Re: We Need To Talk About Prostitution More, Right?

1

Wow. I guess the answer is, "No, we don't."

I'm as surprised as anyone.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:19 PM
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Ha. I was just thinking about that same thread, because I listened to bloggingheads about it. I don't think you can get around the substituted judgment problem. You need some way to tell when women are lying to you when they say that they're following one path while actually following the other; frankly, I assume a lot of times, particularly early in life, it's hard to tell one from the other.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:30 PM
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I am deeply suspicious of the emancipation through sexual expression route, though probably that's just me.

But it sometimes seems to me that the more we talk about women in relation to a certain type of socially-stigmatized economic exchange (sex for cash is what I mean), the more we at least implicitly, if unwittingly, lend support to certain quite nasty notions of women as always already exchangeable in that way.

Also, much of what now passes as commonsense commonplace knowledge about women in the past is pretty much bullshit. And I do blame academic historians of women and gender for not even trying to enter into the broader public sphere to correct the record.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:33 PM
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There has actually been a de-mainstreaming of prostitution:

In the 1930-40's, some 50 percent of men lost their virginity to prostitutes, but to have a first sexual experience with a prostitute these days is a rarity.

My best guess is that this is because of feminism.

There has been a mainstreaming of porn; but that is because of the internet.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:34 PM
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4th paragraph, 1st sentence s/b "more sexual" presumably.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:46 PM
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there was some discussion in the thread of how the increasingly high profile of prostitution and porn might just be a natural consequence of a culture that allows women to be sexual than they were allowed to be in the past.

Changing cultural attitudes may seem to be an almost plausible explanation except for this: 50% of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children. The duration of child abuse is 2.7 years for prostitutes and 2.1 years for strippers (Silbert & Pines, Sexual child abuse as an antecedent to prostitution, Child Abuse and Neglect, 5, 407-411).


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:50 PM
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Also, it seems like it could be said that while sex industry jobs probably do not satisfy the workers sexual desires, it does allow for the exercising of certain skill sets that could not have been exercised in a more sexually constrained era. That in and of itself could be seen as a one type of emancipation.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:53 PM
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7. But is it emancipating, or something else?


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:54 PM
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I guess so long as it is connected with broader trends in emancipation then it doesn't seem like it should necessarily be condemned.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 9:58 PM
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I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were some correlation between a woman's freedom for private sexual expression, and the freedom of public sexual expression.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:02 PM
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But the thing is, being a prostitute in reality isn't anything like the way people imagine it when they're in high school. It's not about enjoying your sexuality or getting rid of embarassment. It's about having sex, for money, with the people who show up. I'm sure there are some prostitutes, some time, who don't have to take all comers (as it were). But for the most part, I imagine you have to fuck a lot of people you'd really rather not be spending time with. What's so great about that? I mean, my objection is not at all from the "sex is icky" point of view, but from the "I really like sex with people I like, but I don't want the random body parts of strange, angry, disgusting people inside of me" point of view.

On porn I'm more agnostic. I think it could be run in a way that isn't disgusting, but in practice I'm not sure it is.


Posted by: JWBobbit | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:08 PM
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the more we at least implicitly, if unwittingly, lend support to certain quite nasty notions of women as always already exchangeable in that way.

I think that's right, sort of--I don't think it's women as tradeables, but sexual access--and I don't like it myself. The problem, I think, is that the idea of sexual access (for men, rather than to women, I think--I'm thinking rent boys to just PYT males in certain circs.) seems buried pretty deeply in the culture. It seems to me, for example, that it underlies most of the teen movies that I remember. Or it's a staple of the sitcom: if Guy X is an ass, no sexual access. And on and on.

I guess the issue I have is that if it just is there, then I don't like conditioning the terms of the trade, because those sorts of regulations seem to be built for abuse.

And I guess I disagree with you with this: the emancipation through sexual expression route. If sex is more common, maybe it's less likely to be treated as something to be traded for. I'm not sure about that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:12 PM
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The last sentence of the post dearly needs some parenthesis. Other than that, I guess I don't need to talk about prostitution. Huh!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:13 PM
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PYT

Puddin': Yuba Toil?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:17 PM
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I guess I was primarily thinking of porn and not prostitution. Probably lumping them together is a bad idea. So I think that I agree with 11


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:18 PM
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13 It's good that we're here to edit LBs post.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:19 PM
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Can Sifu really be ignorant of Michael Jackson's ouvre?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:20 PM
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we're here to edit LBs post

If you know what I mean.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:20 PM
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And I think I do.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:20 PM
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17: Pajamas You Take? Please You're Three? Party Younger Toddler?

