Prostitution — the only job where you can charge more for having no
In some works of fiction, prostitution is portrayed as a dream job, or at least as a pleasant and reasonably unproblematic career, even if the sex worker would like to move on to another occupation someday. It may not be a coincidence that the creators of this scenario are usually male.
Common elements include:
- Lots and lots of enjoyable sex, often portraying prostitution as getting paid to have a good time.
- No physical stresses: sexually-transmitted diseases don't exist; women never have unwanted pregnancies; no one has to work when not "in the mood." Working girls and guys also have complete control over the calendar and can take time off whenever they want.
- The social stigma attached to prostitution is very mild, if it exists at all. In many cases, the sex trade is considered no worse than any other service job. Sex workers are never harassed by police or the Moral Guardians.
- High profits for low effort with no taxes and no one demanding a cut (see #6).
- Safe, pleasant working conditions: no customer is ever violent or dangerous; no one is unwashed, unattractive, unsanitary, or unsavory. If the customer has a kink, it's one that the prostitute is happy to indulge. No one ever has to do for money what s/he wouldn't do otherwise — or if s/he does, this doesn't cause any emotional problems afterward.
- Any middlemen (pimps or madams) are always looking out for the best interests of the prostitute and are never abusive. Or all pandering, protection and other support services are dealt with by a completely worker-run and non-exploitative Band of Brothels.
- Everybody cheerfully pays whatever the sex worker's going rate is. S/he never gets (ahem) stiffed.
- Most critically of all, no one is forced into the trade, either by poverty or with violence.
If a character in this role has a personality of her own (rather than being a pure Ms. Fanservice
or similar), don't be surprised if she's a really good person
who you can really talk with
Sometimes Truth in Television
in regard to #1, #2 and #5, since the girls would try to avoid at all costs people who look dangerous, violent, gross, visibly drunk or drugged, and respond to people who look nice, for their own safety
. Where prostitution is legal and regulated, #7 may be half-true for at least some—some might stiff her, but since she can sue them for her fee, this happens less often.
In many depictions (and Truth in Television
examples), the closer the woman is to working as a High-Class Call Girl
or some equivalent thereof, the more it is possible (although far from certain) for this trope to be achieved. This is generally because, as the name suggests, the High-Class Call Girl
is in theory able to earn more money for doing less work overall, which in turn allows for more education, greater freedom to pick and choose clients, greater control over her own earnings, greater ability to hire or work with people to best safeguard her own interests, and so forth.
See the analysis tab
sex work being portrayed as unproblematic is a trope.
Anime and Manga
- In the hentai comedy manga Spunky Knight, the exceptionally lusty female protagonist is a part time adventurer for hire, part time prostitute. She only prefers adventuring because the brothel customers aren't as exciting as those she encounters on missions. Ironically, being a prostitute actually pays the bills a LOT better even though she takes on a lot of high paying mercenary jobs. This is she has a tendency to mess up the guild's plans, whether or not she mixes business with pleasure. She once unintentionally snaps the neck of an escaped mook the guild was interrogating. She also kills or nearly kills targets like by draining a Hero Killer down to an unrecognizable husk so couldn't collect his bounty. Or she spends so much time masturbating that she is late to an exam. She's considered The Load almost only good for sex, which Torre figured out how to make work to their advantage i.e. Honey Traps and her immodest orgasms that can be heard for miles.
- Played very straight in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, where the Velvet Fist is a famous galactic corporate brothel-empire and the workers therein are, as far as we know, quite happy with their jobs.
- Finder: Vary, a high-class prostitute and anthropology student. Her job has its stresses, and she's more complex than the usual example of this trope, but she's still mostly fulfilled and happy in her career. It's clear that nastier forms of prostitution do exist in the Finder universe, however.
- Jill: Part-time Lover covers all of the above criteria to a tee as the title character's Establishing Character Moment is waking up in a gangbang with three Latin Lovers she brought home last night and admitting she's a "horny nut and nuts about fucking" while feeling like she's practically getting away with murder with how much fun she's having, it's an STD Immunity world with only an offhand mention of putting in her diaphragm otherwise she takes her clients completely raw whenever she wants, her clients both respect her staying on the DL and would be even more fucked if word got out given these are uppercrust executives and the like, she's self-employed, makes a minimum of thousands per call where only half of her first client's payment as merely a sex-free incentive would've covered her rent and then some with her rich clients doing the networking for her by word-of-mouth to other rich guys and the closest thing to a truly bad customer is one that hurt her in a slapstick way before she left him and his blue balled brother for some nearby Scary Black Men that she had a free orgy with involving friend, Jaliera Dane.
