Readers' Submissions

Victimless Industry: Mindless Diatribe

  • Written by Chok Di
  • February 18th, 2005
  • 4 min read


"All you whining johns and perverts deserve what you got and more"

Well, I suppose we should be grateful that Gecko makes no pretence to impartiality, but lays his/her prejudices out for all to see from the first paragraph of his/her rant. We are all whining johns and perverts . . . in Gecko's opinion. He or she later goes on to imply we are also racists and paedophiles. If I had any confidence Gecko's opinion was worth the paper its not printed on, I might be hurt!

However, there is a slight problem of credibility when someone who clearly has such strong prejudices decides to write about something, because they have no actual facts on which to base their scribbling, as even Stick (who is a happily married man, not a whoremonger) noted. No one gains an understanding of anything by cherry picking those (frequently unsubstantiated) elements from the stories of others which happen to fit their prejudices – as Gecko so ably demonstrates.

There are women (and men) sold into sexual slavery, who are "broken in and prepared for a life of prostitution", and IMHO there is no punishment too severe for the traffickers and pimps who are responsible, but I suspect (with no direct evidence, I must admit) that they are a minority of working prostitutes. The fact that it makes a more sensational story for the media than "woman decides to rent out her body" does means it gets far more publicity.

I know, from my direct personal knowledge, of one (English) woman who gave up a job as an administrator (we're not allowed to say "secretary" any more here) to work in a brothel in the UK. I wasn't a customer – I knew her before she made her career change, because we both worked for the same company. She simply wanted to work fewer hours for more money.
Except for the lucky few born into wealth, we all have to work to support ourselves. Some rent out their brains, others rent the sweat of their brow, most a mix of the two. If people have no marketable skills, their choice of occupation is limited – and by far the best paid of those options is prostitution. They have a choice (in fact, they have many): they could restrict their expectations to their income; they could spend every spare hour studying and developing their education and skills to fit them for a better paid job; they could find a niche where they do have the right skills and work to develop their own business – or they can take the easier option and work in the best paid job for which they are qualified.

The choice may be a poor one, and their lack of education may be none of their doing (in third world countries without compulsory education systems – far less of a justification in the West), but they do have a choice!

"The john is the driving force of this industry"

True, by a careful definition of terms – but consider: is not a woman (or man) who marries for money not a prostitute (wholesale rather than retail, perhaps, but still exchanging sexual favours for wealth)? And who is the driver in that situation?

The driver of the situation is poverty, or more accurately, perceived poverty. If someone offered you a year's salary to sleep with them, would you? How about two years? Five years? Tax free? Will you starve without the money – or will it allow you to indulge in those luxuries you have heard of, but never tried?

A wise man once said, "there is nobody who is not for sale – only those whose price has not yet been offered."

There is a tale which has become part of popular mythology: Winston Churchill, at a cocktail party in the thirties, asked a woman whether she would sleep with him for £50,000 – an enormous sum in those days. Greatly daring, she replied, "of course." He then asked if she would sleep with him for £5.

"Of course not – what do you think I am?"

"Madam, we have already established what you are – now we are haggling the price."

The woman in this story was being honest, which is rare enough, but still failed to see the point. Why should sleeping with someone for £20 be reprehensible (if anyone mentions "sin" at this point, I may vomit), but sleeping with them for £20 million be a smart move?
If you genuinely want to eliminate prostitution (a debatable goal – why not do something worthwhile, like eliminating double glazing salesmen, instead?) the answer is to ensure there are rewarding and well paid jobs for every single person, regardless of their ability. But it isn’t enough to do this in Thailand: if you did, Laotians and Khmers and Vietnamese would be flooding over the border to "service" the newly rich population.

Eliminating the customer . . . a simple solution, appealing to simple minds. Eliminate poverty, and greed, and jealousy (and sanctimony) worldwide and you might come close.

But a study of social history will reveal something remarkable: though the legal status of prostitution has ranged from a compulsory religious obligation¹ to a capital offence over the years and continents, there have always been those willing to offer sexual services for gain. It doesn't matter whether the society was rich or poor, they are there. Always. Everywhere.
If your mind is open, this might tell you something about the nature of humankind.

Chok Di

1: Persia, prior to the rise of Islam

Stickman's thoughts:

Great stuff – I thoroughly agree with you.