From philosophical arguments about how they are a necessary part of the society to judgments about their freedom of choice to be a whore or not, there are many things I could write about whores. But all around me as whores intermingle with "other" women, and the "customers" intermingle with other men, I wonder, how do we decide if someone is a whore? Where is it that we draw the line between whores and other women?
After all, whore is someone who uses her body, her sexuality to earn her living. Isn't it the same for the so called actresses of this day? A Kareena Kapoor or a Mallika Sherawat thrusting their backsides and bosoms to an equally obscene number are, after all, giving the viewers a vicarious sexual pleasure at a much cheaper rate than a streetside whore!
Incidentally, I have never been able to understand why is it that Kareena Kapoor is just "sexy" and Mallika Sherawat is "slutty" when both of them seem to be wearing the same kind of clothes and doing the same kind of gyrations! Just how many inches of cleavage has to pop out of your clothes to be classified as a slut?
In the corporate world there are many examples of women using their sexuality to rise up the ladder. Once in a heart to heart talk, a friend admitted to doing this to a certain extent. She went on to justify it by asking, 'Why is it that being a woman has to always be your handicap? What is wrong with using all
of your assets to get to where you want to go?'
Another friend argued, 'Most of the people in the decision making positions are men in their forties who seem to have enormous appreciation of the talents
of younger and attractive women. You are more likely to thrive in the corporate world if you were attractive than if you were not!'
As a woman working in a field dominated by men, I have found that it is very important to maintain a balance between being attractive and still preserving your dignity. You have to dress and behave appropriately as to not being classified either as a "fast" woman or a retro. Both are detrimental to your career and the way in which you are treated. I have observed several times that men are often eager to write you off by putting you into mental classifications. It is easier for them to deal with you once they think they have figured you out! Once you get past that
phase, then they would consider you for the classification of a worthy coworker.
So, if a woman uses her talent in her job as well as her physical attractiveness to further her career, would she be just a professional or a professional and
something else? Does she have to sleep with her boss to qualify as whore or just flirting would do?
On a different note, if there are whores amongst women, there are women amongst whores. As a child, I have experienced the human side of a prostitute and will never forget that day.
Years ago, while volunteering for a school event in the commercial area of the city, I had lost my way into the "forbidden" zone. The bus I had boarded to reach the venue had taken a detour to avoid the festival traffic and dropped me on a parallel road instead. I had wandered into the bylanes of the old city trying to reach the the school event and after taking a wrong turn, had come face to face with the teeming redlight area at it's peak business time in the evening.
One look around me and I knew where I was and was frozen in terror. In every doorway and balcony overhead stood women with garish makeup and cheap flashy clothes. Several men loitered the bylanes leering and gesticulating and the women responded either with obscene gestures or by launching a bitter invective.
I had never seen this sight before, except in the movies,and I had never heard such a language before either. That's when I remembered what I had seen in the movies and was even more petrified. I knew I was in a vulnerable position. I knew I could be just sucked into one of these houses and no one would know my whereabouts. But my feet just refused to move. I found myself unable to even scream or cry and stood there in my school uniform, shaking like a leaf.
I don't know how long I had been standing there like that when someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around and came face to face with a woman in her thirties. She was, like others, wearing a cheap, shimmering saree, tied low at the waist and bright, gaudy makeup. She reeked of a mixture of sweat and a strong perfume. The fake jewelry that she was wearing shone against her dark skin. Her mouth looked like it was bleeding from the gaudy lipstick and beetlenut juice coming out of one side.
I looked at her and was shaken out of my stupefaction. I thought this was it! That this woman would now drag me to the dungeons and I would have no way to escape. I began to cry and scream as loudly as I could.
She held my arm tight and screamed "SHUT UP!!"
I shut up in terror but kept shaking.
"What is your name?" She asked
"Arundhati" I mumbled
"Do you go to school?"
"Yes, I am in seventh grade"
"What are you doing here by yourself? Where is your mother?"
"I...I was going to Mandai
, to represent our school to distribute food to the devotees gathered for the festival. And I...I lost my way! I just want to go!" I said whimpering.
"Shut up!! Stop crying now. I will take you there." She said and almost dragged me brusquely behind her. I followed her reluctantly like a sacrificial lamb, praying all along that she meant what she said.
She took me through a dark alley and then another one and in no time we were out of the maze of alleys and on the main road. Far away, I could hear the din of music played for the festival and, finally, began to feel some relief. She continued to drag me and we crossed the stretch of the main road briskly to where the festival crowd was gathered. In front of me, I could see the huge billboards and the pandal erected by our school. I pointed to the pandal and she turned towards it, pulling me behind her.
Finally we reached the pandal and she let go of my arm. I stood in the doorway and called for the teacher. The teacher noticed me and hurried towards the doorway, her face showing enormous relief.
"Where were you? We were so worried!" She said.
I told her how I had got lost and how I had finally reached the venue and turned around to introduce my savior. But, she was gone. I went out to look for her but could not see her in the crowd.
I have never seen her since then. I never even got a chance to ask her name. And even if I did, it probably would not have been her real name anyway.
My nameless angel has been in my prayers ever since the day she came to my life. I just hope my prayers for her have worked.