- The Kantai Collection doujin "Glasses That Show the Number of Sexual Partners of Ship Girls" makes Akitsu Maru into a veteran army prostitutenote who refers to herself as a "comfort woman" and loved serving with the soldiers.
- This is Played With in Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic Beautiful Fictions Babylon the Riders brothel. The brothel is very upper class with the motherly madame looking out her workers and most of the workers do seem happy but she met Edward when a john tried to rough her up in order to get a refund and a girl left because she felt stifled on the brothel's set prices.
- The American, where the main character starts dating a woman that he's been buying sex from and after barely interacting with her apart from that. There doesn't even seem to be any problem with the line between work and personal relationships here.
- Deconstructing Harry has Cookie Williams, a hired professional who seems at peace with her choice ("beats waitressing") and overall well-adjusted.
- In Pretty Woman, a hooker (played by Julia Roberts) is picked up by a millionaire (played by Richard Gere) and they fall in love. Julia's character is a good person (although she does have some emotional baggage, it's not related to her work) and, over the course of the week he hired her for, completely turns around the millionaire's way of dealing with the world through her sheer goodness and sweetness. Although this is a change he wanted to do for as long as he can remember - what she gave him is emotional support rather than insights. His business partner doesn't care either way about her, until she gets in his way; then he calls her a dirty whore and tries to rape her.
- The original script was a huge deconstruction of it. To start off with Julia Roberts character was heavily addicted to cocaine and emotionally unstable, and the movie ends with the millionaire throwing her out of his limo, tossing the cash at her and driving off. She then dies of a cocaine overdose brought on by a mental breakdown.
- Sin City: While the violence and drugs are present, the girls have banded together so there are no pimps and violent customers are quickly disposed of without police interference. However, they are constantly threatened by the organized crime families.
- In Mammoth Selling sex and "girlfriend experience" to silly white guys comes across as emotionally stressful or maybe even draining... But it still comes across as far less awful than the alternatives presented. Try being a night-shift doctor, not getting enough sleep and spending your nights watching children die without being able to save them. Or try being a nanny, hearing on the phone how your own children's lives are spiraling into hell while you are busy taking care of another woman's child... a rich woman who is jealous of you, frightened that her daughter may love you more than she loves her.
- In Trading Places, Jamie Lee Curtis plays a prostitute who gives a short rundown of the reasons why it's a safe and profitable venture for her.
- Moulin Rouge! is a deconstructed version. Satine appears to be this trope, reveling in the fortune and fame of being the nightclub/brothel's star attraction, but in reality it's more of a Gilded Cage for her. As the film goes on, we see how little control over her life she actually has.
- Dangerous Beauty portrays high class 16th Century Venetian prostitution in a glowing light. There's a scene where lower class prostitutes are shown to be in desperate shape, but for the most part, prostitution is looked upon as a way to empower intelligent women, allowing them to interact with wealthy men on their own terms (of course, the film totally overlooks the fact that its main character had, in the Real Life story this movie was based on, six kids with her high class lover. Oh, and also, the earliest, most virulent form of syphilis was raging through Italy at the time, making prostitution a dangerous gamble). However, the main character cautions a friend who thinks her daughter becoming a courtesan is a good way to get an education and independence against romanticizing this, as it's easy for courtesans to fall from grace into the dire straits of street prostitution.
- Memoirs of a Geisha averts this trope most of time. It is stressed that geishas are not prostitutes nor courtesans (although they have their own problems and miseries), and the protagonist's sister, who is sold as a slave prostitute, lives a very different and miserable life until she manages to escape. Despite all those statements and implications, it is portrayed as an absolutely normal and mundane thing that the protagonist sells her virginity to the highest bidder. The way it is done is especially shocking: her mentor makes her give wealthy men a special gift that means they are invited to make an offer for her maidenhood, without her even knowing the symbolic value of the gift. When she is told the meaning of her acts she is neither shocked nor angry for getting manipulated, and the selling of her virginity itself apparently has zero consequence on her mind or her relationships with anyone. The film focuses much more on the relationships and rivalries between geishas and puts a lot of emotional weight and drama in these issues, but it seems getting pushed into prostitution by your mentor without anyone asking for your consent or even informing you is just a normal and boring thing.
