Warning: adult language and content ahead!
(noun) 1. a person, in particular a woman, who engages in sexual activity for payment.
The above is Google’s definition of a prostitute, and this is the common definition across many sites.
A person engaging in sexual activity for some form of payment. By this definition, today’s average woman is a prostitute. Married, single, in partnership, it doesn’t matter: we have become a gender that sells our bodies.
Let me tell you a little personal story from a few years back. I had been out on three dates with a very nice man. He would take me to some fancy restaurants; we would have good conversation. On the fourth date, he even brought me some beautiful flowers. I liked him as a person and enjoyed our time together, but wasn’t feeling a particularly strong sexual connection—and so, I hadn’t “gone there” with him.
However, I began to feel guilty. He had taken me out on these nice dates and even started to jokingly mention that he had taken me out, bought me some nice flowers, but yet we still had not had sex. So despite my disinterest in sex with him, on this fourth date with flowers, I caved. I felt because of the time and money he had spent on me, I somehow owed him sex if I wanted to keep going on dates with him.
I let him buy me a beautiful dinner, and then afterward, let him have sex with me. Not surprisingly, it was a disconnected and meaningless experience—and in a way, he had purchased my body at that moment.
I had prostituted myself for some food, flowers, conversation, and attention.
Years later, as a sex and relationship coach, I cannot say I have ever had a woman come into my office who has not, in some way, sold her sex to a partner. And if I’m brutally honest, married women are often the biggest offenders. It does not matter if you are selling your sex for actual money (including financial security), physical objects (a home, a car), experiences (restaurants, events, plays), or in exchange for a false sense of connection.
When we use sex as any form of commerce, we are doing just what we shame, demoralize, and technically incarcerate women around the world for daily: prostitution.
I know there are probably some women out there reading this and thinking, “That’s not the same thing!” And we can try to convince ourselves with this reason or that, or let our ego use tons of excuses, or separate ourselves because you have a diamond ring on your finger, but that does not get you off the hook energetically!
The moment our bodies and sex become a bargaining chip, whether for gain, or out of a sense of duty, we are entering the land of prostituting our bodies, minds, and most of all, our spirits.
I’ve had several Christian clients tell me that their “job” from a Christian perspective is to take care of their man in this way and live up to their “wifely duties.” I am calling bullshit on this. God did not create the beautiful, sensual, and magnificent female body to be sold, but to be cherished. The Creator wants us to share ourselves from a deep, meaningful, and purely loving space, and not in order to get something in return.
So when we say yes when we either don’t want sex or are ambivalent about it, then we are not only using our bodies, we are raping ourselves.
Harsh, but still the truth.
This is not to make all women shame themselves—goodness knows we already do enough of that—but instead to bring awareness. Being upfront and honest about this fact instead of hiding it under layers of excuses, self-separation, and judgment can be of benefit to us all.
From a personal perspective, I have way more respect for a woman who knows that she is using her sexuality as a tool and/or that she desires to use it as a tool, than I do for a woman who hides and tries to cover this fact up and doesn’t own her power. At least these women are tapping into themselves in some way, as opposed to the women who have “duty sex” or give their bodies away for things, feelings, or experiences while chalking it up to religion or obligation, or from merely feeling a lack of empowerment! I would much rather a woman stand in her power and directly ask for money for her body than having obligational duty sex and disempowering herself. This isn’t necessarily ideal, but she is at least owning that she is choosing to sell her body, unlike the average woman.
Although I stated at the beginning of this piece that all women have prostituted themselves in some way, at some point in time, I don’t believe that all women continue to do this throughout their lives. I believe the average woman in America has engaged in this because we are raised in a society that promotes this type of thinking through media, pornography, religious doctrines, and teaching our girls to separate themselves from their desires, needs, and emotions while teaching our young boys in a backhanded way that sex is somehow their birthright.
Women have been given a uniquely divine power and beauty in our sexuality that, when not used from a place pure of heart, is diminished, disrespected, and inevitably leads us to disconnection from self.
The second a woman understands and accepts that her sexuality is indeed powerful and begins to live in alignment with her true desires, she has begun to take a step out of the societal conditioning that renders her a de facto prostitute.
When we start to only have sex when we truly desire it and refuse to allow it to be an obligation or something we owe someone else, then sex becomes something deeper. By also recognizing and forgiving ourselves when we “fall down” and do indeed use our sex or bodies as a form of commerce, we also take a step forward. So too is there a step away from this cultural standard the moment we begin to revel in our sexuality and bodies in the way that God meant, and to delight in our passions and desire.
And if you do choose to continue to have commerce be an element of your sex life, then at the very least, own it! Own it as an empowered choice and something you desire, rather than a bullshit excuse or a lack of strength or voice.
This all does not mean that you’re not ever going to accept a man buying you a drink, taking you out for an evening, or giving you a gift. No, this means that you allow yourself to be in the feminine and receptive mode, but only step into sex if your heart is in it. It means that you ask for what you desire at the moment, whether that is to have sex or not. It means that if you’re married, you don’t give your man oral sex just to get him off your back, or because it is a special occasion. It is allowing yourself to play in your sexuality, sensuality, and allowing it to be powerful—but knowing you do not owe your sex, body, or sensuality to anyone.
This is how we step out of being the average prostitute. Where in your life are you selling yourself? Where are you using your sex and your body as a means of commerce? And if you are a man, then where might you be expecting the woman in your life to prostitute herself?
Bonus: What to Do when Our Relationships get Tough.
Author: Addison Bell
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina