Re: Maybe!

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Speaking of which, Ken Layne's latest vitterperation is a thing of evil beauty. I could almost believe that Satan is squatting in Westwego.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:58 AM
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Get rid of Viagra. Maybe it'll not only stop street prostitution but also rape and wars.

God, remember the halcyon days before Viagra was introduced in 1996? Back when there wasn't any rape, prostitution, or war?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:17 AM
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...but also rape and wars.

I threw up in my mouth a little when I read that.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:20 AM
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That's probably from the Viagra, NCP.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:21 AM
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"If rape and whole-sale slaughter last longer than four hours, see a doctor."


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:25 AM
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I think we should go back to the days before hedge funds, when there was no poverty.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:25 AM
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I heard that Kurt Cobain actually OD'd on Viagra, back when it was a street drug.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:29 AM
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Totally OT, but I just re-read Johann Hari's account of the most recent TNR cruise. Full of great laughs. The opening paragraph:

I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, both chilling and burning, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. "Is he your only child?" I ask. "Yes," she says. "Do you have a child back in England?" she asks. No, I say. Her face darkens. "You'd better start," she says. "The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they'll have the whole of Europe."

It gets better from there. Great stuff.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:29 AM
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This sounds like some sort of bizarre slogan: "Erectile Disfunction: Nature's Way Of Reducing Rape."

You want a bizarre and depressing fact about prostitution law in NY? Having sex with a 10 year old child is a class D felony, very severely punished. Unless she's a prostitute, in which case it's only a class B felony. Fucked up, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:31 AM
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7: How much Viagra do you have to take to make the top of your head blow off like that?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:31 AM
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You want a bizarre and depressing fact about prostitution law in NY? Having sex with a 10 year old child is a class D felony, very severely punished. Unless she's a prostitute, in which case it's only a class B felony. Fucked up, no?

What's the justification?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:33 AM
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10: Take it as a suppository. It always zooms to the far side of the body.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:34 AM
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I don't know. If I were going to guess, I'd say that the differential dates back far enough that virginity mattered -- in the one case, you were probably despoiling an innocent child, while in the other, the little slut was a professional and one more didn't make much difference. But that's pure speculation, I really don't know.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:36 AM
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Wait, Class B is a more severe felony than Class D.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:37 AM
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5 meet 460.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:39 AM
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You are all missing the fact that the author of the comment is using the rhetorical mode of hyperbole.

Hyperbole is the best rhetorical mode ever!!!


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:44 AM
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Understatement is okay as a rhetorical mode.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:44 AM
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8- I know you're talking about the National Review cruises, but TNR is more commonly used for The New Republic. Although these days, who can tell the difference- the elderly lady sounds just like Peretz.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:45 AM
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Did I get them switched? Let me go look at the code. [Pause for research]
Patronizing a prostitute under 11, Class D.

And sexual conduct with a child, Class B.

You're right, I got the letters switched.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:45 AM
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Statutory rape weirds me out a bit. I'm not sure I can tell the difference between a fifteen year-old and a twenty year-old anymore. And I'm not entirely comfortable with anti-prostitution laws, though I recognize it's not a victimless crime. But, Jeebus fuck, the idea of a ten year-old prostitute basically lays waste to all my studied discomfort with such laws.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:46 AM
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18: Yah, big oopsie there. But kinda funny, in a way.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:47 AM
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You know what really should not be a crime? Beating up Andy Dick.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:48 AM
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Shouldn't we be asking why Apo's immediately familiar with the appropriate order of B and D felonies?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:49 AM
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20: And of course, there's no reason to think that she's going to have a lot of other options when she's no longer young enough to make you queasy. The 20 year old hooker who's an adult, making her own decisions, is reasonably likely to have been in that career for quite a while already.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:50 AM
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22: Is B really Andy Dick:

Dick's weirdness has been well documented. Last year, he licked the faces of Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher and Patton Oswalt, then groped and bit the hand of Post reporter Mandy Stadtmiller at a comedy-festival taping.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:52 AM
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And of course, there's no reason to think that she's going to have a lot of other options when she's no longer young enough to make you queasy.

Yeah, but I don't think that's a function of lost educational opportunities or anything. I think there is really psychological harm done to the sex worker by that line of work. I assume it's much, much, much worse for the young, but I'm not sure that it's better for twenty year-old.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:54 AM
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26: That makes no sense. I suspect it is worse for the youngster, but pretty bad for the older sex worker as well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:55 AM
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All I meant is that someone who draws a sharp distinction (which you really didn't) between prostitution by adults (absolutely okay! Freely chosen! Victimless crime!) and prostitution by minors (That's terrible, someone should pay!) is not paying attention to the fact that a fair number of adult prostitutes were once children being sold without their will.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:58 AM
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I got crossed up between "without consent" and "against their will" there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:59 AM
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We should allow prostitution only for people who have college degrees.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:01 AM
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Ah. I actually said "not a victimless crime," but I take your point.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:02 AM
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The person at whom the book should be thrown in the john/10-yr-old prostitute transaction is the pimp. He should get a felony slavery charge.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:02 AM
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Licensing, preferably more rigorous than necessary to be a beautician.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:03 AM
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Speaking of prostitution, how about prosecuting Vitter???!?!?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:04 AM
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The story of the educated Iraqi families prostituting their daughters was really depressing. One would think that shouldn't happen to an educated family. What has this world become?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:05 AM
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Licensing, preferably more rigorous than necessary to be a beautician.

LB, you think prostitution should be legalized and regulated? (Or are you just saying we make it too hard to be a beautician?)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:06 AM
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30: Absolutely. Johns with college degrees can presumably pay more, so this rule will certainly raise the standard of living of your average prostitute.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:13 AM
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only for people who have college degrees

Is Caribbean or Kuwaiti medical school OK?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:13 AM
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Mostly I was just wisecracking. I don't know what I think is the best thing to do about 'adult, freely chosen prostitution' -- it has that war on drugs problem that making it illegal makes it unregulated, and means that people who need help can't get it because they're petty criminals.

On the one hand, I don't think there is a whole lot of 'freely chosen' prostitution; some, probably, but not a lot. On the other hand, the harm-minimization approach of making sure, through decriminalization and regulation, that people working as prostitutes were adult, uncoerced, and healthy, if there were a practical way to use that to shut down child and coerced prostitution, is appealing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:14 AM
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So why do people think that adult freely chosen prostitution would be bad?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:22 AM
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40

Sex without procreation is the devil's handiwork.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:25 AM
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40 - I have very mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, women are autonomous adults, so have at it. On the other, I have a visceral reaction to what I perceive as sexual exploitation of women, and I feel like legalizing prostitution is a step backwards towards shaking off the sex-class status of women.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:28 AM
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Sex without procreation is the devil's handiwork.

The devil likes to finger-fuck.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:29 AM
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adult freely chosen

Commerce taints everything. Better for him to lie to her about being rich so that she can laugh at his jokes; as long as the medium of exchange is just self-respect, it's OK. Shakespeare has an apropos sonnet.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:30 AM
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40: Myself, for OSHA-like reasons. I suspect there just are psychological harms that result from that sort of work over time. I would think of any regulation as similar to a regulation that--and I have no idea if such exists--limited the amount of time you could be a miner because of worries about Black Lung and the like.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:32 AM
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32 gets it exactly right (I'd also throw the book at the john but the pimp is the one who should be banging a rock with a hammer for the rest of his life).


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:32 AM
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"I suspect there just are psychological harms that result from that sort of work over time"
Indeed, if they have to work overtime, there should be regulations about getting extra pay.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:37 AM
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45: Has there been a study of the effects? I don't know where a good place to do the study would be, the Netherlands maybe? If there wasn't a negative effect would you drop your criticism?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:39 AM
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40: The obvious intimacy/risk/sexual autonomy issues are going to make it a profoundly unappealing profession to most women, enough so that my sense is that regardless of pay rates, the demand for prostitutes is always going to be much higher than the supply of women who freely choose to be prostitutes. What this means to me, is that even well regulated prostitution is likely to be engaged in primarily by women who are coerced on some level, whether explictly and illegally or by circumstances. At that point, I start feeling about it like selling your kidneys -- yes, I'm taking an economic option away from a poor person by saying that it should remain illegal to sell your kidneys, but I still think they're better off for not having that option.

I could probably be convinced otherwise by persuasive evidence that, say, in jurisdictions where prostitition was legal, it was a popular choice of profession among those whose skills and interests led them in that direction. But I don't believe such evidence exists.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:39 AM
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Lately every time something political comes up: legalizing prostitution, how the media is biased, the health-care industry, whatever, I feel totally beaten down to a pulp. It feels like we live in a third-world country where the corruption and problems run so deep that even well-planned solutions will get bogged down and poisoned.

This marks the second big shift into cynicism for me. Before the 2000 election, I believed things were basically good, but with problems. After that election, I believed things were temporarily bad, but after this administration we would bounce back.

Now I'm starting to doubt there's such thing as bouncing back, and this all may sound terribly naive, but losing my innocence is a very painful process.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:48 AM
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I had a friend in college who was a male prostitute (hired by other men) for a few months. He said the work itself wasn't bad; more often than not they wanted to talk (and by talk I think he meant cry) for 45 minutes and then have a quickie at the end. He got out of it eventually for two reasons, from what I could tell: his pimp was a complete asshole and he hadn't been prepared for the psychoanalysis aspect of the job. I think - seriously - that he would have lasted longer if he'd been given some training in the counseling aspects of the job. Obviously his experience was different in many, many ways from that of a woman who is a prostitute and especially a woman who is a coerced or enslaved prostitute; grains of salt all around.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:48 AM
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All that to say, though of course I forgot to say it, that there was definitely a quickly-apparent aspect of the job that just ground down his will and his own emotional state and I expect would have had long-term effects and that was the experience of being confronted with johns' various traumas and issues with no preparation for handling that part of it.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:50 AM
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Mmm. I didn't bring it up, because I don't really know much, but I've had more than one (all right, two, unless I'm forgetting someone) gay male friend mention a friend or acquaintance who'd been a male hooker for a while, and made it sound like a mildly but not outrageously out-of-control what-the-hell sort of thing to do. I do have a sense that the emotional and social issues are different enough that I wouldn't be nearly as sure that you couldn't find a significant population of men willing to prostitute themselves because they liked the work.

But I really, really, really don't know what I'm talking about on that front.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:54 AM
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When my roommate in college was prostituting herself, I don't think she would have spoken ill of her pimp or the system. She felt very protected and taken care of.

The problem is that you could not know her without being paternalistic about her problems. She had rock-bottom self-esteem and was really, really hungry for male-attention, and incredibly depressed, and the whole nine yards. Her life outside of the sex stuff was isolated and she was miserable, and in that vacuum, prostituting herself neatly filled a bunch of holes. Heh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:54 AM
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50 makes me think we should outlaw not just prostitution, but politics.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:56 AM
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48: If outcomes are good for the people involved, what do I care? I'd need to see extremely convincing evidence, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:57 AM
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The other question then is should it be illegal to be in pornography? I would assume a lot of the same issues would apply. At least the issues that people seem to have with prostitution. Probably not the psych issue of 51.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:00 AM
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I have the same conflicts about pornography, yes. And for the record, the same roommate was also in a film or two.

And. She got royally ripped off, and was too naive to recognize it. She came home and told me, "I made a video! And he told me he'd pay me $50 per copy, and he would make 4 copies! So now I have $200!"

We argued for a long time about whether he'd make more than four copies. She was so goddamned trusting of him.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:04 AM
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53: Vastly different, undoubtedly, to the point I doubt it sheds any light on the coerced, controlled version of female prostitution more familiar to us and more common in our society. I mainly was trying to provide an answer to the search for an aspect of the job that could cause long-term harm: the sex is probably quite often being purchased by someone with much deeper emotional issues and it's probably impossible for them not to get caught up in those issues to some degree. Even if all other conditions were ideal that could really wear on a psyche over time.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:06 AM
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I have slightly fewer qualms about porn. Similar, but enough that I tend to lean toward regulation/harm reduction as the better strategy in that case. I don't have a principled basis for a distinction there, and I may just be reacting to the fact that one is broadly legal now, while the other isn't. But performance seems like a somewhat different issue to me, somehow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:09 AM
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Well at least in the Netherlands they have a union.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:10 AM
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I don't think there is a whole lot of 'freely chosen' prostitution; some, probably, but not a lot.

But how can you possibly know this?

I have a visceral reaction to what I perceive as sexual exploitation of women

In my (mostly American) experience most women who haven't worked in the sex industry do have an extremely strong visceral disgust with the very idea of sex work. The reaction's so strong it leads to the assumption such work cannot be freely chosen, or that there must be something fundamentally damaged about people who do choose it.

I just think the world is way more complex than our visceral reactions.


Posted by: anon (cuz this subject is touchy as hell) | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:14 AM
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I do know a couple of women who've sold sex in the past, and in every case it was heroin related. As in, the minute they stopped using, they stopped. Definitely coerced, although by circumstances rather than by an individual.

I also knew a girl at school whose ambition was to be a prostitute. I suspect there were major self-esteem issues there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:16 AM
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If we're lucky this person will drop in again.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:16 AM
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62 - Look, yes, the world is more complex than our visceral reactions. I also wrote two comments about my roommate's experience with prostitution. Don't preach to me about seeing shades of gray.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:16 AM
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God, I still feel bad about the EC episode.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:20 AM
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57: I think I'm more creeped out by restrictions on "free speech" than I am by restrictions on sex. So, without having thought through this too much, porn gets a freebie from me because I'm really uncomfortable with attempts to regulate it. OTOH, if there were something like sex-worker regulation, and that resulted in much higher porn prices, I'd be fine with that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:21 AM
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But how can you possibly know this?

I'm going to stifle my irritation here, because I've been working on not being dogmatic (note a whole bunch of qualifiers, statements of willingness to be convinced by contrary evidence, and so forth). But you know, 'how do you know' really isn't an argument.

To the extent that it's a question, rather than an argument, I've formed my opinion the same way I form my opinions about pretty much everything other than living in NYC, working in the Peace Corps, and practicing law. I read stuff. And I'm familiar with very little in the way of first hand descriptions of the experience of prostitition that doesn't sound as if it's driven by coercion or desperation. (Oh, there's some -- whoever that was who used to write in Salon, Tracy Chan was it? And the English Courtesan/blogger who showed up here the last time we talked about this. But they tend to sound either seriously unrepresentative, as in TEC who was talking about being hired by her second john ever when she showed up here, or fictionalized.)

I may be misinterpreting the evidence I've seen, but it's the same class of evidence I use to form opinions about anything else.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:24 AM
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65: sorry, I hadn't seen those comments re your roommate when I wrote mine.

i realize that last line sounds preachy, but didn't know how else to leave it. peace out, etc.


Posted by: anon | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:26 AM
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67 - I'm also creeped out by the free speech restrictions. This is where I start to feel bogged down.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:27 AM
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66: What for?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:28 AM
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anon, sorry for snapping at you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:29 AM
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What for?

I guess I think we were a little hard on her. Yes, she wouldn't drop her persona, but maybe we could have been gentler about pointing that out. Anyway, clearly I have a sexist bias in favor of rosy cheeks and you should ignore me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:33 AM
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67:

OTOH, if there were something like sex-worker regulation, and that resulted in much higher porn prices, I'd be fine with that.

I'm adamantly opposed to anything that could raise the price of porn.


Posted by: Abe Lincoln | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:34 AM
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I really don't think we were. Her schtick didn't permit the type of discussion we were engaging in, but no one was particularly hostile.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:36 AM
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I don't think you need to worry, Honest Abe. The internet will always have free porn.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:36 AM
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Abe's comment provokes me. But I'm trying very hard to be chill and pleasant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:37 AM
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God, I still feel bad about the EC episode.

That was only relationship Emerson's ever seemed interested in, and you guys ruined it. This is the blog of cock blocks and broken dreams. Toodle-pip!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:42 AM
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I'd imagine all of the cost of porn is in customer acquisition and distribution, so the salaries of the "talent" don't make much difference. Even so... if you're talking about a couple hours to a day at most of work, how much can one expect to make?

I also think that at some point we're going to have to deal with the wildly different and still diverging physical and social ages of majority - using "child prostitution" to refer to LB's 11-year-old and to the probable 17-year-olds in the SFChron article seems to prevent coming to a reasonable solution.

I also feel like I'm being driven to some disturbingly elitist view of laws regarding victimless crimes - someone who blows their performance bonus on a bunch of coke hurts themselves and others much less than someone who has to finance their heroin habit by turning tricks (or stealing car radios, or whatever), and it seems like the law ought to reflect that, but "you can only do powerful drugs if you can afford them without turning to crime" doesn't make me very happy.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:43 AM
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With regard to RMP's friend, and the aspect of uncoerced sex work, where on the scale of allowable sex practises are sex therapists and sex surrogates? Aren't they the educated prostitutes you are calling for, or is it so clinical as to be different?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:46 AM
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Even so... if you're talking about a couple hours to a day at most of work, how much can one expect to make?

You can do pretty well. Check with Rashard Lewis.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:47 AM
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I also feel like I'm being driven to some disturbingly elitist view of laws regarding victimless crimes - someone who blows their performance bonus on a bunch of coke hurts themselves and others much less than someone who has to finance their heroin habit by turning tricks (or stealing car radios, or whatever), and it seems like the law ought to reflect that, but "you can only do powerful drugs if you can afford them without turning to crime" doesn't make me very happy.

The answer may be to have destitute addicted people provided with drugs by public clinics.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:48 AM
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Rashard Lewis wasn't a prostitute!


Posted by: Marge Simpson | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:48 AM
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Now who's being naive?


Posted by: Homer Simpson | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:48 AM
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What for?

It ruined Ogged's chances with her, of course.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:49 AM
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if you're talking about a couple hours to a day at most of work, how much can one expect to make?

Per scene porn salaries.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:50 AM
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I'm adamantly opposed to anything that could raise the price of porn.

Isn't the real price paid when little pieces of the good and true inside you die?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:52 AM
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I also feel like I'm being driven to some disturbingly elitist view of laws regarding victimless crimes - someone who blows their performance bonus on a bunch of coke hurts themselves and others much less than someone who has to finance their heroin habit by turning tricks (or stealing car radios, or whatever), and it seems like the law ought to reflect that, but "you can only do powerful drugs if you can afford them without turning to crime" doesn't make me very happy.

It's worth noting that drugs are expensive largely because they're criminal -- in a decriminalized environment, you'd get a lot more heroin/cocaine addicts behaving like alcoholics, damaging themselves and maybe engaging in petty crime sometimes, but probably not a major source of street crime.

I also think that at some point we're going to have to deal with the wildly different and still diverging physical and social ages of majority - using "child prostitution" to refer to LB's 11-year-old and to the probable 17-year-olds in the SFChron article seems to prevent coming to a reasonable solution.

This, I think, needs a little more explication before I will feel comfortable disagreeing (or, less likely, agreeing) with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:52 AM
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Per scene porn salaries.

Persceneporn was the goddess of smut commerce.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:56 AM
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I think you have to be careful with the idea of freely chosen , too. Ages ago I used to know a fair number of prostitutes and while some (and only some) of them you might say freely chose it, that was mostly because the rest of their options really sucked. A couple of us once took a 13-14 year old girl away from a fairly assholish pimp and sent her home to her older sisters place, but 6 months later she was back by choice. I don't know that you could really call it `informed choice' but it's pretty hard to straighten someone out if they don't want it.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:57 AM
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It's worth noting that drugs are expensive largely because they're criminal -- in a decriminalized environment, you'd get a lot more heroin/cocaine addicts behaving like alcoholics, damaging themselves and maybe engaging in petty crime sometimes, but probably not a major source of street crime.

You think? I know one person first-hand who has repeatedly gone on week-long crack binges resulting in him getting fired from his job for not showing up, while I don't know anyone who has done the same with alcohol. Given the relative number of alcoholics and crackheads amongst my acquaintances, this makes me think that there's a real difference in the addictiveness and destructiveness of these drugs.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:58 AM
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Yeah, that was what I meant above in the comment where I talked about selling your kidneys. There are options that a desperate/fucked up enough person might choose, that I think they're better off not having.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:59 AM
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88 is very important. A huge amount of petty and not-so petty crime is a direct consequence of the criminalization of street drugs. Exactly like case with alcohol during prohibition.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:59 AM
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90: I am going to go with freely chosen as: of legal age and no one is threatening them if they quit.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:00 AM
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91: I'd say some drugs are worse than alcohol, some are better in this way.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:00 AM
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91: Well, some people certainly do drink to the point of getting fired.

I'm not arguing that the effects of every addictive drug are the same as every other -- clearly this isn't the case. But it seems awfully likely that you're going to get more crime when you have addicts chasing an expensive commodity rather than a cheaper one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:01 AM
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94: I don't know that is enough though. You can be afraid of your other options as much as you can be afraid of retribution. You can be strung out on something you'll never be able to afford at any `real job' you are qualified for. You can be intimidated by trying to pass; there are lots of problems, some rational and some not.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:03 AM
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Persceneporn sounds like a Thai name to me.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:04 AM
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I think you have to be careful with the idea of freely chosen , too.

Putting "freely chosen" up for argument has its own big series of problems. For example, I believe there's a fairly strong strain of homophobic thought that says people become gay because they weren't "raised right." I can't see how you could exclude most life choices that are outside the mainstream from such inquiry.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:06 AM
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97: But what do you do about that? Lets assume prostitution is legal. What do the people gain by taking away a legal option that earns them income. They still have those problems and now they are destitute besides.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:06 AM
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This seems vaguely on point, if a bit surreal:

Ricky Martin to do anti-trafficking PSAs
GENEVA - Ricky Martin will appear on Dominican television and radio for the next six months to warn people about human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Starting Wednesday, the 35-year-old singer will make public service announcements as part of the "Llama y Vive (Call and Live)" counter-trafficking campaign that has already done work in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru.

Source.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:07 AM
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I can well imagine that Menudo could not have existed without human trafficking.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:08 AM
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Menudo couldn't have existed without dedication to a dream, either. Bless the little children.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:11 AM
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This, I think, needs a little more explication before I will feel comfortable disagreeing (or, less likely, agreeing) with it.

I just read the phrase "child prostitution" in the article, a phrase that without further clarification around it gives me hives. We have people who don't really become fully autonomous until they get their Ph.D. or J.D. in their late twenties, and we have people who finish high school and enter the workforce at age 17. At the same time the age at which kids are exiting puberty is lower than ever, so you've got people who are already feeling an internal compulsion to go out and get laid at 14. And then you have 11-year-olds who get turned out by some creep who deserves seriously hard time. Overloading the word "child" to apply to all of these cases obscures very important differences.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:11 AM
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100: That argument works for laws against selling your kidneys, for laws against child labor, for laws against the minimum wage, for laws requiring overtime pay and rest breaks, for laws mandating safety measures in the workplace -- for any one of those you could say "Look, if people wanted the jobs under the prohibited circumstances, then they're better off that way than they are when they don't have those choices." It's not an argument I find persuasive -- do you apply it generally, or does it seem to you to work particularly well in the prostitution case?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:11 AM
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I'm guessing 79.2 is a reference to artificiality of "adolescence" as a category by comparison with actual, physical prepubescence.

CJB is right about legalization. It's probably most instructive to think of sex work alongside other low-status jobs, like sewer maintenance or garbage collection. Do all you like to eliminate hang-ups about the ickiness of the job as such, "garbageman" is simply never going to be a glamorous career for up-and-comers. People who have the opportunity to do other things probably will.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:11 AM
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106: How do you feel about selling your kidneys?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:13 AM
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100: sure, but legal prostitution looks a lot different than illegal prostitution. I'm just saying it's not just bad men with guns keeping people in prostitution (that's sometimes it). So `freely chosen' doesn't really mean `nobody is going to beat me up if I leave'. It's not like choosing to be a prostitute is just another job, even where it is legal. So while I'm ok with the idea that in a perfect world prostitution would be legal, the vast majority of the prostitution we actually have is at best problematic. At worst, it's really, really bad.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:13 AM
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Ditto 108.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:15 AM
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I know one person first-hand who has repeatedly gone on week-long crack binges resulting in him getting fired from his job for not showing up, while I don't know anyone who has done the same with alcohol.

Well, that settles it then!

Seriously, if you don't know anyone who has been fired for alcohol abuse, you just haven't been in the work force long enough.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:16 AM
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104: That kind of distinction (prepubescent child as opposed to mature teenager) is pretty clearly made in the law. Socially, I'm very uncomfortable with any proposal that mature teenagers be lumped in with adults for purposes of prostitution law, or thinking about prostitution (not that you made any such clear proposal) because of issues of emotional maturity and the limits on other ways to earn money teenagers have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:16 AM
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In theory I have nothing against sex work and porn. Women should have control of their own bodies, sex shouldn't be considered shameful, the types of speech we protect shouldn't be determined by some people's moral agendas, etc etc etc.

In practice, though, it's a whole different story. A lot of women who get involved with sex work are vulnerable to exploitation in ways that make the arguments about coercion pretty meaningless: being underage, having drug habits, rock-bottom self-esteem, a family history of abuse, iffy citizenship status, and poverty compounding any or all of the above. (And here anon is probably thinking, "oh, woman bias," but it is true that drug and abuse histories in particular are disproportionately present among sex workers.) There's probably a pimp involved who's making a disproportionate amount of money off these women's labor. The extent to which a woman can control her sex work career, I would argue, is heavily influenced by class. And all of this takes place in a society where the more sexual a woman is, the less valuable she is, and being poor, addicted to drugs or brown compounds that.

The problem isn't the sex per se, but the sex is so bound up in classism, sexism, racism, our country's screwed-up drug policies and people's willingness to classify other human beings as disposable that I just can't consider sex work unproblematic. But we should be going after the pimps and traffickers, nailing to the wall creeps who think selling kids for sex is ok, make drug treatment options affordable and plentiful and address the ways being poor in America are particularly awful and punitive before we spend much energy arguing about how much free will individual adult sex workers have.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:19 AM
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96, 110: Looking amongst my acquaintances, I can count probably six or seven alcoholics and two crackheads. None of the alcoholics have been fired due to alcohol-induced problems, while the one crackhead has been several times, the other one was never really what you could call "employed". I think that it's worth considering the balance people see between being unemployed, homeless, and on drug X vs. working a possibly crappy job and not being on drug X, and possibly keeping drugs that are more powerful/enjoyable/whatever illegal.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:22 AM
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I'm so deeply glad people like LB and Magpie are able to put my thoughts into words when I get flummoxed. And Soub, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:25 AM
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107: Ummm... that it's just as misleading to compare sex work to organ harvesting as it is to be pollyannish about "freely chosen" prostitution.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:25 AM
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113: I've known several alcoholics who've been fired from multiple jobs, and one or two crackheads who have demonstrated the ability to hold down work*. Advantage: alcohol!

(* The symmetry may make it seem like I'm taking the piss, but actually this is true.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:28 AM
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115: it's also misleading to reference 107 without acknowledging that she's referring to her longer answer in 105.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:29 AM
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Did anyone read Healy's book and find out if, as a policy matter, we should be allowed to hunt poor people for their kidneys?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:31 AM
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I'm not claiming they're exactly the same, just making the point that "If people will voluntarily enter into a transaction, they must be worse off if that transaction is prohibited," isn't a universally generalizable argument. My guess (about which I am not dogmatically certain, which is why I'm calling it a guess) is that even people who 'freely choose' (being adult and not explicitly threatened) to work as prostitutes, would largely be better off not having that choice, and I think that because of what reporting I've read about prostitution.

You seem to disagree, and I'm wondering if you've got anything to say about why working as a prostitute seems to you to be in the category of choices people are better off, rather than worse off, for having. I'm not expecting you to have anything particular -- I'm basing my arguments on 'seems to me' and 'what I've read' rather than anything earthshatteringly convincing. But it would be interesting to know your basis if it's something you can articulate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:34 AM
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112: I think we're pretty much on the same page, Magpie. I'd like to point out, thought, that I think that people often look at this at this whole problem through blinders too. The usual assumptions are: female prostitute (not male), prostitute == victim, pimp == badguy. I think there are a lot more nuances than that. I've met more than one guy who was selling his own ass at 14 and pimping at 25, and guys who looked out for a couple of girls but were doing ok by them, that sort of stuff. In some cases everyone involved is so messed up that looking around for one person to blame is fruitless. There are some clear cut issues, but for the most part I think the legal structure needed exists, there just isn't political and law enforcement will to do the job. I'm thinking particularly of organized crime and human trafficking. Similarly for the case of pimping out children; but that would seem to demand specialized legislation.

At the other end of the scale though, there is a lot of gray areas. And here, particularly, I think the laws are completely unbalanced in the way they treat `johns' vs. sex trade workers. At this end, if anyone needs to be hammered on a bit, it's the clients. They're the ones who perpetuate the nasty end of the street level trade.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:34 AM
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Yep. And there's incredible resistance to upping penalties for johns -- that was a huge sticking point in the sex-trafficking law I worked on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:36 AM
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121: street people don't vote.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:38 AM
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121: Why?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:41 AM
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There are some sections in Off the Books: The underground economy of the urban poor that are very enlightening about the considerations of poor women who prostitute themselves. (And it's a really good book more generally.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:41 AM
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he hadn't been prepared for the psychoanalysis aspect of the job. I think - seriously - that he would have lasted longer if he'd been given some training in the counseling aspects of the job.

I would think that this is the hardest part of the "freely chosen" kind of autonomous prostitution that we're probably inclined to think is "okay"--and I base this on having had sex for money (once). I don't especially regret doing it, but I wouldn't do it again. And that was a situation where I wasn't dealing with a pimp, knew the john fairly well, felt totally safe the entire time, and made good money. Basically "good" prostitution boils down to pretending to be the Perfect Date/Girlfriend for X amount of time--and no matter how clear everyone involved is in the idea that this is merely a transaction, I don't think it's possible to do that well without one or both people getting their heads a little screwed up. Shrinks deal with transference all the time, and they're trained to handle it; hookers aren't. Not a good scene. IMHO.

All that said, I don't think the criminalization/legalization argument should be about prostitution. I think it should be about pimping and hiring a prostitute. Most women do it because they need the damn money, and you can't blame them for that--there's nothing wrong, and a lot to admire, about women who will do what it takes to support themselves and (often) their kids or parents or siblings etc. There is a lot wrong, and nothing to admire, about men who will take advantage of those women, though.


Posted by: Valerie Solanas | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:41 AM
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112: Agreed, soubz. I didn't intend to suggest it was a clearcut issue at all. I was also hesitant to bring up the john side of the equation because of that whole thread about strippers a couple of weeks back.

Speaking of prosecuting johns, you all hear about this?


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:43 AM
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116: really? All of my acquaintances save one or two drink recreationally, maybe three do crack recreationally, a somewhat larger number (5-6) are what I would consider alcoholics, and two are what I would consider crackheads. All of the negative work consequences have landed on the crackheads, which is striking to me. Reapplying LizardBreath's words, it really seems like a choice they'd be better off not having.

Now whether or not we are enforcing the removal of this choice in a manner that does more harm than good, or if it's even possible to do so, is a different question.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:44 AM
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123: Because johns 'aren't criminals'. I'm passing on third-hand gossip here, but we were told by people working for the state legislature that enhanced penalties for johns was out of the question, and would make the law unpassable. No one wants to put a nice man in a suit in jail, just because he paid to have sex with a woman who's being coerced into prostituting herself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:46 AM
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128: Awesome. I love being part of a society in which a two-way transaction places all the blame on one party. After all, he's just looking for sex, but she's a ho.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:48 AM
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I really want to read "Off the Books," actually--it looks very interesting.

That said, the last sentence of 112 gets it right. I'm not sure I agree that "it's not the sex per se"--I don't think we have any way of knowing that and I, personally, suspect that isolating sex from emotion is pretty tricky. But it's interesting and fucked up that the question always ends up being about the motivation of the hookers, as if the motivation of the johns/pimps is completely obvious--they want sex, duh! Or money, duh!

Not buying it. And I suspect that our interest in what the girls are thinking, and lack of interest in what the guys are thinking, is voyeuristic, and that part of the role prostitutes play and the work they do includes serving the prurient interests of people like us who prefer to think of ourselves as agin the whole shebang.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:51 AM
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105: I apply it generally. I think people should be allowed to sell their kidneys and such. I wouldn't apply it to child labor since I do think there is an argument that people should be protected against their own decisions as children. Once you are legally and adult I don't think we should protect people from themselves.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:51 AM
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No one wants to put a nice man in a suit in jail, just because he paid to have sex with a woman who's being coerced into prostituting herself.

Interesting. You weren't in a position to know if those most sympathetic to the john were similarly sympathetic to the sex worker, were you?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:52 AM
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125: While I broadly agree with what you are saying, you're falling into the same pimp is the badguy trap, and it just isn't universally true. I don't mean that they are good guys, just that at a certain level in the sex trade, it starts to look a little bit less than `taking advantage' and bit more like co-dependance. Of course a lot of this has to do with the criminalization of it all, but do you have any idea what is likely to happen to woman who decides to work a corner by herself?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:52 AM
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pretending to be the Perfect Date/Girlfriend for X amount of time

Yes, this is I think very close to what the friend of mine experienced. He was a smoking hot early-20's type who could butch up and play "college jock who needs the money" fairly convincingly and for an hour he was expected to be the only person in the world who understood his (usually closeted) johns. I think both of them were paying a tremendous mental price when they took on those roles and this was pretty freely chosen work. In a coerced situation, with all the power dynamics and gender relations thrown in, I imagine it gets exponentially worse.

As to drunks and work, toss-off anecdote: at a previous job I had a co-worker who got fired for alcoholism-influenced behavior on his third day. I was righteously angry at my boss when I found out they'd let the guy leave in his own car while still intoxicated.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:53 AM
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128: Presumably because a number of the men in the state legislature have or are themselves buying sex.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:55 AM
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Mmm. I have been avoiding talking about the motivations of johns, because I have reasonably strong feelings that were aired recently in the strippers thread, and I don't want to start that argument over again. Suffice it to say that my position is not "What a shame that such a delightfully useful and pleasurable service has been so difficult to commercialize without legal, emotional, and social strain on the providers." Rather, I have an easier time being willing to ban prostitution because even in the absence of coercion, I don't see it as a good thing for it to be an available service.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:56 AM
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133: This really is recapitulating the stripper thread.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:57 AM
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136: there is that, too. Not because it is unimaginable to have a society where prostitution is both honorable and useful, but because that is implausibly far from this one.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:58 AM
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132: No, I wasn't. The law we were trying to (and did, eventually) get passed was unambigiously directed toward coerced and trafficked prostitutes, so the sympathy for the sex-workers in this context was pretty unambigiously directed toward helping them get out of the situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:58 AM
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137: sorry, missed that one. no sense going over old ground, particularly if it was heated.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:59 AM
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Rather, I have an easier time being willing to ban prostitution because even in the absence of coercion, I don't see it as a good thing for it to be an available service.

I kind of want to avoid the stripper thread, too, but is this because you think there are harms to the participants that they won't recognize, or because of societal harms (harms to people not party to the transaction)?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:59 AM
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138: The problem I have is that I don't think it is imaginable to have a society that doesn't have prostitution in some form or another so I want it in the form that will have least consequences for the parties involved and for society at large. In my opinion that form is legalized prostitution. Same goes for drugs. If you could make recreational drugs disappear that would be one thing, but you can't so harm mitigation is the way to go.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:03 PM
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121ff.: Bringing attention to the john side of the equation is one good reason for not going easy on David Vitter's indiscretions, despite what some people might think.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:05 PM
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119: Technically it's not possible for people to not have that "choice," so long as they have sex organs and particularly when you're talking about consenting adults. Eliminating sex work as a category of the job market is therefore not really on the table. The real question is under what kind of conditions that work will happen.

The point of comparing sex work to something like sewer maintenance is more than just to tilt against the notion that prostitution is this great option that people would realistically choose if they had other avenues. It also puts in perspective, to me, what's really it issue in the legalization debate. A society isn't likely to give up the existence of menial labourers, but it can pretend their non-existence by excluding them -- deliberately or otherwise -- from visible society. (Hence the Dalits, in India; or FTM illegal migrant workers in various countries today.) As regards certain forms of low-status work, illegalization overwhelmingly is exclusion, and exclusion is generally bad.

127: I'm not really making a "pro-crack" argument, by any means. I actually have little doubt that crack is a worse drug than alcohol. It just struck me how neatly our experiences demonstrate the variances in anecdotal evidence.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:06 PM
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119: .... My guess (about which I am not dogmatically certain, which is why I'm calling it a guess) is that even people who 'freely choose' (being adult and not explicitly threatened) to work as prostitutes, would largely be better off not having that choice, and I think that because of what reporting I've read about prostitution.

Well, they don't have that choice. Are you're saying that the legal penalties for being a prostitute should be harsher than they already are, or that if it were legal (legal and regulated, natch, whatever that means) their lifestyle would be even worse than it is (and if so, how?), or something else entirely?

I don't know, maybe that's too complicated an issue. And I don't remember this stripper thread people have started talking about, so maybe I'm treading on dangerous ground. If so, feel free to ignore the question.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:07 PM
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142: Yeah, I'm not sure about where I come down on that one either, just that I think I can see where LB is coming from on that.

Legalized with really draconian punishments for clients who don't play nice is going to get you somewhere better. We could start with the punishments for clients though, as the most likely way to see movement.

Making all recreational drugs disappear doesn't even make sense to me. Even if you include alcohol (if you don't it's just ridiculous). I think it's pretty clear there are non trivial benefits to these things, and societally it's a win if you can avoid the nasty edge cases.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:08 PM
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If you could make recreational drugs disappear that would be one thing, but you can't so harm mitigation is the way to go.

You take that back this instant!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:09 PM
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We may need to accept that on some level, people with a pathological need for the approval of others to the point of serious self-degredation are going to get hurt and that, while tragic, no macro-level law is going to stop it.

There may be an argument that goes something like, "While it's true that people at the very bottom of the scale of 'being able to take care of themselves without getting hurt' are inevitably going to get hurt, sex work is a particularly tragic way for them to get hurt, and the more sex work is legal, the greater a percentage of those people will be hurt in this particularly tragic way," but I'd like to see that argument be made explicitely.

Legalized prostitution, it seems to me, would make it way more possible for people to exit the profession safely and with some money. Not everyone would, of course, but I think that there'd be huge dividends in physical safety and financial security for prostitutes if they could go to police without worrying about catching a sentence themselves.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:09 PM
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The problem is less "what is legal" and more "what gets prosecuted," right? Surely someone has made this point above and I've missed it. Law enforcement can't even begin to target every crime at once, but they do make important decisions, guided by state and local allocation of funds, for whom to target.

This is a very old argument, as old as urban society in Europe. Everyone knows it's wrong to target prostitutes but not their johns or their pimps, and activism against this policy has had strong, clear voices for at least 300 years. So why doesn't it change? Because senators like getting blowjobs, that's why.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:12 PM
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133: Soubz's' right: of course it's a form of co-dependence. But the question--"do you have any idea what is likely to happen to woman who decides to work a corner by herself?"--gets at the extortion aspect of that co-dependence. Surely you don't believe, Soubz, that street-corner pimps aren't themselves a really big part of "what happens" to women who work independently.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:13 PM
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146: Making all recreational drugs disappear doesn't even make sense to me

I wasn't saying this would be good or bad. I was saying the argument for banning drugs that assumes we can make them go away doesn't make sense in the real world.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:16 PM
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In this area, they periodically target johns. A prostitute has to work pretty hard to get arrested around here.

I am always shocked at the prices: $10 to $15 for bj, $15 to $25 for sex. Shocking.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:17 PM
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150: Oh, absolutely. Unfortunately, they are often a lesser-of-evils situation. I'm not saying it's any good, I'm saying that the mechanism is understandable, and pretending that the average street walker would be better off without a pimp, absent other major changes, is naive.

149.2 nails it, too.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:17 PM
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Why is the argument "legalization" rather than "decriminalization"? Legalizing prostitution for practical reasons isn't, to my mind, substantively different from legalizing sexism for practical reasons. Decriminalizing *prostitution*--but not hiring prostitutes or recruiting women into prostitution--is the way to go. Punishing people for being fucked up or desperate is stupid; punishing people for taking advantage of those who are fucked up or desperate is both more practical and more just.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:21 PM
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142: This I can sympathize with. I originally made the 'beautician's license' crack out of very much this sort of feeling. I go back and forth, and I've been sounding committed to the 'ban it all' position in this thread, but I'm really pretty waffly.

144, and also to 145: Sure, to the 'no way to eliminate the choice entirely' and to the 'better for prostitutes not to be made unpersons' both. I think there are policy choices that could be made that could substantially reduce the viability of prostitution without making prostitutes unpersons -- mostly ramping up demand-side punishment and punishment for pimps, and aggressive provision of services for prostitutes needing other options. But as I said above, I'm pretty waffly.

141: My 'it's a bad thing' reaction is more 'it's a bad enough thing that I don't see any reason to preserve it, if there's good reason to ban it' rather than 'it's bad enough that it must be banned.' It's the same reaction I have to men who patronize strip clubs, and I don't see an argument that those should be made illegal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:21 PM
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addendum to 153 part 1: also, in my experience a large percentage of people at the level we're calling `pimps' are being economically funneled that way too.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:21 PM
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Because senators like getting blowjobs, that's why.

The senate delegations from California, Washington and Maine beg to differ.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:22 PM
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Oh, and yes to B.'s decriminalization as opposed to legalization point.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:23 PM
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152: The friend of mine said he was shocked when he found out the price difference between male and female workers (his pimp, er, handled both). A john paid $150 for an hour of my friend's time, half of which went to the pimp; a hetero john paid $75 for an hour with a female prostitute and if I remember correctly 2/3 of that went to the pimp.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:24 PM
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$10 to $15 for bj, $15 to $25 for sex. Shocking.

No shit.

pretending that the average street walker would be better off without a pimp, absent other major changes, is naive.

Surely no more naive than pretending that the average pimp isn't himself a big part of why women end up in prostitution, why the job's dangerous, and why it's hard to get out of.

I also don't remember the stripper thread. Weird.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:25 PM
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155: Speaking of demand-side punishment, have you heard about the new Arizona immigration law with draconian employer penalties?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:25 PM
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159: largely supply & demand, I suspect.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:25 PM
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154,158: How would decriminalization look in practice though? It seems like it would look substantially like what we have now.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:25 PM
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You know, we're all talking about this in more hypothetical terms than we should be, really. There are countries out there with at least some degree of legalization of prostitution. There are studies, definitely in those countries and I'd assume there's been at least some attempt here as well, researching what kinds of people engage in prostitution and why. For example, how common is the situation that Valerie in 125 found herself in, or the friends of heebie or RMP? Do one percent of prostitutes have similar stories, or 10 percent, or 40 percent, or what? Nobody is chiming in with the more grim kind of story, but OTOH, Valerie's story is the kind that people would be more likely to know about and more willing to talk about anyway. The question seems pretty relevant.

Well, I'm to blame too, because I haven't linked to any studies either. My defense is that I'm at work and I reeeally don't want to be Googling "prostitute figures study" or something when my boss walks by. If no one else has replied to this by the time I finish for the day, I'll try to look something up myself. Just saying, it's worth finding out.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:27 PM
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How come so many people don't remember the stripper thread? I only read the first few comments of it, but I recall it distinctly. It ended up very long and angry.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:27 PM
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For one thing, it wasn't attached to a stripper post, so if you never looked in the thread, you'd have missed it entirely. (Anyone who wants to google, I think the title was "Thursday morning outrage". I'm sure there was a day of the week and the word 'outrage' in it, but not beyond that.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:30 PM
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161: No I haven't, link?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:31 PM
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154: Well, I'd prefer decriminalization to the present situation.

But I think it's more of a "half-assed solution" than a "happy medium." To the extent that the whole prostitution thing is still illegal (regardless of which particular aspects draw the sentences), it will still draw violence, and the targets of that violence will always predominantly be the women. It will still trap women in the life, because it won't be a JOB that you can leave in the same way that you can leave any job, but a participation in a criminal endeavour, even if the women themselves are not prone to prosecution.

I also just think it's kind of fantasy-thinking. As heebie points out, there's been a lot of effort to alter the ratio of punishment more heavily towards johns and pimps, and that's failed for a reason. I just don't think that there'll ever be a stable situation where the punishment is put entirely one-sidedly on johns and pimps, rather than prostitutes -- people would inevitably end up saying, "Well, they're participating in a criminal enterprise -- surely they shouldn't get off scot free."


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:31 PM
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The infamous stripper thread.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:32 PM
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With regard to the prices, I can understand the allure of large sums of cash. Or perhap, just understand how the system gets going at those prices.

But it doesnt make much sense with those low prices in a city with relatively low volume. Working part-time at Burger King has to be more lucrative.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:32 PM
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I have the vague impression, that I should google to support, that decriminalization has worked pretty well in Sweden. I know you mean in your last paragraph, but 'inevitably' is overstated -- it hasn't happened everywhere always.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:33 PM
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163: Decriminalization is usually held by prostitutes' rights groups to be the better option, because "legalization" schemes often come with strings attached (like government-issued licensing) that can open other avenues of exploitation. B's right that "legalization" is a bad shorthand for what we're talking about. Or at least for what I'm talking about.

165: I don't remember much of it either, unfortunately, and I think I participated in it. I think some have started to tune out large swathes of the clashes-over-gender.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:34 PM
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Is there a law similar to Godwin's involving mention of Sweden?


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:35 PM
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171: Fair enough, actual data trumps theory, and "inevitably" is overstated. But I'm still pretty dubious that it'd be a long-term equilibrium in the US.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:35 PM
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160: I don't think I ever said that
I do I think it is easy to overemphasize that part of it, and I think it tends to be overemphasized. I really don't want to sound like I'm defending pimps. I just think they are largely a symptom, and not the right place to concentrate. Of the people I knew, the deepest problems they had were drugs & johns. Pimps are complicit in the first but not necessary (they'll get the drugs anyway if they are hooked. Granted some pimps do this intentionally. It's a bad thing. Many of them would end up there anyway). I knew or knew of half a dozen girls killed by johns. 0 by their pimps. Also pretty much universally the worst treatment and worst beatings I knew of came from tricks, not pimps. Of course they are part of the problem, but they also mitigate somewhat other parts of the problem (safety). As well as cause part of it. So it's a really difficult analysis to do. My guess is you can't actually have a street trade that is safe, but if you do have one you'll have to have pimps, or at least the protection part.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:36 PM
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167: Here you go.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:37 PM
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170: at the nasty end of the trade, you're making a huge jump to assume this person could hold down a Burger King job.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:38 PM
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The Swedish model is not really about "decriminalization" as many prostitutes' rights groups use the term. It's about criminalization of johns rather than prostitutes, which arguably is a distincition without a difference.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:38 PM
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172: If we use those terms I want decriminalization, but I don't think that is what B or LB is talking about.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:39 PM
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Heh. Boy, I got really emotional in that thread. I'm all better now.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:39 PM
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159 really pisses me off. Soubz, wanna stop defending pimping now? If the guys are themselves in dire economic straits, why aren't they out there sucking cock just like the girls?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:45 PM
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soubz:

You have not been in Burger King lately, have you?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:45 PM
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Actually, that stripper thread was pretty productive as these things go.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:53 PM
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Oh, yeah, it's not as if it were a bitter memory that must never be referred to or anything -- I just alluded to it because my arguments were going to be pretty much the same, and I think we sucked all the juice out of them last time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:54 PM
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181: Sorry, was posted before I saw 175.

Quit with the "why don't they get jobs at BK" crap, people. Surely five minutes' thinking about that question will answer it for you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:55 PM
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Isn't part of the problem that there are simply not enough jobs for unskilled people without college degrees that are not totally humiliating anyway? I've worked quite a few of those jobs myself, and thought prostitution would have been a step up. When I worked at the spa, my employers commented on my hair, my face, my weight, my nipples, and my teeth (never had braces), and treated me like I was mentally handicapped. For following rich people around like a kicked puppy, I got a lousy $10/hr, which is still more than a lot of people make, and I could barely afford rent and food, since all they could offer me was part-time (no benefits). It was degrading and hostile. And yet it was ten times better, I'm sure, than any job my aunt could get right now, at 48, with no high school diploma.

I guess I often feel like, yes, college education should be available to everyone, but that shouldn't mean that the jobs we offer to non-degree-holding people should be treated like a purgatory for stupid assholes who don't deserve any human dignity.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:56 PM
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AWB your poetry bleg thread is too long for the end to show up in my browser.

I forgot to find the poem I was thinking of last night anyway. But just wanted to let you know that this happens with long threads on your site. It probably has something to do with the strange frame format.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:58 PM
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185: Offering a free college education wouldn't help with that problem anyway.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:58 PM
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What browser are you running, Ned? I'm not having that problem in Firefox or Safari.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 12:59 PM
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BitchPhd:

Maybe Wendy's?

Or, maybe, not all questions are actually questions.

The women I have encountered are mostly addicts who are mostly freelancing. So, they get to keep the entire $15!!! Woo Hoo!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:00 PM
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As heebie points out, there's been a lot of effort to alter the ratio of punishment more heavily towards johns and pimps, and that's failed for a reason.

Yeah, and the reason is that people are sexist: that hookers are scum, and guys who buy them are just normal guys who want sex. People's bigotry isn't a really good reason to just give up.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:01 PM
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186: Couldn't agree more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:03 PM
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Also, to repeat, the jurisdictions near me run stings to stop the demand (johns), not the supply.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:03 PM
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188: But that's exactly it! Not every human being who is born will be happy getting a college degree. And hooray for the people who do, and all that, but there has to be something there, a decent, livable life for people who don't. The anxiety I'm always reading from my students, women especially, is something like, "OMG, if I don't get through college, my life will be a living hell." And they're right. If you don't have a degree in this country, people feel the right to treat you like a worm, especially in the workplace.

My mom has to look for a new job, now, at 53, with no degree, and every interview she's had, her potential employers are shocked that she's so well-spoken and smart, and probably won't hire her because she's "overqualified"--not for the work, but for the environment of being treated like shit.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:04 PM
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I liked 186 as well. It essentially boils down to treating other human beings with dignity, regardless of their mental or physical ability or the job that they do.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:05 PM
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181: In some cases 'cause they used to but are too old now? Seriously. But like I said, I'm really not defending them. What I'm saying is that if you remove them from the equation you create a vacuum and it will be filled. See 175.

As far as economically funneled though: in some cases what it looks like is something like this. Young guy leaves 5th foster home because he's tired of getting raped by his foster dad. Should probably get warded from the court but he's run three states away by that time and doesn't have a clue what's available or not. Ends up on street in bigcity. Bounces around doing odd jobs for dealers and moving a little weed until he get shitkicked one too many times for the $50 in his pocket. Eventually falls into giving bj's at the harbor to old men, may or may not have a pimp of his own. Or maybe he sticks with dealing, doesn't really matter. Probably spends a bit of time in juvie.

Fast forward a few years, this guy is 20, 21. He's a complete mess who'se never had a job, never been to high school. Of course we'd all like to hear how someone turned his life around and he bootstraps out of this. Realistically, lots of them don't. So what can this guy do if he doesn't straighten out? He can join something organized. He can deal a little (but not too much, on his own... step up to much and someone will take off your head if you aren't connected). He can move to B&E's or cars, both difficult to make a living at. Same with rolling people. Armed robbery is high risk, but doable. Or he can pimp, probably starting off (and maybe just staying there) with putting his girlfriend out.

This isn't a nice guy, but he also isn't a guy with a lot of options, and pimping is one of them. A fair number of the girls walking corners look like female versions of this guy. They've dealt drugs, fenced jewlery, did a bit of B&E. Maybe rolled the odd drunk in a park. They fall in with some other girls who do it, or with a guy who convinces them the money is easier.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:05 PM
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oops, B. didn't see your 185 in time.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:07 PM
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194: That really sucks for your mom. And it's very true.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:08 PM
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189, Firefox.

The last paragraph that works is
"Edward Kamau Brathwaite is a Caribbean poet whose work is much more accessible than Walcott's. I can't find any samples online, but you might check out "Caliban" from the Arrivants trilogy."

After that I can scroll down farther, but all that shows up is repetition of the same line over and over.

It happens with this post too. The last thing I can read is:

She has a couple of major pieces of interpretation: that the very process of planning a wedding--which for big weddings is also like finishing school because you have to be taught for the first time how to walk in a giant dress and how to wear gloves etc--substitutes for what used to be the trauma of marriage (leaving home, setting up your first household and for some women, your first moments alone with your husband and/or your first sexual


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:08 PM
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Tune in next week for more of 'ASYNCHRONOUS APOLOGIES THEATER'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:08 PM
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200 we need some sort of bi-directional protocol, clearly


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:10 PM
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196: Sure. But his being fucked up himself doesn't excuse the role he's playing in fucking women over, either.

I'm really not trying to make a "women are the victims' victim" kind of argument here: I'm aware that there guys get victimized on the street as well. And despite what I think you're hearing me say, I'm not saying "pimps are scum." What I'm saying is that the role of pimp, even if performed by the nicest possible guy, is essentially part of the problem, and that if you want to tackle the real problems of prostitution, the johns and pimps (some of whom are women, you know) are the folks to go after.

Pimps may protect women as well as recruit/abuse/exploit them, sure. But if prostitution were decriminalized then the cops could (and should) do it. (And yes, I know that cops often abuse hookers too--and part of why they get away with it is that they have the power to arrest the women.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:14 PM
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To add to what AWB is saying about low-wage jobs, and what soub. is saying about the lack of options for people without credentials. Keep in mind that even a $6.50/hour job at CVS requires an extensive online application these days.

For a hotel housekeeper position at the Marriott, there is a 90-question personality test in addition to the standard where-did-you-go-to-high-school questions asked three different ways so they can trip you up if you are lying about having graduated. The advantage of electronic job applications from an HR perspective is precisely this easy sorting-out.

If you fall off the path early on, or don't have the social/family capital to pick yourself up after some teenage stupidity, you can be really, really stuck in terms of not being able to break into the low-level legit job market.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:15 PM
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Damn, I was on my honeymoon when that stripper thread went down. I'm only about a fifth of the way through it, but it's getting pretty good.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:16 PM
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Whoops, I forgot that theoretically nobody should be getting $6.50/hour any more, because as of July 1 we are up to a $7.15 minimum wage. Woo-hoo.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:17 PM
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Just remember, I'm authorized to send pictures of Heebie's ass to anyone who agrees with me about what's misogynist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:17 PM
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191: I'm not "giving up." I think that the "criminalize only johns/pimps" concept is a less-than-ideal solution for a lot of reasons. But I also don't think that there's any shame in proposing solutions that make at least a stab at dealing with the culture that we have, rather than the culture that you'd like.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:18 PM
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194: I don't disagree with you there. I was just pointing out that a higher general level of education doesn't help with that.

Also, there's always going to be bad work that needs to be distributed somehow. And, while I suppose labor laws could mitigate some of the damage, low-prestige jobs are always going to entail some degree of "status syndrome."


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:20 PM
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there's always going to be bad work that needs to be distributed somehow

I'm gonna sound all Commie here, but surely the ideal solution to this is to require people to clean up after themselves, etc., rather than hiring others to do it for them.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:24 PM
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202: I think we're basically agreeing but misreading each other. Or not, I dunno. But what I was trying to say was that absent major changes (i.e. decriminalization/legalization) pimps are essentially necessary to the way the system works. You can target them all you want, but it won't actually make things better without other changes. I believe they are a symptom rather than a root cause. And because of the way these things work at the street level, if you swept them all up on friday you'd have new ones on monday. They guy in 196 (modeled after an actual pimp, fwiw) is one of the sorts of guys (and girls, yes of course some are women, but not so many) who would fill the vacuum.

I totally agree with you that everyone would be better off without pimps, I'm just saying I believe the only way to do this is by making them irrelevant, not so much by targeted legislation or enforcement. I do think targeting pimps for enforcement could improve things a bit for lots of prostitutes, but it's a bandaid.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:24 PM
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Slightly offtopic, I will add that I've done divorces for people without college educations where I have been shocked at their assets. Some independent maids make a ton of money. It really is shocking.

Do not assume that only college grads make good money.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:25 PM
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209: That would mean that even those crappy jobs would be unavailable, so now the people that would have done them are unemployed.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:28 PM
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211: I hereby retract my 37.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:28 PM
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Having money is partly a function of being good at money. Which a *lot* of college grads aren't. And god knows you don't need a B.A. in order to own and/or run a successful business.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:29 PM
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LB, has anyone ever taken you up on that?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:29 PM
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It is possible to make good money without a degree, of course. But getting the benefits that human beings need is a great deal harder, and, depending on the work, they are often socially degraded in the workplace.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:30 PM
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206: LB, are you sure you want to be hustling heebies ass in this thread?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:33 PM
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212: Ah yes, the Free Market and the favors it does for poor people everywhere.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:34 PM
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215: Nope. Not that I've actually made an offer, just stated what sort of offer I'm authorized to make.

217: See, that's what makes it funny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:34 PM
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Soubz, aren't you the one who's supposed to be defending LB for doing so?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:36 PM
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217:

I'm ashamed to say that I laughed out loud when I first read her comment.

My assistant wanted to know what was so funny. I muttered something about discovery responses....


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:37 PM
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218: So what is your solution? It isn't like the person you hired to mow your lawn would be solving the grand unified theory if only he could be rid of that cursed mower.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:37 PM
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I would be wary of any posts involving Swedish examples. Not that I know anything much about prostitution there, except that it goes on, and every time I looked at the papers last summer, there seemed to be another Lithuanian or Russian pimp convicted for shipping in girls from his homeland.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:38 PM
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What about Pretty Woman?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:40 PM
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223: B hates the Lithuanians--it's a gente thing--and supports the exploitation of such. So not much of an objection.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:41 PM
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222

Likewise, that mathematician that you hired to solve the Grand Unified Theory would actually accomplish something if they spent the afternoon on a lawn mower instead.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:42 PM
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I think maybe part of what Bitch is saying is that, because the upper classes consider service labor to be not within the realm of the do-able (simply cannot fathom doing their own dishes, watering their own lawns, etc.), it relegates service providers to an unthinkable realm of degradation. It's not that one chooses to hire someone to clean the bathroom; it's that one cannot imagine scrubbing one's own poo out of the toilet. The housekeeper is not merely a wonderful convenience who frees up time for the family; she becomes a symbol of the abjected self and an object for disdain, or, even worse, invisibility.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:43 PM
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218: I know you're being sarcastic, but the free market does generate a lot more wealth through increasing efficiencies, and it makes the value of services transparent through pricing. One great thing about this: it becomes possible to broadly tax goods, services and wages, and that larger pile of tax dollars allows us to help the poor out more under the free market.

It's a hell of a lot easier to figure out good methods of taxation and potentially helpful social programs than to figure out a whole new social/economic structure from scratch that could improve things.


Also, I shall be even more mushy and wishy-washy on the main issue of this thread by saying that I believe prostitution should be legalized, but it certainly requires all of the social nets and protections that LB mentions. It would essentially require extensive policing and a UHC coverage that included counseling before it would be plausible as a fully legal enterprise, and it would probably end up expensive enough to police and staff that it would price out the very low end of the market. I guess I'm alright with that, since I already am in a number of other industries.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:44 PM
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227: I can somewhat go along with that, but I don't see how actually getting rid of those jobs helps the people that would be doing them.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:45 PM
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209: By "bad work" I mean undesirable work. Which will always be there, regardless of whether it involves menial labor. Any society is going to have status hierarchies that are reflected in the jobs people do. (I do realize that things are supposed to be different under the dictatorship of the proletariat.)


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:47 PM
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Anecdotally, one of the big issues I had with my ex Max was that he was constantly describing himself as the do-everything single dad who cleans, cooks, mows the lawn, and cares for the kids, but he had a maid who came in on Tuesdays. He would do just about anything to make sure he was out of the house that day, and seemed to have a total aversion to running into her while she was cleaning. She was a symbol of his lack of self-sufficiency, though her presence enabled him to do exclusively luxurious "chores" like baking fresh bread.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:47 PM
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I know people with housekeepers and nannies, but I don't know anyone like that described in 227. I wonder whether this is more or less a caricature. (Or do my acquaintances just not run to the sufficiently snooty?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:48 PM
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Oh, my own personal solution? Universal health care, entitlements for unemployed parents of young children, a minimum wage of say $10, decriminalizing undocumented labor, allowing repetitive labor-type workers to vary their tasks once in a while (there's no reason the janitor can't also do playground duty, or serve food in the cafeteria, or act as a translator or classroom aide on occasion). Treating people like people, rather than like tools.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:51 PM
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227: And I think a lot of that is more due to people being jerks. There are bosses and people who will always make life miserable for those around them. The key is to give the workers options that allow to escape those bosses (making those bosses fail for being jerks), enforce the laws in place to prevent the most egregious behaviors (minimum wage, sexual harrassment, OSHA, etc.), and hopefully push the broader societal attitude that we're all people who deserve the same basic humane treatment.

The last one of those three is the one AWB and B seem to be pushing, but it is by far the hardest. Every society I've run into has petty tyrants, so there is almost an inherent jerk quota in society (though certainly the frequency and severity of the jerkiness varys greatly). It seems nearly impossible to properly instill human decency and respect in anyone but your own children, though it's a perfectly nice goal to keep chipping away at.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:52 PM
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surely the ideal solution to this is to require people to clean up after themselves

They could start with their kitchens.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:52 PM
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It could be a NYC thing, Brock. There are certain very insular communities in which it's normalized to take housekeepers and nannies for granted. When I was in Cleveland, I worked as a gardener for an elderly couple who also had a maid. The maid and I often conversed about how thoughtful and respectful our employers were, and grateful for our services.

But my mom was a housekeeper for several years when I was young, and the people she worked for completely ignored her existence. They paid her not only for cleaning the house, but also for keeping out of sight.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:53 PM
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231: I can kind of sympathize. Back when Nancy was doing full-time childcare for us, every so often I'd be home sick or something, or I'd be home from work at an odd time because I was running an errand, or for whatever reason I'd be around the house while I still needed her to watch the kids, and I did have a tendency to hide from her a bit, because I don't have a set way to deal with "Adult in my house who isn't either family or a guest." It was very hard not to drop whatever I was doing and tell her to sit down while I got her some coffee, and avoiding that led me to avoid her a bit.

Buck never had that problem, but (A) he's a better person than I am, and (B) he worked at home, so he was used to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:55 PM
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I don't see how actually getting rid of those jobs helps the people that would be doing them.

Your point is that there are what, a class of people who are only suited for menial labor, and that if we simply took out our own trash, those people would be completely unable to support themselves? What did that class do before we invented janitors?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:57 PM
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What did that class do before we invented janitors?

Were janitors invented or discovered?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:58 PM
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237: LB is teh oppressor! (LB, come to the Dark Side....)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 1:59 PM
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234 is true. It's the hardest to universalize, but the easiest to actually implement on an individual basis. But yeah, obviously enforcing worker protection laws and holding employers responsible are important. I'd argue that the reason these aren't done more widely, though, comes back to the idea that people in "low" jobs are lucky to have jobs at all, and certainly don't deserve the same basic conditions of employment that we'd expect for ourselves.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:00 PM
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What did that class do before we invented janitors?

They had daughters? They kept slaves?


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:01 PM
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Treating people like people, rather than like tools.

Even the ones who actually are tools?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:02 PM
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242: The class-of-people-that-are-now-only-suited-for-janitorial-work is what I meant.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:02 PM
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LB is teh socially awkward. Luckily, Nancy wasn't. It's nice, she's working locally now that she's not working for us, and she comes over to hang and see the kids occasionally, which gets rid of the awkwardness because when she is a guest, and I'm not doing something else for which I need her to continue with the childcare, I can do the full 'sit, sit, while I get you some coffee' routine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:02 PM
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171

Via Brad Plumer a different view of decriminalization in Sweden.

Reducing demand by targeting customers would seem to inevitably make life harder for women currently working as prostitutes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:05 PM
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243: Now that you mention it, no. Those people should be forced to work as prostitute/janitors.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:11 PM
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49

"... enough so that my sense is that regardless of pay rates, the demand for prostitutes is always going to be much higher than the supply of women who freely choose to be prostitutes. "

This is silly, supply and demand are not independent of price. There is a price at which legal supply and demand will match. Of course employers may try to import illegal workers from abroad rather than pay decent wages but this could be prevented.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:13 PM
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244

There are plenty of other menial jobs, farm labor for example.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:15 PM
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Farm labor is yet another job that used to be highly dignified and independent, but now blows.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:22 PM
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one of the big issues I had with my ex ... do-everything single dad ... but he had a maid who came in on Tuesdays

How could you live with that sort of deception! He probably described himself as a great lover but sent a gigolo in his place, too.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:23 PM
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248: Episode 342 in a continuing series of apologies for hyperbole: Sure, I suppose you could hike the price high enough that demand for prostitutes would drop to the level that the small number of women likely to freely choose the profession would be able to satisfy it. In retrospect, my wording was an entirely inaccurate way to convey the thought that I don't think price alone, without coercion of some sort, is going to have a large effect on the supply of women willing to work in prostitution.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:23 PM
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251: I think his do-everything obsession was one he may have acquired to spend time with working-class Protestant Midwestern me. From what I understand, he has become, in my absence, an unrepentantly rapacious lazy snob. And that's what his friends say.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:28 PM
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244: They were serfs, railroad workers, etc. There is always going to be a segment of society that is going to be doing menial labor. I don't think it is right to look down on them. They provide a needed service just like bankers.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:29 PM
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I look down on bankers.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:30 PM
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Farm labor is yet another job that used to be highly dignified and independent, but now blows.

Are you sure? This sounds awfully noble-savagey to me.

That said, if you look at places like Norway where the effective minimum wage is high, everyone takes their lunch to work with them because going out to eat is hideously expensive. The people who would do that kind of work don't move to Norway, and Norway remains prosperous by the wise use of its oil money.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:32 PM
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Farm labor is yet another job that used to be highly dignified and independent

In some places and at some times, sure.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:32 PM
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Farm labor is yet another job that used to be highly dignified and independent

Are you speaking of the serfs themselves or the landowners to whom they were indebted? Because I wouldn't call the latter "laborers", exactly.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:35 PM
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256: I'm from Kansas. I don't take farm labor lightly or as something "those people" do. Most of my parents' friends have ended up selling their farms to corporations just because it's gotten too hard to make a living as an independent farmer unless you've got a ton in the bank and really fabulous insurance.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:35 PM
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255: You probably don't. We're mostly tall white guys, like presidents and the Celtics teams of the 80s.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:35 PM
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David Grene certainly thought so.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:35 PM
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260: I do! They love to be despised. It's how I keep them wanting me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:41 PM
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260: well that, and the flagellation.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:41 PM
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whups, 263-> 262, not 260


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:42 PM
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Les boys do caberet, it's true.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:43 PM
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258: Homesteaders on the North American frontier were relatively dignified and independent. Sort of. In a very different position from many historic serf and peasant communities, anyway.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:45 PM
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252

"... I don't think price alone, without coercion of some sort, is going to have a large effect on the supply of women willing to work in prostitution."

Really? Of course a large number of women are unwilling to break the law but if prostitution was legal and safe I expect the supply would expand rapidly as the price increased. You don't think there would be an ample supply at say $240000/year?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:46 PM
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267: I know quite a few people who've turned down "respectable" jobs for that sort of money, so maybe not.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:48 PM
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267: Are you propositioning me?!?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:49 PM
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268: Nevertheless, Shearer is probably right on that particular point.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:50 PM
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No kidding Shearer is right.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:53 PM
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Seriously, I don't think so, or not longterm. (That is, probably a significant effect on the number of women willing to give it a whirl once or twice, but not on the number of women willing to settle down and happily make a career out of it.)

I could be wrong, but given that my data is 'seems to me' and so's yours, we're on an equal footing here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:53 PM
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It's easy to be dignified and independent when you are able to completely displace your predecessors.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:57 PM
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270/271: maybe. We shouldn't underestimate the power of social pressure though. We may be talking 240k/year and all but shunned.

But like LB says, it's pretty useless speculation.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:58 PM
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I'm not sure of the facts here, but aren't jobs as strippers (for another sex-industry job that's legal and supposed to be pretty safe) very easy to get hired for, despite being much higher paying than alternatives available to suitable candidates? I've got the impression that demand for strippers outpaces supply.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:58 PM
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I would be a prostitute for 240000 a year, but then all my customers would be like heebie. "Tell me how great my ass is! I have a great ass, don't I!"


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 2:59 PM
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275: Exactly. Stripping pays pretty well too. I doubt many are making $240k/year of course (although 6 figures isn't unheard of). But there are millions of women who could, say, double their salaries by doing that instead.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:01 PM
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My kind pays $240,000 regularly to have our asses fawned over.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:02 PM
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It's astounding how many of my internet comments are driven by "seems so to me", but that's the joy of internet commenting. But anyway, perhaps you haven't hung out in certain clubs enough. You haven't missed much, but money does seem to influence behavior somewhat.

Anyway: if there is a significant increase in the number of women willing to try it out for a couple of months or a year, but they don't stick in the profession, then that will still represent a significant increase in the supply of prostitutes, escorts, what have you. It's the total number of "person nights" or whatever that matters, not the total number of people doing it for a career.

It raises an interesting question, though: do you think there is any price at which this becomes a valid choice, or is the act itself just so corrupting that it cannot be freely chosen? Not sure if you mean that, but if you did then it would almost seem to be a secularized notion of sin. (Nothing wrong with that, lots of secular ethics is).


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:02 PM
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I think 275 raises an interesting point. There are instances where clearly the price is being held below the market-clearing price. I can believe that strippers would be a case. I have the vague impression that the same thing is true for nurses: there have been nursing shortages for something like 50 years, and yet somehow this doesn't translate into skyrocketing nursing salaries.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:03 PM
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279: I at least was suggesting that it's not just a matter of price. If the social stigma is harsh enough, I'd suspect many people wouldn't consider it for any sort of plausible income.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:05 PM
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For you, heebie, I'd do it for 239995. All the others of your kind have to pay full price, though.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:05 PM
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275: I would expect demand for web-based strippers to be fairly high, and for those jobs to be lower-paying. My impression has always been that there's a fairly high rate of turnover in more traditional stripper jobs or higher-status sex work like escorting, with some treating the work as transitional and a smaller subset trapped in it. I'd expect Shearer's 240K prostitute jobs to follow a similar pattern, but this doesn't really bespeak a shortage of supply per se.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:05 PM
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279 to 272.

275 and 277 -- I think stripping varies a ton in pay, class, working conditions. Jobs at the high end places that lead to stories of high wages are probably a lot harder to break in to than low end ones.

Anyway, agreed that women if free of outside coercion would demand a very high compensating differential for this kind of work.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:06 PM
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otoh, in such a monetarily obsessed culture as the USA, perhaps a high enough salary could wash away most of the social stigma.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:06 PM
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285: Not likely. The virgin/whore complex trumps money.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:07 PM
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280: RNs do extremely well, and I believe their salaries have increased quite a bit. Don't have time to look up the data now though.

Come to think of it, I don't have time to comment at all now. What am I doing here?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:07 PM
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284: it does vary a lot, and there is a definite heirarch. but that doesn't change my claim that an awful lot of women could double the salary they have right now by doing it. Some of them are starting out at lower salaries than others, of course.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:07 PM
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280: For strippers, my guess is that there's a point where the demand curve gets really really (damn, do I mean steep or flat. Anyway, where raising the price doesn't get you much more supply at all.) I'd bet that the number of women who will strip for, say, 80K a year isn't a whole lot smaller than the number of women who will strip for 160K. If raising the price doesn't effectively increase supply, within reasonable limits, why do it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:08 PM
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286: well it obviously wouldn't play in a big part of the country. anyway, i don't think it would really work but put it out there.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:09 PM
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262: I was just being very literal and assuming that you weren't 6'2". Those damn people really are tall though. The white guys in MBA classes may not particularly handsome, but they've got the height going for them.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:10 PM
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It raises an interesting question, though: do you think there is any price at which this becomes a valid choice, or is the act itself just so corrupting that it cannot be freely chosen?

I'm not following you. I'm not saying that Woman X, who works as a prostitute, is making a coerced choice because she only earns 25K per year, while Woman Y is making an uncoerced choice because she earns 250K. I'm making a guess that most women, if they perceived themselves as having other acceptable choices, wouldn't work as prostitutes regardless of the pay.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:11 PM
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290: Sorry, I didn't mean to be harsh about it. I just think that too much of sexual pleasure is tied up with the complex for money to alter the fundamentals of the equation, is all.

292: I think the question was if there's a level at which you'd be less suspicious that "choice" represented a form of coercion by person or circumstance.

I think it's plausible that pay could ameliorate the low status nature of the work to some extent -- in fact I think it's clear that it does, in that there are different gradations in sex work and some professions that clearly regard themselves as higher-status than others -- but only to an extent.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:17 PM
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Oh, probably, but I have no idea empirically what that level would be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:23 PM
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It does vary a lot, and there is a definite heirarch. but that doesn't change my claim that an awful lot of women could double the salary they have right now by doing it. Some of them are starting out at lower salaries than others, of course.

A large number of Unfogged commenters could probaby double their salary by getting management consulting or lawyering jobs. It's no surprise that they don't; these jobs have a lot of well-known downsides. As does stripping.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:27 PM
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For someone with the requisite abilities in either case (clever and verbal on the one hand, young and pretty on the other) it's my impression that it's a lot easier to walk into a job stripping. Not so much with the three years of strip school and then having to pass the Pole.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:32 PM
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295: Which was my point, really, and LB's as I understand it. Also, 296.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:35 PM
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296

This reflects the relative weakness of the stripper's guild as compared to the lawyer's guild. In fairness to the lawyer's guild the bad effects of incompetence are greater for lawyers. No great harm is done by giving an incompetent stripper a trial.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:45 PM
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I'd bet that the number of women who will strip for, say, 80K a year isn't a whole lot smaller than the number of women who will strip for 160K.

I think you are really kidding yourself about that. There are lots and lots of people, many of whom are women, who find themselves in very dire financial straights. I don't think either of those are the numbers, though. And, IIRC, strippers are independent contractors who end up making what they can make. And the specific number available is likely to be vary a lot by individual.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:46 PM
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You can walk right out of college (or grad school, even) into a management consulting job, and lots of people here are happy to continue in 5-year Ph.D. programs when they could switch to law school, finish earlier, and quickly come out ahead.

Also, I suspect that of the people who are willing to give stripping a shot, they'd probably be willing to stick with it a lot longer for 160k a year than for 80k.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 3:54 PM
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I've lost track of what we're arguing here. Yes, people are generally price sensitive, and will generally be more likely to take a job if it pays better. Yes, often people take a lower paying job over a higher paying job because they find the lower paying job more attractive on other metrics(academia rather than lawyering, say). I don't think anyone's going to disagree so far here.

The claim I'm making that I'd expect people to either agree or disagree with is that sex work is unattractive enough to most women that they're highly price insensitive to salaries for sex work; once you get outside the fairly small population of women for whom it's not unattractive work, you're going to have to raise the salaries a ridiculous amount to attract significantly more women to the work. I don't have empirical data for this, it's all guessing.

Anyone who wants to disagree with this on straight empirical grounds, that's good, and you might be right. But I'm not following the arguments being made, mostly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:03 PM
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The term you're looking for, LB, back in 280, is "inelastic". Supply is inelastic -- it doesn't move very much in response to price changes.

If prostitutes made $240,000 a year, I think the stigma would disappear within 20 years. Is there a job that pays > $200,000 a year that isn't a high status job?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:23 PM
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No one seems to have mentioned that Ron Charles's daughter probably got bored with hearing Dad read HP in a monotone somnambulatory tone. This is why my students like the poems I like, because I read them well and with passion. When they can sense I'm just going through the motions, even if I'm putting forth effort, they won't like it either.

Reading things aloud is a difficult skill that takes a lot of practice. Kids, especially, learn to love the books you read to them when you do it as if you care about those books. Kids will love the things you love because they want you to use that same excited voice when they hear to talk to and about them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:29 PM
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Shit, wrong thread. Sorry.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:30 PM
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If prostitutes made $240,000 a year, I think the stigma would disappear within 20 years. Is there a job that pays > $200,000 a year that isn't a high status job?

Personal injury lawyer? Fast-food franchise owner? And of course, if you made $240k a year it wouldn't be by having sex with construction workers and truck drivers, which couldn't help but reduce the stigma a bit.

As for 301, yeah, I went off into the weeds there a bit. But it's the supply curve being flat (I think, quantity is on the Y axis and price is on the Y, right?), and while I agree that there are probably a lot of people who wouldn't be strippers for any amount of money, I see no reason to expect that turnover wouldn't decrease or that you might see more people saying "I'm not a stripper, I'm a dancer!"


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:31 PM
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302: I think you could make a good argument that there are plenty of jobs that pay more than $200,000 a year which aren't high status jobs (contractor, small business owner of unglamorous kinds of business, some kinds on consultant work, probably others), but certainly none of them are low status jobs.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:34 PM
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Arguably there are some existing perspectives on the correlation between money and status in sex work. $2000 an hour escorts are arguably neither high- nor low-status.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:40 PM
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Personal injury lawyer I'll concede, but for the others, do contractors or small business owners actually net $200,000 a year?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:47 PM
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How much do massage therapists (the legit kind, not the "happy ending" kind) make per year? The jobs seem like they'd have similar basic economics.

I think that you could be a fairly reasonably priced prostitute and make a bundle of cash if you could bill 40 hours a week, and either were your own boss or had a good arrangement with your employer. My impression is that masseuses in my neck of the woods cost >$80 per hour, which thunks you solidly into upper-class incomes if you're billing 40 hours a week, but I suspect that it's tough to fill up all your time-slots. Obviously, paying for the space is going to be a big overhead as well.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:49 PM
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308: Yes, quite often they do. Landlords, too.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:49 PM
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308: I'm guessing about contractors, but I would guess that the top-end ones do (admittedly, those are probably the ones who are more like small business owners than "guys on a construction site."). Certainly some small business owners do. Obviously, lots don't -- which is probably part of the reason why it's not as high-status a job as one might expect.


Posted by: Epoch | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:51 PM
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308: sure, not all of them of course, but it's not implausible. There aren't a lot of jobs with $200+k salaries, but I'd guess more people netting $200+k a year aren't salaried, than are. I've met a couple of real estate agents who do this well, for another example.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:52 PM
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I think 308 probably nails it. If you tell people you're a neurosurgeon, they assume you make a mid 6-figures salary. If you tell them you're a small business owner, they probably don't.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:54 PM
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309: LMTs have a hard time working 40 hours per week, however. It's really hard on the body. Those that I know usually work 15-20 hours per week. And most of them work for salons as independent contractors, with the salon charging them rent and such. But, certainly, the legit ones don't have the downsides of prostitution.


