Howard Jacobson in Prospect:
Two conflicting but equally sentimental narratives of the lives of prostitutes—and by implication the men who pay for their services—confront each other at the moment. The first describes the prostitute as abused victim, incidentally of global capitalism and the free market, but essentially of the violence of men. In this narrative, the idea that the prostitute might choose of her own free will to sell her body for profit or for pleasure, or for both, is derided. A battery of statistics proves her miserable condition: her low self-esteem and life expectancy, the dangers to which she is exposed, the rape, contumely and criminality which form the consistent scenery of her abbreviated existence. Therefore—no ifs or buts—we must criminalise the man who uses her. (I italicise the word to show that I mean to be more careful with it than are the criminalisers.)
The second narrative tells of snazzy, Sex in the City hookerdom, fucking and shopping exactly in the spirit and prose of women’s blockbusters of 20 years ago, only now the fucking pays for the shopping. Tracy Quan’s Manhattan whore is into Prada and Bulgari talk even before the fucking starts. Belle de Jour will tell you what she’s been buying at the chemist’s—”tampons, vaginal pessary (for irritation), condoms, sugarless breath mints, lubricant, individual post-waxing wipes, self-tanning liquid, razor blades, potassium citrate granules (for cystitis).” Too much information, as they say.