Re: One birth mother's story.

1

And likewise, if we promote the idea that carrying unplanned pregnancies to term is emotionally traumatic, then on-the-fencers may be more inclined towards abortion. This is a trivial point, no?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
2

No, it isn't. No one ought to be promoting any agenda-heavy idea. Women ought to be informed and given space to make their own decisions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
3

1: Talking honestly about emotional costs is useful. The fact that true information inclines people toward certain behaviors is a good thing.

I've never seen the emotional costs of adoption used as a pro-abortion gimmick, but I've certainly seen the reverse. They just did a movie - Juno - whose theme was that adoption is easy as pie for the mother.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
4

2: well, sure, but good luck with that.

3: You've never heard pro-choice arguments that stress the emotional costs of carrying unplanned pregnancies to term? Really?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
5

2: well, sure, but good luck with that.

Isn't this the pro-choice position?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
6

5: I was responding to your second sentence, not your third.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
7

Amusingly, I can't stay to debate because one of the campus sororities is throwing me a baby shower. TTFN.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
8

No, "good luck with that" is the anti-choice position.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
9

4: Really, I haven't -- or specifically, I haven't heard pro-choice arguments that stress the emotional costs of giving up a baby for adoption, rather than bearing it and keeping it.

Now, part of that may be that they're so obvious that they don't need to be emphasized -- when I found myself pregnant at a time when I didn't want a child, the only options I considered at all were abortion and keeping it. Giving birth to a child that I was going to give up for adoption seemed like such a painful possibility that it was never anything I gave any serious consideration to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
10

I haven't heard pro-choice arguments that stress the emotional costs of giving up a baby for adoption, rather than bearing it and keeping it.

Well no, naturally, because that wouldn't have anything to do with the pro-choice position. But you've surely heard pro-choice arguments that stress the emotional costs of carrying unplanned pregnancies to term, rather than aborting them, right? (Which was the question.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:26 AM
horizontal rule
11

Truly sorry 10 was so snippy. Unjustified.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:26 AM
horizontal rule
12

Really?

Really. I've seen pro-choicers note the obvious about carrying a baby to term and keeping it, but I don't recall seeing the personal costs of adoption deployed as a pro-choice argument - though it obviously should be, so it probably is. I may have missed this.

This, on the other hand, is something you see all the time:

... so many men in such various states are so deeply worried about women possibly being all sad from having an abortion ...

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
13

10: That was your question, but it doesn't have much to do with the subject of the post, which is adoption. I've seen discussion of the hardships of caring for a child when you're not ready for it, of course. But adoption, in the context of disputes about abortion rights, does IME get presented as something that solves all the post-birth problems of unwanted pregnancy for the birth-mother, reducing the question of whether to abort or not to abort to a question of the medical burden of pregnancy and birth.

Part of the reason for this, I think, is that abortion gets discussed in the US mostly in a frame of legal rights, and unwanted pregnancy is more relevant to that legal discussion than unwanted childbearing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
14

I've heard "pro-lifers should not act like the emotional costs of adoption are nothing when touting the emotional costs of abortion" from pro-choicers before. As they should; there is a tendency on the part of some anti-choice types to assume that aborting a pregnancy in the first month will lead to a life-time of depression and regret and visiting tiny gravestones in the cemetary, but that giving birth and giving up the baby will be no more worrisome than dropping off the dry cleaning.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:31 AM
horizontal rule
15

but it doesn't have much to do with the subject of the post

Nor did it have much to do with the content of 3, which he was supposedly responding to.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
16

15: but 3 was a purported response to 1.

I just read the linked post, which is indeed very good. 1 was a response to Heebie's post, not to that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
17

Of course, from the point of view of someone who opposes abortion, it's good if women who have abortions feel bad about it - that's not merely something you want to deploy as an argument, it's something you want to make happen.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
18

To be personal, the primary emotional obstacle to adoption for me was that it felt like a failure of responsibility. There are plenty of people out there I wouldn't trust to take care of a kitten, and I'm going to hand a baby over to someone I don't know at all? I would have worried forever over something I would have had no way of controlling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
19

16: I dunno, Brock, I think you might want to read heebie's post again.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
20

17: Assuming good faith (which, you know, let's), why? Making women feel bad about aborting would be good if it reduced the number of abortions, but neutral or negative otherwise, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
21

To be personal, the primary emotional obstacle to adoption for me was that it felt like a failure of responsibility.

Oh yes. My parents would be so angry with me if I gave away their grandchild to some stranger. An abortion would be my business, but a child given up for adoption would be out there, somewhere, forever.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
22

There's probably an interesting discussion to be had about social construction of trauma. Alas, tiny comment box, mountain of grading.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
23

17 is true, but isn't really the public face of the pro-life movement. Politically, there's a desire to portray the pro-life position as promoting what's best for women (hence the focus on abortion trauma). But most people realize that having a baby may very often not be what's best for a woman.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
24

I wonder if the trend towards open adoption has made it less traumatic for birth mothers?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
25

The pro-life movement thinks of women as incubators/breeding animals. Hence their belief that while the critters may suffer from having the process of incubation interrupted, there'll be zero trauma when the infant is removed from the critter shortly after birth.

"We can't reason from our feelings to those of this class of persons," said the other lady, sorting out some worsteds on her lap.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:51 AM
horizontal rule
26

Making women feel bad about aborting would be good if it reduced the number of abortions, but neutral or negative otherwise, no?

Well yes, reduced number of abortions, but also just because the pro-life belief is that it's a grave moral crime. You don't think it would be good to make murderers or rapists feel bad about what they've done (even in the absence of reducing the number of crimes going forward)? Penitence.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
27

Politically, there's a desire to portray the pro-life position as promoting what's best for women (hence the focus on abortion trauma). But most people realize that having a baby may very often not be what's best for a woman.

Yeah, this is a large part of what ticks people off about it. A straightforward debate on the terms of "We recognize that women often want to choose to abort a pregnancy, and that they are likely to be better off for it. We nonetheless oppose allowing them to make that choice because we believe that it is as morally wrong as murdering an infant would be," would be a serious political loser for the pro-life movement, but would be much easier to have with good will on both sides than the debate we actually do have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
28

Also, I should perhaps for clarity note that "the pro-life" position is not monolithic.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
29

Assuming good faith (which, you know, let's), why? Making women feel bad about aborting would be good if it reduced the number of abortions, but neutral or negative otherwise, no?

I absolutely didn't mean to imply a lack of good faith.

Decent people, dealing in good faith, want all moral criminals to feel bad about their crimes. The prospect of feeling bad keeps people from offending in the first place, and retrospectively, bad feelings are appropriate punishment. It's all win-win.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
30

I have seen the adoption situation up close and personal. When I was a child, young ladies would stay with us during the last stages of pregnancy so that nobody at home knew the girl was pregnant.

I still talk with three or four of the women. A couple still ponder it. A couple have never looked back.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
31

You don't think it would be good to make murderers or rapists feel bad about what they've done (even in the absence of reducing the number of crimes going forward)?

Huh. Personal blind spot there, I suppose. Yes, that would be a normal way to react, but I don't personally care at all in the abstract how wrongdoers feel, unless I know them as individuals. Knowing, for example, that George Bush was happily playing golf somewhere for the rest of his life wouldn't bother me outside of considerations of the deterrent effect for future wrongdoers. But that's me being weird, I think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
32

23 seems correct to me.

30 seems incomplete - sounds to me as though there's an interesting story or stories behind it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
33

You want to know what is emotionally traumatic?

Having children and raising them yourself!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
34

30: I've known a few birth mothers as well. Their reactions to the adoption have been all over the map. I haven't heard of anyone with as strongly negative a reaction as in the linked post, although there are no doubt plenty out there.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
35

34: And of course their openly-expressed reactions to adoption have been all over the map. That isn't data about what their private feelings are, but it's an area where I'd expect at least some feelings not to be easily expressed, and where I'd expect the feelings expressed to be shaped strongly by the woman's expectations about the people she was talking to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
36

31: yeah, I remembered that you'd expressed similar views before. I think you're something of an outlier (and I've always actually been curious exactly how you get there, philosophically). 29 is more typical.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
37

35: of course. Although I actually meant "all over the map" more in each person than across persons (although it applies across persons too). I.e., fairly complicated emotional reactions. As one would expect.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
38

I haven't heard of anyone with as strongly negative a reaction as in the linked post

I get the sense that the author of the linked post has spent a lot of time not telling people about her feelings.

As heebie proposes:

I think it speaks to the way in which the pro-life movement is exploiting our cultural discomfort with icky emotions.

I haven't been close to women who have given up children, and I don't know that I'm all that accomplished in the empathy department, but Jeez, I have kids and a mother, and it's pretty easy for me to suppose that it's unbelievably wrenching to give up a child for adoption.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
39

29 is more typical.

And, as you politely failed to note, was pwned by 26.

We agree, then, that LB is weird. Comity!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
40

In the linked post, I disagreed with some of the stuff about fathers and losing custody. Not that the loudest of the men's rights crowd aren't utter assholes, but I have witnessed profound pain in friends who get to see their kids only on weekends, and that's a pain divorcable (ouch) from anger over child support and ex-wives.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
41

where I'd expect the feelings expressed to be shaped strongly by the woman's expectations about the people she was talking to.

But, with me, they speak their inner-most thoughts.

Several women who stayed with us decided to keep their babies. This result is very much contemplated by those trying to stop a possible abortion. Their goal is to get the woman away from the abortion, at any cost.

They want to present the future as mostly positive ("life will be normal AND you will help some sweet childless couple.").


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
42

Cala:

In the future, I would appreciate it if you only present post-divorce life as only good.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
43

Okay, okay, will.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
44

For a percentage.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
45

19: okay, I just did, and my reaction is the same. (See comment 1.)

The middle paragraph of Heebie's post makes it sound as if the standard pro-life talking point is that abortion is a Major Trauma, while anything else (keeping or adopting the baby) is Just Peachy. Which is a gross caricature. Everyone realizes and acknowledges that, as Heebie put it, "once you're dealing with an unplanned pregnancy ... you may deal with traumatic emotions, period." Again, as I said in 1, this is a trivial point. And I do think that a good part of the motivation behind the abortion=trauma stories that are pushed by the pro-life movement is a reaction to the trauma-minimizing that's often done on the pro-choice side, at least at the talking point level: "carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term can be a very traumatic life experience; that trauma can be prevented with an abortion". Which, again, may or may not be true in any particular instance. (I'm genuinely unaware of any efforts to asses the relative trauma of having an abortion vs. giving a baby up for adoption. I have anecdotes, but they're all over the map and so somewhat unhelpful.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
46

My best friend in college was adopted. His adoptive parents were lovely people, he seemed to not have too many issues surrounding his having been adopted (of course, probably easier in his case since he is white, adopted into a white family, so it's not like it's obvious to anyone who hasn't been told), but it kinda got to me.

I just kept thinking, here is this wonderful, sweet, brilliant, amazing young man created by two people out there in the world who have no idea what an incredible person their son is and don't seem to care.

Does that make me a jerk? I kinda obsessed about it for a while.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
47

There, I think you're missing the use of adoption in pro-life arguments. I've seen it used explicitly as a minimizer, roughly as follows -- "Sure, caring for a baby when you're not ready is a big deal. But if you don't want a baby, you can give it up for adoption, at which point the only issue is the discomfort of pregnancy and childbirth. Is nine months out of your life such a big deal that it's worth having an abortion to avoid?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:47 AM
horizontal rule
48

47 to 45.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:47 AM
horizontal rule
49

I just kept thinking, here is this wonderful, sweet, brilliant, amazing young man created by two people out there in the world who have no idea what an incredible person their son is and don't seem to care.

I thought that you said that the people who created him were lovely?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
50

I mean the birth parents.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
51

There is a book all about this; sadly, it's in a box somewhere and I can't remember the title, but it's about women who placed children for adoption in the pre-Roe years, and it's pretty wrenching.

Having seen one friend go the adoption route and others have abortions, and thinking about my own feelings towards PK, I would definitely rather abort as early as possible over giving a real child to strangers.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
52

Yeah, 47 is my experience of hearing it raised. But the relative unpleasantness of any particular option really is beside the point. The issue is a legal one, specifically of bodily integrity and the right to make decisions regarding what's going on inside your own without the heavy, stupid hand of the state or the church deciding it for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
53

47: I've seen adoption used as a minimizer re: economic costs and time costs, but not in terms of emotional costs. You've seen people argue that giving up a baby for adoption is emotionally easy? That would be bizarre, agreed.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
54

51: Something like "The Girls Who Went Away", isn't it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
55

and don't seem to care

How would you have any idea?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
56

Will, these women who stayed with you -- were they easy?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
57

45: Well yes, if you 1.) ignore the contents of the first paragraph 2.) ignore the pronoun "it" in the second paragraph and 3.) ignore that paragraphs 2 and 3 were meant to be read in the context of paragraph 1, then I suppose your reading is reasonable.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
58

51: The mother of a friend had a baby and gave it up for adoption and was forbidden to tell anyone (she "transferred" to a "new college" for a year.) She felt so much guilt, and it didn't come out for 35 years (when her adopted-away daughter contacted the agency, and they agreed to meet). I have no idea who the hell the send-the-girl-away crowd is kidding, but jesus, what a lot to put a girl through.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
59

53: They just ignore the emotional costs, ime, Brock. You know, a cheery "choose life -- there's always adoption!!!11", and that's mostly the end of it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
60

55: No, you're absolutely right that I have no idea. I should have put more thought into my comment. I'm having trouble articulating it--it's like, well, let's say his birth mother was like the one whose story is linked in the OP. Thinking about it all the time. Then it's truly awful for her. If she doesn't care, it seems awful in a different way (although certainly less painful for her).

I don't know. Like I said, I'm having trouble articulating my feelings about it.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
61

53: I just googled "abortion adoption" and followed one link from the top hit -- clearly a prolife site. Here's their description of the emotional effects:

Adoption can truly be heart breaking on many levels. But, it also holds hope. It offers a future for your child which you can feel good about for the rest of your life. You can be proud of the power you have to make the dreams of the adoptive couple come true. In fact, you should know that adoption in general does not cause long-term grief for the birth mother. Studies show that teenage mothers who place their children for adoption have overall greater satisfaction in their lives - in their work, finances and relationships. They are also more optimistic about the future and less likely to suffer from depression. So, while sadness is a real issue, it will become less intense as time goes on, especially when you are confident your baby is well cared for.... Do you think you will be "done" with this situation if you choose abortion? Think again. The effects of abortion, both physical and emotional, will be long lasting. (Of those who have had abortions, 94% regret their decision for a variety of reasons.2) You cannot pretend a baby never existed; an abortion will not accomplish that. You will still have to accept that you were pregnant, you will still have to deal with your separation from the child you conceived and you will still experience loss. Abortion may seem like a quick and logical solution, but the outcome for you will not be that easy.

This reads to me like a straightforward attempt to minimize the emotional difficulty of adoption compared to abortion. This is unsurprising, given the aims of the site, but that's the sort of thing I was thinking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
62

The anti-abortion argument is often framed in this fashion: Having an abortion is traumatic and damaging, so if raising a baby would be a disaster, you can simply give it up for adoption.

Generally, nobody makes the argument that giving up a baby is easy - they just ignore the fact that it's not, which has the same effect.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
63

In case anyone was wondering, it's my goal in this thread to set a new record for being pwned.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
64

45
Everyone realizes and acknowledges that, as Heebie put it, "once you're dealing with an unplanned pregnancy ... you may deal with traumatic emotions, period."

"Realizes and acknowledges" is doing a lot of work, and you seem to be using "trauma" very broadly. Someone might imagine in an intellectual sense that adoption would be traumatic, but not really be aware of how and how much until it actually happens to them. Someone can know perfectly well that parenthood is a lot of difficult work without realizing that it's a lot of pain as well. Anti-abortion crusaders can "acknowledge" the problems with adoption in a five-second boilerplate admission and spend the next half-hour talking about all the problems with abortion and consider that meeting their obligations to acknowledge it.

Unless I'm misreading you, you seem to be saying that the problems with adoption are ignored equally by pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, right? Both sides "acknowledge" that problems exist, but that's a long way from showing a true equivalency.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
65

64: Exactly. The text I quoted 'acknowledges' that adoption can be sad, but argues strongly that it's going to be short-term sadness as opposed to the long-term emotional effects of an abortion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
66

A largish handful of friends' parents (mothers and fathers, both) had children previously given up for adoption show up on their doorsteps when said friends were college-aged. It was a little odd that it seemed to happen as a wave, when the adopted children were early 30s, say.

