By now you’ve probably heard about Anna Gristina, the woman who is being charged with running a high-end prostitution business out of Manhattan. But as we read more and more about her, I can’t help but wonder how many times we’re going to see some variation of the following sentence:
During an investigation that lasted half a decade, prosecutors said they collected 100 hours of audio and video surveillance that shows Gristina provided prostitutes – some of them underage – to wealthy, powerful men.
Grsitina provided prostitutes, huh? Like another business model might provide cheeseburgers? This way of reporting the story — brought to you by local New York station WPIX — turns the prostitutes into little more than inanimate products, when the reality is that as far as we know, everyone involved in this situation was a fully participating and consenting adult, including the women working with Gristina.
The argument might be made by some
assholes people who don’t understand sex work that prostitutes are products, since they’re selling parts of their bodies, but that’s a very slippery slope that I doubt we want to go down, because then we get into the question of what actually constitutes prostitution. After all, anyone with a job gets paid for the use of some part of their physical body, be it our arms and legs as construction workers or waiters or masseuses, our brains and hands as writers, our tongues and bellies as food critics, our entire bodies as professional athletes, or, as in this case, our sexual organs as prostitutes.
In other words, if women who are paid for the use of their sexual organs are prostitutes, we’re all prostitutes.
But that’s not even where I meant to go with this post! No. All I wanted to say was that Gristina isn’t “providing prostitutes” — rather, what happened here is that a circle of adults engaged in a very typical, even boring, business model, in which one person opens a business and hires other people to provide services, then customers pay for those services. It’s not at all different from the place you go to get your nails done — it’s just that it has to do with sex.
Oh, and fine, prostitution is illegal. But in case you couldn’t tell by now, I don’t agree with that letter of the law.
Anyway, my point is, as Jamie very eloquently said earlier, prostitutes are people. Not cheeseburgers. And they should be written about in accordance with that fact.