Oh.

Oh, of course I knew that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:25 PM
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Post Your Ta-tas.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:29 PM
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Pootie-tang, Yo! Thoughtcrime!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:33 PM
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A Mark Greif essay in n+1 tried to distinguish the liberalization of sex from the liberation of sex. I have found this very useful. I'll see if I can find the essay.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:45 PM
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Liberation implies freedom to do what you have already been doing or have meant to do. It unbars what is native to you, free in cost and freely your possession, and removes the iron weight of social interdiction. even in the great phase of full human liberation which extended from the 1960s to the present day, however, what has passes as liberation has often been liberalization. (Marcuse used this distinction.) Liberalization makes for a free traffic in goods formerly regulated and interdicted, creating markets in what you already possess for free. It has a way of making your possessions no longer native to you at the very moment that they're freed for your enjoyment. Ultimately, you no longer know how to possess them, correctly, unless you are following new rules which emerge to dominate the traffic in these goods.

--Mark Greif, "Afternoon of the Sex Children"


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:51 PM
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Liberation implies freedom to do what you have already been doing or have meant to do. It unbars what is native to you, free in cost and freely your possession, and removes the iron weight of social interdiction.

Maybe I would find that more convincing if I didn't have a deep seated distaste for and a deeper seated distrust of notions of "the authentic."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 10:57 PM
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if I didn't have a deep seated distaste for and a deeper seated distrust of notions of "the authentic."

I share your distaste and distrust. What mostly passes for "authenticity," I think, is mostly just the latest way of encouraging people to tacitly consent to their own oppression.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:09 PM
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(I'm just really happy that I remembered something from a book, and then I turned around and found it on a shelf, and it was in the book I thought it was in, by author I thought wrote it. In a day where I've been paralyzed by writer's block and its happy objective correlative, incipient carpal tunnel syndrome, it's a huge victory. Kind of a stiffie, actually, for someone who has been out of the think-n-ink game for as long as I have. Have been out. Have been out of.)

I share your distrust for the category of the authentic, Tim; I think that if there is a there there, the way Greif (via Marcuse) theorizes it socially and skeptically may be of use. Consider the implied argument or weaker version: an awful lot of what we're told is authentic (and therefore should be liberated) is just being sold to us (or used to make us buy). Consider that with sex, there is a biological urge, which may be a road towards (if not the Holy Grail of) the authentic.

I need booze, and I'm going to get some.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:10 PM
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Tim, do you have enough distrust for both Mary Catherine and me to share it?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:12 PM
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Poor authenticity, simplified, bastardized, then disdained and abused.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:15 PM
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In my last comment (#6 above), I wanted to point out that prostitution is not necessarily about a libertine culture, or sexual liberation, or about men's desire for sexual accessibility on their own terms, or about womens' sexual aspirations, but about the clinical profile of women who were once victims of childhood sexual abuse.

You can't tease apart this issue while ignoring this statistic: 50% of prostitutes have known histories of sexual abuse during childhood.

As LB states: There's no particular reason for a porn actress, or a stripper, or a prostitute, to see their work as in any way satisfying their own sexual desires.

In fact, the clinical evidence confirms LB's point. Dissociative disorders are often associated with histories of abuse and trauma, and dissociation is defined as an adaptive response that renders a subject analgesic to pain. It can be inferred that sex workers derive no pleasure from this line of work; they can engage in work that would repel others because they have learned to dissociate themselves from it.

"Repetition compulsion" describes the tendency to repeat an early abuse or trauma in a ritualized, self-defeating manner. It can be said that once a person has been involuntarily compromised, there is a tendency to voluntarily compromise oneself in the same manner later in life.

There are no sensational or titillating conversations about prostitution from this perspective, but this is the more accurate context, in my opinion.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:35 PM
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I think too much can be made of that point. Let's suppose 50% of people who practice S&M were abused as children. (I have heard S&M practitioners that I have known locate their interest in childhood trauma; I have no idea of what the true percentages are.) Does that mean we should outlaw S&M? What if 50% of social workers were abused as children? Do we outlaw social work?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:41 PM
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but about the clinical profile of women who were once victims of childhood sexual abuse.

