Economics, Featured

Deconstructing The Myth Of Prostitution As A Shortcut To Financial Success

Ogunbiyi Kayode


May 26, 2024

Dear Beamers,


Every individual engaged in prostitution has a unique backstory. Some enter the profession under coercion, while others are lured into it, often through substance addiction. Pressure from partners, trusted acquaintances, or romantic partners may also drive individuals into this line of work. Additionally, peer influence can play a significant role. Some may pursue it to fulfill a personal fantasy, while others may initially find pleasure in it. For some, it serves as a means of overcoming financial constraints, while for others, it represents a way to break free from societal constraints. The fact remains that there’s always a reason people venture into prostitution. Therefore, in this week’s newsletter, our objective is to deconstruct the notion that prostitution represents a noble path to financial independence.

Prostitutes often face societal rejection due to the nature of their profession and the stigma attached to it. While some individuals may engage in hypocritical behavior or worse in private, society as a whole does not condone the immorality associated with prostitution, especially when conscience is disregarded. Traditional societal norms dictate that women should be chaste or married, with sexual relations reserved solely for their husbands and the purpose of bearing children. Any deviation from these norms often results in discrimination against prostitutes within society.

Several women enter into prostitution as a result of the dire economic conditions. Often, they do not engage in such activities for personal fulfillment. Instead, they are either compelled to do so or driven by the imperative of ensuring their family’s survival. Whether to support their own life aspirations, assist struggling or ailing family members, or provide for siblings, they find themselves drawn to the profession of exchanging their bodies for financial gain. However, the question arises: is the trade-off truly worthwhile?

Morayo Atinuke maintains that despite any positive framing or regulations, prostitution cannot be regarded as a noble profession. According to her,

“Some people become prostitutes because they see it portrayed as being oble and promoted on social media. They might even call it “sex work” to make it sound like a respectable job that solves a problem in society. They feel if it wasn’t legal, the government would stop it, but instead, some women try to make a living from it. Some rich people even own brothels and have agents who find clients for the prostitutes. But really, prostitution is not decent; it’s immoral and shows that someone is thinking in a messed-up way. Prostitution is wrong.”

Examining the criteria for decent work and contrasting them with the actualities and repercussions of prostitution proves beneficial in this case. Decent work, by definition, prioritizes placing individuals at the forefront of development, upholding dignity, equality, fair compensation, safe working conditions, and ensuring a sustainable future. These qualities are not exclusive to high-paying white-collar positions; they are equally applicable to menial jobs. However, the multitude of ways in which prostitution contravenes these standards is extensive. Prostitution perpetuates immorality by reducing individuals to objects of pleasure and exploitation.

Despite remaining prevalent, the enduring and compelling idea of achieving financial independence through prostitution persists. Many prostitutes hold the belief that sex work constitutes legitimate employment and may even offer superior opportunities compared to the menial jobs typically available to women. However, prostitution fundamentally undermines human dignity across all its facets because it inherently commodifies the individual. This degradation is rooted in the fact that prostitution violates the sanctity of the human body itself.

“The idea that prostitution is the oldest profession is often used to defend it as a valid way of life. But if we look closely, prostitution doesn’t match up with any other job. For example, in most careers, someone with more experience gets better pay, job security, and respect. But in prostitution, it’s the opposite. The longer a woman works in it, the less she’s valued, paid, and respected, both in and out of the industry.” Says Remi Badmus

Prostitution, in all its forms, flagrantly disregards fundamental health and safety protocols. Women engaged in prostitution are routinely exposed to semen, sweat, and saliva on a daily basis, and frequently encounter blood and urine, with occasional exposure to feces. Such persistent exposure to bodily fluids poses significant health risks. Despite the inherent dangers, women are often reliant on condoms for protection, provided the client agrees to their use, which is not always the case. This situation exposes individuals to infections without adequate safeguards or precautions. The core of prostitution is marked by unhygienic practices, yet many in the profession have become accustomed to embracing a lifestyle fraught with germs, often neglecting their own health and safety concerns.

