Yes, I know this is a blog about being bipolar. And you know what? I think the topics of bipolar-ism and prostitution go hand in hand.
And why is that? It is because pimps hone in on the vulnerable, the lonely, the ones who are looking for love and not finding it, the ones with poor self esteem, the depressed, the confused. And because the mentally ill often become homeless, jobless, drug-addicted, and desperate.
It’s still January, and January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. I’ve been reading a lot and learning a lot about the dynamics of sex trafficking and prostitution. Among the things I’ve learned are that:
- Depending on the study, the average age for entry into prostitution is 11 to 13 years old.
- The vast majority of prostituted youth (and adults) come from abusive homes.
- Girls (and sometimes boys) are often “groomed” by “loverboys” who give them jewelry, clothes, and mostly, attention, and when they are “ready” they are abducted and forced into a life of slavery.
- This goes on in virtually every country.
- Girls who try to refuse to cooperate are beaten and raped into submission
- Girls are “domestically trafficked,” which means they are moved from city to city within a country: like from Columbus, OH to Detroit, MI, for instance
- Girls as young as 12 and 13 get arrested, thrown into jail, and charged with prostitution, while pimps and johns go scot free
Can you imagine being taken away and raped over and over, many times a day, for years, until you either “disappear” or get spit out on the street because you are too old to appeal to the child rapists any longer? It just totally tears me apart.
And then there is the child pornography. Need I say more?
But prostitution is “the oldest profession.” Isn’t it? Women (and men) CHOOSE to sell their bodies because
- They like sex
- They like money
- They like sex AND money
- It’s easy money
- It’s an exciting, glamourous lifestyle
- It’s empowering to women to be able to do whatever they want with their bodies
Not really. If you want to know how glamourous and empowering the prostitution lifestyle is, look at the rates of drug abuse. Prostituted women are either given drugs by their pimps to keep them cooperative, or else the women themselves develop drug habits to escape from the hell of being used as sperm receptacles. Those with serious drug habits often do get into a vicious cycle of having to get money to buy drugs, and the quickest and easiest way to do that is to turn a trick.
I have known a lot of prostitutes, and not one of them has done it because she enjoyed the sex. Sex for the prostituted is for one thing: money. And most of the time most of the money doesn’t go to her, it goes to the pimp or madam who rents her out. Prostitutes learn how to dissociate when a john is on top of them. The problem is, the dissociation doesn’t always work: that’s where the drugs come in.
Now we come to runaways. As some of you already know, I was a teenage runaway. I ran away from an abusive home after being drugged, abducted, and brutally raped by a man who had been admiring me at work. So I ended up on the street. I wasn’t there because I wanted to be; I was there because I thought I was going to find peace and love. What I found was that if I needed food, shelter, a shower, drugs, anything really, the only way to get it was to sleep with some guy. If I didn’t have a place to crash (meaning a guy to sleep with), I slept outside or walked the streets all night.
That was back in the early 1970’s. Things have changed now, for the worse. Runaways now are caught and funneled into the sex trafficking business by pimps who work the streets looking for them. It is very easy to spot a runaway. Your hair is uncombed, your clothes are a mess from sleeping under some bush in the park, you are probably carrying a backpack, maybe a sleeping bag if you thought that far ahead. You look homeless, because you are.
So some handsome, well groomed guy offers to buy you a meal, and you are hungry. Then he offers you a place to crash, and you are tired of sleeping in doorways or in the park, and have probably been raped a couple of times by now so you are ready to come indoors. Then you discover that you can’t get out. And then the nightmare really begins. That’s the way it is now.
As for the glamourous call-girl life, I’ve known a couple of women who’ve done that. I thought about it myself sometimes, when I was young and beautiful and needed money to make it through college. Yeah, I have some friends who got through school by “turning tricks,” as it was called back then. I have never seen such damaged people in my life, apart from the ones who were kidnapped into it. My friends who were “voluntarily” prostituting themselves found their self-esteem eroded trick by trick, and to bolster themselves up they had to turn another trick, and another….”the life” becomes an addiction.
We were all hooked on cocaine. My cocaine habit was small change compared with theirs. I did coke because it actually treated my depression (I didn’t realize that till years later); they did coke because they couldn’t stand their lives. I got my coke by sleeping with dealers; they got their coke by turning tricks to make the money to buy more coke. I guess I was a prostitute too, huh? I just didn’t do it for cash, because I was scared to. I did it for “stuff,” whatever was needed at the time. Yeah, I heard myself being called a “coke whore,” but I chose not to listen until one morning I woke up next to yet another man I had never seen before, and I quit. Cold turkey quit. I was one of the lucky ones.
To get back to the original question: Is Prostitution Ever Voluntary? My answer is: it can look that way, when it’s an adult woman who makes what she thinks is an informed, purposeful choice, because she thinks she can make money quickly and easily that way. But once in “the life,” a woman becomes trapped, either by her pimp or her drug habit or the crushing of her soul that is prostitution. Then it’s not voluntary: it’s slavery.