The debate over how prostitution should be handled in our society has elicited lively opinions for a long, long time. Here is the opinion of one woman who worked as a hooker for a year and a half. She wrote this 5 years ago, but it is as relevant today as the day she penned it from behind bars:
Recently, we’ve seen a lot of letters to the editor claiming that prostitution should be government regulated just like any other profession. I myself was a prostitute, and I say “no” to this sort of babble.
Chloé, an Inmate at Joliette Institution Files Prostitution
It’s silly to suggest that prostitution is an ordinary trade. It’s hard for me to believe that in this day and age prostitution isn’t condemned as the horrible and degrading thing for women that it is. I’ve never met a woman who has happy tales to tell of her days working as a “hooker.” We must shout a clear “no” to all forms of prostitution.
I am a 35-year-old woman. I worked for a year and a half in the milieu. I didn’t think that doing it for such a short time would cause so much serious damage. I include in this devastating consequences to my interpersonal and social relationships, as well as irredeemable harm to my children and the rest of my family.
I can only guess at how it has hurt my body, my soul and my self-esteem. My sexuality is spoiled. All of my relationships with men have been severely affected.
These men – my “clients” – these exploiters, these abusers, these perverts, these purveyors of cash and merchandise, these soulless men… I can never look at them the same way.
I’ve been in jail for 2 years and 4 months. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what happened. The faces of my clients leap into my consciousness, with memories of some of the specific degrading things they asked of me…
The subject often comes up when I’m in a rehabilitation program. During one therapy session, another woman claimed that her time as a prostitute had done her no harm at all. I can’t believe this! You can’t sell your sexuality, your intimacy, your soul, your sensitivity, your aroma, without suffering bad consequences. It’s not humanly possible.
At the moment of sexual contact, I’d disassociate myself, as if I didn’t want to dirty myself. I took refuge somewhere deep inside my own being… Everything was mechanical, as if someone else was taking my place when I didn’t want to be there… But you can never completely separate yourself.
When a client put his pants back on and left I couldn’t forget what had happened. He was in the better position, because he could go back to his normal life, leaving behind what he’d done just an hour before. He became, once again, a family man, an honest citizen, a good worker or a super boss, a loving husband, a respected fellow… And I remained a hooker.
My sex life began at age 4, imposed on me by a perverted pedophile. It was too soon. Later, I had a long-term boyfriend. We were together for 8 years. We had a healthy, full relationship. This allowed me to compare my life before and after prostitution. Believe me, everything changed…
Before, I had a healthy libido. When my boyfriend was away for a few days, I’d fantasize… Today, my thoughts of sex are limited to flashbacks of incidents I’d rather not recall. Humiliating, bizarre situations. I feel shame, then fear, at their memory.
It’s not possible to believe that mothers and grandmothers would tolerate their daughters and granddaughters be humiliated like this!
Some argue that legalizing prostitution would reduce violence… If you’re stuck in a hotel room or a car, the risk will not change. No law can put “sickos” out of circulation.
I don’t believe there’s any way you can measure the suffering prostitution causes. But I do know that street prostitution and addiction are closely related. A woman who needs her fix will do a lot for very little… Legalization will change nothing for these women. They certainly won’t report to an official every Friday on how many clients they’ve serviced over the course of their week!
In short, I ask why we would ever waste our resources on even partial legalization. Why don’t we mobilize to end this societal scourge? Invest in programs that come to the aid of women. Invest in women’s shelters, of which there are far too few. I would have liked a safe place to go at 4 in the morning; a place where someone could have offered me a helping hand. There is nothing available at that hour!
No one has any place in prostitution.
What has to happen for us to learn that sexuality should be lived, not sold?