Posted by: Roamsedge | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 4:56 PM
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The massage therapists I know didn't take home anything close to 100k a year, much less 200k. I'd think it'd be even harder to bill 40 hours a week as a prostitute, and for the amount of money we are talking about here there'd be a lot of non-billing overhead; at a minimum in the gym and at the beauty salon.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:03 PM
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OMG, I seriously hate you people.

Of course a large number of women are unwilling to break the law but if prostitution was legal and safe I expect the supply would expand rapidly as the price increased. You don't think there would be an ample supply at say $240000/year?

This is *not* right. First, because the *only* disincentive to prostitution is *not* price or illegality--and no, it also isn't "just" social inhibition, either. Try to imagine yourself, Mr. Shearer, sucking the dicks of complete strangers--it's legal and safe! Why aren't you doing it? (Presuming, of course, that you're neither gay nor hanging out in parks or seedy public restrooms.)

Second, because assuming that there are plenty of women willing to prostitute themselves for $240k doesn't mean shit. There are plenty of women willing to prostitute themselves for $10 right now--and yet women are still forced or tricked into prostitution all the time. What you're *probably* trying to say is that if women could actually control the conditions under which they prostitute themselves--which would be much easier if prostitution were safe and legal--they'd charge a hell of a lot more than $10/blow job. Which no fucking doubt many of them would. But inasmuch as WOMEN ARE NOT A COMMODITY, no: the "supply" of prostitutes would not increase to meet the "demand" of men except under certain conditions. The most important of which is obvious: as long as men can earn so much more than women that they can afford to pay $10 for a blow job or $240k for whatthefuckever, women will "choose" to provide said blowjobs or whatthefuckevers because they don't have the earning power of men in other areas.

Why not? In large part because there are "respectable" men who fail to realize that discussing women as commodities and men as value-neutral consumers presumes that women are somehow less human than men.

These are the conditions under which 270 and 271 are agreeing with Shearer, just in case you guys didn't happen to notice.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:03 PM
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You don't think that at $240,000/year there would be women who were working as bankers or lawyers or doctors would say "fuck it, I'm going to go be a hooker?"


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:09 PM
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316: I think you already know that the commodity he's talking about is sex, not women.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:13 PM
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Would you? Let's assume that to earn that much you have to suck an average of five cocks/day, that (in keeping with the kind of elementary economics we're dealing with here) you suck the cocks of any guy who has the money, that you have to provide service with a smile, and that of course you have to also put in the time most business owners put in to things like bookkeeping and so forth. You also, of course, have to "maintain" the quality of your "goods," which means a great deal of time and energy spent on shit like makeup, hair styling, shopping for clothes, manicures--all that "perfect girlfriend" crap. And of course you have to do all this stuff with an eye not towards what you, personally, like but rather towards what market you're "serving": if the punters want you to wear stilettos, baby, you gotta wear stilettos. You also need to be "on call" pretty much 24/7, unless you're part of a group--but even then, of course, there will be customers who will want a particular girl on particular occasions, so you gotta be flexible.

Would you want to basically play Barbie most of the time if you could, instead, earn roughly the same amount of money doing something that was actually interesting and actually allowed you to think of yourself as a person rather than a product?

The only reason guys (and women, to be fair) say shit like, "I'd do it!" is because they think of sex as basically fun. Which it is--when you're doing it because you want to.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:21 PM
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There is a price at which I would be more than happy to suck the dick of a complete stranger. I'm not sure what that or other implausible hypotheticals have to do with appropriate public policy toward prostitution.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:22 PM
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Some of the comments on this thread are making me considerably more sympathetic to what I've always considered the irritating economist bleat about supply and demand.

If you could make $240k a year giving blowjobs, more people would do it.

If you reduce the demand for prostitution, you are not going to magically make prostitutes better off (although there will be some gains due to fewer people falling into traps).

But to be true to my ideological roots, I should also point out that sex work is hardly a *simple* matter of supply and demand. The fact of the matter is, not every imaginable cash transaction is really available in practice. The exchange of any human service for cash is considerably facilitated by social narratives that provide justification for said exchange. This is why it's considered honorable to put on a suit and slave away in an office building for money, but not OK to sell your kidneys for cash. And yup, there are long-standing social narratives to facilitate the exploitation of women in particular -- in short, feminism exists for a reason.

But you can't ignore supply and demand (I feel dirty just typing this out).


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:24 PM
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Would you want to basically play Barbie most of the time if you could, instead, earn roughly the same amount of money doing something that was actually interesting and actually allowed you to think of yourself as a person rather than a product?

Not in a million years. Which means that the answer to 317 is not only no, but hell no.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:27 PM
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319 is right. Back when I used to feel like I had to tolerate men because of what they were shelling out for dinner/events/etc., I internalized that it meant I also had to submit to things sexually, wear certain clothes, etc. And it's deeply, deeply depressing, especially the accumulated weight of it. The higher the price, the more degrading the shit you're supposed to eat will be. $250,000 dollars for some Richard Gere-lookin' guy to sex me up nice in a hotel room and encourage me to be myself and live out my dreams? Sure. But that's not how commodification of women works.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:28 PM
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Stripping pays pretty well too. I doubt many are making $240k/year of course (although 6 figures isn't unheard of). But there are millions of women who could, say, double their salaries by doing that instead.

This is a popular misconception, based on how much guys think they're paying to strippers. But my understanding is that most strippers pay the bar owner to work there, and are "freelancers"--which means that not only is a big chunk of those tips going to the bar, rather than the girl, but also that they've gotta take out taxes and all that other shit. Plus business expenses like, oh, say, plastic surgery. I don't think most strippers do much better than good waitresses--and they sure as shit can't do the job for as long.

316: No, it's not sex. You can buy sex toys if what you want is an orgasm. And I notice we're discussing whether *women* doctors or bankers would be willing to be prostitutes instead--not whether men would.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:28 PM
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I haven't read most of the thread, but just by way of info, some quick googling reveals that, for example, the English Courtesan charges around $5000 for two days and the woman who called herself "the educated escort" (and was a darling of the early online media) was charging $12,000 per day, with a two day minimum, before she retired. But to make that kind of money, I expect that you have to be both naturally beautiful and intelligent, and either educated or very gifted at faking it, so there aren't many people who could do it, even if they wanted to.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:30 PM
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I guess I should add, bc someone will say "Obviously AWB is a special case of self-loathing and paranoia!" that I have always been very confident, very happy with myself, and very intelligent. I was not raised to sell myself to men. These were expectations placed on me, very subtly, by the men themselves to the point that I started to understand this is what is expected on a date in New York.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:31 PM
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325: Which is kind of the point. There's a huge difference between being willing to do something unpleasant and degrading for a short time in exchange for life-changing money and the reality of prostitution as a way of making a living over an extended period.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:33 PM
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324.2: So some people can provide the desired commodity and others can't. Same goes for just about any kind of remunerative labor.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:35 PM
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There is a price at which I would be more than happy to suck the dick of a complete stranger.

Sure. What is the price at which you'd be more than happy to do it day in and day out as a full-time job?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:36 PM
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329: Precisely my point.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:37 PM
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324: fwiw, most of those I know of did a lot better than they would waitressing. The kicker is, as you note, how long you can do it for. I don't think I have many misconceptions about the industry, but I could be wrong of course. My claim is bascially that there are many women who could ditch a 20-30k/year secretarial job for a 40-60k/year dancing gig (if they were willing to push it hard). Of course if they all showed up one day it would change the market.

On the other hand, we have to be careful lumping waitresses together or strippers together. Theres a big difference between slinging hash and coffee in a truck stop and pulling $100 tips at a trendy wine-bar, just like there is a big difference dancing on the A-list circuit and being a regular fri-sat girl at some local dive. I'm out of touch, now, but as I've been told porn is much more integrated with dancing circuits now, with many recognizable pornstars touring the better circuit clubs, and I don't know what that does to rates, etc.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:39 PM
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I'm not even sure what the disagreement is here. Would more people be escorts if it paid more than it does? Of course. Would more people do it in the same numbers as they would other jobs that aren't as harmful or as stigmatized? Of course not.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:40 PM
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328 is honestly beneath contempt. Of course it's merely a concidence that women are the ones who sell sex--after all, we all know that men can't get enough, and women don't really want it, and that all men are straight. So there's no market for male prostitutes, but the market for women hookers is potentially infinite!

And this has *nothing* to do with thinking of women as things rather than people.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:40 PM
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actually, there's a pretty good market for male hookers. but you're basically on target.

this whole thread has been a mess; lots of basic agreement but weakly articulated conflated issues, i think (i'm to blame for some of that)


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:43 PM
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333: there's no market for male prostitutes?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:43 PM
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330: Right, I was still steaming from Shearer's dumbassery upthread.

332: I think the disagreement is in your second rhetorical question. It seems to me that there are people arguing that people--oops, "women"--would be happy to quit professional jobs to become hookers if only hooking were legal and destigmatized. What I'm arguing (Twisty-like) is that the only way to properly conceive of prostitution as "destigmatized" is to imagine a world in which women weren't assumed to be the primary sexworkers. Which so far no one in this thread is actually doing.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:45 PM
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335: Not in this thread, apparently. At least, not among the guys who are arguing that prostitution is a simple question of economics.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:46 PM
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333: No one is assuming any of those things. Straight women and gay men want a different commodity, which women can't provide.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:48 PM
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a mouth is a mouth is a mouth is a mouth

where are the chicago schoolers arguing for fungibility of gender as a sex-trade asset?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:49 PM
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there are "respectable" men who fail to realize that discussing women as commodities and men as value-neutral consumers presumes that women are somehow less human than men.

Since every neoclassical economics discussion of any labor market at all (from prostitution to investment banking) discusses all labor effort sold into that market (by men, women, or anybody else) as a commodity, there must be a lot of presuming going on. Capitalism commodifies stuff, capitalist labor markets treat labor as a commodity.

women will "choose" to provide said blowjobs or whatthefuckevers because they don't have the earning power of men in other areas.

I'd actually say that the more earning power women have in other areas, the more they will demand to do sex work, and the fewer men will be able to afford it. In fact, absent some kind of intervention the price of sex work going up presumes sort of the opposite of what you're saying -- that women's rights, power, and earnings have gone up elsewhere.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:50 PM
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whoops, pwned by absolutely everybody. That's what happens when you get distracted and wait to post.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:51 PM
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Equality for robotic sex workers!

337: yeah, not gonna read it to find out. Sifu Tweety and sex work threads: happily divorced since several months ago.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:51 PM
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338: I thought you said the commodity was sex, not women.

I'd actually say that the more earning power women have in other areas, the more they will demand to do sex work, and the fewer men will be able to afford it.

Exactly. Because if women have other options, they aren't going to be willing to suck cock in a buyer's market. Any more than you (presumably) are right now.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:52 PM
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342.2: Yeah, well, you're smarter than I am.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:53 PM
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344: clever, our sifu, innit?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:54 PM
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343: Saying that only a woman can provide this particular good is rather different from allowing that the woman's whole person is commodified.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 5:57 PM
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Indeed. Because the latter is blunt, and the former is a convenient euphemism that allows you to pretend that sexual difference is merely contingent.

I notice you're still assuming that men are the "demand" side of the sexual exchange. Funny, that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:01 PM
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346: "This particular good" isn't just a warm wet body part, it's a simalacrum of intimacy that requires a whole bunch of cultural stuff to work.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:03 PM
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307 to 317.

316: God, do I know why Sifu has divorced himself from these threads. I'd love just fucking once for one of these to elapse without a patronizing tirade -- from people who should know better -- about how so-and-so is talking about "women as a commodity." If we were talking about trafficking in terms of supply and demand, that would make some sense.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:06 PM
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Well, there has to be some excess demand somewhere, or the price is zero. How many lesbian prostitutes are there for other lesbian women, vs. gay male prostitutes for gay men? Prostitution is not just sex but a particular kind of sex (commodified, commercial, explicitly transactional, whatever) and it seems pretty clear that men want it more than women.

What it all comes down to is the belief that sex is sacred, it's violative of personhood and human dignity to commodify it in any way, etc. I think that's the assumption underlying a lot of the discussion in the thread. Defensible belief, too.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:06 PM
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Or actually: sex --> intimacy --> personhood --> cannot alienate your personhood for money or you scar your soul.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:08 PM
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What does "commodity" mean here? Fungible? Most people are fungible in most areas of life, no?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:08 PM
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352: Most people suck, yes.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:10 PM
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commodity = can be traded off for money, value can by expressed in monetary terms. That's why I asked if there was any price that made prostitution "OK". Not to, like, find the price, but because a "no" answer indicates that the basic issue is a spiritual problem with commodifying sex at all. So there is no set of regulations or working conditions that makes prostitution OK, it's not really a utilitarian policy question.

The belief that the individual soul has infinite value, dignity, and worth eventually gives rise to the belief that there are certain things that should never be alienated for money.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:14 PM
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347: It's a basic assumption of economics that you can abstract the labor, to some degree, from the person performing it. This came up in the thread about strippers: someone mentioned that stripping is similar to other jobs that exploit emotional labor, and which are, as such, alienating; it's a problem with the idea of labor that effects all sorts of work besides sex work. IIRC, you didn't bother to explain why stripping (or prostitution) is qualitatively different in this respect.

347.2. Fine. Gay women demand this particular commodity, too.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:18 PM
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The belief that the individual soul has infinite value, dignity, and worth eventually gives rise to the belief that there are certain things that should never be alienated for money.

The exposition of which being the world's second oldest profession.

NTTAWWI


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:18 PM
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Prostitution is not just sex but a particular kind of sex (commodified

Exactly.

DS, I honestly think that being patronizing is less objectionable than talking about other people as if they were somehow divisible into seller and object to be sold.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:19 PM
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354: Well, sure. I happen to think it's possible to acknowledge the practical complications with commodifying sex (which are relatively obvious to anyone with a litle imagination, or exposure to people who have done it, or both) without crossing into blanket condemnation of commodifying sex (which evidently hasn't worked out all that well for the people involved), and without being sloppy about other peoples' definition of terms.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:20 PM
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352, 354: Is selling, say, your blood essentially the same to you as doing manual labor? Or is there a difference, in your minds, between things that you do *with* your body and passively letting things be done *to* and *inside* your body?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:22 PM
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357: And I honestly think you're being deliberately obtuse. But I've gotta run, so... whatever. I'll leave it there for now.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:22 PM
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without being sloppy about other peoples' definition of terms

I realize you've run off, but if anyone else can show me where people have defined "sex as commodity" as anything other than "women" in this thread, please do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:24 PM
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359: Friends of mine used to sell their blood all the time. They also signed up for medical testing. I don't see much difference between that and selling labor.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:24 PM
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there's a question too: can a relationship mediated by money ever transcend commodification? Under what circumstances? This comes up in a much less extreme form in other professional situations besides prostitution.

Money's a slippery and complicated thing. People are never objects and their humanity comes out, one way or another. Does money always corrupt the way that happens?

Don't have an answer really.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:24 PM
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361: people talked a lot about male prostitution in this thread, no?

"Boogie Nights" is a good movie depicting a rather thoroughly commodified male actor.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:26 PM
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364.1: Yes, but not specifically in regards to the question of "if "it" only paid enough, [women] would quit their banking jobs."

362: Do you see *any* difference? Did they do those things as their primary job, or merely as an occasional source of a little bit of extra money? Would they continue to do those things if they could do something else that paid the same amount of money? And why weren't you doing it?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:30 PM
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RMcMP referred to gay male prostitutes upthread somewhere. I didn't see anyone deny the existence of a market for male prostitutes. Which I think show that what's being actually being commodified is male sexual desire, and the assumption of sex workers being female is just the flip side of assuming most men are straight, with a side order of assuming that gay men incredibly promiscuous leaving less need for gay men to pay.

