make it easier for a privileged group of citizens to use an underprivileged group of fellow citizens as sexual spitoons. In short, if people use prostitutes of either sex then they actually deserve to be ripped off, to catch diseases and to be pulled in by the police. If that’s the price you pay for being a punter, tough; the person whose humanity you are denying, even as money changes hands, is paying a far, far higher one.

The author of this article has had two failed marriages and the children live with their fathers, a failed lesbian relationship and now dates the brother of the lesbian lover…enough said.

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