Reading a lovely article by Andrea Juillerat-Olvera titled “ Sacred Prostitution and the Redemption of the “Whore” and wanted to share a few excerpts from her article. The piece is heavily focused on sexuality from the female lens but maintains connection to the Goddesses and femininity, which is beneficial to all. The full article can be read here.
The Sacred Prostitute
“Empowering the seller mitigates the damages of sex work, for it is the seller that allows penetration into their most intimate self. Allowing admittance to the deepest self, physically and psychologically, is a perilous choice even outside of sex work. To offer that intimacy to anyone , is an act of bravery and generosity. Many of those who avail themselves of a prostitute cannot attain human intimacy, sexual release or even simple physical contact any other way and so they buy it. The prostitute’s offer of legitimate physical sanctuary is a public service.
The world is overrun with lonely, damaged and dying people. Sex workers help these unfortunates by offering comforting physical contact and pleasure. It is a life-saving service often filled with compassion or at least good grace.
A 2015 done in the Netherlands on crime and prostitution found that reports of rape and violent sex crimes dramatically fell in zones where prostitution was legal. A similar study (links in original article) Rhode Island, when indoor prostitution was inadvertently legalized between 2003–2009, found comparable results. Decriminalization led to a 40% decrease in gonorrhea incidence and a 30% decrease in reported female rape offenses.
This view of prostitution begins with a shift in how we see those who perform sexual services in our communities. If we reframe prostitution as a sacred gift, then the sacred whore becomes part of humanity through her [archetypal divinity] as the Sacred Lover or Goddess of Love. Buyers can shed their guilt and enjoy a therapeutic experience of pleasure, healing and acceptance.
The Nordic Model victimizes the identity of sex workers. Even if this strategically reduces harm, it invalidates the agency of autonomous sellers. There has to be respect and ideally gratitude for people who choose sex work, as they provide a service for which few are suited. Also, as I have shown, villifying buyers demonstrates a cold indifference toward people who are excluded from more mainstream forms of pleasure and intimacy: buyers such as transgender, genderqueer or intersex individuals, people with disabilities, the aging, the dying, or kink communities. Harm reduction strategies that invalidate seller agency and shame the buyer are not conducive to healthier sex work. For many, the sex worker is also a counselor and the healer of last resort. Whatever its form, a sexual exchange between consensual adults should be seen as unremarkable if the seller has accurate knowledge of the physical situation plus complete autonomy, and the buyer accepts those terms.
“ There are many goddesses of sexuality, prostitution, and war, who are conquering, powerful divine feminine archetypes. Sadly, they didn’t make the cut for Judeo-Christianity or Islam. The divine feminine is largely missing from our Western world.
Mainstream Western theology decided long ago that sex was base, animal, instinctual, and therefore unholy, something barely tolerated, and only for procreation. Certainly, sex is a part of our instinctual makeup as mammals, and for better or worse, so is sex trade.
Ideally, a society would remove the economic pressures that compel 84% of prostitutes to keep working in the sex trade despite negative effects. The remaining 16% would be the willing and gifted, for whom prostitution is a sacred practice. Prostitution that included humanity, empathy, and even spirituality, becomes a way of life that empowers its practitioners and customers within a framework of validation, security, and stability. Modern Sacred Prostitution does not imply religion as much as respect, and is a concept that can be translated into today’s secular language and multicultural needs.
To say that whoredom is the oldest ‘profession’ is really a misnomer. Women are commodifiable resources, regardless of their caste or class. They aren’t the “professionals”, they are the product. Whether the trade is sex for money or sexual/reproductive ownership by the male in exchange for protection in a household, the situation is essentially the same.
The conditions of ancient temple prostitutes may not align with our current notions of feminism, but that isn’t the point. The existence of a female role both sacred and sexual is encouraging. The sacred whore archetype was lost to popular imagination a long time ago. Without a divine feminine sexuality, whores are classed as disposable, shameful, dirty, and deserving of their fate. As long as this part of female sexuality is denied and degraded, the whole female gender will suffer for it.
It is an easy insult to call a woman a whore. Men casually infer that all women are whores when they are angry. Women insult other women by calling them whores when they are jealous or spurned or even disapprove of the way they are dressed. If we deconstruct this common insult, it becomes clear that women who literally sell their bodies are not so different from the rest of us who think that we do not. It is only that most prostitutes have fewer choices about what and to whom they trade. The debutante who marries for money is only shades away from the $250 an hour escort and only steps away from the streetwalker who is brutalized for crack. These are all women trading with what they have.
The sooner we forgive women when they are whores, the sooner we redeem the whole female gender. Sacred female sexuality is powerful. Centuries of denial about female sexuality are what keep us debased but The Sacred Whore can prevail.
“You take a woman’s power away. Her work, her family, her currency… You leave her with one coin…the one she was born with. It may be tawdry and demeaning, but if she has to, she will spend it.” ~ Red (from Orange is the New Black)