I agree with that. I think that's where we should be looking: external evidence of fucked-up-ness. But I think it's that external evidence that gives us the right to substitute our judgment for that of the actor.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:49 PM
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I put forth this comment for the purpose of understanding a factor that drives prostitution; I didn't say anything about outlawing it. In fact, if one looks at childhood sexual abuse as a predisposing factor, then prostitutes could also be considered as victims. It has been pointed out across the blogosphere, that johns don't normally get arrested; sex workers do because they are easier to prosecute. Thus, there is a bias against women in this regard.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 03-20-08 11:56 PM
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NO WE DON'T


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:42 AM
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"There's no particular reason for a porn actress, or a stripper, or a prostitute, to see their work as in any way satisfying their own sexual desires, any more than Paul Newman is either a pool player, a convict, a hockey player, or a bank robber. They're performers, working for money."

"in any way" seems awfully strong. Actors are performers working for money but it is not exactly unheard of for a leading man and woman to fall in love at least temporarily when playing lovers.

"... because the sex industry isn't about expression of the sexuality of the people who work in it."

How does amateur porn fit into this model? What is that about?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 2:44 AM
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1 is right. This stuff wears me out.

Rushing heedlessly forward:

50% of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children. The duration of child abuse is 2.7 years for prostitutes and 2.1 years for strippers (Silbert & Pines, Sexual child abuse as an antecedent to prostitution, Child Abuse and Neglect, 5, 407-411).

I'm leary. In this kind of debate, a lot of mushy statistics are thrown out. And in fact, in other contexts it has been claim that a third of all women are sexually abused during as children, which makes prostitutes only slightly exceptional. "Child sexual abuse" is also a slippery concept. Would it include simple precocity? And last, if something is wrong it should be wrong when it happens, rather than because of something that happened ten or twenty years earlier.

And of course, there's


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 4:52 AM
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Though it's dismal, microeconomics seems pretty relevant.

A larger number of adventurous women should decrease the demand for prostitution among eligible single men. This won't address buyer pools of primarily male migrant workers or soldiers, or of married men looking to pay; presumably though the latter would also benefit from more women looking marginally lower-commitment sex. Also relevant is possible substitution of porn for hookers for some customers. Empirically, streetwalker zones have either shrunken and gone from sketchy to completely disgusting or vanished completely in a couple of cities I know. Also, older guys describing youthful experience really seem to be talking about a different country. I think something has definitely changed in the last say 20 years. Thinking this through would focus on a marginal customer or marginal worker; I don't know enough to do that. Doubtless there are articles.

I guess I'm thinking of prostitution as a basically normal transaction that both buyer and seller avoid if they have other options. Spitzer's story doesn't fit this mold, and looks more like roleplaying on his part.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 5:24 AM
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I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if there were some correlation between a woman's freedom for private sexual expression, and the freedom of public sexual expression.

If true, this theory would need some way to account for a non-negligible number of diagonal cases: certain parts of the Arab world (no emancipation, lots of prostitution) and Sweden (high level of emancipation, fairly unyielding on prostitution).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 5:33 AM
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There has actually been a de-mainstreaming of prostitution: In the 1930-40's, some 50 percent of men lost their virginity to prostitutes, but to have a first sexual experience with a prostitute these days is a rarity. My best guess is that this is because of feminism.

I also credit (blame?) feminism for the decline of the noble French institution of the "femme d'un certain age" (often a friend of the boy's mother) who sexually initiates teenage boys, thereby helping protect the chastity of feminine youth.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 5:37 AM
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Can't we just all get along?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 5:58 AM
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ooops

along s/b it on


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 5:58 AM
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I think that historically prostitution is a supporter of conventional sex and class roles rather than an alternative. If there are prostitutes, respectable boys won't pollute respectable girls, and respectable men will leave each other's wives alone. And it's all for the men.

You see this pretty clearly in the old Mafia, which marketed all kinds of vice, but practiced strict Catholic patriarchy within their own families.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 6:01 AM
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I totally agree with 42 as a historical observation, but I'm not ready to rule out the possibility of a "feminist" prostitution, or at least a variety of prostitution that is not irredeemably tainted by the patriarchy.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 6:12 AM
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The 50% of prostitutes have been abused as children statistic is of course important and backs up a certain narrative about the causes and harms of prostitution. But what then is going on with the other 50%?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 6:59 AM
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43: I wonder if you have the direction of causation going in the wrong direction as regards Emerson's comment.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 7:01 AM
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Once again, we are conflating people who engage in prostitution (like, ever have sex for money) and prostitutes (people whose daily survival, let's say, depends on regularly having sex for money).

