I woke up this morning (the second time) somehow finding myself watching Jerry Springer. Thomas was flipping channels and had decided to watch it for whatever reason.
The folks on the tube were fighting, as people do on Jerry Springer, because one woman (let's say Sheila) told her best friend (let's say Amanda) that Amanda's boyfriend was Sheila's pimp and lover. Amanda's boyfriend (let's say Paul) kept saying that Amanda shouldn't be upset because she had everything she ever wanted; Amanda's rejoinder was that Paul should find a job. Now, I do question how Amanda could have not realized something was wrong when Paul had money to pay for everything but didn't have a job. But anyway, that's the story.
During the show, Sheila admitted that she had been prostituting since she was 13, stopped when she was 18, but then when she was offered easy money by Paul she started up again. All of that was completely lost in the show. Instead the show revolved around how Paul had cheated on Amanda, and Amanda wanted Paul to choose between her and making money. A typical "he cheated and doesn't really love her" type situation.
But this is not a typical situation. What made it worse, of course, is that it's the Jerry Springer show, so the audience was laughing throughout and chanting, "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" This is not funny. The crime that the man is committing is far beyond cheating on his girlfriend. That crime alone, though, deserves condemnation rather than laughter. The fact that someone would be willing to hide such a great part of who they are for the sake of easily accessible sex from a tricked girlfriend is very troubling. I think we'd all agree, and yet there are a significant number of people who watch Jerry Springer and react similarly to the audience; otherwise the show would not be economically profitable. That is troubling.
And troubling is the question one of the audience members posed to Amanda about Sheila: "If she's making $600 a night, doesn't it make sense that she be your boyfriend's prostitute? What's the problem with accepting easy money? It's better than a job, isn't it?" Is $600/night worth destroying a person's self-respect, security, and hope for living? It might be "better" than a real job, but the "easy" money that pimps force prostitutes to make is actually nearly impossible for any prostitute/sex slave to stomach. Even if Sheila "voluntarily chose" her life as a prostitute, at age 13 or now, the damage she and others will incur upon her are the deepest scars possible. Also, a voluntary choice often soon transforms into something quite the opposite of voluntary. Life situations may push someone over the edge to "choose" prostitution, but once they enter that life the pimp makes it almost impossible to escape; and, much like people who are imprisoned for a significant amount of time, escape does not necessarily mean rescue because the prostitute/sex slave needs serious assistance in re-learning how to live in society.
Again I say, our attitudes must change. We cannot spend time laughing at these situations when they are so troubling. Jerry Springer and other entertainment venues portray these situations as trivial entertainment and we as a society soak it all up. Entertainment is too darn entertaining. We can't laugh at these things and later say, "it's just a show." Laugh at Mitch Hedberg or Richard Pryor, not at someone's life being slowly destroyed in heinous fashion.