Why Women Become Prostitutes or Nuns During Economic Recessions

I found these two newspaper reports almost ironically juxtaposed.  One reads, “Women turn to prostitution during economic recession.”   And the other article reports, “Surge in women applying to become nuns to escape the recession.”

The first option is long known.  Prostitution is how many women have been forced to overcome economic hardship or extreme poverty, in cultures all over the world.  While researching for my book Sex and Power, I found that one of the reasons the sex-gurus who wrote the manuals like the Kama Sutras, so enthusiastically recommended that even women learn the art of love-making, is because according to them it would help women in their lives.  They explained that no matter what country a woman visited or lived in, and whatever her personal situation was like, if she was conversant in the art of lovemaking she can have her freedom by working and earning anywhere!

But what was puzzling is why in recent years, there have been more and more women in Europe joining convents to become nuns.  In fact in just the last one year, there has been a 66% increase in the number of women applying to convents.

What’s going on?  Are women finally realizing that ‘God’ would make a much better or more reliable ‘husband’ to be wedded to for life than the sampling of the whimsical mortal men they’ve previewed on earth?

While some believe, like this hopeful veteran nun suggests that “The recession makes people question, ‘What is really important in my life?’ For some, when they start asking those sort of questions they find what ­really matters is God. We are consciously trying to live a life that is not about ­consumerism. That is appealing to people.”

However, there is another explanation as this more forthcoming nun points out, “Maybe ­people are trying to get out of the hard times they are in. We’ve seen that before.”  

So it appears that it is the recession that’s compelling women to join a convent.  At least there is a roof over their heads, food on the table.  Also, prostitution is one of the most dangerous professions.  Being a nun that way offers more security! 

Still, why shouldn’t there also be more men turning to prostitution or to the convent during the recession and taking the vow of abstinence?  Why is it only women who have to put their sex and sexuality on the line in these extreme forms?

Is it because men have more education or at least job skills than women do?  Or is it because women are raised to view themselves as sexual components of society – in a way that men are not?  Motherhood is a woman’s function in society in a way that fatherhood is not.  Sex is a man’s need to be fulfilled by a woman – hence the need for prostitution.   Even the nun is married to God!

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