It is entirely possible to believe *both* that swampcracker's abuse stat is accurate for professional prostitutes, and be agnostic about whether it holds true for people who occasionally prostitute themselves.

It's also worth noting that "abuse" is an exceptionally broad term that can include everything from "A 16-year-old shoved his genitals in my face once when I was 8, it was scary and disgusting but I never saw him again and I had lots of counseling," to "My father repeatedly raped me for seven years." I would imagine that those would leave very different scars on the psyche.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 7:45 AM
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what then is going on with the other 50%?

1. Addiction.

2. An unwillingness or inability to call something "abuse"

3. ???


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 7:46 AM
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3. ??? Profit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 7:52 AM
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I think that historically prostitution is a supporter of conventional sex and class roles rather than an alternative.

This, definitely. Which is one point where I think I disagree with the post. Corporate America is willing to accept feminism insofar as the machine doesn't care whether the cog is male or female*, but a lot of the results of that minimal acceptance aren't terribly feminist, and aren't terribly pleasant. The message gets perverted.

Likewise, here is prostitution. Historically it says 'some women you can have sex with for money, some you must not touch because they are good girls' Here is a more open sexual culture. I don't think it's two kinds of female sexuality. I think it's one, but just as corporate America takes feminism to mean 'women can be just as miserable as men in 80 hour per week jobs, plus, with two incomes, we can sell them more shit', prostitution ends up meaning not 'there shall be no whores except those who choose it because they love sex' but 'wow, all women can be whores, can't they, wooo, more boobies.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 7:59 AM
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*I had a joke about male and female ends of cords and plugs and such ready, but couldn't make it work.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:00 AM
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wooo, more boobies

This is a very pure and wonderful sentiment and should not be lumped in with the crass debauchery of our corporate overlords.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:01 AM
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Historically speaking,* eras that that loosen gender roles simultaneously see three things: (1) women in public, previously male roles (2) acceptance of homosexuality, (3) porn. In Chinese history the two eras that exemplify this are the Six Dynasties Period and the Late Ming/Early Qing.** I think this shows that the only change we really see in history is your first kind of change, where there are simply less penalties for women's sexuality.

* I haven't read the thread.
** Self promoting link


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:09 AM
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It is entirely possible to believe *both* that swampcracker's abuse stat is accurate for professional prostitutes, and be agnostic about whether it holds true for people who occasionally prostitute themselves.

I suspect there are about 50 kinds of multicollinearity between the factors that make a girl especially vulnerable to sexual abuse in her childhood and those that make an adult woman especially prone to become a professional prostitute.

For example, I'll wager that you could find a statistically significant likelihood that an adult professional prostitute had a mother who smoked at home or worked night shifts, but I wouldn't try to assert any causal connection from one to the other.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:29 AM
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46 It's also worth noting that "abuse" is an exceptionally broad term

The statistic cited in #6 is specific about childhood sexual abuse:

50% of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children. The duration of child abuse is 2.7 years for prostitutes and 2.1 years for strippers (Silbert & Pines, Sexual child abuse as an antecedent to prostitution, Child Abuse and Neglect, 5, 407-411).

Note duration in years. There are trauma-based disorders (among the most severe being Dissociative Identity Disorder) where histories of childhood sexual abuse have been reported in 79% of cases, and physical abuse in 78% of cases with durations up to 15 years.

44 what then is going on with the other 50%?

Good question, and one should not make wild speculations but the pattern suggests a history of abuse, physical or sexual, that has been under-reported. There are always outliers, of course, in any study sample.



Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:35 AM
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It's also worth noting that "abuse" is an exceptionally broad term

Keeping in mind that neglect can be just as psychologically damaging as abuse, I want to point out that I was sexually neglected as a teenager.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:47 AM
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If true, this theory would need some way to account for a non-negligible number of diagonal cases: certain parts of the Arab world (no emancipation, lots of prostitution) and Sweden (high level of emancipation, fairly unyielding on prostitution).

In some ways, prostitution is an outlier compared to other sorts of sex work, because it can flourish under super patriarchal conditions. Notice that you don't see porn or other public displays of sexuality (or even hair) in much of the Arab world.

What correlates with female (and gay) liberation is "public displays of sexuality" which can often be commercial. Indeed, it would be hard to have sexual art without commercial sex, since art is always at least a little commercial.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 8:56 AM
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I was sort of hoping that, today being Good Friday, somebody might want to talk about John Donne's Easter sermons or something nice like that, but whatever.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 9:06 AM
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Are there mp3s of these (or indeed any of John Donne's sermons) anywhere? I've been enjoying listening to parts of the Bible on my commute lately. As noted previously, I'm not driving through any red-light districts.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 9:30 AM
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I don't think it's two kinds of female sexuality.