My friend J was tracked down by her birth mother with a team of private detectives, even after a specific refusal of acquaintance-making brokered through the adoption agency.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
67

I think I just read (maybe in the comments to the linked story?) that in at least some states, adopted children can access their birth records only after 30. So that might explain the wave.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
68

67: Aha! That makes much more sense than the loopy theories I was making up in my head ("Maybe they were about to start a family and felt the need to . . ." and then I barfed on myself.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
69

We had a middle aged woman turn up on our doorstep once, trying to trace her mother, because she'd lived in the house in the 1940s. By a long shot the people next door just about remembered her where she'd moved to. Half an hour later we got a call from the woman to say she'd found her.

I suspect this couldn't happen with anyone under 50 now. Everybody is too transient.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
70

67: Hmm, interesting to know. That would fit my friend's timetable, too.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
71

Yeah, I don't actually know if it's true, or if it is true where it applies -- I just saw it someplace in this discussion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
72

Heebie:

we are not trying to force you to place for adoption.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
73

A friend of mine gave a daughter up for adoption when my friend was young. She hopes to meet her daughter, has put her contact information on the sites for that. She has kept journals ever since the adoption. She says that when she tells her daughter that she thought of her every single day since she gave her up, she can show proof.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
74

Oh, man, that's so sad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
75

73: Good god. Thinking about that and the linked post, I just feel even more certain than I did before that I wouldn't want to go the adoption route.

As it is, I'm so terrified of getting pregnant because I don't even know if I'd want to abort.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
76

I think that the adoption route is terribly difficult and extremely selfless.

I'll admit to sometimes starting to approach the possibility of thinking about getting teary during an adoption case.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:53 AM
horizontal rule
77

without the heavy, stupid hand of the state or the church deciding it for you.

Somewhat related, recently I saw a room fall to silence when a Chinese guest explained blithely that he and his wife both came from one-child families, so they were allowed to have two children.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
78

Unless I'm misreading you, you seem to be saying that the problems with adoption are ignored equally by pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, right?

No, I'm saying problems with adoption are ignored more by pro-life groups and problems with abortion are ignored more by pro-choice goups. (Where "problems" means emotional impacts.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
79

62 puts it best.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
80

Yeah. My friend is generally lovely, and content with her decision. She didn't tell me about the journals as part of an emotionally wrenching conversation for her. But I was struck by it, and very much hope she gets to have the daughter in her life in some way.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
81

61: agree, that's not exactly evenhanded, but it reads to me entirely like what I was talking about in 45: a reaction to the trauma-minimizing that's often done on the pro-choice side. And even so, it's not totally unfair: "Adoption can truly be heart breaking on many levels.... sadness is a real issue."

I would, however, be very interested in seeing the "studies" they are referring to.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
82

She says that when she tells her daughter that she thought of her every single day since she gave her up, she can show proof.

There is a lovely moment in the French movie I've Loved You So Long where (SPOILER) the younger sister shows the older one her teenage diary, each day that the older sister has been away recorded as another number at the top of the page. It's extremely moving in the context of the scene/movie.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:10 AM
horizontal rule
83

81: Huh. The bit about the trauma of abortion is IMO&E nonsense, but I could see how it might be a reaction to the general pro-choice position that abortion isn't generally significantly traumatic for the woman. But how is the claim that adoption "does not cause long-term grief for the birth mother.... [and leads to] overall greater satisfaction in their lives - in their work, finances and relationships... [and makes them] more optimistic about the future and less likely to suffer from depression," a reaction to anything from the pro-choice movement?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
84

It's a good thing we've got the Catholic Church to look out for the interests of women (and nine-year-old girls!) who are in trouble.
Via Sullivan, here's the Brazilian church explaining why they publicized the excommunication of the little girl who was pregnant by her father:

We are convinced that the disclosure of this therapeutic penalty (the excommunication) will do much good to many Catholics, making them avoid this grievous sin.

You just gotta love "therapeutic penalty" - makes me nostalgic for the Catholic Church that I grew up in! Here's why the doctor had to be excommunicated:

If any doctor has a "perplexed conscience" [as the article says] before performing an abortion (which seems extremely improbable to us), he should - if he is a Catholic and wishes to follow the law of God - seek a spiritual director.

I want to be sympathetic to Brock, who I know is trying to reconcile basic decency with his unease about abortion, but I don't think such a reconciliation is possible. By the lights of Catholicism, at least, these Brazilian monsters are absolutely correct.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
85

I just kept thinking, here is this wonderful, sweet, brilliant, amazing young man created by two people out there in the world who have no idea what an incredible person their son is and don't seem to care.

Yeah, I cannot imagine having a child and not caring. I seriously doubt that birth parents don't care; if anything, I would imagine refraining from trying to find a child because one would fear rejection, or not want to cause disruption or emotional distress, or feel unworthy.

I have a cousin who was adopted, who told me that she has "no interest" in finding her birth mother, although the subtext was that doing so would be somehow a betrayal of her (adoptive) parents. It seemed such a terrible sad thing to say, and given that she was adopted 40+ years ago, all I could think of was some old woman who was never going to hear from her baby.

And LB's right: the book I was thinking of was "The Girls Who Went Away." *Highly* recommended, especially if one is prone to put birth parents on a pedestal. I think mostly placing kids for adoption is something young women do when they feel like they have absolutely no other choice. Less "selfless" than just plain tragic.

(And yes, I'm sure there are women for whom placing a kid for adoption is not a tragedy, which is why I said "mostly.")


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
86

81
And even so, it's not totally unfair:

In 45, you said that it's a "gross caricature" to imply that anti-abortion groups make adoption sound "just peachy." LB's blockquote was 242 words about how abortion is bad. The parts you pick out about problems with adoption are 14 words.

OK, anti-abortion groups don't make adoption sound completely "just peachy." But you have to admit that they make it sound, by word count, 94.2 percent peachy.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
87

83: no, that wasn't reaction, all that was what followed the "Studies show..." Which is fair and useful, if studies really show it. I'm skeptical. I'd be very interested in seeing the studies.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
88

87 cont.: also curious and noteworthy that there is no corresponding "studies show" for their abortion claims. They're just assertions.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
89

problems with abortion are ignored more by pro-choice goups

I'm extremely dubious about this. The whole point of choice is to leave the decision-making to women themselves--not to encourage women to have abortions. The thinking is that it is the individual woman who is best situated to decide what *her* problems with abortion/adoption/pregnancy/parenting are, and to decide accordingly.

Which is totally not the same thing as ignoring or minimizing said problems.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
90

87: Which is fair and useful, if studies really show it. I'm skeptical. I'd be very interested in seeing the studies.

Ah. I understand now -- I had blown past your skepticism into total disbelief that there were any such studies remotely worthy of credence, and was reading that as assertion on the same level of what they were saying about abortion. But I suppose if you thought it was possible that they were merely accurately reporting reliable, unbiased research, then I can understand how you read it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
91

89: B, in a pro-choice utopia*, I'm sure you'd be right--that's the pro-choice goal. But in these United States, where the legality of and access to abortion are under constant threat, political advocacy is essential, and with that almost inevitably comes a certain amount of cheerleading.

*Like, for example, most the developed world.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
92

Which is fair and useful, if studies really show it.

But it's also fair and useful if studies don't show it, right? I mean, what harm is a lie if it stops a pre-meditated murder?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
93

Brock, I think you're confusing cheerleading for abortion access with cheerleading for abortion. The idea is that if we can establish, say 3 abortion clinics in South Dakota (in which there are none, right? Or is that some other state), it's a victory, not because we want people to get abortion, but because we figure there are people who already want abortions, and now they will be able to get them.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
94

Part of what's so revolting about the case referenced in 84 is that church officials repeatedly rationalize their decision in terms of the "innocence" of the fetuses. As if the nine-year old girl weren't innocent of the goddamn pregnancy.

Also, they excommunicated her mother and the doctors, but not her, because of her age. IRONY. (And did the asshole stepfather get excommunicated for raping a child? One suspects not.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
95

But I suppose if you thought it was possible that they were merely accurately reporting reliable, unbiased research, then I can understand how you read it.

I believe it's possible they are accurately reporting "research", although I think it's highly unlikely to be reliable or unbiased. (Either that, or they're inaccurately reporting some reliable, unbiased research.) I don't know what site this was pulled from, so I have no opinion about whether the deception (whether from reporting inaccurate research or inaccurately reporting accurate research) was likely innocent or intentional.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
96

91
a certain amount of cheerleading.

Link, for example?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
97

there are people who already want abortions, and now they will be able to get them.

. . . safely, and without having to wait until they're in their second term. Hopefully they will also be able to avoid carrying to term simply because they can't afford a legal abortion, only to give birth to a child (children being more expensive than abortions, and hence more unaffordable for women who can't drum up a few hundred bucks to travel out of state).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
98

Plus, having the children could have killed her, right? So the right of those "innocent" fetuses supersedes the right of the also innocent 9-year-old girl to live? Guess she shouldn't have had the temerity to get herself raped.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
99

Brock, I think you're confusing cheerleading for abortion access with cheerleading for abortion. The idea is that if we can establish, say 3 abortion clinics in South Dakota (in which there are none, right? Or is that some other state), it's a victory, not because we want people to get abortion, but because we figure there are people who already want abortions, and now they will be able to get them.

No, I'm talking about the cheerleading that's necessary in the political process in order to get the 3 abortion clinics in South Dakota. I know there's no vested interest in encouraging people to have abortions once they're there.



Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
100

91: I don't require a link, but I really don't understand what you mean by "cheerleading." As in, "yay, go have abortions!"?

I have seen some feminist sites where women talk about being glad to have had abortions, feeling that their abortions were fully positive experiences. And I have seen some comments where people talk about how other people "should" have abortions. But I have certainly never seen an advocacy organization endorse the latter, and I don't think that the former constitutes cheerleading--does it?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
101

95: I linked it with the quote -- something called "AbortionFacts.com". I don't know a thing about them generally, but they pop up at the top of a google search for "abortion adoption", so I'm guessing they're fairly influential.

And it sounds as if we're roughly in accordance on the amount of credence to give the "Studies say".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
102

99: Still confused. Pro-abortion cheerleading? In the political process?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
103

96: countering pro-life baloney, for one. I don't have links at hand. I don't regard the existence of political advocacy as controversial.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
104

cheerleading that's necessary in the political process in order to get the 3 abortion clinics in South Dakota

I don't really think this takes the form of "cheerleading." What I've seen is more like what B was saying: "If we have these clinics, women will be able to get safe, legal abortions without having to wait/travel/jump through legal hoops/possibly be charged with crimes/etc."

I guess I really don't understand what you mean by "cheerleading."


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
105

104 pwned by 100.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
106

103: Yeah, I'm confused as well. Even without links, can you make up an imaginary quote, just to tell us what sort of thing you're talking about cheerleading for?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
107

For the record, I don't have a problem with people being anti-abortion. I have a problem with people opposing *safe* abortions, i.e. legal ones. And I do kind of have a problem with people being "pro-adoption," because I just don't think that adoption (like abortion) is ever a fully positive thing; more like the best possible outcome of a really sad situation.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
108

One suspects not.

The regional archbishop, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, pronounced excommunication for the mother for authorising the operation and doctors who carried it out for fear that the slim girl would not survive carrying the foetuses to term.

"God's law is above any human law. So when a human law ... is contrary to God's law, this human law has no value," Cardoso had said.

He also said the accused stepfather would not be expelled from the church. Although the man allegedly committed "a heinous crime ... the abortion - the elimination of an innocent life - was more serious".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
109

For the record, I don't have a problem with people being anti-abortion. I have a problem with people opposing *safe* abortions, i.e. legal ones.

Huh? If being anti-abortion doesn't mean opposing abortion...then what does it mean? Other than having a personal creed that requires that you personally do not abort a child, which of course is uncontroversial.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
110

Jesus fucking christ.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
111

Dammit, people, I have work to do. Here:

****
MYTH: Many women come to regret their abortions later.

Research indicates that relief is the most common emotional response following abortion, and that psychological distress appears to be greatest before, rather than after, an abortion.

There are undoubtedly some women who, in hindsight, wish that they had made different choices, and the majority would prefer never to have become pregnant when the circumstances were not right for them. When a wanted pregnancy is ended (for medical reasons, for example) women may experience a sense of loss and grief. As with any major change or decision involving loss, a crisis later in life sometimes leads to a temporary resurfacing of sad feelings surrounding the abortion. Women at risk for poor post-abortion adjustment are those who do not get the support they need, or whose abortion decisions are actively opposed by people who are important to them.
****

This was my first result on google. Major bonus points for actually citing the research they're discussing (in a footnote), but otherwise this doesn't read to me significantly different from LB's excerpt in 61.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
112

110 to 108, obvs.

109: I don't object to people thinking abortion is wrong, or even trying to talk others out of it. Picket away. But don't try to "protect" fetuses by endangering women.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
113

I don't see 111 as cheerleading at all.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
114

My mom revealed a few years ago that she'd been contacted by a son she'd given up for adoption when she was 17, despite that the particular agency she'd worked through had guaranteed perpetual anonymity. This was one of those secret details that she'd pledged to dad would never, ever be revealed to the kids.

Then she revealed that she'd also had a daughter out of wedlock a couple years later, also given up, and that the daughter had actually found her some years before, thanks to my sister's wedding notice in the paper. My sister met our half-sister a few weeks before the wedding, but this was kept from me, and mom continued to keep both of us in the dark about our half-brother up until the point he found her.

My secret half-brother has a web site where he posts pictures of his own family and tells the story of growing up adopted, but to the best of my knowledge dad still doesn't know that he has also found mom and has been emailing with her. Nor does dad know that my sister and I now both know everything about both of our secret half-siblings.

I'm a firm believer that sunlight is the best cleanser and the time for shame was over a long, long time ago, but it's not actually up to me. I suspect that mom isn't the only one of her friends with the same sort of secret, though, and I have to wonder if they all wouldn't be happier if they were able to come clean with each other. As it is my parents' relationship has always had an undercurrent of strain coming from something that predates their meeting.


Posted by: Charles de Gaulle | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
115

And I do kind of have a problem with people being "pro-adoption," because I just don't think that adoption (like abortion) is ever a fully positive thing; more like the best possible outcome of a really sad situation.

This is interesting. How do you feel about people who are very pro-adoption from the other side of it--i.e., have adopted a few children and think it's great and that more people should do so.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
116

In general, I have some sympathy for the Catholic Church's position, because they are at least nominally consistent with regard to war, capital punishment, euthanasia, etc, and that's a coherent and defendable philosophy. However, observation leads me to believe that a decent-sized percentage of the Catholic leadership are evil assholes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
117

111: Huh. That reads very differently from 61 to me. Cites to published research, acknowledges that some women have regrets, doesn't make manipulative claims about how 'you' will feel, and doesn't advocate that any individual make any particular choice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
118

Hey, I think it's great to give kids families. But it's irresponsible to fail to acknowledge that doing so is the result of someone's tragedy (including the tragedy of the child losing its birth parents). I'm pretty anti-closed-adoptions really.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:06 PM
horizontal rule
119

it's irresponsible to fail to acknowledge that doing so is the result of someone's tragedy

Does this really need active acknowledgement? I think that's generally understood.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
120

117: well, right, one is false and manipulative, and the other isn't. But they're otherwise similar.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
121

116 agreed.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
122

120: That's a pretty important distinction.

119: It probably is; I was merely saying that I'm uncool with simplistic "pro-adoption" positions, if such exist (and I think they do).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
123

Maybe this comes pre-pwned but my understanding is that the Catholic Church has rescinded the excommunication orders and in fact one bishop went on the record approving the choice of abortion for the 9-year-old.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
124

evil assholes

Or, possibly, some special breed of idiot savants who couldn't recognize a moral gray area if it came up and nailed them to a cross.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
125

I'm a little sorry to pile on, Brock. There are enough people arguing with you already, and I don't even have a dog in this fight, so it feels unfair. But it seems like every comment of yours is coming from somewhere just a tiny bit different. You're making an equivalence between pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates despite the fact that pro-choice advocates do not actively encourage abortions -- and, Jesus, on preview, "one is false and manipulative, and the other isn't." Where is the equivalence?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
126

Plus, having the children could have killed her, right? So the right of those "innocent" fetuses supersedes the right of the also innocent 9-year-old girl to live? Guess she shouldn't have had the temerity to get herself raped.

Oh, well, she just should have had a c-section and given the twins up for adoption. Simple!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:17 PM
horizontal rule
127

123: Not rescinded.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
128

Further to 84, after looking around we find out - quel surpris! - that the alleged research in 61 is complete horseshit. From 61:

Studies show that teenage mothers who place their children for adoption have overall greater satisfaction in their lives - in their work, finances and relationships. They are also more optimistic about the future and less likely to suffer from depression.

