29 June 2015
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Hollywood blockbuster Pretty Woman changed the way that the world thought about sex work forever.
In the years since its release, debate has raged over whether the film helped sex workers by removing some of the stigma from the industry and opening up a dialogue about sex work, or whether it glamorised prostitution.
A recent blog, by Christian group Exodus Cry, criticised the film for its rose-tinted view of prostitution. In response, sex workers throughout the country have protested online and on social media. Though this may not affect the way that the world sees prostitution, the debate is one that many people feel passionate about, whether they work in the sex industry or not.
Pretty Woman and prostitution
According to the recent blog in Exodus Cry, the life lead by Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman, made prostitution seem like a glamorous career choice.
The blog quoted a sex worker who claimed to have been lured into the industry after watching Pretty Woman, only later discovering that sex work is often far from glamorous and can be potentially dangerous.
Critics claim that the ‘Cinderella fantasy’ contained in the film’s plots misrepresents prostitution, giving young women the impression that the industry is a good place to meet men, make money and build a career.
Sex workers protest
As soon as the blog was published, sex workers around the country began to protest. One of their main issues was with the way that the blog portrayed sex workers as naïve, impressionable and vulnerable, when many women in the sex industry are anything but.
Many women in the sex industry have written their own blogs to argue both against the ideas that Pretty Woman glamorises prostitution and that all sex workers are victims.
The main point that sex workers were making during their protest was that there is no one face of prostitution. Some women choose to enter the sex industry, some are coerced and some are trafficked, and it’s impossible to give a single label or identity to this huge cross section of people.
To show just how varied women who work in the industry are, sex worker Tilly Lawless posted a self-portrait on Instagram with the hashtag #FacesOfProstitution.
Sex workers around the world have followed her example, sharing self-portraits in an attempt to change the way that people think about sex workers and give a real face to women working in the industry.
If you’d like to find out more about the help and support that’s available to sex workers in the local area, give Doorway’s free, confidential helpline a call today on 0808 800 1030.