I stand ready to be corrected by even the assertion of moderate numbers of women paying for sex work.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:30 PM
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359: is there a difference between picking up garbage on the streets and picking up garbage in someone's home? between cleaning a sewer and cleaning a toilet? between cleaning your toilet and cleaning someone else's toilet? do most cleaning jobs suck? is it a coincidence that most cleaning jobs are held by women? who would be better off if it was illegal to hire someone to clean your home?

The autistic people who can't see how social values shape supply and demand are annoying... but that doesn't mean that social ills can be cured simply by insisting on the right values.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:31 PM
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Bitchy rhetorical question: how much would I have to pay you guys not to engage in arguments about whether or not women would be "willing" to do sex work under the proper market conditions?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:31 PM
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354: If I decide to marry woman A rather than woman B because my lifetime access to money will be greater with woman A, have I turned both into commodities? (Serious question.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:32 PM
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what's being actually being commodified is male sexual desire

Which is why people are paying men not to have sex. Oh, wait.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:32 PM
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I stand ready to be corrected by even the assertion of moderate numbers of women paying for sex work.

The partriarchy strikes again.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:33 PM
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365: Some of them did it quite regularly. There is a limit to how much you can do it so you can't exactly make a living out of it. I didn't do it because with the asthma medication I took I was disqualified.

If the option was sit in a chair for an hour and give blood for $40 or dig a ditch for an hour for $40 I am damn well sitting my ass in the chair.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:34 PM
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369: You're commodifying yourself, in that case, I should think. At least assuming that by "access to money" you mean "woman A earns more than woman B," rather than "woman A is more willing to stay home and do domestic labor for free."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:34 PM
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372: What if the option is ditch-digging vs. sucking cock?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:35 PM
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Ugh. I wondered if there was a word analagous to commidity for the demand side of the transaction rather than the supply side, but couldn't come up with one. But I stand by my assertion that the sex trade isn't driven by women being on the selling end, but men being on the buying end.

But women quitting their banking jobs to be prostitutes was idiocy.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:36 PM
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I stand by my assertion that the sex trade isn't driven by women being on the selling end, but men being on the buying end.

I think this isn't substantively different from what I'm saying; that is, men's being on the buying end has to do with their seeing other people (women, gay men) as things they can purchase. And this in turn has to do with men (as a class, not every individual) having economic options that women (as a class) and gay men (possibly as a class, certainly in a number of individual situations--and I'm sure there are straight guys who are "gay" prostitutes as well) lack.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:41 PM
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374: You would have to pay me more to suck cock then to dig ditches, but I am straight so sucking cock doesn't really appeal to me. There is definitely a price at which I would suck cock, it would however be pretty high.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:42 PM
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377: Now we're getting somewhere. So sucking cock *isn't* properly analagous to digging ditches; neither of them "particularly appeal" to you, but you'd be willing to do the latter for a lot less than you'd be willing to do the former.

Is there a price at which you'd do it as a full-time job? Keep in mind that your straightness is irrelevant--we're not asking you to *like* it, we're just asking you to *sell* it. And a lot of prostitutes are lesbians, actually.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:45 PM
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I am straight so sucking cock doesn't really appeal to me

Forgot to say above that you still seem to be assuming that for a straight woman "sucking cock" in the abstract is appealing--as opposed to sucking the cock of a *particular man* whom one *particularly likes*.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:46 PM
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368: the point of my posts 350-51 is that there's a category error going on here. You seem to think that people are never truly "willing" to do certain things that violate their dignity. Presumably you think prostitution does violate dignity in that way. This differs from a prediction about what people will in fact do under certain circumstances. I'm quite sure that if you raised the price of male prostitution sufficiently high, more men would do it for a living. Would they be "willing", or would they be alienated from themselves in some way that renders the concept of will no longer very meaningful?

The definition of doing something "willingly" or "freely" is totally value-laden. It's a moral concept.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:46 PM
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I think this isn't substantively different from what I'm saying; that is, men's being on the buying end has to do with their seeing other people (women, gay men) as things they can purchase.

Sure, yes, that's true, if by "other people" you mean "other people's sexuality".

And this in turn has to do with men (as a class, not every individual) having economic options that women (as a class) and gay men (possibly as a class, certainly in a number of individual situations--and I'm sure there are straight guys who are "gay" prostitutes as well) lack.

Whoa whoa whoa, I had no idea you were going this far into saying that the number of prostitutes is the result of supply rather than demand.

I'll say no more in this thread, except to remind us all that men who interact with either strippers or prostitutes do not always have misogyny or contempt or vanity in their hearts, not even CLOSE to always.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:47 PM
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I am sure there is a price at which I would do it as a full time job. The straightness is relevant only in so far that you would have to pay me less to be a heterosexual prostitute than a homosexual prostitute. Both are more then digging ditches. I would however sell blood for less then digging ditches.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:48 PM
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Forgot to say above that you still seem to be assuming that for a straight woman "sucking cock" in the abstract is appealing--as opposed to sucking the cock of a *particular man* whom one *particularly likes*.

I think I would become a full-time prostitute to a female clientele for less money than I would require to be a full-time prostitute to a male clientele.

If nothing else it would provide me with valuable skills for my personal life.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:49 PM
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Remove "I think" from 383, and replace "less money" with "a lot less money". Why must I equivocate so.

It would probably screw up my interactions with girlfriends, of course, but I can't quite imagine the sequence of events through which that would happen.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:50 PM
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376: this is actually just a pure economics argument -- the cost of a "resource" is determined by alternative uses it can be put to. Workers with more options enjoy better outcomes. More women are sex workers because more women are poor.

I feel compelled to point out that there are sufficiently many poor men and rich women in the world, and sufficiently few examples of the "commoditization of the female sexual appetite" or whatever, that this argument seems unlikely to explain most of the gender differences in sex work.

Better me than Shearer.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:52 PM
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380: Heh, I take it that you're not willing to sell your right to spout off for any price. Good for you.

I am sure that there are people who are "willing" to violate their dignity. What I am saying is that those people are individuals--not "women" as a group. And that therefore any conversation about whether raising the price of prostitution would mean that at some point "women" would "supply" sex in preference to *any other job that would pay them enough to live decently* inherently implies that you are seeing "women" as a commodity, rather than as people, and ignores the fact that the *primary* reason prostitution is anything other than a very rare job--maybe something like being a tiger trainer, I dunno--is because women don't have the economic power that men do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:52 PM
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380 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:54 PM
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to remind us all that men who interact with either strippers or prostitutes do not always have misogyny or contempt or vanity in their hearts, not even CLOSE to always.

OMG. At what point will people realize that talking about the misogyny inherent in certain social interactions is not the same as accusing individuals of being misogynists, one, and two, that making blanket statements about being completely free of misogyny is ridiculous? For fuck's sake, *I'm* misogynist sometimes. I hate trophy wives, for instance. I'm capable of seeing that the fact of their being trophy wives (and for that matter, my hating them) has everything to do with the way that women are treated as objects, but I hate them anyway.

Butch, up, boys. If I can admit this shit, you should be able to as well.

Anyway. This thread has gone well beyond pissing me off beyond belief, and my kid wants some attention, so I'm going to go respond to him rather than responding to all of you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:56 PM
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at some point "women" would "supply" sex in preference to *any other job that would pay them enough to live decently*

"Enough to live decently" is not a well-defined amount.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 6:58 PM
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OMG. At what point will people realize that talking about the misogyny inherent in certain social interactions is not the same as accusing individuals of being misogynists, one

My whole argument with LB in the earlier stripper thread was that she seemed to be not differentiating these two ideas. I would say "This guy is not necessarily feeling superior to the woman in any way when he buys a lap dance from her", and she would say "Yes he is, because otherwise he couldn't see her as a commodity".

What you're saying makes sense.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:21 PM
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God, you people are all fucking nuts. Whoever upthread said that women who were doctors or lawyers or bankers would quit their jobs to be strippers if they could make $240--what the fuck? Uh, if you're a lawyer, after a few years working at a big-city firm you'd be making more than that. You think people just go for whatever makes the most money? You don't think that people choose their careers because they have interest (however small, and sometimes overpowered by frustration) of doing what they do? I think that reflects an awfully low view of women.

Every time I briefly contemplate prostitution, I imagine the portion of the interchange where we bargain about how much it costs to have sex with me/receive a blowjob from me/etc and realize that that's the kind of thing I could never bargain on.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:22 PM
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Whoever upthread said that women who were doctors or lawyers or bankers would quit their jobs to be strippers if they could make $240--what the fuck? Uh, if you're a lawyer, after a few years working at a big-city firm you'd be making more than that. You think people just go for whatever makes the most money? You don't think that people choose their careers because they have interest (however small, and sometimes overpowered by frustration) of doing what they do? I think that reflects an awfully low view of women.

"women" s/b "people"

I think a lot of us are justified in getting defensive when what is basically a misanthropic statement is construed as being misogynist instead.

I agree with your comment.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:24 PM
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B, I talk about women in 317 because you talk about women in 316. LB was arguing that higher pay would not attract more women.

Every lawyer makes 240,000 a year? Any lawyer who wants to can get a job at a big-city law firm at will? It's that easy? I'm hanging around with the wrong group of people, apparently. Everyone else in the country seems to be making 240,000 a year.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:31 PM
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Since I'm not the worldly cosmopolitan that m. leblanc is, I spent some time familiarizing myself with the kinds of salaries the members of the ruling class makes these days. Fuck, you people make a lot of money.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:54 PM
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390: I was being repetitive in that thread because I didn't think I was getting my point across. "Feeling superior" is not what I was talking about. "Lacking empathy" is. I didn't make the point successfully last time, which is why I alluded to the prior thread rather than repeating myself, but here goes again.

What gives me the creeps about people who purchase sex, whether lap dances or prostitutes, is that having a real live breathing woman participating is important or porn and masturbation would be just as satisfying, but what's actually going on inside her head is a matter of complete indifference to him or the transaction wouldn't work (anyone who says "No, no, johns and men in strip clubs really believe the women want them," please. If they were remotely interested in what was actually going on in her head, they wouldn't believe that.) It's turning a woman into a RealDoll, and I find that desperately unpleasant.

This isn't the economic arguments we're talking about, but as long as we're bringing it up again, I'm not talking about superiority, I'm talking about indifference.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:55 PM
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You think people just go for whatever makes the most money?

I hate to sound like Shearer again, but I don't think the argument was that a lawyer making $239k a year with the prospect of making $300k in a few years would quit to become a hooker to make $240k a year.

I believe the argument was simply that the level of income makes a difference. If people making $60k a year have the option of quadrupling that, many of them will take that option. No not all of them.

Moreover, in this strange fantasy world, there would likely be something of a shift in values, where new social narratives surrounding sex work would be constructed, probably still rooted in misogyny but relying on the virtues of independence, desirability, wealth, etc. (kind of like what you see now with "high-end" escorts). I mean, do you think people slave away in cubicles and offices because it's just a naturally fun and honorable thing to do? Do lawyers just think of themselves as pathetic parasites whose economic power is derived from the greater wealth of those they pitifully serve, or do they also feel that they are better off (smarter/more elite/richer/etc) than most of the rest of humanity?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:57 PM
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there seems to be a huge disconnect here. There is a huge distinction between

1. I'd give a blowjob for $240,000.00
and
2. I'd give 8 blowjobs a day 340 days of the year for $240,000.00

God, I hate agreeing the Bitch.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 7:59 PM
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For me, the disconnect is that ten minutes ago I didn't know that average anasthesologist made 300,000 dollars a year. I'm apparently a simple country bumpkin for whom 240,000 dollars is a lot of money.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:11 PM
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Now you all know why I wrote the S.C.U.M. Manifesto.


Posted by: Valerie Solanas | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:12 PM
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average anasthesologist made 300,000 dollars a year

As I understand it something like $299,993 of that goes to malpractice insurance. Or at least enough that the actual income of such a person has not increased in 20 years.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:15 PM
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"women" s/b "people"

I think a lot of us are justified in getting defensive when what is basically a misanthropic statement is construed as being misogynist instead.

Why? If you hate people, you hate women too. Right? So there's nothing for you to be being defensive about.

And I'm pretty damn sure LeBlanc meant "women." Otherwise she wouldn't have typed it. Particularly as we *are talking about women specifically*.

Seriously. At this point you guys are backtracking like crazy, and I am beyond pissed off. I'd rather suck cocks in hell than continue this argument.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:15 PM
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Crap. Obvs. second paragraph in 401 should also be in italics.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:16 PM
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I'm hanging around with the wrong group of people, apparently. Everyone else in the country seems to be making 240,000 a year.

So go become a high-class hooker.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:17 PM
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Okay, let's say the salary for prostitutes is ten million dollars a year. Isn't that a lot of money? Don't tell me that lawyers all make ten million dollars a year. If so, I'll be asking Frowner to mail me recruiting literature.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:19 PM
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Of course, Bitch knows that when I mean women, I say women.

It's not "basically" a misanthropic statement. What we are talking about is women providing sex and their bodies at a price, and the idea that it would be more appealing if it paid more. To them.

I don't even know if it's that simple an economic argument. There have been many times in my time when getting paid for sex would have been a great option for me--I'm a student, and I don't have that much time to work, so being able to make a few hundred bucks in a few hours would have worked great. Maybe for some people the economics alone make it a good decision, but I would wager that in those situations there's a lot more than simple economics at play.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:20 PM
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If being a prostitute could make you ten million dollars a year, there would be no reason to be a prostitute, because a prostitute being paid that much money would be an indicating that women had a lot more economic and social status than they currently do.

Thus, they could find more appealing shit to do.

Instead, some of the most beautiful, sexy, well-groomed women in America are selling lap-dances for $10 a pop.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:23 PM
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*indication


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:23 PM
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I _am_ a high-class hooker. I'm shocked that my clients have been getting me for such a bargain. Now that I know how much money they make, I'll be adjusting my rates accordingly.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:25 PM
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"This guy is not necessarily feeling superior to the woman in any way when he buys a lap dance from her"

Oh please.

Fuck, you people make a lot of money.

Move to the big city and go on the hustle. It's easy and fun, and your clients will respect you.

Are economists autistic? Or are the autistic just attracted to economic arguments because they constitute the tiny slice of human behavior they can understand?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:32 PM
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Haven't read the thread, but strippers can make real money. A friend of my brother's could save $3,000 in two months and then go hang out in Mexico.

The best comparison is with waiting on tables or being a barista, other jobs that women who have no specialized skills take. Strippers make much more money, their job is easier, and it isn't necessarily more demeaning that being a waitress -- if you don't regard being paid to be looked at naked as intrinsically demeaning. Waitresses put up with a tremendous amount of shit, and their jobs can be really tiring.

Some women just don't mind being looked at naked. Some of them enjoy playing the game. Others hate being strippers, but a lot of people hate their jobs.

In the last analysis I don't think that it's liberating for either sex, but it's in an area of cynical decadence that a lot of people (non-strippers and non-johns) are in anyway.

I've spent a moderate amount of time at the fringes of cafe society -- waiters, waitresses, entertainers, musicians, con men, pushers, flaneurs, golddiggers, whoremongers, etc., etc.. I really came to dislike that world, but strippers don't stand out as unusual ithere, either by being more exploited and abused, or by being more immoral and decadent. They're almost aristocrats there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 8:55 PM
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I think that I support some sort of legalization, but I hate to think that there could be a time where the government cut you off from unemployment or whatever because you declined available work, when that available work was prostitution.

My little sister went to college in the same town where KF teaches. She's half an inch shorter than I am, and we've both always looked young for our ages. She was out running to the drugstore in the next town over which is a bit seedy (named after one of the colleges there). Some guy came up to her and asked her whether she was over 18. Then he asked her if she wanted to be in a porn film.