The writer claims that teenage mothers who place their children for adoption have "greater satisfaction" and are "more optimistic," but greater than what; more than what? In context, the clear intent is to compare these women to women who abort. But here's the article the footnote refers to:

Pearila Brichner Namerow et al., "The Consequences of Placing versus Parenting Among Unmarried Women," Marriage and Family Review 25 (1997): pp. 175-197.

I mean, what the fuck? And is anyone surprised that this person was lying? I didn't think so.

Moving along, we see that:

The effects of abortion, both physical and emotional, will be long lasting. (Of those who have had abortions, 94% regret their decision for a variety of reasons.

This references the "Post-Abortion Review," a publication of the pro-life Eliot Institute - sure to be a font of objective social science, right?

But if there's some reference to the 94% figure in the Fall 1994 edition that was cited, I can't find it. How much you want to bet that the author here is citing a completely unreliable source and nonetheless misrepresenting the content of that source?

If you are going to quote random bits of pro-life "scholarship," there's a very good chance you are quoting outright falsehoods. Simple as that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
129

Aha. Here.

Vatican Archibishop Fisichella (head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life):

"Before thinking about excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to save her innocent life and bring her back to a level of humanity of which we men of the church should be expert and masters in proclaiming," . . . "How should one act in these cases? An arduous decision for the doctor and for moral law itself," "[The girl] should have been above all defended, embraced, treated with sweetness to make her feel that we were all on her side, all of us, without distinction."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
130

118:the tragedy of the child losing its birth parents

What's tragic about losing something you never experienced? For a child adopted in the first few weeks of life birth parents might as well never have existed. The only parents the child knows are the adoptive parents.

Closed adoption is a perfectly reasonable choice for someone who doesn't want an abortion, can't raise the child, and is unwilling or unable to raise it. For some women the alternative to a closed adoption is dropping the kid off on the church doorstep. For some it's a way to avoid looking your child in the eye and explaining that his or her father is a violent rapist.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
131

From the Times:

Last week the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops admitted that the excommunications of the mother and doctors of the girl had been wrong. It said the girl's mother had acted "under pressure from the doctors", who told her the girl's life was at stake and she would die if she gave birth because she was physically immature. . . Dimas Lara Barbosa, the secretary-general of the Brazilian bishops said "We must take the circumstances into consideration". He said that equally there was "no clear case" for excommunicating the doctors, since only doctors who "systematically" conducted abortions should be excommunicated.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
132

So, as far as I can gather, the bishop of the archdiocese that excommunicated them is sticking to his guns, but the Vatican and all the rest of the bishops in Brazil are saying, "Not so fast." I suppose we shall see.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
133

130.last - "can't raise the child"

English, motherfuckers, I can speak it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
134

130: I find it difficult to believe that an adopted child exists who doesn't wonder why he or she was placed for adoption. That seems to me to be a tragedy.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
135

Wondering about something is a tragedy?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
136

125: 120 was tongue in cheek. But, I'm certainly not trying to set up an "equivalence" between pro-life and pro-choice advocates, as you suggest. I'll freely admit the overwhelming preponderance of the falsehood comes from one side. Which is understandable, in a way--see 92.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
137

131: Ugh. It's the "the woman (girl) is an innocent victim of the conniving abortionists" argument. Demonize the people who perform the abortion safely. Not exactly helpful to women or girls who need abortions.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
138

well, right, one is false and manipulative, and the other isn't. But they're otherwise similar.

I was going to say exactly this, dripping with sarcasm, but it seems the sarcasm would be lost in this case.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
139

135: Wondering who your parents were and why they "didn't want you"? Yes.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
140

136: "Understandable" in the sense that one is able to understand why people do bad things, yes. Not in the sense of being remotely sympathetic.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
141

at least nominally consistent

'Nominally' being the key word. Our parish (where my family generally goes without me, as I've re-lapsed) is pretty social justice-oriented, so you actually hear about war and capital punishment occasionally. But in the vast, vast majority of churches I've gone to, I've heard about abortion and gay marriage ad nauseam, but never about war and capital punishment, which people find ways to rationalize.

With this Brazilian excommunication case and several of Il Papa's statements and actions, it really seems as though the church is aggressively attempting to downsize the congregation.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
142

Also, to the thread generally, all this "no one's pressuring women to abort" talk is silly. I realize it's not "the pro-choice movement" applying the pressure, but many women really do face significant pressure to abort unplanned pregnancies (from their partners, from parents (if they're very young), from economic circumstances, etc.). It's against this that a lot of the pro-life counterpressure is targeted; not necessarily at anything being done by NARAL.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:48 PM
horizontal rule
143

There's probably an interesting discussion to be had about social construction of trauma.

Oh hell yes.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:49 PM
horizontal rule
144

141: The last time I was in church was my father's funeral, but the time before *that* was at a friend's wedding at a very social justicey church where the priest asked us all, right before the vows, to bow our heads and think of those who are not currently permitted to marry their beloveds. I found that very touching. Also, I think he meant gays *and* priests. And gay priests.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
145

139: It's sad, but not clearly worse than the alternative. I know of adoptees who had horrible experiences on finding out details of the events leading to their adoption. Seems to me the least bad option is to have closed adoption available as an option, and if both parties involved agree they can try to get in touch somewhere down the line.

One friend who is adopted met his birth mother and was told that she wanted him to have a mom and dad who would take care of him better than she could ever hope to. Seems to me that's a good assumption for an adoptee to make about his or her birth parents. The assumption that one was rejected for some reason seems unduly pessimistic. It's not like there's a huge rash of people having kids and deciding after a week or two that they are ugly and defective, so give them up for adoption.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
146

The adopted son of a friend contacted his birth mother and was met with rage. She had wanted to put it all behind her forever and had been told that she could. It was traumatic for both.

Some of the adoptee-rights people take a very hard line that I find offensive. Partly that comes from their decision to treat it as a rights issue, since rights tend to be absolutized. It's dirty pool politically, because there will never be a movement of Birth Mothers Who Don't Want To Meet Their Adopted-out Children, since for a big share of them anonymity and distancing are the whole issue.

You know what pisses me off, though. It's hoe much goddamn more fertile HS kids are than married couples. That's what pisses me off.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
147

142: Also, to the thread generally, all this "no one's pressuring women to abort" talk is silly.

I'll stick with "no one's cheerleading for abortion generally." But yes, in any individual case, the people who think of themselves as stakeholders -- the woman's parents, the father, employers (this probably indirectly more than directly) -- may pressure an individual woman to have an abortion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
148

It's not like there's a huge rash of people having kids and deciding after a week or two that they are ugly and defective, so give them up for adoption.

My sister used to tell our little brother that he had been given up for adoption, but the adoptive parents had sent him back.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
149

You know what pisses me off, though. It's hoe much goddamn more fertile HS kids are than married couples.

No kidding, and how much easier it is to give birth when you're in high school. It takes like five minutes and you can do it by yourself in the girls' bathroom. And then you're like fine, you can probably even finish out the prom afterwards.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:06 PM
horizontal rule
150

It strikes me that if we think of giving up one's child for adoption as a loss to be grieved, then there will be as many ways of dealing with that loss as there would be with any other. People mourn differently, and while I can't imagine being able to know perfectly what one would want ahead of time, it strikes me that what one person might need (to know that her baby is okay and loved) might not be what another person might want (to move on with her life and not dwell on it.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
151

It's against this that a lot of the pro-life counterpressure is targeted; not necessarily at anything being done by NARAL.

It's interesting to read the Eliot Institute literature that I linked above. There are some testimonials from women who regret their abortions - showing, of course, that abortion harms women.

But what you find out when you read the actual testimonials is a lot of this harm is a direct result of buying into the anti-woman creed of folks like the Eliot Institute.

Women, as Brock notes, have incentives in their lives to have abortions. That's pretty much a tautology, though. If they didn't have a reason to have an abortion, they wouldn't do it.

It's the job of anti-abortion zealots to make this peceived necessity as difficult and damaging as possible. How is it possible to describe this behavior as something other than despicable?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:09 PM
horizontal rule
152

I don't know how I let my italics get out of control. First paragraph of 151 is a quote; the rest is me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:10 PM
horizontal rule
153

99

... I know there's no vested interest in encouraging people to have abortions once they're there.

This doesn't make any sense to me. You don't go to a lot of trouble to get clinics and then be indifferent to whether they are used.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
154

How is it possible to describe this behavior as something other than despicable?

By accepting their premises that abortion is literally equivalent to murdering a baby. At that point, what you're justified to do in order to stop it (lie, cheat, manipulate) turns into a fairly difficult moral question.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
155

This doesn't make any sense to me. You don't go to a lot of trouble to get clinics and then be indifferent to whether they are used.

This might be true if providing abortions was a money-making endeavor.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
156

134

I find it difficult to believe that an adopted child exists who doesn't wonder why he or she was placed for adoption. ...

They might not know they were adopted or they might have been told why they were placed for adoption.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:13 PM
horizontal rule
157

more fertile HS kids are than married couples

Maybe it's just that HS kids have way, way more sex than married couples.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
158

153: Try this, Shearer: There's no vested interest in encouraging people to get sick, even if you're active in making sure hospitals exist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
159

148 is fucking brilliant. You sister is a genius.

Also, re 146.last - the solution is to marry them off at puberty. If I'd married at 13 I could be a grandpa by now, and that's really the best way to enjoy kids. Play with them while they're happy, pawn them off when they get annoying.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
160

147

I'll stick with "no one's cheerleading for abortion generally." ...

How about the abortion prevents crime paper?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
161

By accepting their premises that abortion is literally equivalent to murdering a baby.

Yeah. Hence my inability to find them anything other than despicable.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
162


How about the abortion prevents crime paper?

The author, sensitive to appearances, makes the explicit claim that he is not cheerleading abortion, and indeed there is a great deal of internal evidence from his writings that he's endeavored to discern a sociological fact rather than make a polemical case.

Does that strike you as an inherently non-credible stance?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
163

158

Try this, Shearer: There's no vested interest in encouraging people to get sick, even if you're active in making sure hospitals exist.

But once they get sick you have a vested interest in encouraging them to use hospitals even if it is against their religious beliefs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
164

163: How so? What do I get out of it? If we're postulating a for-profit hospital and I'm a shareholder, that doesn't relate to the position of most abortion-rights advocates in relation to clinics.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
165

But once they get sick you have a vested interest in encouraging them to use hospitals even if it is against their religious beliefs.

I always wondered why prosecutors want to go after people who let their children die of curable diseases - it's that damn hospital lobby!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
166

I think we need to work on a more precise definition of 'cheerleading.'


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
167

By accepting their premises that abortion is literally equivalent to murdering a baby. At that point, what you're justified to do in order to stop it (lie, cheat, manipulate) turns into a fairly difficult moral question.

It seems to me there could be things that are less morally wrong than murdering a baby for which the question of what you're justified to do in order to stop them (lie, cheat, manipulate) is still a fairly difficult moral question. Murdering a baby is a fairly bad act. I would consider lying in order to stop a mugging.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
168

I fear that 165 was unclear. I don't mean the "lobby" part of the hospital building, I mean lobbyists for hospitals who put political pressure on prosecutors to bring charges.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
169

Gah, I've heard otherwise intelligent people trot out the abortion-industrial complex argument a couple of times before. My desire not to hear them explain their bizarre, paranoid thought process overcame my urge to challenge them.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
170

162

The author, sensitive to appearances ...

Was everybody who cited the paper equally sensitive?

Does that strike you as an inherently non-credible stance?

It seemed to me that a lot of people wanted to believe the result.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
171

many women really do face significant pressure to abort unplanned pregnancies (from their partners, from parents (if they're very young), from economic circumstances, etc.). It's against this that a lot of the pro-life counterpressure is targeted; not necessarily at anything being done by NARAL.

And indeed, pro-choice groups have always been adamantly against this sort of thing. See again what "choice" means.

(Though I think you're really badly mistaken if you think the pro-life pressure is about family members "forcing" women to have abortions. Pressuring women to make a different decision is hardly the way to deal with that, in any case.)

Re. Shearer's silliness: there are very, very few abortion providers who do not ALSO provide birth control and other women's health services. Everyone knows (or should) that abortion services are 2% of what Planned Parenthood provides. So even if they were a for-profit organization, which they aren't, they'd be far more interested in providing birth control and pap smears than abortions.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
172

I would consider lying in order to stop a mugging.

This mirrors the rationale behind a lot of modern Republicanism - it's an alternative description of the conflict between the "reality based community" and those who create reality.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
173

167: Sure. But a first-term fetus really is not a baby. Come on.

Again, I'm okay with the Catholic position that it's still a life, and a baby-in-the-making, and that therefore killing it is a Bad Thing To Do. But it is ridiculous to argue that a fetus is a baby.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
174

170: Certainly, allegations made at that level of specificity are easily refuted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:30 PM
horizontal rule
175

I've read it twice and I honestly have no idea what 172 means. And I got 165 on the very first try.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:30 PM
horizontal rule
176

I imagine that 172 is making the point that the "I'd lie to save a baby" thing is a pure hypothetical, rather than dealing with anything that really is happening.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:32 PM
horizontal rule
177

164

How so? What do I get out of it? If we're postulating a for-profit hospital and I'm a shareholder, that doesn't relate to the position of most abortion-rights advocates in relation to clinics.

You avoid looking like an idiot for going to a lot of trouble and expense to get a clinic built which no one uses. And I assume the employees get paid in which case they have a vested interest in preserving their jobs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
178

It seemed to me that a lot of people wanted to believe the result.

I wonder. I've heard this assertion made, but I didn't really see any evidence of it. I don't think I've ever seen this paper deployed as an argument in favor of abortion rights - though it obviously provides an interesting data point that, on its face, seems to offer evidence favoring abortion rights.

But yeah, sure, I think it's generally fair to say that people are more inclined to believe research that supports their beliefs. This doesn't strike me as a very exciting insight - especially absent some evidence that the underlying beliefs are incorrect.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
179

177: Well, sure, in the counterfactual world where there aren't enough people who need abortions to keep a given clinic running in the absence of people pressuring women generally to have abortions. This does not appear to me to in any way describe the world we actually live in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
180

177 is silly. Employees are not going out on their own into the community to try to drum up business for a hospital, any more than any other employees try to individually take action to save their employer, which employees never do because it is impossible. And the first sentence ignores the economic motivations which you otherwise think about so much. sunk costs are sunk costs.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
181

Employees are not going out on their own into the community to try to drum up business for a hospital, any more than any other employees try to individually take action to save their employer, which employees never do because it is impossible

Although that's a great motivation for a thriller about a sudden inexplicable surge of savage beatings near a trauma center threatened by budget cuts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:41 PM
horizontal rule
182

Doctor Benway advocates abortion and even offers his services to pregnant strangers he runs into on the street. To all intents and purposes, he is a typical liberal.

Mark Twain wrote about the Truth-telling Baptists and the Lying Baptists. The latter would lie to save innocent life, or for another good purpose, whereas the truth-tellers would let the innocent babies be killed.

Contemporary conservative Christians are moderates on this issue, lying whenever they feel like it, but strictly judging anyone else who lies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
183

get a clinic built which no one uses.

Don't forget about all those South Dakota activists who currently have to travel 200 miles to picket an abortion clinic.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
184

that's a great motivation for a thriller about a sudden inexplicable surge of savage beatings near a trauma center threatened by budget cuts

I'm thinking of a crime drama in which abortion clinic employees break into pharmacies to poke tiny holes in the condoms and substitute fertility medicine for the birth control pills.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
185

178

I wonder. I've heard this assertion made, but I didn't really see any evidence of it. I don't think I've ever seen this paper deployed as an argument in favor of abortion rights - though it obviously provides an interesting data point that, on its face, seems to offer evidence favoring abortion rights.

Here is some abortion cheerleading which cites Freakonomics.

... According to the book Freakonomics, abortion even lowers crime.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
186

180

... Employees are not going out on their own into the community to try to drum up business for a hospital, any more than any other employees try to individually take action to save their employer, which employees never do because it is impossible.
...

This in fact happens all the time.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:53 PM
horizontal rule
187

185: Neat, it's not often you see the abortion-cheerleading-loony-homophobe lobby pipe up:

I also think it's interesting to contrast the absence of abortion in Hollywood with the surge of gay sex. It seems like everytime I watch a movie or turn on the television, I see two men having sodomy (or at least the suggestion of sodomy--and I use the word sodomy because "sex" is supposed to be reserved for the act between men and women). The reason I stopped watching Six Feet Under, despite its realistic portrayal of abortion, is because I just couldn't stand seeing David kissing and fondling other men, week after week.