That seems right, and that seems like the big problem with efforts to read sex work out of the allowable without reference to available evidence of fucked-up-ness of the non-sexuality parts of these women's lives.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 9:37 AM
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Prostitutes play a very small role in Donne's sermons, but can be found in his verse.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 9:38 AM
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incipient carpal tunnel syndrome

Speaking of trying to find books, I was trying to remember this title since you mentioned the forearm pain yesterday.

I found that book reasonably helpful. It's very basic, and you could do better getting exercise from a physical therapist, but it's a reasonable starting point.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 9:43 AM
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58: Not that I know of, but recording them would be an excellent project for seminary students with good voices.

60: No, those gals were all enthusiastic amateurs.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 9:46 AM
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Achewood is unsettling today on the topic of prostitution.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:12 AM
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62 B: That's what the patriarchy have you believe.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:14 AM
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25, 26 ff:

if I didn't have a deep seated distaste for and a deeper seated distrust of notions of "the authentic."

I share your distaste and distrust. What mostly passes for "authenticity," I think, is mostly just the latest way of encouraging people to tacitly consent to their own oppression.

One of these days I need to figure out what's meant by "authenticity" here. Alas, I am at work now. We've said a few things about this before, no? N.B. to self, then: look that stuff up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:19 AM
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Women's sexuality is dangerous and must be controlled, or civilization will fall.

Did you learn nothing from Marlene Dietrich in the movie The Blue Angel? If women are allowed to run around loose, full professors will run off to join the circus. The next thing you know you'll be invading France, the topless towers of Ilium will be falling, and nekkid prisoners will be piled up at Abu Ghraib.

That's why women's sexuality must always be denied. To speak of something invokes name magic, and calls it forth into the light. Remember the adage "speak of the devil women's sexuality and it will surely appear".

Freud was right, of course, in saying that it's the sublimation of sexual identity, through the control of female sexuality, that frees the energy to create civilization. If it can't be chained through marriage and family, at least it must become merely another commodity like pork bellies and potatoes.

It's all about symbols and has nothing to do with facts, and all about power and nothing to do with pleasure. Sex within marriage is the sacred foundation stone of civilization. Sex outside marriage is a pork belly, fit only for tradesmen and not gentlemen. I mean, it's okay to eat bacon, but that doesn't mean it's okay ok marry a pig.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:20 AM
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nishi e (journey to the west)


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:23 AM
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Remember the adage "speak of women's sexuality and it will surely appear".

But we talk about women's sexuality continually on this blog, and I've yet to see the thing itself.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:26 AM
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parsimon, by "authenticity" I imagine people mean the idea that we have a natural, non-socially-constructed, self, and that if we could recover that notion of self, we would be happier.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:27 AM
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Did you learn nothing from Marlene Dietrich in the movie The Blue Angel?

I learned to beware of blonde women, that's what I learned.

Nimm dich in acht vor blonden Frau'n, Die haben so etwas Gewisses! 's ist ihnen nicht gleich anzuschau'n, Aber irgend etwas is' es. Ein kleines Blickgeplänkel sei erlaubt dir; Doch denke immer: Achtung vor dem Raubtier! Nimm dich in acht vor blonden Frau'n, Sie haben so etwas Gewisses.

Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:27 AM
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My authentic self is unable to use grammar or punctuation correctly.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:28 AM
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I've yet to see the thing itself

Coco doesn't count?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:29 AM
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69: by "authenticity" I imagine people mean the idea that we have a natural, non-socially-constructed, self, and that if we could recover that notion of self, we would be happier.

I figured it was something like that; makes it sound like a form of essentialism. It's not clear to me that that's the only available sense for a notion of authenticity, but I'm not sure (I'm at work, damnit!) how to parse that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:35 AM
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I suppose it is somehow instructive that the metaphor of exchange is not for some people an unpleasant way to discuss sexuality.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:36 AM
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Parsimon doesn't believe in keepin' it real.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:40 AM
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72: I thought we were talking about a natural, non-socially-constructed, self, female sexuality.

