Prostitution and depression – a causal relationship?

Dear readers,

It is my belief that ‘the happy hooker’ does not exist.
Even in my case, while I enjoy the job, I won’t say I’m a very happy person.
Sadness and powerlessness are feelings that are common for me.
Prostitution is associated and linked with negative emotions, and in the worst case, depression.
I agree, partly. Most prostitutes I (virtually) met, are familiar with negative with stress, negativity, and depression.
All sex workers, whether being street prostitutes or high-class courtesans,
whether having positive attitudes towards the profession or not,
are ‘united’ by these feelings, from time to time.

However, is prostitution a direct cause of depression, and negative feelings?
My personal answer: Yes, it could be.
And no, it doesn’t have to be a direct cause.
Prostitution is mostly seen by mainstream society as a direct cause of depression.
My personal question is; What if there were other variables that plays a role?
Why does society mostly see a causal relation, and not a correlational relation?
As if prostitution is the only factor…

Let’s say more about depression:
There are many different theories to approach depression.
I’ll give you a two definitions.
1. The diathesis-stress model: This model suggests that people who suffer from depression were already prone to depression, because of predispositions (and events that happened in the past, or are happening at the moment)
Plus, there has to be a stressful event that provokes depression.
2. The cognitive theory and the cognitive triad: this model suggests that the vulnerability to depression lies in cognitive schemes.
And these cognitive schemes can influence you in 3 different areas, the cognitive triad: Yourself, your view on the world, on your view on the future.

What does these theories have to do with prostitution, for god’s sake?
Well, a lot.
I’ll add another important factor related to depression, stress.
Stress is the subjective feeling, where a person feels overwhelmed by events he or she can’t control.
A factor that increases stress is emotion inhibition; suppressing one’s feelings.
Suppressing one’s feelings takes mental and physical toll, and can cause a general decrease in positive emotions and feelings.

possible causes of stress:
Major life events:
These events will cause you to make great adaptions in life.
Daily hassles: a chronic and primary source of stress.

A very effective solutions for stress is disclosure:
People who have stress at work, will want to cry out their daily troubles.
If one succeed in doing this in a polite and non-agressive way, he or she will notice a decrease in stress level.
And humor: If you had a bad day at work, someone will to cheer you up by making jokes, mostly about your job.
And problem-focused coping: Someone can behave and think about how to find solutions for problems, sometimes deap-seated, sometimes trivial.

A possible relation between stress an depression can be:
Stress can result in a person having lots of negative feelings, such as tiredness, helplessness, and feeling constantly overwhelmed by situatios he/she can’t have controll over.
All this negativity makes a person vulnerable, and few bad things have to happen to drag a person into depression (reference to Diathesis-stress model).
What’s more? Negative feelings influence the way you perceive things, such as yourself, the world and the future (reference to the cognitive theory).
Your self-esteem will decrease, and your view on the world and the future will be utterly pessimistic.

Now, coming to my point.

The link with prostitution.
I’ll first look at the sources of stress:

Major life events: by making the decision of entering prostitution (or in the worst case, to be forced in prostituion) , you are forced to introduce great adaption.    F.ex. Think of having a hidden agenda, you suddenly having to be careful of what you say.
And maybe the worst effect. You will not be able to have stable relationships anymore, (except if you have the chance to find someone acceptive, and still then it will be difficult)
Daily hassles: Arranging appointments, worrying about condoms and appearance, always moving to other places, worrying about std’s,  to make sure you’re not getting caught, to always do things in a sneaky way, to always be confronted with the mainstream image of sex work…. etc…
One must be VERY immune to stres…

Stress is the outcome of situations you can’t handle and can’t control.
You can’t always trust your clients, plus if he attacks you, you are defenceless, as a woman.
Now, let’s have a broader look.
Sex workers can’t control the situation they’re in, because there are lots of other external factors (besides the client).
-The stigma: prostitutes can’t erase the whole stigma surrounding prostitution.
Prostitutes who do speak out in behalf of themself and other sex workers are often ridiculed and not taken seriously, and even criminalized (for supporting prostitution), except if she says the things everyone wants to hear her say:
I’m trafficked, I’m a victim of abuse, I’m forced to prostitute myself.
But then she won’t be taken seriously either.
She will always be… a prostitute.
– Criminalization: prostitutes can’t better the situation, because most people are unwilling to help them. One, because they feel contempt, or two, because they are afraid to be criminalized themselves.
Plus, the state governments and the police, who are actually supposed to care for ALL its people, criminalize and arrest prostitutes and clients.
And not because they do care…..
Don’t make me (or us) laugh. If they did, they would have been willing to listen to individual concerns. Taking condoms from prostitutes and then arrest them is not a sign of helpful behaviour. (Happens mostly in states were prostitution is completely ‘banned’).