I can't really see that as representative of the pro-choice movement generally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
188

ms bill and I adopted our daughter and son as infants from Korea. When our daughter was 10 we met her birth mom in Korea. Despite the language barrier, birth mom left no doubt that placing her daughter with the adoption agency was very hard for her. She seemed very happy to see her/our daughter again (and vice versa) and she seemed reassured that her daughter was doing OK with us. We thanked her again and again. We haven't met our son's birth mom. I hope that she has an inkling that we love him, he's healthy, and that we are grateful to her.

Sportswriter Rick Reilly wrote years ago about a similar experience.
http://www-cgi.cnn.com/ASIANOW/time/magazine/2000/0904/skorea.lifestyle.html


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
189

The link in 185 is hi-larious. Way to showcase the pro-choice movement, Shearer. ("Poor women have more abortions than rich women, so abortion has a eugenic effect.")


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
190

186: Not so much for hospitals, unless you're aware of things like the above mentioned rash of savage beatings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
191

that's a great motivation for a thriller about a sudden inexplicable surge of savage beatings near a trauma center threatened by budget cuts

Slated for the sixth season of The Wire.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:57 PM
horizontal rule
192

I would consider lying in order to stop a mugging.

Would you rape an old woman to stop a toddler from losing a leg?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 1:58 PM
horizontal rule
193

More abortion cheerleading. (Full text is available for only $19.95.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:02 PM
horizontal rule
194

192: I'd need more specifics to answer that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
195

Would you rape an old woman to stop a toddler from losing a leg?

Is she hott?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
196

195: No, but the toddler's got a smokin' pair of gams.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:06 PM
horizontal rule
197

186, 190: Shearer does have a point here -- there are even commercials on TV for hospitals.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
198

How was the baby shower, Heebie?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
199

198: Bizarrely delightful. We played exceedingly conventional baby shower games, and they put together a truly thoughtful gift basket.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:08 PM
horizontal rule
200

175, 176 - Okay, my intent in 172 was pretty obscure. I'll take another crack at it.

Brock proposes that one can beneficially shape reality by lying about it, and applies this concept, hypothetically at least, to the creation of the large political organizations that routinely spread false information about abortion. In 111, he cites a group favoring abortion rights, freely acknowledges that their information seems better factually grounded than that of the anti-abortion group linked in 61, and says for the purpose of our discussion: "this doesn't read to me significantly different from LB's excerpt in 61."

He makes several statements in this vein - minimizing the relevance of facts and emphasizing the utility of falsehoods, noting, for example: "I would consider lying in order to stop a mugging."

Taken together, these comments brought to my mind the famous "reality-based community" quote. If anyone isn't familiar with that one, a Bush aide is explaining the difference between his outlook and that of a journalist like Ron Suskind:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

These assertions - Brock's and the Bush aide's - struck me as similar. Political actors, through the act of aggressively ignoring reality, actually create reality.

Please note that by making this comparison, I am not mocking the efficacy of either set of liars - the Iraq War zealots and the anti-abortion zealots - both have had impressive successes.

So that's what I was going for in 172.

Does this comparison make sense? And if so, is it a valid comparison? It doesn't matter - my motives are good, and if I repeat it enough, y'all are going to start to believe me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
201

187: Also, the portrayal of abortion on Six Feet Under was . . . interesting. Nate was basically haunted by the ghosts of the babies he helped make whose mothers aborted them and Claire sees Lisa, Nate's now-dead ex, taking care of her "baby" (the fetus she aborted) for her, in the afterlife.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
202

I'd need more specifics to answer that.

It's 3:30 on a sunny May afternoon and you're wearing khaki pants and a blue shirt.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:13 PM
horizontal rule
203

I'm thinking of a crime drama

Nope. Not this either. It's a porn flick in which the protagonist is hired by an abortion clinic to drum up business.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
204

Here is some abortion cheerleading which cites Freakonomics.

Well, yes, it's cited. Here's what I said:

I don't think I've ever seen this paper deployed as an argument in favor of abortion rights.

If you think that a one-sentence mention in a piece that has nothing to do with the Freakonomics argument counts as being responsive to my comment, well, I think we can agree to disagree.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:19 PM
horizontal rule
205

200: wait, I'm not endorsing lying to people about abortion/adoption, just noting (agreeing with you, actually) that for people who believe it's gravely wrong, lying could be seen as a small price to pay. And I was separately correcting LB in saying that one doesn't necessarily have to believe it's as gravely wrong as murdering a baby in order to think lying to prevent it might be justifiable.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:21 PM
horizontal rule
206

I don't know the weirdo blog Shearer linked to, but come to think of it there is a class of people who might do something I'd call abortion cheerleading, and that blog kind of sounds like the right type. I don't know what to call them: libertarianish but non-serious kind-of-right-wing usually sort of racist internet assholes? You know the type: "Why should I pay for public schools when all those poor women having kids should have aborted them if they couldn't pay tuition at private schools?" I've been ignoring them as not a significant part of the pro-choice political discourse, but they do exist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
207

Let me be more clear: I don't think it's okay to lie to or otherwise try to manipulate women in order to prevent abortion. I wouldn't think that would need to be said, but just in case.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
208

205: Understood.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:24 PM
horizontal rule
209

203 sounds really hot.


Posted by: Bill Clinton | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
210

And I was separately correcting LB in saying that one doesn't necessarily have to believe it's as gravely wrong as murdering a baby in order to think lying to prevent it might be justifiable.

This, I find hard to follow. The wrong to the woman in preventing her from having a wanted abortion seems to me to be so grave that I can't see where balancing it out against any other wrong less severe than murder/torture/rape can make sense -- I can make the moral math work for someone who believes abortion=murder, but other than that I don't get it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
211

I've been ignoring them as not a significant part of the pro-choice political discourse, but they do exist.

I'm not sure how much "choice" figures into that kind of discourse, since bewailing the falling birthrates of white folks often seems to be its flip side.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
212

I'll just repeat for the millionth time, following Marx (Theses on Feuerbach) , that in politics the create-reality people are RIGHT, and the study-reality people are WRONG WONG WRONG. It's not about lying at all, though politicians always do, it's about creating the future instead of trying to predict it. There are many possible futures, and our actions help decide between them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
213

I don't think it's okay to lie to or otherwise try to manipulate women in order to prevent abortion.

Brock, you've been a good sport about taking a lot of abuse around here on the subject of abortion, but I don't think I know how you perceive the moral relevance of fertilized eggs, fetuses and whatnot.

You talk hypothetically a lot (as I think I was careful in noting in 200), but we do seem to have established that you consider abortion less of a moral crime than mugging. Still, I get the sense that you, personally, nonetheless regard abortion as a significant moral crime.

If you're interested in elaborating, I'd be interested in hearing how you view the moral status of abortion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
214

I doubt they're generally giving much weight to "the wrong to the woman in preventing her from having a wanted abortion", LB. IME, I think it's unlikely they're considering her needs at all, and to the extent they are, they probably (paternalistically) think they're doing her a favor, so that would also count on the "plus" side of hte ledger. The only thing in the minus side of the ledger is the intrinsic wrong of the lie.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
215

To the extent abortion is legal, some people will promote and advocate abortion, and some people will make their livings off it, and that's OK.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
216

It's a porn flick in which the protagonist is hired by an abortion clinic to drum up business.

This sounds like it could be awesome but probably isn't. Maybe if it were filmed by Mario Bava...


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
217

214 to 210.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
218

WRONG WONG WRONG

Who are you calling Wong?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
219

214: Yeah, in that case I think they're kind of despicable. I can sympathize with someone who thinks abortion is murder -- they're in a genuinely tough moral position. Someone who thinks it's wrong but not murder, and nonetheless attempts to interfere with a woman's ability to obtain an abortion by any means other than honest persuasion, on the other hand, I've got real problems with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
220

Oh, right, I was supposed to be arguing that they're not despicable. I sort of lost that thread of the argument. Oh well, I failed. Despicable.

(No, really, I had forgotten exactly what I was defending, and did in fact describe something despicable in 214. But 167 is still broadly right. I mean, kidnapping is less wrong than murder, right? What if someone thought abortion was roughly as wrong as kidnapping?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
221

Here we're getting into the analogy ban -- it falls apart because 'as wrong as kidnapping' doesn't mean much. If I push you into a car, drive you around in circles for an hour, and then let you go near a subway stop, it's kidnapping, and it's wrong, but I wouldn't do much of anything that I thought was really wrong to stop something like that from happening.

Quantifying 'as wrong as' is really tricky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:00 PM
horizontal rule
222

218: Typo. He meant Wang.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:01 PM
horizontal rule
223

the other month i watched a movie about adopted daughter and her physical mother and their meeting and reconciliation, i like both actresses, but the daughter looked so thin and almost as old as the mother, i like the actress very much, but not in that movie, she depicts a very neurotic being, just watching her one, like, gets irritated


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
224

221: Agree, but I was sort of forced there by your talk of the "moral math", which presupposes we can somehow assign values to these things. If you think that's silly, I'm not sure how it is you can say that lying to prevent abortion is wrong iff abortion is in any way less wrong than murder/torture/rape.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
225

This sounds like it could be awesome but probably isn't. Maybe if it were filmed by Mario Bava...

Or filmed by Catherine Breillat, starring Rocco Siffredi.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:06 PM
horizontal rule
226

224: Well, this is where rights talk gets helpful (or, where I find it helpful). What the woman has at stake is her right to bodily integrity and self-determination for the rest of her life. If abortion isn't murder, there's no other person involved with countervailing rights. That doesn't mean that nothing that she does under the rubric of 'having an abortion' can possibly be wrong. But it seems to me that it does mean that it is wrong not to make her the decisionmaker of what the lesser evil, or the greater good, is in the situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:15 PM
horizontal rule
227

213: I'm not sure what exactly you want to know. I think abortion is always morally wrong and never justifiable. While fully agreeing with LB that quantifying 'as wrong as' is really tricky, I think it's less wrong than murder. I think it's more wrong than killing a pig, even if you have good reason for having an abortion and no good reason for killing the pig. Abortion is, ceteris paribus, worse than a mugging, although in practice it's much more likely there will be morally mitigating factors with abortion (though not rising to the level of justification), so in practice will very likely be much less wrong than mugging.

It would take some time to really walk through all this.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:16 PM
horizontal rule
228

227: That's responsive.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
229

227 cont: I also think it's very often an unconscious wrong--done in belief that it is not wrong at all, or, if sometimes wrong, justified under the circumstances. It's not something generally done in spite of knowledge of its wrongness. For me, that's very significant and what primarily separates it from murder. If someone really believed she was comitting murder by having an abortion (and didn't have mitigating factors strong enough to justify murder, at least in her mind), I'd consider it as wrong as murder. But I think that's highly uncommon, and possibly nonexistent.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
230

I also am very deeply ambivalent about legally imposing those beliefs on others who disagree with them.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:28 PM
horizontal rule
231

The last part of 229 is probably a natural outgrowth of the fact that I don't think there's any moral difference between murder and attempted murder. (Though I think there's good reason for the differing legal treatment.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
232

Thanks for 230, Brock.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
233

If there's one other piece of information I'm curious about, it's your definition of "abortion."

What has to be killed for it to be the sort of wrong that you describe. Is every sperm sacred? Every fertilized egg? Every implanted fertilized egg? Every zygote a week past implantation?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
234

But I think that's highly uncommon, and possibly nonexistent.

You'd be surprised. Human beings rationalize like mad.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
235

I don't mean to put you on the spot here, and do say "Back off, Jack" if the interrogation gets too burdensome.

But is there any other class of wrong that seems to you to be the same sort of thing as abortion? To illustrate, pretty much everything I think of as wrong would fall under the headings, to be lawyerly about it, of tort or contract. Under tort, it's wrong to hurt anything that can feel pain, or to interfere with the rights of people. And there are endless nuances, some sorts of hurting are justified, rights are very complicated, but most wrong things I could put under one of those headings. And under contract, it's wrong not to abide by your word -- again, there's loads of nuances, but that's the gist of it. I can't put abortion under any of those headings, which suggests to me you have headings I don't. (If I thought a early-term embryo or fetus could feel pain or was a person with rights, I'd be on ground I was comfortable with. But you don't sound as if you needed to make either of those assumptions to support your sense of abortion being wrong.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
236

My definition of "abortion" is deliberately terminating a pregnancy (an implanted fertilized egg, I guess). But deliberately killing any fertilized egg is a similar wrong. (And of course every sperm is sacred, but that a different matter.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
237

226

... If abortion isn't murder, there's no other person involved with countervailing rights. ...

This does not follow at all. Killing in self-defense is not murder but there is still another person involved with countervailing rights, they just don't prevail.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
238

234: I agree, but wouldn't that be a total absence of rationalization?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
239

236 to 233, not 235.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
240

237: Fine, strike murder and substitute homicide.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:43 PM
horizontal rule
241

235: But it's not a tort to hurt anything that can feel pain. It's not a tort to kill a songbird, for example. I think you're stretching your definition of moral wrong from 226 -- treading on the rights of others -- to cover other acts that you may consider to be morally wrong, but don't fall within the rights framework.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:46 PM
horizontal rule
242

I'm not sure I'm totally on board with your categories, LB, but it's definitely closest to "interfering with the rights of people".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
243

Oh right, I skimmed too fast and missed the mitigating factors bit. Carry on.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
244

227

... I think abortion is always morally wrong and never justifiable. ...

Even if absent an abortion mother and fetus are certain to die?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
245

235: I can't put abortion under any of those headings, which suggests to me you have headings I don't.

Forgive me, I haven't followed the thread until just recently, so I may be off-target, but I gathered from Brock's stress on the term "moral," as in morally wrong, that he is explicitly separating the legal from the moral realms. So it wouldn't be surprising if his categorizations escape the legalized headings you provide.

In other words, it seems to be a bit of a non-starter with someone holding Brock's position to speak from a legal perspective. And now I'll let him just speak for himself anyway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:52 PM
horizontal rule
246

241: I was using the legal categories loosely. Substitute 'Causing Injury' for 'Tort' if you like it better.

242: but it's definitely closest to "interfering with the rights of people".

Okay, to keep up the rapid-fire barrage of questions: I think you've said that a fertilized egg/embryo isn't precisely the same thing as a person -- am I right about that? If I am, is there any other category of non-persons that you think of as having rights? And can you describe the rights of a fertilized egg/embryo -- do they have any rights beyond being permitted to continue to develop, or is that their one right?

(None of this is specifically intended to trap you into an untenable position -- if the answer is 'fertilized eggs and so forth are in a sui generis position that's not closely analogous, morally, to anything else', I don't thing that's self-evidently absurd. I'm just wondering if there's something I'm not seeing that would let me get a hook into how to understand your thinking.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
247

Further to 245: (I mean to say, you're using legal categories to define (moral) wrongs, which is very weird to me. Interesting!)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
248

244: no, you're right, life of the mother exception, sure. I didn't mention it because I don't really consider that an elective abortion, which is all I'm really talking about. I should have mentioned it.


Posted by: Borck Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
249

245: Again, I was using the legal terms loosely, as an easy way to split up the moral universe. "Hurting things" and "Breaking promises" work as well as "Tort" and "Contract" for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 3:56 PM
horizontal rule
250

I feel like we've had this conversation a few dozen times. I wish I had them at my fingertips so I could copy and paste. 246 is a fair question (answered before, I know) but I don't have time to answer it right now. Maybe tonight. Sorry.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
251

Fair enough. I think I've asked it before, but I don't think I've seen an answer I understood (which doesn't mean you didn't answer, of course, just that I didn't follow it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
252

249: Okay, thanks. "Tort" and "Contract" don't work as well for me, but I have the translation now. It would be clear that Brock would think that abortion is a case of hurting people.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
253

246, 249: I don't follow. From 226, I thought that you were operating from the principle that rights were the important thing. Once you start talking about categories of moral wrongs -- hurting things and breaking promises -- that aren't predicated upon respecting rights, then what you have is just a short list of headings of items that you consider morally wrong. Why can't other items be added to this list?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
254

246

... And can you describe the rights of a fertilized egg/embryo -- do they have any rights beyond being permitted to continue to develop, or is that their one right?

Don't know about Landers but I think once a woman chooses not to have an abortion she has a duty to take reasonable care of the fetus (for example not to take Thalidomide or other mutagenic drugs). This is somewhat analogous to not having a duty to rescue but once having rescued having a duty of reasonable care.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
255

The problem is that if abortion isn't murder because the fetus isn't a person, then it's not something that falls into harms-against-other-people categories easily because if the fetus were a person with all the rights that normally entails, abortion would be murder.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:07 PM
horizontal rule
256

Who said other items can't be added? All I'm saying is that with a very small number of extremely general headings, I can cover everything I think of as wrong. Other people may have more headings -- Brock might be one of them. But I don't know, as I stand here, what those headings are. So I'm asking Brock, roughly, whether my headings make sense to him and if they do, whether he's got an argument that abortion fits under one of them, or whether he's got an entirely different category I don't have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:09 PM
horizontal rule
257

255: Right, I get that. But aren't there things that are commonly considered morally wrong that have nothing to do with harming other people or infringing on rights? Killing songbirds, for example. Or throwing a photograph of your sainted dead grandmother into the garbage.