Oh and Parsimon, of course we are talking about essentialism here, which is why everyone is so distrustful.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:43 AM
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One of my fantasies is that my kids will have enough musical talent that we can form a family band/punk band. We would then release an album called "keeping it fake" and the cover would show us sitting around our ordinary messy house.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:45 AM
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76.2: Sure, of course. If that's all authenticity might mean, obviously I understand the problem.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:55 AM
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You see, the really real people are the totally fake ones, like Warhol.

[pages of illustrations]


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:56 AM
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I learned to beware of blonde women, that's what I learned.

They're almost as dangerous as redheads, on the sexuality scale.


I suppose it is somehow instructive that the metaphor of exchange is not for some people an unpleasant way to discuss sexuality.

Exchange systems are a way that societies control and define social relations (consider the kula ring ) so yes, sex can be constructed as an element in an exchange system

I thought we were talking about a natural, non-socially-constructed, self, female sexuality.

That's irony, right?


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 10:58 AM
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Yes, that was real, full blown irony. I didn't even mean that a little, and I recognize that sexuality is socially constructed.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:07 AM
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37

"... Empirically, streetwalker zones have either shrunken and gone from sketchy to completely disgusting or vanished completely in a couple of cities I know. ..."

Has the prostitution gone away or just moved off the street to massage parlors, escort services, internet ads and the like?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:08 AM
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I learned to beware of blonde women

My life would have been much easier had I learned that lesson from the movies, rather than the hard way.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:10 AM
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84

rob, if you actually started that band, you would be my new god.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:19 AM
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85

It all depends on der kinder. I do manage to get them to jump around while I play Mission of Burma, though


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:22 AM
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I'm tired of discussing women's sexuality in the context of prostitution. Let's discuss men's sexuality in the context of an exchange system.

"You will get to like me because I'm a nice guy."


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:27 AM
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I'm tired of discussing women's sexuality in the context of prostitution

Let's discuss it in terms of restitution.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:29 AM
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I think the OP is right that since prostitution is mediated by money there's a real sense in which it's not a spontaneous or "natural" sexual expression. But following that logic almost requires a strict division between authentic expressions of female sexuality and other sex acts, when clearly in the real world there's a sliding scale and plenty of grey. There's an exchange component in a lot of non-market social interaction. The major professions all put interaction into the market but try to preserve a non-market component in the exchange. Etc. Really, following the authentic/inauthentic line is eventually going to lead you back to the distinction between bad casual sex and good relationship sex.

Plus it's all a moving target that changes a lot with social conditions. For example, there's no counterpoint today to the wealthy, influential courtesans of Ancient Greece or the court of Louis XIV.

I think prostitution is probably the most troubling and in a way the least interesting aspect of the broader sexual revolution. But it's still an inevitable part. If women have greater freedom to use and explore their own sexuality the way they like, some will like to get money for it in at least some circumstances. A few will probably want to give money for it, or at least find that things they like are most conveniently indulged that way.

It's possible the stat on the percentage of abuse among prostitutes came from surveying streetwalkers, who are the poorest and most desparate sex workers. I don't think anybody really knows what the "representative" or typical prostitute looks like -- where exactly they fall between high-priced escort and desparate streetwalker, etc. Here's the Venkatesh piece on the indoor trade:

http://www.alexandrakmurphy.com/pdf/vice_careers.pdf


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:30 AM
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85: You don't need a lot of technique for a punk band. I really, really, hope it comes together.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:30 AM
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Has the prostitution

Personal interest? No idea, in any case. Like I said, understanding marginal buyers and sellers is the way to think about this, and I don't. I'm sure there's research, both stateside and elsewhere. Vollman touches on this theme. His more imaginative fiction is better IMO. I expect there is good writing from women, but can't name any names.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:32 AM
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Has the prostitution gone away or just moved off the street to massage parlors, escort services, internet ads and the like?

Maybe it's in a Verrichtungsbox or Tippelzone.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:42 AM
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I think the idea that women's sexual liberation leads to more prostitution a) is implausible on the face of it, and b) doesn't fit the evidence (see lw's comment in 37).


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:43 AM
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92: It seems like it almost certainly leads to a lot less on net...in some societies it seems like prostitution was almost the major sexual outlet for unmarried men, or men with bad marriages because of the difficulty of divorce. But it can still lead to more of some kinds, less of others, and it can still be something that liberated women choose.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:50 AM
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Yeah, and regarding the Spitzer situation, my first thought was, "Seriously, ES can't find a gorgeous horny girl to have no-strings pornolicious sex with, whom he wouldn't have to pay, and with whom adulterous sex would not land him in jail or lose him his job?" lw is right. Prostitution, AFAICT, is usually a desire on the part of the john to engage in a very old-school kind of relationship wherein he owes a woman neither sexual nor emotional gratification because of the monetary exchange.

