*Tis Pity She’s Not a Whore

I spend a lot of time wondering why there isn’t more competition to get into prostitution, or, as they used to refer to it in Sons and Daughters, to go ‘on the game’. Instead, one hears of all these young girls slaving to get into Medicine (if they fancy they’re good at maths and science), or to get into journalism, book publishing or Law (if they fancy they’re good at English).

I have no personal friendships with, or blood ties to, anyone in the medical profession, so my concept of life in it is taken entirely from movies such as Flatliners, and the lesser-known A Cut Above with Daphne Zuniga (aka Gross Anatomy, and often a video-store staff pick in the early 1990s, for no reason that I can discern) or Vital Signs with Jimmy Smits. Therefore, the picture I have is of an existence comprising: wearing glasses while pulling ‘all-nighters’ to study for exams; cutting up wizened old corpses; superiors asking you questions you don’t know the answer to and humiliating you while you stand at the end of a hospital bed; adultery conducted while wearing ‘scrubs’; and Motown songs being played during major surgery.

On the other hand, I do actually know people who’ve worked in journalism and book publishing. Therefore, I also know that this generally involves employment on Food Processor Monthly, or labouring night and day on memoirs by people in Japanese POW camps who kept their sanity by taking up quilting, for almost what a person would earn as a moderately successful Big Issue vendor.

Why would an intelligent girl take any of these paths when she could become a prostitute? Everyone knows that great riches await in this line of work, even subtracting the cut for Mr Pimp. As well, it’s money for something we all know how to do; it’s like being paid handsomely to walk around the block. In the twenty-first century, all females are expected to have quite the bag of tricks in bed – it’s not like the good old days when you were required merely to exist. For example, one is expected genuinely to want to make the gigantic effort that involves ‘being on top’. Why not be rewarded economically for being able to move up and down with the control of a carousel horse?

And not only is prostitution not competitive to get into, there’s no competition once you’re in it. When I lived in, what is prettily known as, a ‘red-light district’, I spent a lot of time walking past prostitutes, and the simple truth is that they were not very attractive. Nonetheless, men were paying more money to have sex with them than it would have cost them to dine at Tetsuya’s.

Consider, too, how a profession’s glamour quotient is determined by its level of representation in movies and on television shows, which is, naturally, why so many girls want to become doctors and lawyers. Well, prostitutes appear regularly in both, and very often as someone good looking of whom others think highly, such as the crime-fighting straight A student by day, whore by night, Angel. Even if she lacks Angel’s massive brain, the fictional prostitute will usually at least have around her an older person who’s blind, or is a Bohemian and paints with oils, or is a transsexual with an outgoing personality, who not only ‘thinks of her as a daughter’ but is statistically likely to die and leave her some money.

Fictional lawyers, on the other hand, are always struggling with unpleasant-looking takeaway coffee and the resentment, or outright loathing, of their spouses, children, parents, siblings, colleagues and friends, while their fictional medical equivalents are eating jelly in hospital cafeterias and fighting malpractice suits after having killed their patients. What they and their real-life counterparts should be doing is buying some very small clothes and some very tall footwear, and grabbing the brass ring of a working life in which the dollars are tax free and the overtime is invariably paid.

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