Diotima blogs on a Glamour April 2003 article about prostitution.
Evidently, the article, uh, glamorizes the profession, suggesting that it has become what is regarded as a reasonable lifestyle alternative.
Since the reporter comes up with the theory that the motivational force here is relatively large amounts of quick cash, she didn't dig deeply enough.
Women don't degrade and abuse their sexuality in order to afford Gucci. There are always underlying psychodynamics. With prostitution or other sex work, there is often an underlying traumatic wound which the woman is seeking to master through partial reenactment. Not so long ago, when women like these college students--who do not need to resort to prostitution in order to fend off starvation or avoid homelessness--became sex workers, they often had a history of childhood sexual abuse. Here's one link on that.
A history of abortion can also create a cycle of traumatic reenactment around themes like "men use my body and then devalue the result", "I can't be trusted to honor the dignity of my body".
In trauma theory, the idea of reenactment is that in an attempt to master an event from the past that one has not been able to understand, integrate or make peace with, the traumatized person is drawn to situations that in some respects resemble the traumatic event. The subconscious idea is that, this time, the outcome will be different...this time, I will not feel powerless, abused, dishonored, etc. Rita Belton has a good article on prostitution as a form of traumatic reenactment, but it doesn't seem to be online.
We see this dynamic in people who repetitively abort as a form of traumatic reenactment, such as in this story:
Excerpt: "Twice she has been pregnant as planned. Each time within 1 week of discovering this she vanishes, agonizes over whether to have the child or not and always has an abortion. (It seems to be more a panic attack than self-mutilation). Prior to meeting me she has had at least 4 other abortions that I know of."
Becoming a sex worker would be another way to reenact themes from unresolved abortion wounds.