Now, talking about depression.
Due to stress, the person is heavenly influenced by negative feelings.
If something bad happens, (I client ripping of the condom, being arrested, being excluded), it can actually tear down someone, emotionally and physically.

Depression is the outcome of how you apply cognitive schemes on daily events, on how you see yourself, and how you see the world, and how you see the future.
Now, mind how these schemes are already influenced by lots of negativity.
I noticed from many blogging sex workers, that the negative self-image is not a direct cause of prostitution per se.
No, it’s a cause of how society sees sex workers.
‘Sex workers are poor, sex workers are addicted, sex workers have low or no self-esteem.’ Imagine if someone’s telling you every day that you’re degrading yourself, and that you have low self-esteem, and that you’re probably addicted to all kinds of substances. You’re going to believe this, at the end.
How you see the world: Hmm, as cruel, excluding, and not caring for the marginalize populations, only caring about the ones who fulfill the norm?
Because that’s what happens to most sex workers.
They’re not see as acceptable citizens, as people who actually CAN contribute and do good for society.
The future: not very positive either.
Due to stigma, sex workers are forced to stagnate in the job. I do believe many sex workers are able to develop oneself, inside the profession, IF they had the chance.
Prostitution is not a profession that can be performed by everyone, in my opinion.
But the ones who are suitable, are not given any fair chance to develop, for they are discouraged by mainstream society, the explicit and implicit criminalization and discrimination, under the guise of morality, and ‘saving’ prostitutes.

Depression is a long-term outcome of stress.
So, to see it very simple…..
If sex workers had the chance to diminish the stress, by disclosure, and by humor, and by problem-focused solving, they would be less prone to fall in depression.
But none of these solutions is plausible, and most of the time, not possible, if one is a sex worker (except if you have a VERY acceptive environment and people around you.).
Imagine your disclosure: ‘Pfft, I had a very annoying client today. He was trying to bargain the price! But I finally succeeded to send him away!’
The reaction isn’t likely to be positive.
Most people won’t say: ‘Wow, that’s well done, you’re a very assertive person!’
No, they will rather say: ‘Well, that happens when you’re a prostitute’
Yes, it’s the sex workers’ fault.
Plus, humor? You can think of funny things, f.ex. how awkward and shy a client was, but you will NOT be able to share it, and laugh with it both.
(except if your talking partner is a fellow prostitute, maybe).
Problem-focus coping: Of course we want to solve our problems! But the means for solving our problems are often out of reach. We want to seek help if someone (a client, or any other person) ill-treated us. But we’re not taken seriously, or we get arrested even.
We want to go to the doctor and have regular checks, without having constant feelings of shame and fear this doctor will look at you as a completely self-degraded person.

Hmm, I think this is it, by now.
Based on the data I found, and stated above, it’s not always prostitution that causes depression and stress, it’s society’ view and stigma on sex work.
And by blaming sex workers for engaging in prostitution, to see them as helpless and marginalized peopled will make it worse.
Don’t mentioning putting restrictions on sex workers’ freedom, and criminalizing them.

And another conclusion I made before, and now coming to mind is:
Prostitutes don’t dehumanize themselves, it’s society that’s dehumanizes these people.

A third conclusion I make:
While reading other stories, I noticed that there is simply NO regulation that benefits sex workers.
So, the most logical (but by the mainstream audience, not acceptable) solution is:
Stay out of a business you don’t want to know! Stay out of a business you weren’t in before!
None of your ‘help’ will actually improve our well-being!
If you want to help by any means, listen to the prostitute, instead of listening to the societal and cultural norms. Listen to many prostitutes, instead of one!

Well readers, that’s my article for today, I hope you enjoy it.
I put my efforts in it, so I hope you like it and that you’ll share your opinions.


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