I mean, there are a lot of things that I intuitively consider morally repugnant that have nothing to do with harming people or infringing rights. Abortion isn't one of them, but even though I don't have the same intuition as Brock on that point, what he says more generally makes a lot of sense to me.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:12 PM
horizontal rule
258

254: That's reasonable, although I'd describe it as a duty owed to the child who has not yet come into existence. That is, to the extent there is such a duty, and there were a drug you could take before conception that would have teratogenic effects on a fetus conceived in the next couple of months, I'd call taking the drug and then deliberately getting pregnant the same moral problem regardless of the fact that when the action was taken, there was inarguably no person yet in existence to injure. (And for prudential reasons, I would do very, very little about coercive means of preventing such wrongdoing. But I would still think of it as wrong.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:14 PM
horizontal rule
259

Killing songbirds, for example.

Killing songbirds is wronger than killing other animals for you? I'm not getting this one. Hurting any animal that can perceive it is the sort of thing that can be wrong to me, if not justified. But I'm not following why songbirds. Just that they're esthetically pleasing?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
260

257: Huh. You know, we're back to Haidt and his five-point system of morality again, probably.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:18 PM
horizontal rule
261

256: We're talking to Brock, or about his position, so this is off-topic, but of course there are other headings: hurting the planet might be one; hurting the community, or society, might be another. These have a questionable relation to the question of abortion, of course.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:18 PM
horizontal rule
262

No, I just used that as an example and kept on using it. Any animal will do.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
263

262 to 259


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
264

261 pwned by 257.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
265

255

... because if the fetus were a person with all the rights that normally entails, abortion would be murder.

I don't agree as people don't normally have the right not to be aborted. And their right not to be killed is not total.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:21 PM
horizontal rule
266

265: Again, take Cala's 'murder' as 'homicide', if you would. We'd have to do precisely the same analysis with respect to an abortion as we would with respect to any other killing of a person. (The 'right not to be aborted' bit is silly -- if the fetus is a person, abortion=homicide.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:23 PM
horizontal rule
267

This line of questioning is difficult for me because I don't think a persuasive moral case can be made against abortion on purely secular grounds. I think it's wrong even for nonreligious persons (i.e., it's not just a religious obligation, like attending mass), but it takes an inherently religious argument to get there convincingly. (Not that there aren't non-religious persons who oppose abortion--there are, although they're few--but the premises in any nonreligious argument are going to be highly debatable.) You've got to have something that gives special intrinsic value to the biological human creature, even before it develops rights as a "person". And it helps if you have something that gives special meaning to human sexual intercourse, as well. You can certainly do all that with secular arguments, but, as I said, they'll be very debatable--not at all solid.

So LB asks about another clases of wrong that seems is similar to abortion, and doesn't involve hurting people or breaking promises, and I think "sure: using birth control." Always a grave moral crime, for religious and nonreligious alike. And the argument is roughly the same. But that's not going to advance the conversation.

None of this is a response to 246, I know. I will try to get to that tonight.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:23 PM
horizontal rule
268

I think you need more categories than tort/hurting things and contract/breaking promises. "Fucking with stuff that it isn't your place to fuck with" strikes me as a category that fits quite a lot of behavior that is immoral but doesn't really map onto what's legally actionable.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
269

"Fucking with stuff that it isn't your place to fuck with"

Spin this out a little for me? Everything I can come up with is "It belongs to someone else" (which I'd put under violating someone else's rights) or "Messing with it endangers other people" (which is sort of under rights, and sort of under hurting people/animals).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:27 PM
horizontal rule
270

267: There's nothing incoherent about a case that rests on religious grounds, even if you want it to apply to non-believers. As a non-believer I'm not going to buy the argument, but the concept of a god that has the power to define moral rules for all people, not just for its worshippers, is perfectly reasonable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:29 PM
horizontal rule
271

Do you think it's wrong to kill off an endangered species, LB?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:31 PM
horizontal rule
272

266

Again, take Cala's 'murder' as 'homicide', if you would. We'd have to do precisely the same analysis with respect to an abortion as we would with respect to any other killing of a person. (The 'right not to be aborted' bit is silly -- if the fetus is a person, abortion=homicide.)

Sure it would be homicide. Some forms of homicide are legal, others are not. So you would have the issue of how to treat abortion. I would treat it as legal. Referring to it as murder resolves the issue in a different way.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:32 PM
horizontal rule
273

266: Right, but look, there's no way here, if the fetus is considered to be a full person, to count freely deciding to abort it as anything but a homicide, and I could make a case for murder. What's curious about this is that plenty of people think that there's something morally gray about abortion, but there's not a good category in which to place it if you rule out homicide, which a lot of people want to do.

(Abortion would just be the means; we don't normally distinguish right-not-to-be-killed-by-a-knife from right-not-to-be-killed-by-a-longer-knife.)

269: Where I'd look, were I not pathetic at ethics, would be with things like duties to future generations. Duties to people who aren't there yet.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:34 PM
horizontal rule
274

271: Generally yes, but I'd conceptualize the reason for that in terms of injury to people; prudentially, we don't understand the workings of the ecosystem in detail, and if we start losing species at some point we're going to lose the capacity of the ecosystem to support us comfortably; and people have some sort of right not to be deprived of opportunity, include opportunity to see/interact with a given species of animal. (This is the merest sketch, but you can see where I'm going.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:34 PM
horizontal rule
275

260: I don't think Haidt's moral schema covers this, at least in part because you're hearing liberals protesting. AS NPH says, what it comes to in this case is that legal definitions of wrong don't cover all cases of (moral) wrong.

Hey, we should like this distinction! It enables some people to consider abortion morally wrong, yet not believe that it should be legally restricted.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
276

270: well, but of course God hasn't (so far as I'm aware) laid out any clear rules about not aborting fetuses. So there's still a lot of reasoning that's needed to get there. And, IMO, it's mostly reasoning that is entirely accessible on a purely secular level. It's just the premises where things get tricky. It's not that the pro-life premises are dependant on religion, just that they're much less clearly the right starting places without it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
277

273 last: Yeah, that sort of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
278

258

... And for prudential reasons, I would do very, very little about coercive means of preventing such wrongdoing. ...

So you don't support restricting access to mutagenic drugs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
279

I can just see LB tracking down the larks and mockingbirds while everyone else is killing starlings. She has that kind of logical mind.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:36 PM
horizontal rule
280

269: Nowhere near fully thought out, but I think there's a moral intuition that humans ought not act as if we're the center of the universe, instances of which range from the Catholic view of birth control (messing with God's turf) to a whole lot of environmental thinking (animals and environments have value for their own sake, not just as humans relate to them).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:36 PM
horizontal rule
281

If only we knew where to find actual moral philosophers....


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:38 PM
horizontal rule
282

||

I think next winter we're going to buy us some ski helmets.

|>


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:43 PM
horizontal rule
283

278: (A) look at the word 'coercive' and (B) the primary conversation going on here is still quite interesting. If you want to talk about my rationale for not wanting to require that all pregnant women live on wheat bran and leafy green vegetables, try bringing it up sometime when there's nothing else going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:44 PM
horizontal rule
284

248

no, you're right, life of the mother exception, sure. I didn't mention it because I don't really consider that an elective abortion, which is all I'm really talking about. I should have mentioned it.

Ok, mother and fetus are not certain to die absent an abortion they are just x% likely to die (and there is (100-x)% chance they will be fine). For what value of x does the abortion become elective?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:45 PM
horizontal rule
285

282: She didn't even hit her head, though, I thought.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:45 PM
horizontal rule
286

280: Seriously. This is becoming seriously pathetic.

Ahem, LB seems dedicated to a rights-based moral theory, and needs to understand any and all moral obligations in terms of the rights at least theoretically held by human beings. As long as that's the premise, she's lost some people already, who either don't accept that moral behavior must be defined in terms of only human rights, or don't accept that ethics should be rights-based in the first place.

That said, sure, you can rig a rights-based theory to accommodate environmentalism by arguing for the rights of (hence a duty toward) future generations. You're still going to sound like you're patching holes in your view, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
287

285: Looks like she must have.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
288

Sorry if I killed the blog. Became exasperated.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
289

This thread is the lamest rap battle ever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:20 PM
horizontal rule
290

Orca and lion are both busy writing their "My species is vital to the long-term functioning of the ecosystem. The reason is because ..." op-ed pieces.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
291

Starlings are a songbird, though, and were prized as such in the middle ages.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
292

So substitute some horrible trash bird. Crows, I guess.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
293

Parsi what are some of the alternate paths to ethics? Virtue? I ask cause I am woefully ignorant about the topic.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:44 PM
horizontal rule
294

I can just see LB tracking down the larks and mockingbirds while everyone else is killing starlings.

Or writing an article in the paper praising Boo Radley as a hero for saving the Finch children.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:44 PM
horizontal rule
295

Of course, the most lasting moral lesson from that book is that entailments are bad, Mr. Cunningham.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:47 PM
horizontal rule
296

285, 287: She didn't hit a tree, but it seems she hit some hard packed snow. Which is when helmets help. Apparently the generic ski helmet is not much help when hitting anything substantial at more than 12 mph.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 5:48 PM
horizontal rule
297

296: According to the above-linked NYTimes article, a spokeswoman for the ski resort claims Richardson fell on soft snow. Which, if true, would make the whole even more unsettling than it already is.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:01 PM
horizontal rule
298

296: I still haven't seen a clear and consistent story. The NYT piece I linked above had a lot of what looked like reporterese for "what these people are telling me doesn't really make sense." But last time I skiied I managed to whack my own head hard enough to make me think more care is in order, so helmet-shopping I will go (unless I get complacent before next winter, which is fairly likely).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
299

297: Yeah, I found that sort of odd though. Not just because one doesn't expect to get hurt on soft snow, but rather, where does one find soft snow on the bunny hill, which is where she was? The beginner hills are normally pretty well traversed, but of course they may have super double secret pristine virgin VIP bunny hills, seriously.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:05 PM
horizontal rule
300

I find it difficult to believe that an adopted child exists who doesn't wonder why he or she was placed for adoption. That seems to me to be a tragedy.

Wonder, perhaps - but is that always a "tragedy"? For some, there's a terrible need to know, for others, there's a fleeting curiosity, for others, there are plenty of facts and possibly even contact with a birth parent.

My son, my ex, his two sisters and my stepbrother were all adopted. One sister got information from the agency that handled her adoption [they were willing to give her everything but her birth mother's name] and discovered that, in the early 60s, when she was born, her birth mother had been just shy of 17. For the S-I-L, this was enough; her comment to me was that she understood exactly why her unwed teen mother could not have kept her or cared for her. She, at 24, felt she was too young herself to settle down to parenting.

My ex has never expressed more than slight curiosity as to whether his artistic talent is more inherited or more environmental, given that he - a left-hander w/ artistic talent - was adopted by a left-handed architect and neither discouraged from being left-handed nor from drawing. It never even occurred to him to see what information the agency might be willing to pass on to him, even after he had a genetic child of his own with his second wife and a medical history would be a good thing to have.

My stepbrother was the product of a rape. Did his birth mother have any regrets about his adoption or was she grateful to be relieved of a reminder of her ordeal? Who knows? His adoptive father [now married to my mother] had never intended to tell him about his history, but his adoptive mother, who was unbalanced [her own parents had her committed] told my poor SB in graphic [if unsubstantiated] detail when he was 12. Cue in a half dozen years of therapy...

My son was born in a clinic in Seoul. His birth mother refused to give her name, would only say that she was 19, unmarried and Korean. Shortly after she gave birth, she left the clinic and never returned. [The clinic kept him for 45 days before he was sent to an orphanage.] When my son was about 10, he asked me why she'd given him away. I told him she was only a teenager and probably didn't think she could take care of him [facts about Korea's social standards re: unwed mothers in the mid 80s would come later.] He thought about that and opined that no one should expect a teenager to be a parent. As he grew older and his hair grew kinky, it became clear that pure Korean he is not, which would have meant a godawful life for him in Korea, where bloodlines matter and mixed children are not accepted. He's since had female friends who got pregnant young and kept their babies, and he's seen how that affected their lives; he's still of the opinion that teenagers shouldn't be expected to be parents. He clearly found being adopted to be a Good Thing, tho' - he's told me a couple of times that he wants to adopt internationally, tho' not on the Brangelina scale.

When we were engaged in the adoption process, a close friend, who had given up a child at 16, said that watching us go through the process from the other side had been a good experience - seeing how much a couple wanted a child, how much we loved our son when he arrived, etc. made her feel even more that her decision had been a good one. At 16, she was fucked up, on drugs, reeling from her mother's death and her stepfather's psychological breakdown, with no support system. Her then boyfriend wasn't much better off. From her older perspective, she said, she realised that she could never have taken care of a child - she was one herself, and no one was taking care of her.

Another friend, who gave up a child for adoption at 19, has since met her birth daughter as an adult, which is fine with her. She had never wanted children, and, had abortion been legal, would not have had the one she did. She's had no regrets whatsoever. However, she's involved in birth parent groups that help adoptees find their birth parents, because she feels that all the secrecy and "shame" is idiotic and unfair to people who were unconsenting third parties to this "confidential" matter. [When she initially notified the agency that had handled the adoption that, whilst she wasn't looking for her daughter, she wanted to waive confidentiality if the then-18 year old came looking for her, the agency wanted her to come in for a psych eval.]

So, some varying anecdata. I've known adoptees who looked for and found birth parents, some to be rejected, some to be embraced. I've had friends who found out when they were adults that they had half-siblings. I've had friends who kept babies, who gave babies up for adoption, who had abortions. IMX, how they feel about it varies too much for there to be some "all/most X feel Y". Don't assume that every adoptee feels some tragic longing, or has the same lack of knowledge about his or her beginnings. FTM, don't assume that a child born into a misfit of a family doesn't wonder whether - even hope that - he or she is adopted.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:08 PM
horizontal rule
301

Went to Amazon to search inside Mockingbird but instead got captivated by 1-star reviews. My favorite.

In our most humble opinion we think this book could use some work. Half the book dose not appeal to the readers eye, but on the other hand the other half of the book is completely different from the first half. This is a story that may have touched the hearts of some, but for the many that don't understand it. We agree with them because it doesn't make any sence to us. Two of the only good parts are when Tom gets convicted of a crime he didn't commit and when Mr. Ewell tries to kill Jem and Scout. Granded, we do commend you for the winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and also winning Academy Award winning for the film which is also a classic.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
302

Re the Freakonomics thing, every feminist pro-choicer I know found that "abortion lowers crime" thing absolutely repugnant. Again, on the grounds that choice and women's rights/autonomy are about individual women making their own choices.

And like LB, I don't consider the libertarian pro-abortions-for-people-we-disapprove-of argument to be feminist, pro-choice (see above) or worthwhile.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:21 PM
horizontal rule
303

So, some varying anecdata.

To get a bit platitudinous about the whole thing, I think the general rules are (1) what mostly matters in life isn't the trials and tribulations per se but how you deal with them, and (2) how you deal with them depends a whole lot on the effectiveness of your support structure.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
304

303: Not Prince Hamlet, it's not the things you say that really hurt me bad, but it's the way you say the things you say to me.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
305

Unfogged Richmond -two for one special!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
306

300: of course there are birth families where kids wish they'd been adopted, but that's neither here nor there.

I don't think any of the anecdata given demonstrate that the specific adoption situations weren't on some level tragic. Pregnant 17-year old? Pregnant woman who doesn't want children and abortion's illegal? Child whose mixed ethnicity will make him a pariah in his native country? Surely these are all terrible, even tragic situations.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:31 PM
horizontal rule
307

Surely these are all terrible, even tragic situations.

It is what it is.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
308

Even if, I hasten to add, they've led to very good things.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:33 PM
horizontal rule
309

293: what are some of the alternate paths to ethics? Virtue? I ask cause I am woefully ignorant about the topic.

Briefly, yes, virtue ethics would be among the alternatives. It's Aristotelian, for what that's worth. Standard distinction is between utilitarianism (consequentialism) and deontology. Truth is, the established paths in ethics I find inadequate, but it's still instructive to walk through them.

It looks like the wikipedia article on Consequentialism is not bad.

