I do not believe prostitution is a profession, neither do I believe it is a job nor an acceptable form of employment for anyone. It is degrading and dehumanizing for the prostitute and the john. Those points stated, I will refer to it as if it were a profession for the sake of making a point in this article.
We have all heard prostitution referred to as “the world’s oldest profession,” and some may use that to justify their behavior. But let’s think about what that expression, taken literally, really means.
The words “profession,” “occupation,” and “vocation” are defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as:
Profession: An occupation requiring considerable training and specialized study
Occupation: An activity that is one’s regular source of livelihood; a vocation
Vocation: A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified
If prostitution is the oldest profession, then someone had to teach the specialized study and administer the considerable training. Were they prostitutes before becoming trainers and teachers? Did they parlay experience in the field into another profession or was it not a profession until some left prostitution to become trainers and teachers?
But then, there is another old adage: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” So in actuality, the trainers and teachers were most likely the first pimps.
A vocation requires one being particularly suited or qualified at something. If prostitution is truly “the oldest profession,” then women must have seen that they were uniquely qualified to fulfill men’s demands for commercial sex. This makes them the first entrepreneurs, and, therefore, the ones who created the business world. They recognized access to their bodies as a marketable product and sold themselves. In turn, this led to the creation of other professions such as training, teaching, pimping and so on until we have all of today’s professions.
Naturally, the women must have decided to sell themselves as independent operators, because if they were sold by someone else, that would make pimping the world’s oldest profession.
But wait a minute, either way there seems to be a serious flaw in the business plan.
If women in the world’s oldest profession expected to be paid in their business venture, doesn’t it follow that the men buying sex had to have the means to pay for it?
If men needed something with which to barter, trade or pay for the sex, wouldn’t that mean the men had jobs and professions first? Perhaps they were farmers. Or maybe they were pimps. No. No, they couldn’t have been pimps because pimps don’t pay the women to have sex, they just rape them.
Herein lies the crux of our dilemma. It is rather like the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Who appeared first, the pimp, the prostitute or the john?
In our modern times, people flippantly refer to prostitution as “the world’s oldest profession,” when they should refer to it as the world’s first form of oppression.
Prostitution is not a job like any other. Little girls don’t go to school and say they might grow up to be a doctor, lawyer, baker, teacher, or prostitute. What parent in their right mind would want to think of their daughter having sex with men in order to earn a living?
If you are a john and use this expression to justify your behavior “because women have been prostituted since the beginning of time,” stop and think about which woman or girl in your life you would like to see refusing a job as a business executive, nanny, writer or whatever in order to enter “the world’s oldest profession.”
The term “prostitution” should not be qualified by the expression “the world’s oldest profession.” If you are talking about prostitution, just say “prostitution.” Some other terms that should not be used are “sex work,” “sex worker” or “child prostitute.” Acceptable terms are: “sexually exploited person,” “prostituted woman,” “prostituted child,” or “child in prostitution.”
Dignity and respect are two of the world’s oldest values, and they are not found in prostitution.