Many women engaged in prostitution find themselves compelled to accept their circumstances amidst the economic challenges within the nation. It is regrettable that certain societies recognize prostitution as a form of employment and even endorse and support it, akin to the glorification of cybercriminals in certain locales. Ironically, those who validate prostitution through opinions, articles, or media portrayals often refrain from practicing what they advocate. They are typically unwilling to subject their own bodies to validate their assertions. Instead, they contribute to the proliferation of an issue while passively observing and condemning the very disaster they have fostered.

In reality, the activities engaged in by prostitutes cannot be categorized as legitimate “work.” Prostitution does not constitute genuine sexual activity nor does it qualify as employment. Genuine sexual interactions require reciprocity, which is conspicuously absent in prostitution. It is a unilateral form of pleasure where the prostitute lacks the agency to demand satisfaction. The sexual encounters within prostitution lack reciprocity, with financial transactions serving to fill this void. Money acts as both the coercive element and the means of suppressing objections within the transaction. Consequently, a woman engaged in prostitution has little recourse to complain when she has been compensated for her agreement to violation.

Tomilola Edun, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), believes that prostitution should never be considered a viable career option for women. In his opinion,

“We often hear people say that sex work is dirty, classless and immoral. And honestly, they’re not entirely wrong. It’s hard to understand why someone would be okay with selling their body to men to do things they might not want or agree to. Basically, you’re getting paid to show off your body, maybe even doing things that are sexual. It’s like you’re selling videos of yourself with hardly any clothes on, just for other people’s pleasure. I’m not trying to judge anyone, because everyone has their own reasons, but out of all the jobs out there, why would a decent woman choose prostitution?”

At its core, the violation of a woman’s most intimate bodily boundaries by a stranger induces a profound stress response. Prostitutes endure treatment that is profoundly disrespectful from their clients, often reducing them to the status of objects devoid of personal boundaries, without experiencing the typical reactions of anxiety. In reality, what most traumatises women in prostitution is the realization that they have acquiesced to unwanted sexual encounters and actively participated in their own violation. This collaboration not only leaves them haunted by their experiences but also effectively silences them. Under these conditions, it is difficult to classify prostitution as either genuine sexual activity or legitimate employment.

However, some feminists argue that this situation reflects a double standard and hypocrisy. They question why there is a discrepancy in the treatment between those who utilize the services of prostitutes and those who provide them.

According to Omotayo Babatunde, a feminist,

“People often have negative views about sex, and this often leads to disrespect and mistreatment of women, all in the name of religion and societal standards. Socially, it’s seen as okay for men to use these services without it affecting their reputation, but the women who provide the services are looked down upon, as if they don’t deserve to have their own sexual freedom.”

In the viewpoint of feminists, the dehumanization of women who enter prostitution emphasizes multiple layers of injustice and gender inequality. They argue that societal attitudes towards prostitution stem not only from religious morality and the sanctity of sex but also from issues of control and patriarchal power. While everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint, an unbiased analysis reveals that one party is exploited without regard for their dignity, while the other indulges in a fantasy constructed in their mind. When viewed through this lens, prostitution lacks any grounds for defense by any standard.

For some women, the trauma endured during their years in prostitution lingers long after they have left the profession, persisting even after several years. They are haunted by memories of being dehumanized by clients with animalistic tendencies and bizarre behaviors, leaving lasting emotional and mental scars. Consequently, many find it difficult to trust or be submissive to any man, as their encounters with numerous clients have led them to a distorted belief that all men are essentially alike. Ultimately, the pursuit of financial freedom through prostitution becomes burdened with bitterness, a weight they carry on their shoulders until their final days.

The truth about prostitution has existed in plain sight for centuries. Unfortunately, many individuals involved in prostitution have endured not just one instance of sexual abuse, but several occurrences, driven by the belief that it offers a legal means to make ends meet. No one desires to see their loved ones—sisters, daughters, or mothers—engaged in such a profession. Those who opt for a career in prostitution often have compelling stories or perceive it as an adventure, but it is crucial to advise them that it leads down a perilous path filled with regrets and shame. Regardless of the rationale behind their decision, it is never a justifiable means to attain financial security.

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