It creeps me out that my sister was solicited for porn, but I find it especially disturbing, because I think that he was going for a legal under-age look.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:33 PM
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I really came to dislike that world

Boredom, or because of what it is? I liked it. While there's plenty of surface bullshit, there's much less deep self-delusion going on than in "respectable" society.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:50 PM
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I think that I support some sort of legalization, but I hate to think that there could be a time where the government cut you off from unemployment or whatever because you declined available work, when that available work was prostitution.

Whoa, that's a good point.

Then again, we have that situation now, vis-a-vis stripping/exotic dancering rather than prostitution, don't we?

Even though I see these occupations as morally neutral in theory...it seems SO objectionable for someone to go into sex work against their will.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 9:59 PM
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316

"This is *not* right. First, because the *only* disincentive to prostitution is *not* price or illegality--and no, it also isn't "just" social inhibition, either. Try to imagine yourself, Mr. Shearer, sucking the dicks of complete strangers--it's legal and safe! Why aren't you doing it? (Presuming, of course, that you're neither gay nor hanging out in parks or seedy public restrooms.) "

Since I am in fact not gay the correct analogy would be performing cunnilingus on complete strangers which I do not find unimaginable although I would not be cheap. And note if you charge enough you don't have to do it full time.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 10:59 PM
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414: Why do you assume that a female prostitute providing service for men isn't a lesbian, James, or otherwise disinterested? Do you think it is typical that a prostitute gains sexual satisfaction from their job?


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:02 PM
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410: The world of flaneurs? What are you, Walter Benjamin?


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:03 PM
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386

"... ignores the fact that the *primary* reason prostitution is anything other than a very rare job--maybe something like being a tiger trainer, I dunno--is because women don't have the economic power that men do."

This is silly, sex only accounts for a small part of economic inequality. Remove all sex differences and there will still be plenty of rich men and poor women.

Just as there are currently plenty of rich homosexuals and poor men leading to more male prostitutes than tiger trainers.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:08 PM
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Hi, is this the thread where we pay money to fuck Shearer up the ass?


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:29 PM
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Get in line, lady.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:43 PM
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417: You're seriously arguing that women's economic inequality has nothing to do with the prevalence of prostitution?

Seriously, can we please please stop humoring him, you guys?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:48 PM
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I don't even know what the first sentence of 417 is supposed to imply. Probably something to do with education and class differencs and regional economies and such, but who's can say through all the slime?

This entire thread is completely gross. Heck, most of the Potter thread is pretty gross, too, and for similar reasons.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-17-07 11:59 PM
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342 to 421.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:01 AM
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LR, I'm not following you on the Potter comparison, but I haven't really been reading that thread too closely. Regardless, thank you thank you thank you.

I know I'm supposed to learn how to ignore assholes, but DEAR GOD IT'S SO HARD. Must start yoga again.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:05 AM
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It's mostly just the rampant classism, most of which doesn't recognize itself as such.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:16 AM
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I've read almost none of this thread, and given the emotions and prejudices flying around, do not care to read more. I am interested, however, in BitchPhd's claim that "women's economic inequality has [something[ to do with the prevalence of prostitution." Would women, in the absence of prostitution, be the economic equal of men? Does a society in which prostitution is rare have relatively lower levels of gendered pay discrepancy? If the answers have already been given in this thread, I apologize, and I'll find them tomorrow.If not, is there anybody out there counting? I assume there is. So what do they say?. Fess up, data!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:18 AM
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Oh, fair enough.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:21 AM
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Would women, in the absence of prostitution, be the economic equal of men?

Heavens no. I meant the inverse: that prostitution is a bigger problem in places where women have fewer economic options. (And, let's not forget, more economic responsibitlities--i.e., children.) If women had the earning power and potential of men (we're talking in terms of groups here, obvs., not individuals) prostitution would be extremely rare.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:25 AM
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Re. specific data, it's out there, but I'm not going to go around googling it up at this point. Sorry.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:26 AM
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As for the ongoing ban-Shearer campaign, I propose a diplomatic solution: he can comment again once he gets Emerson a date.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:28 AM
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Shearer and Emerson would make an adorable couple, but I fear the economic inequality would poison things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:29 AM
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425: No, her point is that in a society where women had economic equality and were not largely relegated to the "sex-and-babies", most women would chose more normal forms of work over prostitution, just like how the vast majority of men do not choose to allow rich old white guys to fuck them up the ass for cash, even though it might be "easier" or more well-paying than their chosen career.

No offense, but are you fucking stupid? This:
Would women, in the absence of prostitution, be the economic equal of men? makes about as much sense as suggesting that in a society where all migrant farm works was performed by robots, suddenly all the illegal aliens in the USA would have economic parity with white, college-educated natives.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:30 AM
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427:
I agree with you, then. I see prostitution as an economic weapon of (possible) last resort.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:32 AM
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Blah, I apologize for the "fucking stupid" crack, this thread is doing nothing for my blood pressure.

Still, I don't understand how you could come up with that interpretation outside of deliberate obtuseness to the point of trolling, or something, as 409 suggests, not unlike autism.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:37 AM
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430: The economic inequality would be more than counterbalanced by the intellect gap.

431: LR, you can fuck me up the ass any time you like. I'm deeply in love with you now.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:38 AM
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I really think the autism speculation does autistics a disservice.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:39 AM
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No kidding.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:39 AM
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436 to 434.2.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:40 AM
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Yes, you weren't kidding, B.

Me, I only let people fuck me up the ass in exchange for Yu-Gi-Oh cards. I have my dignity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:42 AM
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Woo!

It's kind of a shame my folks will be in town the weekend of the next SF meetup, because I sense that between us the potential for Ogged-mortification would be nigh-unlimited.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:43 AM
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Crap, man. We've totally gotta do it.

I don't think I'm gonna make it this weekend after all--the more I think about it the more insane it seems, and I've got "shit to do" around here before I take off for three weeks. Like find a housesitter. Anyone want to babysit the koi?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:48 AM
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440: babysit with beer batter and a deep fryer, you betcha!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:49 AM
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Random personal confession time: as a very young (girl) child, I was diagnosed as autistic. But apparently either the doctor was wrong, or I got better, or I really do have some spectrum disorder and my pervasive sense of shame and weird blue-collar pride causes me to blame all my social ineptitude and weird mental traits on being fundamentally a gigantic bitch/weirdo freak.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:49 AM
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Eh, I'm a gigantic bitch and have no history of autism. Depression, though.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:52 AM
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Depression, though.

Depression is pretty much the universal smart-person disease, though. I put it to you it's neither correlated specifically with being a giant bitch, or being a weirdo freak.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:54 AM
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It being a spectrum, you could have a touch of the Asperger's (I always like to call it Autism for quitters, but maybe that's rude?) and you and the doctor would both be right.

I certainly know on what side of the spectrum my bread is buttered (hint: it is buttered with an odd exactness and an attention to detail absent from my breakfast conversation).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:54 AM
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431:
No I am not fucking stupid, just the regular kind , thank you very much. I'm not really sure where I should start arguing, as we do not seem to share many assumptions. For instance, when I asked "Would women, in the absence of prostitution, be the economic equal of men?" I did not mean to suggest that womens' value lay only on the amount they would fetch in a brothel, but rather that American sexism goes beyond the actual sex of a woman: it is an institutional issue. There must be a cartel out there;women don't get paid properly and that's a fact. Yet this discrepancy occurs somehow across all industries, how could they maintain it?. They can't all meet in some kind of testosterone infused chamber somewhere, can they?. And all of these industries, each of which wants to make money, couldn't cooperate without the connivance of some influential figure. And that influential figure is Me. Yep. Sorry for all that sexism and all,Now Get Back to work!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:55 AM
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Exactly my point. Although I'm sure that all this banging my head against the wall isn't helping matters on either the healthy brain or the giant bitch front.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 12:56 AM
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447 to 444. Although I'm happy to blame foolishmortal for sexism, if he likes.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:08 AM
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445: I wrote up a long comment and then deleted it, but to sum up: I fit a lot of the criteria for Asperger's (woooo aphasia! woooo weird light/pressure sensitivities!), but a lot of them describe someone who is diametrically opposite of me (wooo excellent body-language reading ability, wooo vagina), and in as much as "treatments" for it exist, few of them seem to be in areas I'd get all that much benefit from.

446: Stop fucking trolling.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:13 AM
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I concur with 448's redirect. As far as what I like? Do with me what you will.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:16 AM
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wooo vagina

Seconded. And now to bed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:21 AM
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339: How am I trolling? I don't mind pissing you off, in principle, if you want to bitch at me. But I do want avoid bothering those unconcerned. If I am fucking with you in an inappropriate forum, let me know, via comment or email.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:22 AM
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Dammit. I hate fighting with B, but this is just a bit much.

I'm a little Becks-style since my return, so apologies in advance for any excesses in my rhetoric. But I think there has to be some "come on, now," to this sort of thing:

361: if anyone else can show me where people have defined "sex as commodity" as anything other than "women" in this thread, please do.

Let's try it another way. If you can show me where someone has defined "sex as commodity" as meaning strictly "women," please do. (Yes, much of the discussion has been about women -- for understandable reasons -- and no, that's not the same thing, as I'm sure you know.)

And that therefore any conversation about whether raising the price of prostitution would mean that at some point "women" would "supply" sex in preference to *any other job that would pay them enough to live decently*

Which would be great if this had been the point at issue. But in all fairness to Shearer (and I'm not often fair to him, but in this case he actually does have the better of it) the point was pretty simply that if potential pay would go up, the number of people willing to do the work would go up. This is really not that fucking complicated and should not be controversial. Elaborate speculation as to who is doing what to the exclusion of this or that is not built into the point being made, or at least I didn't take it to be. And trying to deny the point by way of "you're discussing women as commodities" is the moral equivalent of the "Objectively pro-Saddam" rheotrical gambit. It's crap. I don't think I'm being unfair in rather resenting it.

What particularly annoys me, and the reason I'm getting pissy, is that (it could be argued) this is effectively obfuscating something pretty crucial. You have to construct a whole chain of assumptions about who is supposedly assuming what in relation to the work involved to defend a certain line of rhetoric, but there are situations where people are literally being kidnapped, sold and traded as commodities in relation to sex work. These situations are not, I think it can be reasonably said, readily interchangeable with the prospective courtesan-earning-hundreds-of-thousands a year. Pretending otherwise seems like really bad practice to me. That's what's rubbing me the wrong way.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:36 AM
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This is really not that fucking complicated and should not be controversial

Let me rephrase, without the "fucking," for which I apologize. I think it's a point that seems reasonable enough and is at least fairly debatable, without needing to detour into who-is-talking-about-whom-as-"commodities" territory.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:49 AM
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Good night, B.

452: Are you suggesting 431 was in good faith?

453: Okay, I'm not B, but: basically, I think you're overstating the case that paying whores more will make more people be whores is "uncontroversial". Is it "uncontroversial" to suggest more straight guys would take it up the ass from fat, unattractive, 40+ men, if only it paid a million dollars?

The idea of prostituting oneself is completely at odds with the broader cultural conception of masculinity and personhood; but it's not at odds with our conception of what women "are".


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 1:58 AM
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How is it at all reasonable, though? Is the only thing holdly YOU, personally, back from starring in double-anal bareback porn the fact that it doesn't pay enough?

Blaaaaaaaaaargh I should go to bed.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 2:00 AM
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417: You're seriously arguing that women's economic inequality has nothing to do with the prevalence of prostitution?

Um, it looks like you're the one arguing that women's economic inequality has *everything* to do with the prevalence of prostitution -- see 386:

the fact that the *primary* reason prostitution is anything other than a very rare job--maybe something like being a tiger trainer, I dunno--is because women don't have the economic power that men do.

Which, despite all the huffing and puffing, is clearly nonsense: gay male prostitution is not amazingly uncommon and I'd think it's awfully hard to argue that men as a class (*not individuals*) have more economic power than men as a class (*not individuals*). And, as even Shearer is intelligent enough to see, it's not the class differences that matter; the existence of prostitution depends on differences in earning power between individuals, not classes -- even if women on average made more than men, the existence of some very rich men and some poor women would create opportunities for prostitution.

What's especially bizarre about this whole discussion is that people are wailing about autistic economists at the very same time they are reducing the entire cause of prostitution to "women are poor." If conversations about people quitting regular jobs to become hookers seems to assume that the people quitting will be women, this is clearly more a matter of sociology than economics.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 3:15 AM
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455: Is it "uncontroversial" to suggest more straight guys would take it up the ass from fat, unattractive, 40+ men, if only it paid a million dollars?

Yes.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 3:44 AM
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Since I am in fact not gay the correct analogy would be performing cunnilingus on complete strangers

In a more sane thread, I'd ridicule this statement from Shearer. The correct analogy for heterosexual females prostituting themselves with men is not heterosexual men prostituting themselves with women.

But in context, Shearer is merely responding to the similarly autistic contention that heterosexual men prostituting themselves with men is directly analogous to heterosexual women prostituting themselves with men.

In this context, there is no correct analogy. Does this really need to be said? Apparently it does.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 4:55 AM
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Perhaps we could establish an Unfogged-wide price list for which forms of moral degradation we'd indulge in.

Anyway, I've derived an interesting principle; given sufficient traffic, whatever the social evil discussed in a given Internet forum, at least one participant will claim to have personally committed it.

I await the first presidential pseudonym to confess murder.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 5:00 AM
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Oliver Stone thinks I was behind it all. Will that do?


Posted by: LBJ | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 6:12 AM
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well how many kids *did* you kill today?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 6:32 AM
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people are wailing about autistic economists at the very same time they are reducing the entire cause of prostitution to "women are poor."

You seem to be having some difficulty in telling us apart.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 6:55 AM
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461:

I watched an excellent documentary about your wife last night. She seems to have been a remarkable woman.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 7:04 AM
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Sorry, "people" should be "you," where you does not refer to you of course, but to the person whose comments I was addressing (BPhD).


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 7:05 AM
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Man, these threads swell faster than I can read them any longer. Babies eat time.

Relevant: "Funding for tertiary courses in prostitution could be considered under changes aimed at boosting quality and relevance in the sector, New Zealand education officials say. But MPs on parliament's education and science select committee were told today that although courses in the world's oldest profession might be considered if providers put them forward, they would still have to meet tight criteria to get funding."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 7:41 AM
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I await the first presidential pseudonym to confess murder.

President Ogged murdered a caterpillar with glue.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 7:42 AM
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her point is that in a society where women had economic equality and were not largely relegated to the "sex-and-babies",

Like, for example, the United States and large parts of Western Europe?

most women would chose more normal forms of work over prostitution

And prostitution is rare among native Western European and American women. Dunno how it compares to being a tiger trainer, but it's rare. In countries like Thailand, Eastern Europe, etc. where it seems to be more common, there's either general poverty or a lot of sexism. So that's true.

Anyway, if the point is to ride the general feminist hobbyhorse of patriarchy-sexism, I think it's more applicable to prostitution in some places than others. But class inequality can drive prostitution too. The fact that its mostly women who are prostitutes has to do with the fact that its mostly men who are willing to patronize prostitutes. Straight men are willing to pay for female prostitutes, gay men for male prostitutes.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 8:17 AM
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Heh, I take it that you're not willing to sell your right to spout off for any price.

NEVER. Dignity, always dignity.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 8:19 AM
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Lunar Rockette, you ask what would happen if straight men got a million dollars a year for taking it up the ass from fat, unattractive, 40+ year old men, and you think the answer is controversial? Of course lots of straight men would sign up for it. I don't know what kind of jobs they have in Candyland, but here we do shitty jobs for money. If you can do an even shittier job for even more money, enough money that you can retire before your shitty job sucks every single ounce of vigor out of your body, then that's a deal that will look good to some people.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 9:00 AM
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the similarly autistic contention that heterosexual men prostituting themselves with men is directly analogous to heterosexual women prostituting themselves with men.

Not autistic at all. Actually, this analogy probably captures the kind of disgust many pros feel for their johns pretty closely. I mean, do you think the woman that David Vitter paid to diaper him liked it?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-18-07 9:34 AM
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