Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Prostitution And The Power Of Positive Thinking

On Alas, a blog: In Which I Call A Truce On The Sex Wars Thing Cicily wrote in the comments:

My point was that for some women prostitution, set among other options, isn’t as bad as some people might think. A lot depends on one’s attitude to it, not to mention other peoples attitudes to it.
This statement totally ignores the verbal, sexual and physical violence that goes hand in hand for most of those who are prostituted.

For those who rely on popular societal messages to form their opinions about prostitution the assumption about the women involved is simple. Most of the victimization is self-inflicted. In fact, Cicily's statement reinforces the idea many people have that those who pay for sex aren't hurting anybody and it is those who can be bought (for sex or just for dancing) who are the dangerous ones. It also makes those who say they were traumatized by this "business" seem like they react like victims only because they have a bad attitude or a poor work ethic or are in need of a scapegoat.

Rather than believing that a person's attitude determines whether a situation is good or bad, I believe people use attitude as a way to cope with what happens to them and how they choose to treat others. Those coping skills and rationalizations get dangerous when they are used to excuse the exploitation of others or when they subject the person to more danger.

Some who are exploited decide that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and help keep the exploitive system going. I would say it is these people who appear to have the best attitude about what they do.

So what's the reality for those who don't have any easy ways out of prostitution?

From CNN: Trafficked women's symptoms akin to torture victims'
Women and girls trafficked for forced sexual or domestic work suffer post-traumatic stress on a par with torture victims, researchers said on Wednesday. In one of the first studies of health problems of women who have been trafficked, they found 95 percent had been physically or sexually abused and nearly 40 percent had suicidal thoughts.

When we think of sex trafficking, we often think only of international victims, but it isn't nationality or distance that causes trauma, it is what people have to endure. In many situations where the victim isn't under the physical control of a pimp 24/7, the victim may not know of any reliable means of escape.

To many people, who really should know better, the idea of control that doesn't require constant physical control seems unbelievable. We may need the illusion that we can't be controlled with anything less than brute strength.

By now everyone should understand that Elizabeth Smart didn't know she had a safe way out. But Nancy Grace asked absurd questions including, "Did your kidnappers tell you they would hurt you or your family if you tried to get away?" The underlying question seemed to be, "Why did you stay?" If that attitude persists despite the fact that everybody knows this was a horrific situation, what chance do the sexually trafficked have of gaining the understanding, support and help they need?

What the study tells us is that in too many cases men are paying to contribute to the torture of girls and women even if they are rationalizing that it's just meaningless sex.

Torture will never be meaningless to me. Never.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:26 AM   1 comments links to this post


At July 26, 2006 8:34 AM, Blogger Holly Desimone said...

Hi Marcella,
I seen the show on Elizabeth Smart, I personally think she handle the questions from Nancy Grace very well. I was happy to see her say she was not going to discuss it, was only discussing the new sex offender bill!
Take care Marcella, another very interesting post!


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