- Many Russian books and films of the Perestroika era had a strong tendency towards this when they dealt with the topic. A common figure was the "currency prostitute" (i.e. a High-Class Call Girl who works at a foreign tourism hotel and receives her payments in foreign currencies) eventually finding her Prince Charming who marries her and takes her away to his wealthy homeland. Most prominent example was the 1989 film Intergirl (Интердевочка) which, despite actually being a Deconstruction of this trope, popularized prostitution to the extent that in the following years, 35-40% of female high-school students cited it as their dream job. Meanwhile, in the Russian Nineties, the gap between trope and reality was much, much wider than in the West.
- In King Of Hearts, the inmates of an abandoned insane asylum find their way into a deserted village in World War I France, and set up business there, including a bordello that feels like a pleasant social club.
- Spider Robinson's 'Lady Callahan' (Callahan's Lady/Lady Slings the Booze) books. She runs a "house of healthy repute" where both the staff and the clients have a good time. It's noted that this is far from the norm. Lady Sally's place is special.
- Two and a Half Men: To the point where Alan's attempts at being respectful to a hooker was a joke.
- Firefly shows two extreme ends of the spectrum of prositution:
- The Companions Guild, whose members are among the Alliance's upper class, can wield a fair amount of influence with their favored clients. It is also Guild law that a Companion chooses her clients, and they are paid very well for what they do. Companions get regular health screenings and have systems in place to blacklist clients who don't treat them with respect. One such Companion, Inara, is considered to be the most respectable of Serenity's crew (above the on-board reverend, even), and the only one who makes a completely "honest" living. She is shown to enjoy most aspects of her work, but at the same time her lifestyle causes some degree of friction. One of her clients snubs her when she politely refuses to settle down with him (and it is implied that this happens a lot) and another calls her a "whore" when he loses his temper with her (and she subsequently blacklists him from the client registry). Companions are also more than simply prostitutes, and are shown providing counsel and psychological help with their clients.
- "Heart Of Gold" shows the other side, with a decrepit brothel run by Nandi, a former Companion, where the girls are explicitly not Companions. Their harsh lives make a big contrast against the good companion life. Nandi also remarks that it used to be much worse, with many of the girls being abused drug addicts, until she killed the brothel's previous owner and seized control.
- Dollhouse encompasses most versions with how their prostitute dolls don't mind it at the time and don't remember it later. They are very well-paid in flat-rate service, their pimp tends to protect them, and they don't even know they're being prostituted, genuinely believing that they are in love during the encounter. Later though things aren't so glamorous.
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl has frequently been accused of this. The protagonist loves her job, and when it causes her problems, it's usually depicted as being due to anti-prostitution prudes unjustly condemning or pitying her.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look parodies this trope (and more specifically Secret Diary of a Call Girl) using the recurring scriptwriters who never, ever do any research. Their show "My Shags as a Whore" is about a prostitute who outright states that "being a prostitute is brilliant!"
Who wants to be a doctor or a lawyer when you can be a prostitute like me? A proper one I mean, not one of those grim ones, a nice, pretty, clean one, which in reality, most of us are.
- Wild West Tech: One episode harshly deconstructs this trope.
- In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Republic of Murdoch", it turns out George's "aunts" are a group of prostitutes who George's adopted father, a Good Shepherd minister, encouraged to form a Band of Brothels. Having observed their business (and possibly having compared it to prostitution in the back streets of Toronto), Murdoch concludes that the reverend was a very wise man.
- Dragon Age: Origins, which comments on just about any other aspect of Thedas society, doesn't use the brothels for anything but throwaway sexual adventures for the player and sources for information about missing people (because everyone seems to frequent them).
- Mostly avoided in Fallout 2, in which many prostitutes are Jet addicts, and some in New Reno are actually chattel slaves. Played straight in the case of the Cat's Paw, which seems to be a brothel of clean, consenting, prostitutes who take professional pride in their skills.
- In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, you can convince a maid to give up her terrible job for a glamorous career as a brothel prostitute. You can visit her later at the brothel, where she is ecstatic about her new job and even gives you a freebie as thanks. One has to wonder exactly what her old job required of her...