As we advance through the month of January, I’m afraid our situation is deteriorating. My father’s wage, which he receives from the glass workshop, is failing to sustain a family of five sufficiently. We are becoming increasingly malnourished and desperate for more money for grain. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so my mother has taken up prostitution to provide the family with extra income. I suppose many Romans forget that a man can use the strength of his body for a number of labors, but a woman is limited to sex as a use of her body for income (Knapp 236). In many ways, my mother had no choice if she wanted her children to survive.
I fear for her, the life of a prostitute is not an easy one. Actually the fact that she is not a slave endangers her more. While no one is looking out for my mother, at least slave prostitutes receive some security from their master, as they do not wished to have damaged goods (Knapp 237). However, while my father is working at the glass factory, my mother is unprotected from the brutality of her clients and especially prone to physical and psychological damage or even murder. She refuses to enlist the aid of a pimp as she wants to maintain some degree of respect for her husband.
My mother attempts to avoid the authorities as much as she can. Prostitutes are, for the most part, untouched by the Roman government, but a tax on prostitution has been present since the mid first century (Knapp 239-240), which my mother attempts to avoid at all costs to maximize her profit. She can evade these authorities rather swiftly as she doesn’t not belong to a slave owner or brothel, she works privately and therefore has no connections which authorities could trace to her and discover her status.
To her credit, she spends many hours at work in an attempt to maximize her total clients and feed us. The money isn’t a significant amount, but the increase to our total income has made a noticeable difference in the amount of food we can afford and rent we can pay, creating a securer environment for ourselves. One might see a life of prostitution as negative. It is degrading and humiliating for the individual, not to mention extremely dangerous.. However, it is common place in families like ours as a supplementary source of income and I therefore see it as more of a necessary evil.
Knapp, Robert C. Invisible Romans. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2011. Print.