That said, I'm fairly sure prostitution-lite is alive and well in a lot of legal sexual relationships. When I was dating a much wealthier man, even my closest friends were baffled that he didn't buy me expensive gifts or pay part of my rent. I don't know how many times I had to explain to people that I'm not actually a prostitute, that I wasn't exchanging my company or sexual favors for money. I got downright touchy about the whole thing.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:54 AM
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Consider this the obligatory defense of blonde German women. Who wants to live in pre-Weimar society, anyway?

On the way in today, the 'pod came up with Magdalene Laundries, Randy Newman's Rednecks, and The Man's Too Strong. No need to read any threads here . . .


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 11:57 AM
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I'm a blonde, semi-German woman. I can't promise never to have destroyed anyone's life, but it was usually an accident.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:01 PM
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94: Have you costed that out?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:01 PM
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Consider this the obligatory defense of blonde German women.

Napi, I give you, the incomparable Marlene Dietrich...

Jedermann glaubt, die Blonden sind naiv! Sei auf der Hut, stille Wasser sind tief! Mal dir kein Glück mit den blonden Kätzchen aus, Eh' du's geahnt, kommen schon die Krallen raus! Und wenn das Blondchen all deine Lieb mit Treue dir lohnt, Ist sie ganz sicher heimlich geforben wasserstoffblond.

Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:04 PM
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97: I don't know what that means. So I'm guessing no.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:04 PM
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"Personal integrity and being a self-respecting human being: $350 / month for 8 months."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:07 PM
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Nah, anyone who puts up with me for that long deserves all the sexual favors he can dream up for free. God knows he'll pay enough, just not in dollars.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:11 PM
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It just seems to me that someone should get a tax deduction.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:28 PM
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"Personal integrity and being a self-respecting human being: $350 / month for 8 months."

I know there's a Mastercard "Priceless" joke here, but I can't quite work it out.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:42 PM
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Neither could I.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:48 PM
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94: "Seriously, ES can't find a gorgeous horny girl to have no-strings pornolicious sex with, whom he wouldn't have to pay, and with whom adulterous sex would not land him in jail or lose him his job?"

AWB, how's he going to do the necessary research without getting caught at it? Who's he going to trust re those "no-strings"? Emotional attachments don't seem to be very predictable, IMX.

I'm thinking there's a reason rich/famous people are (or should be) at least somewhat paranoid.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 12:54 PM
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Nah, anyone who puts up with me for that long deserves all the sexual favors he can dream up for free. God knows he'll pay enough, just not in dollars.

AWB, I commend to you the film In Gefahr und größter Not bringt der Mittelweg den Tod", in which the protagonist, Inge , who robs men while granting them sexual favors, says:

Das, was die Männer versprechen, erweist sich nachträglich immer als zu wenig. Für dieses Defizit nehme ich ihre Brieftaschen an mich. ["That which men promise always turns out to be too little. To compensate for this disparity I take their wallets."]

Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:01 PM
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I think it goes:

Self-respect, figuring in return on your investment from rate of inflation 5% higher than CPU: 317 dollars per month.

Integrity, calculating depreciation even in spite of regular maintenance: 520 dollars per month.

Making everyone in Aspen jealous of your bespoke Balenciaga ski boots in embossed anaconda leather: Priceless.


Posted by: commenter from 23 | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:07 PM
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They've started making a few men of better stuff since 1974, I think. But that bitterness is definitely, I think, a large part of why women still talk about wanting to meet rich men who are generous with cash. If women repeatedly find that all their male lovers are sexually demanding but also withholding, emotionally demanding but also withholding, and socially demanding but also withholding, they will, I think quite naturally, begin to assume that the only equality that can come in relationships is financial. And I have to say, men who are both demanding and withholding about the same things are fucking legion. It's not everyone, but such is the patriarchy that they're thick on the ground.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:10 PM
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Speaking of personal integrity.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:15 PM
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personal integrity

Chris Wallace may, shockingly, have a little.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:27 PM
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107: Lovely. Thank you.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:27 PM
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110: I hear about things like this and I can't help but wonder if Obama has had a chat with Rupert about what his best interests might be in a Democratic-leaning year.

