Back in November 2011, Kaylia Payne wrote about commodification of human bodies and where society draws the line in regard to human trafficking and the trade of women’s bodies for money. Rightly outraged, she wrote about the Sydney escort agency selling off the virginity of a 19 year old and how this seemed to be an acceptable act of business. Despite the illegality of selling body parts, this incident appears to separate women who still have their virginity compared to women who don’t, as if they are more valuable.
To add to the controversy of this touchy subject, when the average age of a girl in prostitution is only 14 and that 94% of women in the industry would opt out if they could, it becomes a hard hitting fact that many prostitutes have been forced into the industry for one reason or another.
So is this a one-sided debate or is there really a choice for women (and men) in the sex industry? A quick Google search will absolutely lead you to a bunch of stories of people happy in their choices that were not forced by society, other people or even their debts or addictions.
Doris Borg is one of those people. She recently turned 100 year old and was featured in this article, not only for her milestone age achievement but for her chosen career: prostitution. Coming from a line of women sex workers, Doris seems a happy, healthy old lady that’s still young at heart.
‘I’m lucky enough to do what I love, even though I don’t love who I do most of the time. I’ve never had a break, except for my hip of course.’
Doris’ long-lived life as a prostitute saw her through World War II, of which she says, ‘Some historians say the invasion of Sicily might not have succeeded had the entire British 51st infantry division not spent a morale-boosting night with me before they shipped out.’
By extension, there was a documentary on SBS a few week back called Scarlet Road, the life of a happy sex worker, Rachel Wotton, who predominantly worked with male clients whose disabilities left them with sexual frustrations and challenges as well as the want for love and human connection. This film has had nominations for the Walkleys journalism awards and Foxtel documentaries. After initial concerns on how the film would turn out, Rachel and her filmmaker friend, Catherine Scott, spent three years developing her professional life story, including perspectives from the clients and the industry of sex work as vital part of community services. It was a tricky challenge to ensure the focus of the film was not misleading in the way that Rachel works but also to create a new perspective, and I feel they’ve done it well. It would never be a career choice of mine, but this story in particular really sheds some light on a different part of the industry.
This documentary is heart warming and full of respect. It makes me happy to know that there are people like Rachel out in the world and when I came across the story of Doris, it just reiterated to me the idea of professionals in the sex industry and that it’s not all human trafficking, drug use and violent clients.
‘Losing all my teeth has been a Godsend, I can tell you. And if someone has a foot fetish, but also likes breasts, in my case they’re in the same general area’, says Doris. Similarly, Rachel says that she loves that her work entails pleasure and making people feel good about themselves.
Happy hookers? It appears so! Perhaps when chosen, this field of work is really one of strength, compassion and good times, as well as a chance to connect on an intimate level with people that may otherwise not have the chance to do so in their everyday lives. And these ladies are a reflection of that.
(Image Credit: 1)