I am only this brief because Domineditrix's post upthread is somewhat head-turning.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:36 PM
horizontal rule
310

Richardson fell on soft snow

This whole thing just baffles me and makes me wonder whether she had some underlying condition that got aggravated by the fall. Otherwise, you'd think MMA fighters would be dropping dead all over the place.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:39 PM
horizontal rule
311

I am a believer in open adoptions and in telling kids at a young age that they were adopted.
Adoptions cases have been some of the highest and lowest points of my legal career.

Crushing agony when they go bad. Fortunately, mostly lots of joy.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
312

310: Or she fell on something or someone or there's something else about the story that hasn't come out yet.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
313

I doubt she fell on soft snow, and I wonder if she hit a patch of ice. This article (from Toronto's Globe and Mail) quotes a few people who were out on the same run on the same day: they speak of slushy snow with icy patches.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:48 PM
horizontal rule
314

300: Don't assume that every adoptee feels some tragic longing, or has the same lack of knowledge about his or her beginnings

I love ya, Dom. Thanks for writing all that. (I'm adopted, as is my brother, as was my father, and his brother, my uncle.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:48 PM
horizontal rule
315

313: That makes a lot more sense. Oof.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
316

I second parsimon's comment. great post, Dom E.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
317

310: It sometimes just happens. There's a weak spot & the slightest strain (including a slight rise in one's own blood pressure) can cause it to let go. Once upon a time I had a neighbor whose daughter, in her twenties, complained of a headache after dinner, went upstairs to lie down, and that was that. They couldn't get her up for breakfast. My father did the same thing only he was in his early seventies.

N.R. apparently hit hard enough for the resort to follow their "standard procedure" but not hard enough to make injury obvious. Doing MRIs on everyone who bangs their heads on something and remains conscious is not in the cards.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
318

I don't think any of the anecdata given demonstrate that the specific adoption situations weren't on some level tragic. Pregnant 17-year old? Pregnant woman who doesn't want children and abortion's illegal? Child whose mixed ethnicity will make him a pariah in his native country? Surely these are all terrible, even tragic situations.

Now you're doing apples/oranges. What you stated was a "tragedy" was that adopted children - of whom you doubted there was an exception -"wonder why he or she was placed for adoption" - not that the circumstances of the mother were tragic. [I just asked the friend who would have had an abortion if she thought her situation had been tragic. She says to tell you no, it was a little inconvenient, but she had plenty of support from her family and social circle, free love was in the air and she really liked having tits for a change.]

Personally, I would have used the rape victim as an example of real tragedy, were I discussing the effect on the birth mother.

My son, who has a fair number of mixed race/mixed ethnicity friends who face their own problems in US society [e.g., the lack, on school information forms, of "biracial" as an option], doesn't care one whit whether he'd have been socially accepted in Korea, as it is his "native" country only by accident of birth, given that he's lived here for all but 6.5 months of his life. Koreans I've met here think that his birth mother's unwed status would have been held against them both, even if he'd been "pure" Korean. [An aside: I wondered how Koreans I met here would react to my having adopted him. Positively, every one of them. I even got "family" discounts at the dry cleaner and a local garage. And a couple of his school friends' mothers took it upon themselves to teach him how to cook Korean food and invited him to Korean festivities. He's quite multicultural.] He feels about Korea much as I do about Norway: It's interesting heritage, not identity, something in one's past, not the only thing one is.

My caveat was against assuming that all of group X must feel a certain way. It just doesn't happen like that in real life.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
319

If you hit the ground at a high speed and the impact of the whole weight of your body is concentrated on a single vulnerable point, that's a lot worse than anything a martial artist can deliver.

If the media can't report a simple, unmysterious skiing accident without confusing and misleading people.... maybe the "shit happens" theory is right after all. *sigh*

On the other hand, maybe they'll be pressured to run a correction, which they seldom do for political stories.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
320

I have a half-Japanese friend whose kid is a fourth Japanese, but she's (the kid) pretty Japanese-looking and tremendously cute and they get a lot of extra attention in Japanese restaurants.

Generalizing wildly in a horribly invidious way, I'd say that East Asians are suckers for cute kids. It's almost like a cult. Kiddy schmaltz and kitsch are abundant.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:26 PM
horizontal rule
321

Kiddy schmaltz and kitsch are abundant.

Rendering children for their edible fats is highly deprecated in every East Asian country I've been to.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
322

320: You should have seen us in Japanese restaurants when the Offspring was young. He'd been sitting in on his dad's Japanese lessons and had picked up enough to converse a bit. The waiters would get all excited and call everyone out of the kitchen to see this cute Asian kid with the gaijin parents speaking 4-year-old Japanese.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:33 PM
horizontal rule
323

I admit I haven't followed B's comments in all this. She's been describing adoption as tragic? Puzzling.

85: I have a cousin who was adopted, who told me that she has "no interest" in finding her birth mother, although the subtext was that doing so would be somehow a betrayal of her (adoptive) parents. It seemed such a terrible sad thing to say, and given that she was adopted 40+ years ago, all I could think of was some old woman who was never going to hear from her baby.

118: including the tragedy of the child losing its birth parents

Yes, well, I'm not going to look any further. Being raised by one's blood parents is not the be-all and end-all. If the thread became an argument over whether abortion or adoption was more tragic, you're off the deep end.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:33 PM
horizontal rule
324

There's a weak spot

Yeah, an embolism was what I was thinking of, specifically.

headache after dinner, went upstairs to lie down, and that was that

That happened to a friend of mine in his early 30s.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:34 PM
horizontal rule
325

274: people have some sort of right not to be deprived of opportunity

What on earth does that mean? Of what sorts of opportunities do they have a right not to be deprived?

I don't want to make too much of 267. I actually do think there's a valid secular case to be made, I just meant that I don't think it's one with much persuasive strength for anyone who isn't already inclined to agree with it for one reason or another. I think it's a stronger case than the idea that it's wrong to kill off endangered species because it violates some right to "the opportunity to see/interact with a given species of animal", even though I agree that killing endangered species is wrong. Likewise, though, I think it would probably be very difficult to persuade someone of that who was temperamentally inclined to disagree with it--there aren't compelling premises from which that conclusion must be reached.

In fact, although it's something of an aside, I'd say this is a fairly close parallel to my ambivalence about the legality of abortion. I'm supportive of the Endangered Species Act, and I'd like to see more laws like it. But the personal hardships it imposes are minor, for the most part. (Some people are severely affected, but in the aggregate I think the hardships it imposes are vastly outweighed by its benefits.) I think I'd feel very differently in a country for which protection of endangered species meant lots of people starving to death. I'd still be upset about species loss, but I couldn't much blame people who were faced with no real alternatives. Suffice to say I'd be vastly more interested in helping people out of situations that left them with no choice but to threaten endangered species than I would with trying to punish people who did so.

I probably don't need to spell out the parallels, but briefly: I think it would be great if we were in a society where women facing unplanned pregnancies were given abundant economic and social support, and where no one ever felt she "needed" an abortion. We don't. I'd also prefer they were overwhelmingly unpopular. They're not. In utopia, sure, I think abortions are wrong and I'd prefer they weren't legal. Today, I don't think that's a choice that should be taken away. Hence, ambivalence.

246: Okay, to keep up the rapid-fire barrage of questions: I think you've said that a fertilized egg/embryo isn't precisely the same thing as a person -- am I right about that? If I am, is there any other category of non-persons that you think of as having rights? And can you describe the rights of a fertilized egg/embryo -- do they have any rights beyond being permitted to continue to develop, or is that their one right?

I think you're using "rights" in a more formal manner than I am, so I'm not sure whether I think there is any other category of non-persons I think of as having rights. I think it's wrong to abuse animals. Does that mean they have a "right" not to be abused? I think it's wrong to abort fetuses. Does that mean they have a "right" not to be aborted? I'm not trying to be obtuse, I just think these questions are difficult to answer unless we're on the same page with our terms. I don't think I'd be inclined to characterize any of this in terms of "rights".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:40 PM
horizontal rule
326

284: Ok, mother and fetus are not certain to die absent an abortion they are just x% likely to die (and there is (100-x)% chance they will be fine). For what value of x does the abortion become elective?

In my view it is not elective if her doctor advises her to have it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
327

i confess i did an abortion once on the patient
when i was the 4th yr medstudent, was lucky that the doctor allowed me to do it, not the whole process and until the end of course, just how to place the mirror and increase the size of the dilators until the neck is opened and curettage, just the last moments to check if there is something left, the main procedure of course she did herself
it felt like rubbing something leatherly, the closest,
for two weeks of the rotation, first 2-3 days i was enthusiastic, the exam i passed all great, but then it's too heavy a work, couldn't look at the patients anymore after some time, me and ob/gyn was not meant to be compatible


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 7:59 PM
horizontal rule
328

278: So you don't support restricting access to mutagenic drugs.

Huh? There are plenty of useful Rx (and I think OTC but I'm too lazy to look) drugs with warnings about taking them while pregnant or trying to get pregnant. The condom police just aren't that good or numerous yet, we have to let some people watch out for themselves.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
329

I don't think I'd be inclined to characterize any of this in terms of "rights".

What is your basis, then, for regarding abortion as wrong?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
330

327: i confess i did an abortion once on the patient
Well, at least you didn't do it to the friend who came with for moral support. It really would have been hard to look at her afterwards.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:15 PM
horizontal rule
331

329: Well, fine, let's talk rights. I guess, since I also think it's wrong to abuse animals, that they too have rights. (To answer LB's questions about categories of non-persons I think of as having rights.) And re: the rights of an embryo, I guess I'd say they have a right to be allowed to continue to develop. I'd go along with Shearer and say this includes a right to reasonable care (no cocaine). I don't think an embryo has rights to much else. I don't think it needs much else.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
332

i don't remember the patient at all, just the same anatomy whoever
so it's hard to look not at the faces of course and not b/c of moral reasons afterwards
my then classmate works now in the private clinic and the state hospital, she does abortions in the hospital not her practice, just in case i think, for safety


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
333

In my view it is not elective if her doctor advises her to have it.

See, this is where I just lose you, Brock. I really appreciate how thoughtful and cautious you've been this whole thread in actually trying to spell out your beliefs and the intuitions behind them (which in many ways actually mirror my own, especially on the intuitions front).

But then you say something like this, and it just stuns me that this is a distinction that holds any meaning for you. "If her doctor advises her" is, for better or worse, a total roll of the dice, wildly dependent on the demographics of the woman and the individual doctor(s) available to her. Does the doctor believe that mental illness can be life-threatening? Does the doctor agree with the oncologist that the cancer needs to be treated right now?

Medicine is not exact. We had doctor-approval boards once in this country, and the result was that a lot of women had to to expose deeply intimate details about their lives to a group of men who had the power to change the entire future course of her life. (These days it would be women on that committee too, which I do not think makes it better.) And that was for women lucky enough and socially and financially connected enough to get that far.

I trust and believe that you find this issue wrenching to contemplate, with no easy answers on any side. But that you think that there is any meaningful bright line showing the "medically necessary" category says to me that you have a really, really different idea of how subjective medicine can be than I do. So different that it makes me want to throw my hands up and ask how on earth this translates into a policy that human beings can carry out with any pretense of fairness.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:29 PM
horizontal rule
334

329: Rights are constructed. They are political constructions. Things (human animals, non-human animals, mountains, corporations) are granted rights. Rights do not otherwise exist. We're clear on that, I hope.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
335

I don't see how Brock's position of considering doctor's advice to be a sound reason is any more untenable than the lines the rest of us use. We all have our fuzzy lines where the fetus has developed to the point that we no longer consider abortion to be a moral option anymore.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
336

Wow, 335 is incoherent.

Brock's line as to which abortions are justified doesn't seem any fuzzier than my line as to which abortions are justified. (My line being drawn at the 20th trimester, but some people are very sentimental about their fetus by the time it starts school.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:35 PM
horizontal rule
337

where the fetus has developed to the point that we no longer consider abortion to be a moral option anymore

I.e., third grade.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
338

333: no, it's obviously highly variable, and my answer was brusque and unthoughtful. It might be possible to formulate a better standard; this actually isn't something I've given a great deal of thought. I do think "Dr.'s counsel" is better than trying to assign some fixed "value of x" at which the abortion "become[s] elective", as Shearer would have. And I think I'd be hard pressed to condemn anyone whose doctor told her an abortion was medically necessary, even if that judgment isn't one with which many other doctors would agree. (It would be different if a woman were pressuring her doctor for that answer.)

I'm not sure it's entirely as bad as you're suggesting, though. Surely we could at least maintain the "pretense" of fairness?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:41 PM
horizontal rule
339

Maybe we could require a second opinion? Would that be better, Witt?

I'm honestly not totally sure I understand your objection, so I might be off base.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 8:44 PM
horizontal rule
340

338, 399: Huh, let's see if I can unpack my thinking a little better.

1. When people try to articulate their beliefs about abortion, I automatically try to map those beliefs onto a policy that works in the world.

2. When I read what you said, I thought "How would it work if we had a law saying "No abortion except to protect the life of the mother" or "No abortion unless medically necessary"? [N.b. I am not saying you were proposing such a law]

3. Then I thought, What does that really mean, 'medically necessary'? What if you had a really strict doctor who said, "I know you've been diagnosed with cancer, but it's early-stage and I think it will be treatable after the baby is born, so no, I won't say that your abortion is medically necessary?" What if you had a doctor who didn't believe in depression, and thought that your threats to kill yourself if you were forced to have this baby were just irrational fears that would disappear when the baby was born?

Then you would have to go looking for another doctor who would give you the diagnosis you wanted. That would be a) time-consuming, b) expensive, c) possibly impossible, depending on geographic and other logistics, and d) potentially humilating and even traumatic (having to push past being told you're a hysterical idiot who is unqualified to make decisions about her own emotions).

4. Then I thought, what is/was it like in times and places that have actually had such laws? I thought about the committees that hospitals had, and the fact that some women were able to get "medically necessary" abortions because they were going to go to college, and it would ruin their lives to have a baby now, etc. and others were not able to even under arguably much more dire circumstances, and the fact that which group you fell into was very much affected by your wealth and social class.

5. Then I thought about how much I don't like setting public-health policy to reinforce existing inequities, and how un-American and unfair it seems to codify that, no matter how imperfect the world may be regardless.

I don't love the trimester-based policy, and I sort of understand heebie's point that you're always going to be drawing a line that's somewhat fuzzy. But I really, really don't like a policy that leaves procedures totally at the discretion (whim?) of a gatekeeper.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:11 PM
horizontal rule
341

If any of you are looking for an easy way out, I like considering infanticide under six months a protracted miscarriage.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:19 PM
horizontal rule
342

Is this more difficult than most legal problems (which usually aren't clear-cut)? The law that says "No abortion unless medically necessary" (which no, I wasn't really "proposing", but that's okay) would be something like "(1) No licensed physician may perform an abortion without (a) forming a reasonable professional opinion that such procedure is medically necessary to protect the [life/health] of the mother, and (b) having a second licensed physician affirm this opinion. (2) No woman may seek to obtain an abortion other than from a licensed professional physician." Then you set penalties for noncompliance as you please. That's terrible drafting, so you clean it up, but you get the idea. It's not going to be perfect, of course, but it really doesn't strike me as bad. (Assuming as a policy matter this is in fact generally a law you want, obviously. If you don't want it then of course it will seem very bad.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
343

326

In my view it is not elective if her doctor advises her to have it.

So you are fine with abortion for Down's syndrome (and similar defects) if advised by a doctor (as many would)?

Suppose her doctor just tells her the odds (x% both die, (100-x)% both live)?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
344

342 to 340.

341: In a previous thread I proposed two years, but that was roundly criticized.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
345

343: no. You really think many doctors would advise women that it is medically necessary that they abort fetuses with Down Syndrome?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
346

345: You must have missed that thread.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
347

328

Huh? There are plenty of useful Rx (and I think OTC but I'm too lazy to look) drugs with warnings about taking them while pregnant or trying to get pregnant. The condom police just aren't that good or numerous yet, we have to let some people watch out for themselves.

Access to Accutane is restricted.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
348

340: My country of birth has such a law. The way it tends to work is, everybody gets a pro-forma sign-off that an abortion is necessary to protect the mental health of the mother. In effect, it's abortion on demand, despite a seemingly strict law.

It's theoretically possible to be turned down, but I don't know of it ever happening, and you could just find someone else to sign off anyway (which would all be free, because all maternity care is free; that's probably a pretty meaningful difference now that I think of it). 98% of abortions are performed under that clause, with the remainder being from more obvious medical necessity.

Truth be told, the only reason the law still exists like that is that it turned out by accident to work the way people wanted (and court rulings upheld the strained interpretation), and no-one wanted to weather the storm of amending it. That's another difference; this is looking like a worse parallel as I go on. I guess: it can work out ok?


