Those same scholars would inform us that prostitution in those days (not so greatly unlike prostitution in our time) seldom had its origins in a desire for self-centered living. When a woman was left with no father or husband or son, there was no social security or community aid. She would not be able to "get a job" - there were no factories or shopping malls or secretarial pools. Every contact she had with a male resident of the city drove home for her how hopeless was her life. Every act also created an opportunity for the uppity-ups to condemn her.
This is the woman who comes to Jesus and cries on his feet, wipes the tears away with her hair, and anoints Jesus' feet with ointment. This is not a random act of kindness, from an otherwise unworthy individual. This is an expression of her appreciation for the gift of God which has come near to her amid a life of abuse and neglect and repeated exploitation.
I think it is the desire to feel better about ourselves which too often leads to our finding others whom we can consider less worthy. Such a desire also has deep roots; roots which grew from worry or anxiety or injuries. We do not address our insecurities by looking for those who have even more reason to fear their worthiness. We overcome our fears through the community created by Jesus in which the "woman of the city" becomes our sister.
Who is shunned in our culture? Are we blaming them for the events in their past which create a prison from which they see no escape? The woman in Luke 7 may be unique in that she did not allow anger to become hatred and turn into revenge toward those who have created this prison and put us there. Let's not forget that no one can be a "woman of the city" unless there are men in the city looking for persons to place into those roles.