Defense of Aeris (Final Fantasy)
This post was originally made to address the debate of whether or not Aeris worked as a prostitute, and more specifically, how the hate she gets concerning this is uncalled for. There are two sides who despise and slut-shame Aeris for this: Those who use the theory to insult Aeris’ choice in work, or those who believe that “no strong woman would be a prostitute”. Both result in unfortunate implications and this post is meant to counter these points.
Prostitution, for the most part in society, is seen as a taboo. Likewise, people who participate in prostitution are looked down upon by society. Many people frown upon the idea of a person actively participating in it, stating “no one with respect for themselves would do it”. Prostitutes are considered immoral and weak-minded in a lot of western culture as well as other cultures. In Japan, there is a lot of controversy about Enjo-Kosai, and how many men claim “girls involved in enjo-kōsai will grow up to be unfit wives and mothers”. This once again creates more separation between what society considers a “good girl” and what they consider a “bad girl”. And according to the majority opinion, prostitutes are “bad girls” who aren’t worthy of respect and certainly could never be considered a protagonist!
However, there are implications within Final Fantasy 7 that Aeris Gainsborough might have worked as a prostitute. Flowers were often a symbol for oiran (prostitutes in Japan) and in fact is in the name itself: "When written in Japanese, it consists of two kanji, 花 meaning "flower", and 魁 meaning "leader" or "first."" Places with oiran were also called “flower towns” and oiran were trained in how to arrange flowers. Aeris also was suggesting more secluded places in Midgar when coming across customers and even offered Cloud a free date for his protection (which is a reference to Enjo-Kosai). The debate about Aeris’ work is still going on, but there’s a lot of hints towards prostitution. A lot of people fight over this notion: Either because they find Aeris “too pure and good to do such a thing” or because they might be from an opposing ship who is using the “Aeris was a prostitute” theory to shame her. But I firmly believe that Aeris being a prostitute is nothing to be ashamed of at all, and in fact, sends a heart-warming message.
Despite the taboo over it, Aeris is given a key role in Final Fantasy 7. She is shown taking initiative and finding clever solutions to problems the group is facing. She’s flirtatious, witty, confident, and sure of herself around others. She’s courageous and planned to face down her fate with Sephiroth alone. She’s ballsy, independent, and has no problem going off on her own. She is more than “just a prostitute”; she has layers because Aeris is a complex human being. And despite how certain people thinking a prostitute could never be a “strong woman”, Aeris defies this notion by showing great emotional strength and perseverance. It’s almost as though the underlying message behind it, is that strength, spirituality, and a good heart can come from any walk of life. Being a scientist at Shinra didn’t automatically equate to a person of dignity. So why should a prostitute indicate anything about a person’s character or morals?
There are only implications that Aeris was a prostitute. But honestly, if it was revealed as canon, it would make me love Final Fantasy 7 even more. A prostitute, someone who is underestimated and frowned upon by a slut-shaming society, saving the world because of her pure heart.