Maybe that's not likely, but faced with the extreme improbability of your interpretation, I'm forced to reach a bit for an alternative.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:33 PM
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108: surely feeling short-changed in relationships is a human thing, not exclusive to either sex. Same with the resulting scars and bitterness. Love in its way calls for transcending exchange motivations in the short term, or at least making them secondary. As we come to feel this is unrealistic we demand our return up front. Men and women do this in different ways, but they both do it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:33 PM
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110: Good for him. How can all those white people get together on TV and have the balls to say that white people shouldn't be accused of racism? Of course there's a fucking double standard, pretty white lady. The double standard is that when you walk down the street, you don't see people clutching their purses a little closer and looking suspiciously at you. Dumbshits. At least Wallace has the balls to admit that his reactions to people are often racist.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:37 PM
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I can't help but wonder if Obama has had a chat with Rupert about what his best interests might be in a Democratic-leaning year.

Maybe, and I agree that Wallace's behavior was improbable, but then why would Murdoch let all his Whities blather for 2.5 hours on nothing but "Oh NOES! Teh Dark Peeplez is RACIST!!!11!"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:42 PM
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112: I saw that. I actually think that probably Fox just went below even Chris Wallace's low standards the last few days. For some reason I have been clicking over to them several times a day this week just to see the depths of their racist fuckpiggery, it truly is incredible, even for them. The day of the speech most of the time their summary was "Obama Does not Disavow Pastor" with a link to a subarticle about how he was a hypocrite for thinking Imus should have been fired. Then they switched to "Will the Speech Stop the Loop" of the Pastor clips ... well you tell us... And since then there was a day of a "New Black Panther Party" endorsement on some website with hundreds of thousands of unsolicited endorsements (even more farcical than the MoveOn Hitler ad). And now the "typical white person" BS.

As I posted in the other thread, if you need some sermons this weekend, do yourself the favor of watching some of the full sermons from which the clips came.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:46 PM
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Has anyone pointed out that one of the main incentives for women to prostitute themselves is money, not sex?

And that the probable reason women do that is because *as women* they're economically disadvantaged?

I think talking about it in terms of sex is backwards.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:48 PM
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Yes, that was real, full blown irony. I didn't even mean that a little, and I recognize that sexuality is socially constructed.

Thank you. I've been studying up on my copiy of A Field Guide To Eastern Ironies but sometimes they go by too fast. I don't mean that as snottily as it sounds.

I used to try to distinguish the biological category of sex from the social category of gender, but I've given up.

... are fucking legion. It's not everyone, but such is the patriarchy that they're thick on the ground.

I may be thick as a brick, but I've never had sex with that legion.

Posted by commenter from 23

Oooh, I like that name. Can I be Commenter from Altair 880? I had been thinking of the nom de guerre from earlier, "Unfuckable John", but this has more class.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:52 PM
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Has anyone pointed out that one of the main incentives for women to prostitute themselves is money, not sex?

I thought the original post made that point.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:52 PM
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I know that it is absurd to talk about Fox "jumping the shark" ("jumping the halibut" maybe), but I do think their conduct over the past week puts them into a new and even lower classification. Some of it is probably spite, watching a montage of their anti-Obama jihad from last Sunday, I found out that they keep a running countdown of how long it has been since Obama has refused to be interviewed on Fox News Sunday. With their ratings drop-off it has taken on the nature of an existential struggle for them. (But then of course fuckwads like ABC News are there to help them out with a reach around. Compete you goddamn media motherfuckers! What the fuck is wrong with you?)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 1:57 PM
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Has anyone pointed out that one of the main incentives for women to prostitute themselves is money, not sex? ... I think talking about it in terms of sex is backwards.

Every time I get cocky because I've correctly identified irony in its native habitat, something like this goes by and I think "do I need to take a course in English as a second language?". Of course it's not about sex.

If you'll agree that money = power, I've twice said it's about money, not sex, from both sides of the transaction. Once above at 88, and once at 697 on t'other thread. As I said over there, I thought this point was conventional wisdom from decades ago. I'd seen it all over the blogs, but now I can't remember where - Bayerstein? Marcotte?.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 2:15 PM
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There are also reasons why broke goodlooking women become prostitutes much more than broke goodlooking guys do, though. And I doubt it's simply because women only earn 60% of what guys do.

But understanding the monetary aspect might reduce the amount of psychological speculation about motives. Prostitution apart, my guess is that a stripper makes 3-5 times the hourly take home pay of a waitress or a barmaid, and waitressing is more demanding and tiring. Psychologists should ask why anyone prefers to work as a waitress, given the choice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-08 2:36 PM
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