Posted by: Simon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:31 PM
horizontal rule
349

our gynecologists try to persuade if it's the woman's first time pregnancy b/c of health consequences, all kinds of scarring, miscarriages, infertility, hormonal disbalance that might occur etc
otherwise if it's reasonably early, not much objection, they just take written consent and fee
late terms they don't like, who would like to pull out little forming hands and other parts, they have to do that if it's medically indicated
and basically our women choose abortion if they absolutely can't afford the baby, not until then
and that 'absolutely' could go really until the very limits, such incredible perseverance


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
350

345

You really think many doctors would advise women that it is medically necessary that they abort fetuses with Down Syndrome?

Many doctors would advise women carrying a fetus with Down's (or similar defect) to have an abortion. They would not claim that it was medically necessary just that it is what they would do if it were their decision.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
351

342: I appreciate your patience and clarity.

A few things come to mind. First, your draft law is quite reasonable, IF (as you say) as a matter of policy you're looking for a law like that.

Second, I guess I wasn't thinking of this as a "legal problem." I was thinking of it as an issue of autonomy and secondarily of public health and social permission. That's not to disagree with calling it a legal problem, but it really isn't where my mind was. And of course, the law is how we enforce the "rights" of autonomy and (often) the specifics of public health and social mores.

But I'm also tempted to say that pregnancy is not like anything else, because it is the ONLY situation in which one party is utterly physically dependent on the other party.

(And to 345: Shearer's actually kind of right, here, I think. See heebie's earlier thread on this topic. It seems distasteful in the extreme, but apparently fairly common.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:37 PM
horizontal rule
352

the licensed phycisians have to learn the trade somehow, so the students and residents perform the procedure under supervision of the licensed physicians - the med school instructors
abortions outside certified clinics are illegal of course


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:39 PM
horizontal rule
353

348 is really hard for me to imagine. I'm not doubting Simon, just saying that the sheer idea of free maternal coverage is just so hard to imagine that the rest of it seems even more of a mirage.

(And I do have some mistrustful suspicions about whether the ease of getting the certificate depends on the woman's demographics, but maybe Simon comes from a country that has a pretty homogenous population and this is less of an issue than the U.S.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
354

Shearer's actually kind of right, here, I think. See heebie's earlier thread on this topic. It seems distasteful in the extreme, but apparently fairly common.

Oh god, please don't.

While plenty of doctors support abortions in the case of Down Syndrome, I don't know that they'd call it medically necessary.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:48 PM
horizontal rule
355

Oh, I've no doubt that many doctors might recommend abortion to a women whose fetus tested positive for Down's syndrome. I wouldn't think many of them would characterize it as a medical necessity, though.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:48 PM
horizontal rule
356

I do have some mistrustful suspicions about whether the ease of getting the certificate depends on the woman's demographics
the certification process is administered by the Ministry of Health, fyi, what are you talking about ease something? it's a strict professional process, if you feel some uneasyness to read my comments just say so, not mask your hidden condescending remarks


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:49 PM
horizontal rule
357

356: Um, read, I was referring to Simon's 348, where he said that every woman who wants an abortion gets a "pro forma sign-off." I promise you, if I were disagreeing with you, I would say so directly. It's not my intention to be condescending to you or to anyone (well, okay, sometimes I get sarcastic, but I really do try to communicate clearly why I am disagreeing).

And just to clarify, what I meant was that maybe everyone *Simon* knows in his country has been able to get the sign-off from their doctor with no problem, but that doesn't mean that *everybody* has. Maybe Simon knows all college-educated women, for example, and maybe if you're poor or teenage or uneducated it's a little harder to get a doctor to sign the form. Or maybe not - I'm pretty ignorant, and I also don't know which country we're talking about here.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:57 PM
horizontal rule
358

not mask your hidden condescending remarks

Yeah, she masked it by referencing someone else's comment by both number and name in her comment. Very deceptive.

Jesus, read, slow down, take a breath, relax.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:58 PM
horizontal rule
359

(OK, off to bed. Just didn't want people to think I was ignoring responses.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 9:58 PM
horizontal rule
360

well, i thought you were talking to me, the gatekeeper comment and the certificate thing following my comments
my apologies, i tend to read into things that, too impulsevely
me too off to bed, good night


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:03 PM
horizontal rule
361

read is the gatekeeper? Who is the Keymaster?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
362

355

Oh, I've no doubt that many doctors might recommend abortion to a women whose fetus tested positive for Down's syndrome. I wouldn't think many of them would characterize it as a medical necessity, though.

What you originally said in 326 was:

In my view it is not elective if her doctor advises her to have it.

Nothing about medically necessary here. Anyway very few things are truly medically necessary, the patient can usually refuse treatment (unless they are dangerously contagious).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:07 PM
horizontal rule
363

It's not perfect (since the appointment takes time, and some people do have more of that than others). The procedure is, you go to your GP and get referred to two "certifying consultants",* who will usually be at the hospital. You have separate appointments with them, often consecutively, and at the end they each sign a piece of paper saying you need it. At the end of the second appointment you can choose an abortion by suction or a medical abortion and it will be performed immediately.

I have never heard of it being turned down at that point. The meeting is really just to satisfy the formalities of the law, and to determine if the case fits into one of the other allowable circumstances (incest or severe disability). There's no advantage or incentive for the doctor to refuse it. It's all free, so there's no money in it either way.

All these aspects do make it pretty alien to the US case, though. I don't think the population is especially homogeneous, but I don't think demographics would make much difference in any case, other than by affecting whether you wanted to do it at all or not.

* It is also possible for your GP to be one of these, so you'd only have one extra appontment; I don't know how common it is for them to do that. I think it only requires registration and a statement that they don't object to the law.


Posted by: Simon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:10 PM
horizontal rule
364

334

Rights are constructed. They are political constructions. Things (human animals, non-human animals, mountains, corporations) are granted rights. Rights do not otherwise exist. We're clear on that, I hope.

Your right to rule what you can take and hold is not constructed.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:11 PM
horizontal rule
365

||
Dear Leader pays attention to the calendar.
|>


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:26 PM
horizontal rule
366

So, yeah: the people I know are mostly educated and would know how to play the system if necessary. I wasn't much thinking of them though - I don't even know of any case where it was or would be turned down for anybody.

It doesn't make a difference to the doctor what you do either way (remember, free), and their job generally revolves around practicing abortion. They're all in the one place with the clinic at my local hospital even. It's not a subtle end-run around the law, it's public policy endorsed by the public health system.

That kind of law would never hold up the same way in the US, though. It's a pretty strained interpretation already, only surviving because nobody much cares.


Posted by: Simon | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
367

Huh? There are plenty of useful Rx (and I think OTC but I'm too lazy to look) drugs with warnings about taking them while pregnant or trying to get pregnant. The condom police just aren't that good or numerous yet, we have to let some people watch out for themselves.

Access to Accutane is restricted.

Tell me about it. I'm taking it right now.

Before my doctor could prescribe it, I had to get 2 pregnancy tests a week apart and be registered in a computer system and issued an i.d. number. I had to tell my doctor what *two* forms of birth control I'm using and swear on everything holy I will keep using.

Before I could pick up the prescription, I had to go online and answer a series of multiple choice questions -- the kind that are actually designed to educate you, e.g., "If my secondary form of birth control isn't available, I should: a) not worry about it at all; b) have sex and then take a pregnancy test; or c) wait until I am able to use both forms of birth control."

Then, I went to the pharmacy to get my 1st prescription, which had to be picked up within 7 days of when the prescription was written. They have to look it up and make sure I've answered my online questions. I can only get 1 month at a time, and only some drugstores can dispense it (because they have to participate in the program, which I assume is a hassle for my usual indie drugstore, so I'm forced to go to Walgreen's).

Every month, I have to do it all over again: blood tests, see the doctor, answer the online questions, pick up my prescription with my i.d. card within 7 days.

If we regulated guns the way we regulate Accutane, we'd cut the gun death rate by 90%.

The thing that's stunning about the whole program is that both the online thing and the 50-page glossy booklet they gave me to read contain better, clearer, and more helpful birth control information than 99% of kids ever get in school. Pros and cons of different methods, why you want to pair a hormone form with a barrier form. About abstinence, it says that you might think you won't have sex, but all kinds of things can happen & etc. And it's sponsored by the federal government! On noes!!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
368

NPR had a report tonight on an (anecdotal) increase in abortions specifically because of the economy, as well as an increase in women looking for birth control and for low-cost health services.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:06 PM
horizontal rule
369

347 & 367: Yeah, Accutane is particularly nasty and also quite likely to be used by teens, pregnant or not. Teens aren't particularly known for being careful, not in ancient times when I was one, nor now.

However, not all Pregnancy Category X drugs are as tightly controlled. For example see:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14996249

The Cat D stuff is pretty common too, like Paxil, lithium, and Dilantin. Anyway, I don't want to beat a deformed horse, I just wanted to point out that there's plenty of defect-causing stuff out there that's not strictly regulated and that (thinking about it now) relying on one's doc to warn you of everything possible isn't smart either.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:40 PM
horizontal rule
370

318: if you followed my comments before that, you'd see that was saying that I am not comfortable with a simple pro-adoption argument because I think adoption isn't simple, and that there is always a tragic element when someone can't or won't raise a child they've given birth to.

Which isn't the same as saying everyone feelsthe same way. The specific comment about adoptee's feelings was in response to a single comment questioning whether I think it's tragic for someone to wonder about their parentage. I was saying thatit can be, not that it necessarily always is.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:51 PM
horizontal rule
371

Back in my religious days I bought the "human life is inherently sacred at any point past conception because there's a soul involved." I was young then, and since then I've learned a lot more biology, and I really can't see how that position is tenable. There are too many border cases that show that this idea doesn't make sense:
-There's lots of human life (individual cells) that clearly doesn't have a soul.

-There's lots of genetically different independently growing human life that clearly doesn't have a soul (cancer cells).

-There's lots of human life that has the potential of becoming a separate human that clearly doesn't have a soul (eggs, sperm, I'd also argue unimplanted fertilized eggs)

-Even past that you can have an implanted human embryo which either a) splits into twins, b) gets swallowed by another egg resulting in chimerism. We certainly don't think that someone with a chimeric organ or two has two souls, or that it would be homicide to remove their kidney.

So once you realize all that you're stuck thinking "well I'm not really sure when the soul appears, because it's not at fertilization, and God never told us a time." Admittedly, at this point it's reasonable to think "it's wise to err on the side of not accidentally committing homicide."

(I've ignored here the can of worms of whether Exodus 21:22 answers the question of whether fetuses have personhood, since I don't know enough about ancient Hebrew to figure out which side is right in that argument.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03-19-09 11:56 PM
horizontal rule
372

364 isn't a right it is a capability. The disabled are likely unable to "hold" life. Is that inability demonstration of the lack of a right?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:23 AM
horizontal rule
373

Simon's basically described how I understand it happens here in GB (GB rather than UK, because it's different in NI). Also, if you're less than 8 weeks pregnant, it can be a chemical process, rather than by physical means.

I've never ever heard of anyone being refused an abortion - never IRL, never seen anything in a newspaper or magazine, never heard of it from any feminist groups, etc.

OK, I just found this, though it doesn't actually give a real example of someone who's been refused an abortion. (I live in an area now where the hospital won't give predictions of the baby before birth, and in such areas, 'The Asians' are always given as the reason for this policy.) My Google attempt is not coming up with anything else.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:29 AM
horizontal rule
374

||
Reason #273 that Obama simply must find a way to tie off the pathetic Treasury Department/Wall Street mini-dramas; he really gets it on so many other things (Nowruz video message to Iranians). Although, sadly, the foolish "Special Olympics" crack will compete for coverage today.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:20 AM
horizontal rule
375

I've ignored here the can of worms of whether Exodus 21:22 answers the question of whether fetuses have personhood, since I don't know enough about ancient Hebrew to figure out which side is right in that argument.

It probably wouldn't help much; even the Catholic Church hasn't been wholly consistent on when life starts or whether abortion is permissible, historically. The fetus used to not count as a person until "the quickening."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
376

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE FETUS!


Posted by: OPINIONATED HIGHLANDER 2 | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
377

369: An arson incident recently shut down my campus for a week. The fire was set by a serious firebug who has been in trouble with the law since he was 9. Previous charges include setting fire to a garbage can in a restaurant while meeting with his parole officer and throwing urine on a fellow inmate during an escape attempt.

The guy's mental problems are pretty solidly linked to the fact that his mom was taking accutane while she was pregnant. She even won a legal settlement with the manufacturer.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
378

364: That's totally ridiculous. You're constructing that "right" with your gun or your knife or your skills at concealment or whatever.

"Rights" are something the state gives you in exchange for taking away your freedom. "Abortion rights", as we so often see, are not worth the paper they're printed on if you're a young person, don't live near an doctor who will perform an abortion, can't get to the clinic because of fascist street actions, etc. Reproductive freedom is the goal, not some mess of pottage called "rights".


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
379

My 'rights' talk above seems to have confused things (although Parsi? Where I've explicitly stated that cruelty to anything that can feel pain is wrong, describing my views as "needs to understand any and all moral obligations in terms of the rights at least theoretically held by human beings," seems to involve a failure of comprehension); reasonably so, because I wasn't precisely clear what I meant by it. On introspection, what I find that I mean by a 'right' could also be described as 'decision-making authority': you have property rights to the extent that you are entitled to decide what happens to your stuff; you have a right to bodily integrity (or however you'd name the right that's infringed by battery) because you are entitled to decide who touches you and how they touch you. (Shearer: Yes, none of these rights are absolute. The fact that they have exceptions is not what I'm talking about here.) For infants and incompetents, that decision-making authority may be delegated to a proxy decision-maker, but what the proxy is doing in protecting and enforcing the incompetent's rights is making the decisions that the guardian thinks they would make if they had the capacity.

Not being a moral philosopher or a well-read layperson in moral philosophy, I've got no idea if this is a conventional understanding of rights, or if it's an ill-thought of, outmoded understanding, or if it's purely idiosyncratic. But it's how I've been thinking about rights.

As a separate matter, unrelated to rights, I think cruelty is wrong. Going back to all those interminable prostitution arguments: I think hiring a prostitute is (generally) going to be wrong, not because it's an infringement on her rights, assuming lack of coercion and so forth, but because it's overwhelmingly likely to be cruel.

Where animals fit into this schema is that I don't believe they have rights. There's no sphere in which I'm obligated to defer to my dog's judgment or decision-making authority, or to frame my thinking in terms of 'what decision she'd make if only she had the intelligence'. OTOH, it is wrong for me to fail to be kind to her; to hurt her, or to care for her in a way that makes her unhappy (overall. Taking her to the vet makes her happier in the long run, and so on). The moral treatment of animals is all about kindness/cruelty, rather than respect for autonomy.

Does that clarify my thinking at all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
380

379: I think hiring a prostitute is (generally) going to be wrong, not because it's an infringement on her rights, assuming lack of coercion and so forth, but because it's overwhelmingly likely to be cruel.

I don't think this is correct. Prostitution spans an enormous range of degrees of coerciveness, from crack whores giving blowjobs for $20 to escorts providing both companionship and sex for prices well into four or even five figures. At the low end of the range the transaction is inevitably dehumanizing and degrading. At the high end it's entirely possible for it to be mutually respectful and beneficial, though obviously it's still quite possible for it to be a net bad thing. In between there's a range of possibilities, but it seems to me that if the john is respectful of the prostitute and she's not coerced by other actors (such as a pimp), it's a morally neutral transaction.

Perhaps I'm not actually disagreeing so much as expanding on the (generally) in your comment.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
381

380: I can't remember how long you've been here -- we had a whole bunch of prostitution conversations almost exactly a year ago, sparked by Gov. Spitzer's escapades. (and some others here and there.)

Where I come down on what you've said is: yeah, there are probably people at the high end for whom it's not that bad. OTOH, there's a whole lot more, numerically, people working at the low end than at the high end, there are reasons to think that even the high end can be very difficult and damaging work, and that a john isn't in a good position to have insight into the prostitute's experience. Which leaves me thinking that a john by patronizing a prostitute whether 'respectfully' or not, is in almost every case either going to be cruel or culpably indifferent as to whether he's being cruel.

But that's a factual disagreement that we're not likely to resolve. Generally, I accept the possibility that some prostitution transactions can exist that don't involve cruelty.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
382

379

... For infants and incompetents, that decision-making authority may be delegated to a proxy decision-maker, but what the proxy is doing in protecting and enforcing the incompetent's rights is making the decisions that the guardian thinks they would make if they had the capacity.

...

