We posted last week about the University of Michigan Law School student who tried her hand at prostitution, and was allegedly assaulted by a UM professor.
This week the student involved has written anonymously about her ordeal; the entire message is reposted on the Feministe blog:
A month after I was assaulted, I attempted suicide over the whole mess. I’ve been unable to sleep or study, for fear of this story being published. I’ve had PTSD rape dreams. Everything I’ve worked for my entire life, personally, academically, professionally, has been harmed, and I’ve spent $20,000 trying to put it all right again. And I have, in fact, been prosecuted and will be required to pay a debt to society. All I can hope is that the bar will see that this was an aberrant moment in the life of a severely depressed, suicidal, isolated person.
She has endured a great deal of abuse online, where people can express themselves freely with little chance of retribution; so they tend to say and write things they would never say or write under other circumstances. Even my post about this was a bit glib, as it seemed that both individuals, the student and the professor, were going to get what they deserved.
As reading this woman’s story makes clear, this was a real event involving real people and of course it’s all messy and complicated. And it’s nice to see people in the comments saying supportive things (I suspect the Feministe site is deleting the trolls):
You are an amazing woman who did absolutely nothing wrong and you should not have to apologize for anything. You, like most survivors, are experiencing some of the worst effects of trying to seek justice in this society. You deserve understanding, respect and help from your community, not this public skinning from strangers and colleagues.
But… really? Nothing wrong?
Lawyers are supposed to uphold the law, not break it. Of course lawyers smoke pot, speed, tear the labels off mattresses and try to sell US Senate seats. But prostitution? Trying to make money, no matter how dearly needed, by selling your body shows a lack of judgment far beyond what I’d like to see in a prospective lawyer. Or doctor or teacher. Even youth doesn’t excuse something that drastic.
Being a prostitute is actually worse than, not preferable to, having to drop out of law school due to money issues. This wasn’t a dumb mistake — forgetting your keys is a dumb mistake. This was a dumb life decision. Not that I haven’t made those — but then I had to pay for them.
As to the other issue — I know I’ll get slammed for even going in this direction, so let me make clear:
NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED OR ASSAULTED, NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO. EVER.
But. And there is a but.
This woman invited this man into her life. This wasn’t a date rape. The assumed relationship was prostitute and john. She created that relationship. She made herself vulnerable to an (allegedly, and I suspect truthfully) evil man who was likely to believe that, just because he paid her money, he could do anything he wanted to her. That’s what prostitutes are for, and that’s why it’s bad to be one. Not morally bad — stupid. It’s not like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”
I’m conflicted about whether prostitution should be legal or not. One the one hand, I don’t like the government telling two consenting adults when and why they can have sex. On the other hand, it’s the government’s responsibility to regulate commerce, especially when that commerce spreads disease and leads to endemic violence and drug use. But maybe those things wouldn’t happen so often if the practice were legalized and regulated. I really don’t know.
But this woman did do something wrong. Not so much morally or ethically, but certainly it was foolish and self-destructive. And illegal. She did not deserve the violence to which she was subjected. And she certainly deserves for her rape allegations to be taken seriously by the police.