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Prostitution has been a topic of a heated debate for centuries worldwide. However, people still have no solution to the problem. More so, there is no particular definition of prostitution.
Some see it as a result of abuse while others deem that it is a result of experiencing different aspects of one’s sexuality (Levin & Peled, 2011). In the majority of countries prostitutions is seen as stigma which should be removed from the respectful life of citizens (Mathieu, 2011).
However, the number of prostitutes in the streets makes it clear that t is not enough to ignore the problem trying to remove prostitutes from respectable places. Prostitutes have become a vulnerable group of people who are assaulted, humiliated, abused or even killed.
I believe this is inappropriate for the contemporary civilized world. I deem people should accept the fact that prostitution is a part of the human society and it is not a stigma but a certain way to experience one’s sexuality.
Prostitutes and Society
Notably, people have had different attitudes towards prostitution throughout centuries. For instance, in ancient Greece prostitution was legalized. There was certain hierarchy within the array of prostitutes.
Courtesans and concubines (now such females are called prostitutes) were regarded as means to satisfy people’s (predominantly male’s) sexual needs. This enabled men to remain faithful husbands and respectful citizens of the ancient Greek society.
Adultery was a very serious crime but intercourse with a prostitute remained within the legal norm. On the other hand, prostitution was also seen as a means to make one’s living.
Thus, many widows had no other way to provide for their families. Many young women also experienced their sexuality as a tool for gaining money.
The film Dangerous Beauty reveals similar attitudes toward prostitution. Thus, young Venetian women have two paths: they can be wives or they can be courtesans. Basically, the film reveals two ways of experiencing female sexuality.
On one hand, women can see their sexuality as a certain way to be proper wives who give birth to children and raise them. On the other hand, women can choose to become courtesans and enjoy certain liberties (publish poems, attend libraries) which are inaccessible for wives.
The main character of the film, Veronica, chooses the latter option. She experiences her sexuality as a way to liberate herself from certain burdens. Of course, this is also the way to financially support her family.
Interestingly, the film can be regarded as an illustration of certain theoretical approaches to the problem. The film refutes Freudian assumptions as to the motifs which make women choose the illegal path of experiencing their sexuality.
Thus, neo-Freudians articulated the idea that women who became prostitutes tried to “repress female homosexual inclinations” through this “pseudo-heterosexual sexual activity” (Levin & Peled, 2011, p. 583). Some researchers try to tie this choice with child abuse experiences.
However, such assumptions are hardly plausible as in many cases prostitutes do not have such kind of experiences or certain hidden inclinations.
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The film also tells a story of a young woman who has a ‘normal’ life with no child abuse experiences or homosexual inclinations. On the contrary, Veronica has a loving mother and brother, she also loves a man.
Symbolic interactionists articulated the idea that the interaction between prostitutes and their clients is “a microcosm of all male-female relationships” (Levin & Peled, 2011, p. 584). Admittedly, this formulation is quite comprehensive.
On one hand, males use females’ sexuality to satisfy their sexual needs. Females, in their turn, use their sexuality as a way to obtain the most appropriate partner (boyfriend, husband, etc.) and create the family which would meet their own standards.
Importantly, family symbolizes stability, respect, status and financial security for a woman. Likewise, during the interaction between a man and a prostitute, a man gets sexual satisfaction and a prostitute gets money which can secure her future.
The symbol perfectly fits the film as Veronica gets money for satisfying males’ sexual (and even spiritual) needs. Males pay to spend time with a beautiful and educated woman. Basically, they pay for something they cannot have at home due to conventions which existed at that time.
At the same time, Veronica gets money which enables her to support her family. The money can also secure her future as she can become quite a wealthy woman. Finally, she gets freedom. This form of interaction is one of the purest and fairest.
In conclusion, I should admit that the research implemented made me understand that people have seen prostitution differently. I do not think the research or the film changed the way I see sexuality or prostitution.
I have always thought that prostitution is one of the fairest types of interaction between a man and a woman. However, I now understand that people can change their attitude toward prostitution. Ancient Greece and Venice of the sixteenth century can be regarded as examples to follow.
Those societies were not as hypocritical as contemporary people are. They knew that prostitution was a part of their lives and they assign a certain niche for this phenomenon. I deem we should adopt some ways used in ancient Greece or Venice of the sixteenth century.
Admittedly, prostitutes provide services which are rather specific. However, this does not give people the right to condemn the women who made such a choice.
Levin, L. & Peled, E. (2011). The attitudes toward prostitutes and prostitution scale: A new tool for measuring public attitudes toward prostitutes and prostitution. Research on Social Work Practice, 21(5), 582-593.
Mathieu, L. (2011). Neighbors’ anxieties against prostitutes’ fears: Ambivalence and repression in the policing of street prostitution in France. Emotion, Space and Society, 4(2), 113-120.