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It�s not possible to separate prostitution from pornography � not only because pornography is itself filmed prostitution, and many of the actresses have been coerced into it and meet the definition of being trafficked.
But also because of pornography�s use in the grooming of individual girls and young women into accepting prostitution and acts they would not otherwise tolerate. In fact, you could say that the widespread availability of online porn grooms all our young people into accepting prostitution and the objectification of women and girls.
Ann Olivarius, a lawyer experienced in cases concerning the sex industry, says that some of the most traumatised people she�s ever met are prostituted women whose customers have acted out things they�ve seen in porn films on them.
Next we�re going to look at the reality of prostitution, mostly using graphic art. You may find this distressing, but we do need to face the reality, if we�re to understand what is an appropriate solution.
Prostitution is deeply gendered. Here is a photo of women waiting for punters in a Nevada brothel.
The flow of punters is unpredictable, and the women must maintain a state of perpetual readiness, and compete against each other for the punters� attention.
And here we see women in a late 19th Century Parisian brothel lined up in their underwear for a punter. Notice the punter is fully clad and he�s sizing them up as if they�re merchandise. Notice the expressions on the women�s faces. Compare their expressions with the punter�s.
So what does he buy?
He buys the use of her body, including her vagina, rectum, mouth, and breasts. This is the core of prostitution. This is not a service: rather he is renting the use of her body.
This autobiographical art, from the �Brothel Girl� Tumblr blog, brilliantly captures the reality of prostitution. As we go through, notice the expression on her face.
While he�s using her, she has to pretend she�s enjoying it, or she has to act out his fantasy, and she has to pretend she thinks he�s great. No matter what she�s actually thinking or feeling, she has to maintain this pretence.
This is part of the deal. Part of what he�s buying.
He buys the �right� to say whatever he wants � no matter how insulting. Punters commonly call her things like �bitch� and �whore.� That�s part of the deal too.
He buys the �right� to be in control.
Here we see him engaging in �reverse oral� or cunnilingus. This is a fairly standard part of indoor prostitution. Clearly this is not about him having a sexual climax; it�s about him demanding that she has a sexual response to him. Maybe that helps him pretend it�s a consensual arrangement.
The prostitution encounter takes place outside normal social conventions. In the words of Julia O�Connell Davidson, he�s allowed to treat her as if she�s socially dead; as if she�s not a human being. Or in the words of a survivor, �like a public toilet.�
And if we think back to the expressions of the women in the line-up, she�s expected to look willing. And the punter interprets this as a free choice to engage in the encounter.
What does it mean for society if we can treat some people as if they�re not human beings?
And what does it mean for her?
Think about your own response to a stranger groping your breasts or touching or assaulting you sexually. Obviously responses vary but typically they�d include emotions like alarm, disgust, fear, anger, violation.
Yet such acts are the essence of prostitution.
So to exist in prostitution, you have to suppress your involuntary responses, and even pretend you�re enjoying it. This requires dissociating from your feelings, from your true self. This can cause long term psychological difficulties. And many women turn to drugs or alcohol just to endure it.
Although some women go into prostitution to fund a drug habit, it�s more common to turn to drugs or alcohol once you�re in it � because it�s the only way you can bear it.
Here�s a quote from a survivor of prostitution that illustrates this: �I�d numb my feelings� I�d actually leave my body and go somewhere else with my thoughts and feelings until he got off me and it was over with. I don�t know how else to explain it except it felt like rape. It was rape to me.�
Alice Glass says that all the prostituted women she met during her ten years in prostitution, �carried with them the same bundles of neurosis, addiction and melancholy. Without exception.�
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops in response to traumatic or life-threatening experiences, such as war, sexual assault, or accidents. Symptoms can be physically and emotionally crippling and are sometimes delayed for months or even years. And they�re usually worse when the trauma is deliberately inflicted by a human being or repeated over time.
In one study, 68% of women in prostitution met the criteria for PTSD. This is a similar prevalence to that seen in combat veterans.
A German study based on medical examinations of 1,000 women in prostitution found that:
Most suffer from chronic lower abdominal pain caused by inflammation and mechanical trauma. Most show signs of premature ageing, a symptom of persistent stress. Most had injuries caused by the overuse of their delicate sexual organs and orifices. Most had injuries deliberately inflicted by punters.
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