Some of you may have seen Rupert Everett’s recent two part documentary ‘Love for Sale’. If you haven’t, it was a graphic exploration of the sex industry in the UK.
This programme covered a very wide range, from an escort who charges £700 per hour, to middle class mums working whilst their children are at school, to addicts who walk the street offering blow jobs for the price of a coffee.
Rupert also took us via transsexuals working out of a van in Paris, men who have lost count of the number of prostitutes they’ve paid, a Mistress that sells her poo for £25 per go and a couple that believe seeing sex workers strengthens their marriage.
There are many emotions that this programme evokes and therefore many things I want to write about. My opener for 10 is my opinion on the legalisation of prostitution.
The problem is, I don’t actually know what my opinion is.
Before I get started… in this post I have referred to the sex worker as female and the client as male. Women do pay for sex, but as the majority of the transactions involve a male buying and a female selling this is the association I’ve used.
Let me take you on a little journey through my brain….
In the process of writing this article, my next argument was going to be that whilst it is an incredibly laudable dream to eradicate the sex industry entirely it’s just not realistic.
By using similar logic you could say if we try hard enough we’ll ensure no one ever murders again. Being sensible, this is never going to be a reality. Rather than waste money and resources on a fairy tale we need to make the ‘here and now’ as good as it can be.
This seemed reasonable in my head. Then I thought about rape.
Would I be happy to say “Men will always rape. It’s not a realistic aim to remove it completely from society so we should stop trying. What we need to do is make the support services incredible thus making the ‘here and now’ as good as it can be.”?
A common argument is that since the dawn of time not only have people killed people but people have bought and sold sex. This behaviour is therefore entrenched in the human condition and something that can never be changed.
I don’t buy this. Every single one of us changes every single day. Why should we not demand better?
An incredibly wise (though admittedly fictional) person once said “there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right”.
If we look beyond the sex trade to the wider society, I believe this time is upon us. Whilst we have some of the most powerful, inspirational and iconic female role models of all time, the objectification of women is more intense now that it has ever been.
What we need is a fundamental shift in society to a place where women are judged on achievements and actions. Where girls grow up without feeling the need to binge and purge (as I did) to look like emaciated models. Where we don’t learn about relationships and sex from porn. Where women can live without fear of sexism, harassment or worse.
It’s not going to be easy and it won’t happen overnight or even in a decade. However as Russell Brand said “be careful with your soul and be careful with yourself”.
Right now, I don’t think we’re looking after either particularly well.