Sex workers discuss the romance, stereotyping, and ideas presented in the movie Pretty Woman on its 30th anniversary.
It’s been thirty years since Pretty Woman hit cinemas, showing the romance between an astronomically-rich Edward Lewis, played by Richard Gere and sex worker Vivian Ward, played by the gorgeous Julia Roberts. On the movie’s 30th anniversary, sex workers shed light on the couple’s fairytale romance shown in the movie and some of the issues surrounding their field.
The movie shows Vivian, a sex worker who longs for escape and dreaming of a larger than life experience. On the other hand, Edward goes through a breakup and requires an 'unattached' date to take to his meetings. When he stumbles upon Vivian, their initial interactions surround the transaction of sex and money. However, a week into the façade of being partners, Edward starts taking an interest in Vivian's future.
Edward then gets Vivian a crash course on affluence, making her look forward to a new beginning in life. While Vivian learns how to use forks and wears necklaces worth $250,000, Edward is impressed by her emotional intelligence and authenticity and considers the emptiness in his social circle and work.
On the movie’s 30th anniversary, sex workers discuss if the portrayal of sex workers in Pretty Woman is relatable thirty years later.
Elysia Nicole, a sex worker from Derbyshire, says that the prejudice that Vivian deals within the movie is something that people in her field still go through. She discusses that initially, Vivian undergoes judgments from other people. However, as people get to know her warm and soft personality, they change their opinion of her.
The movie also features her past traumas and a tough childhood, and she is portrayed more as a real person than a person labeled as a prostitute.
Another sex worker, Adreena, talks about the movie from a different perspective. She says that the whole idea of this movie is that the woman is 'saved' by a knight in shining armor. She says that the notion that women need to be saved from certain circumstances is something people in her industry would object to.
In Pretty Woman, Vivian goes through a sexual assault from Edward’s lawyer, which is a grave issue in today’s world of SWs. In the movie, Edward comes just in time to save Vivian and throws a punch at his lawyer's face. Elysia objects that there should have been more to it than that; Edward's lawyer should have received a severe punishment rather than a mere punch on the face.
Today, some people think they can treat sex workers; however, they want, and sexual assaults and harassment are common.
Elysia further discusses that during the thirty years since Pretty Woman was released, a lot has changed in society, especially the way women consider marriage. Many women in her industry are happily single and have no intention of marrying a rich man'. Moreover, advancements in technology mean that they can meet and work with various clients online.
Pretty Woman remains a classic even if the ideas presented in the movie have somewhat stopped prevailing in today’s society.