Have a good time
When one person takes advantage of another's diminished situation to rob them of their humanity, whether or not money is exchanged, it is reasonable to assume the person being exploited is not having an entertaining experience.
In describing the disturbing recent incident on a Tel Aviv beach, in which a group of teenage boys presumably had sex with a woman, one eyewitness said: "I saw them doing what they were doing, and I thought she was a call girl and they wanted to party." That sentence says more about the complacency of the people who watched and chose not to intervene on the woman's behalf than it does about what happened on the beach.
The ostensible reason for the complacency was that it involved a group activity - a beach orgy, in this case. But to understand the complacency one must examine the paradox at its core - that the teens were "partying" with a prostitute.
We are so familiar with this paradox that we barely notice it. Just a few days ago we read that members of U.S. President Barack Obama's security detail were suspended because they "had a good time with prostitutes," and in advance of his visit to Colombia. There have also been reports in the past of basketball players "having a good time with prostitutes." But did the teens "party" and the security officers "have a good time with prostitutes" in the same way I "have a good time with" my husband at a restaurant? Obviously not.
Furthermore, the use of these terms in this context has profound implications. A party on the beach is not a matter for the police. Terms like "partying" and "having a good time with" usually indicate reciprocal participation in an event or ceremonial ritual that is entertaining or amusing for all concerned. But when one person takes advantage of another's diminished situation to rob them of their humanity, whether or not money is exchanged, it is reasonable to assume the person being exploited is not having an entertaining experience.
Sometimes we are capable of remembering this. Had those same teenagers abused a homeless man, the eyewitness would not have said he thought "they wanted to party" with him and the newspaper reports would not have been about "teenagers having a good time with a homeless man." Knowing that the abusers took some perverted, sadistic pleasure in their actions would not change the assessment. But when it comes to sexual exploitation or the consumption of prostitution services we still identify with the aggressor.
The distorted depiction of the prostitute as a lover is an ugly, stubborn habit. "Pretty Woman" was released more than 20 years ago, but there is no lack of more recent examples. The advertising copy for the 2004 Hebrew edition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" promised the story of an "elderly journalist who decides to give himself a night of love with a young virgin as a 90th birthday present." Describing sex with a young girl in the sex industry as a "night of love" did not grate on the book's admirers.
There are other examples. The book jacket of the recently released Hebrew translation of Graham Robb's "Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris" touts the work as the story of "a young lieutenant who loses his virginity in a night of love with a courtesan." So references to "partying with a call girl" or "having a good time with a prostitute" are just a contemporary version of "a night of love with a courtesan." Such a romanticized distortion of the physical domination of a person in distress blinds us to the violation of human dignity, even when it takes place in broad daylight, before our very eyes. Maybe it is just a matter of language, but even if the "partying" teenagers do not know it a party is supposed to be fun for everyone who attends.