Prostitution can vary from a fate worse than death to a dream job
Should We Have This?? Rolling Updates underway. This YKTTW inspired me.... NEW: Description revised.
Depictions of prostitution and other sexual professions are common in fiction, but the way in which such roles are portrayed varies greatly from work to work. At its worst, a life of prostitution can be the ultimate employment nightmare: a job that is literally a Fate Worse than Death; at its best, prostitution pays better and is less stressful than just about any other job in the setting. Usually, this scale correlates linearly with the Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism; in works featuring a Free-Love Future, prostitution may be a perfectly respectable career goal; in a work that takes a much darker view of humanity, prostitutes are often portrayed as the faceless victims of the general state of dystopia. However, this can also be reversed: prostitution might be one of the last unsightly blemishes in an otherwise utopian society or a one of the more pleasant aspects of a Crapsack World. See also The Oldest Profession.
The Scale:From worst to best:
Prostitution is rape (AKA human trafficking)Prostiution is depicted as a crime committed against women tantamount to serial rape. Prostitutes are frequently murdered, frequently underaged, and virtually always unwilling or at least coerced. They are often viewed by their bosses as little more than business equipment or living sex toys with no human rights, and regularly refer to their "employees" as "merchandise". Prostitutes are typically depicted as being either extremely subservient, or subject to frequent punishments. The men who seek sex with prostitutes often do so not in spite of the cruel treatment of prostitutes, but because of it, being sadistic misogynists, sexual predators, etc. Those that aren't are either ignorant or wilfully ignorant of the prostitutes' plight. Unfortunately, sometimes Truth in Television. Tropes:
Prostitutes are the lowest social class.Prostitutes are regarded as somewhere between peasants and slaves in social status at best, and below slaves at worst. Becoming a prostiute means you are automatically a Disposable Sex Worker - police dutifully fill out the reports of slain prostiutes and then immediately toss them in the trash. Prostitutes may be subject to dystopian laws or social mores that prevent them from going into certain parts of town, forcing them to disguise themselves in public, causing high - ranking customers to loose social status simply by being spotted with them, etc. Often found in dystopian settings where Fantastic Racism, or the real thing, is near - universal. Tropes:
Prostitutes are indentured servants.Prostitutes are slaves, but slavery is apparently not quite as bad as you might think. Families willingly sell their children, and many desperate young women volunteer for the job, mainly to avoid worse fates, such as starvation or less desirable forms of slavery. Most hope to pay off the family debt, save enough to buy their freedom and start a second career, or find a kindly boss or customer who will free them, or promote them to a High-Class Call Girl. They're usually depicted as subservient and loyal, but having other interests and talents beside their profession. Customers and bosses are depicted as a mixed bag; some are cruel, others are gentle and kind. Occasionally, a customer will fall in love with a prostitute, and often finds the only way for them to remain a couple is to buy her. Often found in a Crapsack World which is nonetheless on the more hopeful side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Truth in Television. Tropes:
Prostitution is just another lousy job (AKA sex work is boring.)Prostiution (and sometimes other jobs with a sexual element - stripper, porn star, etc.) are depicted as jobs no one would ever want to have when they grow up, but clearly preferable to starving to death, and not necessarily worse than the worst minimum - wage positions. No one wants to grow up to be a sex worker, and those who are find it unsatisfying at best. Prostitutes look forward to Friday (or whatever the start of their weekend is), but how many janitors or fast-food workers are happy, though? Tropes:
Law school prostituteProstitution is depicted as a gateway profession that pays the bills while working toward a better position; often a sex worker will be a college student who can't afford to pay both rent and tuition, or a huge debt acquired by other means, with a minimum - wage job, so you do what you gotta do.
Prostiution ain’t all that bad (AKA sex workers are boring.)Prostitution and other forms of sexual employment are depicted as a career choice that has both drawbacks and perks. Sure, there's risks and drawbacks, but it's easier and pays a lot better than working many minimum - wage jobs. Sex workers are often depicted as being otherwise completely normal people. For the Good Bad Girl in a repressed society, it may be one of the few jobs she doesn't get fired from for being an Innocent Fanservice Girl. Can be Truth in Television where sex work is legal. Tropes:
Prostitution is a dream jobUnproblematic Prostitution Turned Up to Eleven: