I remember watching Pretty Woman when I was young. Released in 1990, Julia Roberts portrays a prostitute in Los Angeles who gets hired by a wealthy businessman portrayed by Richard Gere. He hires her and they fall in love, breaking through the prejudices of their status. She leaves her life to be with him. A Cinderella story if ever there was one.
It all paints a pretty picture about prostitution, one that is largely inaccurate. Yes, there are people in the trade who have this kind of autonomy, but it’s not very common. Yes, there are buyers who are kind like Gere, but it’s not very common. Roberts portrays a business woman offering her services to a buyer, a very capitalistic exchange.
In reality, most women in her position are enslaved to demands by people who think they control her: pimps, buyers, abusers.
I think it’s helpful and sobering to see how, if boundaries are unlearned, we all could and would exploit; using people as if they were things.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Several years ago I had to learn what boundaries actually looked like, because I was very confused. I didn’t know what was in my fenced yard and what was my neighbor’s. In this case, my "neighbor" was a very dear friend. It's something I never meant to happen, but nevertheless, it did. I felt I was owed something from this person. I felt I was entitled to control who she spoke with, with whom she spent time.
I can see the similarities between my attitude toward this friend and the attitude of a trafficker.
A trafficker thinks they are owed something.
A trafficker tries to control.
A trafficker does not respect a person's wishes.
We are all capable of such boundary violations.