would you want your daughter to be a prostitute?

This is a question that's often asked. I would have certain misgivings about a daughter of mine becoming a prostitute, but I would not dislike it. It depends on the circumstances. I would be happier about my daughter being a prostitute in New Zealand than in Britain. In Britain a woman has to choose to work legally but not safely, or safely but not legally.

There are many women in all parts of Britain who work alone from flats. This is legal. There is some risk of a woman alone in a flat being attacked. Many women prefer to work with other women for this reason, as well as convenience and companionship. However, when two or three women work together it is illegal. This can lead to some women relying on a pimp. I believe that women should keep all the profits for themselves and not be told what to do. They should decide who they wish to see, and be able to turn away a man who they dislike for whatever reason.

If a young woman works a year or two as a prostitute she can put a few thousand or a few tens of thousands of pounds in the bank. She could use that money to finance her education or training (which might include an extended internship), or start a business, or buy property. She could set herself up for the rest of her life. Some people would have you believe that to do this sort of thing is extremely rare. The majority of prostitutes could do this if they wished, although not all will want to spend their money this wisely. It is rare for prostitutes to be coerced, through pimping or trafficking, or to be a drug addict. That is what all the research shows.

Would I want my daughter to be a waitress or bar staff? If she was using this in her 20s to enable her to do what she really wants, then that's fine. The same with prostitution. I'm sure if you asked waitresses or bar staff if they wanted to exit this industry most of them would say yes, in the sense that they don't want to continue to do it beyond their 20s. The same with prostitution. The research that says that 88% of prostitutes want to exit the industry comes from a small study in one part of America with one type of prostitute, street girls.

I would not want my daughter to try to continue to be a prostitute when she's in her 30s or older. There are prostitutes who are old women, but it is the young women who earn most. That's true of other ways of making money, such as modelling. I would like her to think of the future, and to think of things like National Insurance contributions. She needs to be able to get social security. That's why it would be better to use some prostitution while holding down a regular job, such as nursing.

Spending one evening a week as a prostitute can earn a woman as much money as a whole week's work somewhere else. They don't have to do it every day. Some people say that a woman will become emotionally disturbed if she has sex with ten or twenty men a day. A woman who is coerced to do this would, I imagine. It's rare for women to be coerced and it's also rare to have ten or twenty customers a day. If a woman can't cope then just one customer per week can help her pay her mortgage, rent or bills.

If a woman has only ever had sex several months into a relationship then she is less likely to be happy doing sex work. She is likely to associate sex with intimacy. If however a woman has had sex with strangers for fun for free then she is more likely to be happy with sex work. Everybody is different. With any job some people are happy with it and some are not. If you are an extrovert and you like people and men in particular then you will be more suited to sex work. If you have always worked in a service industry looking after customers then you will be more suited to it.

Jobs are difficult to find these days, and a lot of work is minimum-wage, temporary or part-time. It is difficult to pay bills or a rent or mortgage. Working as a prostitute one day a week has to be better than losing your home or getting into debt. Most women would hate this type of work. I think of prostitution as just another job, but it is not quite like other jobs. Because it is more available than other ways of making money and because it pays more than most ways of making money it often attracts women who are not temperamentally suited to it. It would be better if they didn't do it.

If my daughter said to me that working in the sex industry is a better option for her than losing her home because she can't pay the rent or mortgage, or better than sitting in the dark because she can't pay her electricity bill, or better than seeing her children live in poverty, then I would support her in her choice. I wouldn't try to stop her from doing what she feels she needs to do. That's what the radical feminists try to do, and to dismiss her opinions and insist that only their opinions count.

It goes without saying that a prostitute should always practice safe sex and use condoms. When the law permits her to take measures to try to keep herself safe from attack then she should do so. She should keep away from drugs especially crack and heroin. She should not fritter away her earnings on clothes, holidays and champagne.

Then there is the question of social stigma. It is traditional for a man to seek personal and family honour through the virginity of his unmarried daughters and faithfulness of his married daughters. That is very important in some parts of the world although it has become less so for most people in Britain. But these feelings are still there. A man doesn't want his daughters to be promiscuous. He doesn't like to think of his daughter having sexual adventures while on holiday. He doesn't even want to think of his little girl having sex at all.

Religious people obviously would not want a daughter to be a prostitute. They believe that sex is suspect and can only be redeemed by a long-term relationship. I think that these attitudes still influence society even though religious teachings and practices are less important. For someone like me, sex just isn't that big an issue. Sex is however a source of joy in life. That doesn't make me a sexual predator.

So the question "Would you want your daughter to be a prostitute?" is a question that most people would answer in the negative. Most men who visit prostitutes would do so too, but that's because the question is tapping into old patriarchal values. I would not dislike my daughter being a prostitute. I would not want my daughter to be a sanctimonious puritan who tries to influence people through lies. I wouldn't want my daughter to be a radical feminist.