Where animals fit into this schema is that I don't believe they have rights. There's no sphere in which I'm obligated to defer to my dog's judgment or decision-making authority, or to frame my thinking in terms of 'what decision she'd make if only she had the intelligence'. OTOH, it is wrong for me to fail to be kind to her; to hurt her, or to care for her in a way that makes her unhappy (overall. Taking her to the vet makes her happier in the long run, and so on). The moral treatment of animals is all about kindness/cruelty, rather than respect for autonomy.

The justification for the distinction here is unclear to me. And when dealing with infants (etc) do you really think in terms of what they would want as opposed to what you think is best for them (or what is best for society as in obeying the law)?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
383

371 pretty well represents the evolution of my thinking as I shed my Catholic indoctrination.

I'll add that with the advent of cloning, we can no longer say that individual human cells aren't potential people.

I was always amused by the Exodus 21:22 thing, because it is such a tidy illustration of the hypocrisy of the Biblical literalists. Via Google, here's a nifty and seemingly scholarly anti-abortion rendering of Exodus 21:22. You can see how unpersuasive it is. The author of the Bible passage is supposedly imagining the potential case in which a fetus is unexpectedly expelled from the womb as a result of violence - but the fetus takes no other damage. They apparently had some tough fetuses back in the day.

I've always found it interesting that the Catholic version of the Bible uses the "pro-abortion" translation.

And in case you were wondering how to treat your slaves, the immediately prior Exodus passage has guidance on that, too:

"When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
384

At the high end it's entirely possible for it to be mutually respectful and beneficial

I was trying to work out from your "mutually" how this transaction was supposed to be beneficial to the sex worker. And then I thought, well, she walks away with $10,000 - that's a benefit.

And then I thought, reversing the logic of the offensive anecdote commonly attributed to G.B.Shaw, if it's cool to prostitute yourself for $10K, then if I ask you to blow me for $20, we're just discussing terms.

So I'm with LB on this one.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
385

Killing a fetus is not the same thing as killing the baby who would have been born, or the adult who would have grown from that baby, in the same way that deciding you don't want to have sex is not the same thing as deciding that the baby who would have been born from that act, or the adult growing from that baby, should not exist. There's this factor called "time".

In the same way, when I found out that my mother's unlucky ex-fiance was still alive, it would have been silly to shiver at the thought that with a little luck, he might have prevented me from ever even existing at all.

A lot of the anti-abortion energy comes from very gut thinkers who reason in concrete examples and imagined cute little toddlers chopped up with knives.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
386

The distinction is that I expect the infant, as an adult, to look back and endorse most of the decisions I made on her behalf -- "I'm glad you fed me, and didn't let me play with the blender when I was two, and made me go to the dentist twice a year, and so on." She's not going to endorse all of them, which is why there are therapists, but most of them, and where I've made decisions that she wouldn't endorse looking back, I've done my job as her guardian imperfectly (not that I'm going to beat myself up over it).

There's no counterfactual world where I'd expect the dog to endorse my decision to spay her; to walk her on a leash rather then letting her run free in the streets, and so on, and that doesn't bother me at all -- as long as the way I treat her gives her a pleasant life, I don't think I have any obligation to consider her wishes.

I do get a little confused around incompetent people who aren't going to become competent or return to competence; what makes sense to me is to treat them in such a way that they'd endorse your decisionmaking on their behalf if a miracle occured and they became competent. But if you wanted me to justify the distinction between an incompetent person and an animal, I'd be driven fairly quickly to simple assertion -- it's just different! This is what makes me not Peter Singer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
387

386 to 382.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
388

Primitive people are going to have primitive ideas. Given the Biblical basis of their beliefs, it shouldn't be surprising that anti-abortion zealots are generally crude liars and atavistic throwbacks to a stupider time.

I'm generally sympathetic to the critics of PZ Myers, who, after all, really is not very nice. Still, at some point, you have to acknowledge reality.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
389

I actually am glad that PZ Meyers exists. There's a long American tradition of that (Ingersoll, Mark Twain) and the moderate consensus has tended to squelch it.

I don't at all agree that everything theologically based is going to be wrong. Secular / atheist libertarians, transhumanists, Randians, and Social Darwinians can be complete idiots too. There are a lot of other issues with the conservative Christians of our day.

Much of American progressivism, populism, and radicalism was heavily influenced by Social Gospel teachings.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
390

381.1 - I missed the Spitzer discussion. I read UF regularly in '04-'05 without commenting (maybe once, I think), then took a long hiatus and came back under a new pseud shortly before the occlusion of Ogged (pbuh). I wonder if I drove him away. Probably, since I am +10 to hit against Islamofascists. Chaotic Neutral FTW!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
391

It was long and cranky and hostile (the hostility came largely from me); I don't know how well it holds up in retrospect. But googling Spitzer on the site should find everything if you're interested -- it got general, and sprawled over a bunch of posts, but I'm sure Spitzer would have been mentioned at least once in all the relevant threads.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
392

There's been other prostitution threads. The really fun one was when the English Courtesan showed up and Emerson got all doe-eyed and moony.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
393

And she insulted my prowess as a ladies man! Man, that stung.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
394

o toodle pip!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
395

$20 ??

LUXURY!


Posted by: OPINIONATED YORKSHIRE CRACK WHORE | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
396

Abort, togolosh! Abort!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
397

Abort, togolosh! Abort!

Who says there aren't any abortion cheerleaders?


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
398

"Access to Accutane is restricted."

Tell me about it. I'm taking it right now.

Coincidentally, unrelated legal research recently uncovered an Illinois case in which a previously mild-mannered med student started taking Accutane and then was convicted for assaulting two men in the woods (on different occasions) with a stun gun. He eventually received a pardon and sued both his doctor and the drug manufacturer because allegedly this sort of aggressive behavior is a side effect of the drug. Talarico v. Dunlap, 177 Ill.2d 185 (1997).

I have no idea whether they actually proved the connection, but I see "Accutane" there and think, "Yikes!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
399

So lets all be real nice to Kraab, or at least keep her away from stun guns.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
400

I read stories like that and think Accutane must be the acne miracle drug, or no one would ever prescribe it; I figure you pop the first pill and are suddenly imbued with a faint uniform glow, like moonlight reflecting off a calm lake, while your skin becomes so smooth and silky that you can't walk around barefoot anymore, because your feet are too slippery to stand on. If it's not that great or greater, why not just give up on it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
401

Call me a puritan misogynist hater of love, but I guess I'm pro-prostitution, with proper protections of the Dutch sort. To me it's odd that there are people for whom having sex with a random, moderately interesting person you just met at a bar is OK, but prostitution is horrible, especially because some of the bar encounters seem to mostly just be curiosity or boredom.

There are plenty of fiscally, emotionally, or interpersonally imperfect and problematic people for whom prostitution is the best actually possible way. For me the dating thing doesn't work because it seems to depend on some kind of feeling of oneness, even if transient, that I can't muster and can't fake. Marriage even more so, because I also don't want to be a mate. A cut and dried relationship would work best, though I can't really afford it.

Seemingly people want to keep one single thing precious and outside the cash nexus, but they usually fail anyway. Marriage and relationships are among other things, and not least, economic relationships. The cash nexus is everything, really.

I feel the same way, but more so, about stripping. From what I know, a successful stripper is able to put together a nest egg amazingly quickly, and their jobs are less unpleasant than most for women who are not squicked out by the whole idea. (I mean a normally successful local stripper, not a national superstar.)

Granted that the whole thing reeks of various cultural pathologies, but we have to deal with lots of them all that time anyway, of one kind or another, and sometimes we just decide to get by as best we actually can and pray for the future to be better.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
402

I see "Accutane" there and think, "Yikes!"

It know it can cause depression and suicidal thoughts; I hadn't heard of it leading to violence. My doctor checks in with me every month about depression -- am I sleeping, do I have a lot of crying jags, do I have thoughts of hurting myself, etc. Last time I was there, she (You were picturing a male doctor, weren't you? Sexists.) asked, "Do you find joy in your activities?" To which I said, "No, that's why I have a psychiatrist."

It was really, really depressing, though (in a non-clinical way) to think that there really are people who regularly find joy in their lives and that I'll never be one of them.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
403

It's the mutuality thing, John. It's one thing for me to decide to fuck somebody out of curiosity or boredom, if they also want to fuck me out of curiosity or boredom. It's quite different if I want to fuck them out of curiosity or boredom, but they *have* to fuck me to make the rent.

Does this actually need saying?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:57 AM
horizontal rule
404

I do not understand why therapists and doctors do not bring in the patient's friends and family more frequently.

"M/tch, how many times has Sir Kraab stabbed you with her fork in the past month?"

Kraab, your last line made me sad and blue.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
405

401: It comes down to a fact question about cruelty. I don't think the need for sex with other people is powerful enough to justify cruelty, given that plenty of people live chaste lives and manage all right; I think the circumstances of most prostitutes' work lives makes patronizing them cruel. To the extent that I'm wrong about the latter as a matter of fact, I've got nothing against prostitution either.

But the point of preferring the bar pickup to the prostitute is that the bar pickup has the option of walking away if she's not into it, so you don't need to get into worrying about whether the interaction is a significantly negative one for her.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
406

OT: Speaking of sad and blue, my daughter was a pain in the butt and she didnt want to put clothes on. Since the schools mostly require her to be clothed, I spent a long time this morning trying to convince her to put on clothes.

Finally, I had to pull out the big gun. I put on Bob Dylan's song If Not For You (i'd be sad and blue.)

She immediately perked up and gave me a big hug. Score for dad! I was able to get her dressed quickly then.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
407

It was really, really depressing, though (in a non-clinical way) to think that there really are people who regularly find joy in their lives and that I'll never be one of them.

Wait, is this really true? That you don't regularly find joy in your life?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
408

Or what OFE said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
409

I hesitated on that last line. I don't mean to say, "poor me." But the idea of being mostly happy as an adult is as foreign to me as the idea of growing up in an emotionally healthy family, as we've discussed before.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
410

It is much harder for me to imagine a healthy culture with strip clubs than a healthy culture with legalized prostitution.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
411

If it's not that great or greater, why not just give up on it?

Because being 40 and still having constant break-outs on your face, chest, and back despite every other kind of treatment sucks.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
412

I'm generally sympathetic to the critics of PZ Myers, who, after all, really is not very nice.

I don't think this is true. I've met him (in passing, at a Drinking Liberally event a few years ago). But it's hard to be an open, outspoken atheist, especially in a small rural town--I imagine his capacity for taking insults, etc., has been pretty eroded, leading him to seem snappish online, but he's a good guy, and an obviously doting father.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
413

given that plenty of people live chaste lives and manage all right

This doesn't seem right to me, but I am having a hard time articulating way other than that it seems like a non transferable generalization.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
414

406: I love your stories about your daughter, but mostly they make me realize that my media-driven understanding of autism is wildly, but wildly inaccurate. You should be writing about her systematically somewhere -- a column, a blog, a memoir. (In that 'you should be' sense than implies that I'm not actually being obnoxious enough to seriously hand out writing assignments like that.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
415

407: It is true. I don't mean that I don't have fun or feel glad when good things happen. But I feel like crap about myself pretty much all the time.

Of course, this is why I have a psychatrist and a therapist, who would say that despair is a sympton of depression.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
416

So you don't need to get into worrying about whether the interaction is a significantly negative one for her.

How very contractual of you, LB. It would bother me if I was #51 of a long list of guys some sad but lovely woman had picked up in a bar. And as I said, lack of mutuality is a problem in all relationships, for me at least. I can't maintain the buzz of illusion that just because someone's attractive and is attracted to me, somehow our hearts beat as one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
417

411: Oh, really effectively working to stop bad acne sounds like 'that great or greater' to me. Mostly I just mean "Wow, it must really work."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
418

But the idea of being mostly happy as an adult is as foreign to me as the idea of growing up in an emotionally healthy family, as we've discussed before.

I don't mean to nitpick or inadvertently ask super-personal questions, but I have no boundaries. Please tell me to back off if you want.

But "being mostly happy" and "finding joy regularly" strike me as different things - the first describing a baseline temperament, and the second describing the peaks and valleys of life. The first seems like a biological disposition, and hence out of reach of many people, whereas the latter strikes me as something every person should experience, and hence if it's missing, it means a super-serious symptom that (ideally) a person ought not to have to suffer through.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:10 AM
horizontal rule
419

I can't maintain the buzz of illusion that just because someone's attractive and is attracted to me, somehow our hearts beat as one.

Who says your hearts beat as one? But at least your minds have met, to continue the contractual-ness. Sure, a casual bar pickup may be being self-destructive, but your odds seem to me to be vastly better that you're not hurting someone by screwing them if you don't have to pay them to consent.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
420

418 written before seeing 415, which largely answers my question.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
421

On the cruelty thing, a lot of waitresses have horrible lives, money problems, kids at home, and sore feet all the time. Do you feel guilty about going to a restaurant?

And some of them decide, well, I'd rather be unhappy with a lot more money. There's even an in-between where it isn't exactly prostitution, but the boyfriends make it clear that they're able to do nice things for their girlfriends.

I think that we're really dealing with a.) a squick taboo line and b.) a wish that our society were less crass than it is, and a desire to keep ourselves somehow apart fro it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
422

I do not understand why therapists and doctors do not bring in the patient's friends and family more frequently.

I'm so with you on that -- even emotionally healthy people are probably pretty inaccurate self-reporters on some things. I've offered to do this once or twice for the Drunk friend, and while she actually scheduled it once in a late-night stupor, once she sobered up she decided it was a bad idea.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
423

413: Well, note that I'm not stating that chastity is a general obligation; I'm all for screwing around where it can be done kindly. I'm saying that chastity isn't bad enough to entitle someone to be cruel in service of their sexual appetites.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
424

402.last - I found the psych meds I was taking put a clamp on the ups as well as the downs. When I quit them I had a weird moment about a month later where I was walking around and suddenly realized I was happy. No reason, just sunshiny day and cool weather. No change in circumstances, either. The downs are more intense but shorter, which makes them tolerable. Dunno if this is relevant at all to you, but perhaps it is to someone.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
425

421: Eh, if you really think there's no significant (in the context of this argument) experiental difference between having a waitress job you don't enjoy and hooking, I'm not going to convince you. I certainly don't have access to any first-hand experience here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:18 AM
horizontal rule
426

Are the odds better? The prostitute buys a house and buys stuff for her kids. The bar pickup just goes home depressed.

The "two hearts beating as one" was my non-contractual version of mutuality. Probably a lot of people in single bars have a completely hard-edge contractual attitude, but dreams of love, or even of mutual respect, often play a role.

If we're being contractual, why shouldn't cash be involved?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
427

I do not understand why therapists and doctors do not bring in the patient's friends and family more frequently.

My mom attended a couple therapy appointments with me when she was in town, and it is incredibly threatening? taxing? emotionally challenging? It was like therapy on steroids.

And we have an excellent relationship, and she mostly came in because I'd shared with her and she wanted to meet this fabulous therapist that I'd raved about, not specifically to unravel a knot between us. So it was a low stakes situation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
428

I don't mean that I don't have fun or feel glad when good things happen. But I feel like crap about myself pretty much all the time.

Any ways to just increase the frequency of good things happening?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
429

405

But the point of preferring the bar pickup to the prostitute is that the bar pickup has the option of walking away if she's not into it, so you don't need to get into worrying about whether the interaction is a significantly negative one for her.

It seems to me (in theory at least) that prostitutes could also choose their clients so I am not sure what your point is here.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
430

424--True for me as well, but I haven't yet gone off, in part because my high points are so usually followed by a big crash. Definitely the right choice for me, for now. Sorry to hear about your struggle, SK--it's a bitch, ain't it?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:22 AM
horizontal rule
431

Heebie:

Not really to unravel a knot, but to provide another perspective on the patient.

I would love to go to my ex-wife's therapist to provide some insight. How can he really help her without understanding her from multiple perspectives?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
432

Sure, a casual bar pickup may be being self-destructive, but your odds seem to me to be vastly better that you're not hurting someone by screwing them if you don't have to pay them to consent.

I'm broadly on your side here, LB, but this doesn't make sense to me. If you're talking about emotions (are you?), the odds that someone will be hurt in a bar-pickup (through misunderstanding, etc.) seem vastly higher than in a prostitution transaction. And more generally, in what sense are you hurting someone if you do pay them to consent? Are you relying on something "special" about sex? (What?) Or is it just that you doubt the consent is genuine? (Why?)

Is there a price at which you'd be willing to have sex with someone with whom you had no sexual interest? (Assuming that you were single, to simplify.) If not, why? And are there other things against which you have no objection "in principle" (i.e., you don't think they're fundamentally immoral) but that you'd be unwillling to do at any price?

Maybe I should go read the old thread. I remember skimming it before and thinking it was mostly unenlightening.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
433

429: In practice, being choosy about the clients seems to me to be an implausible business model at all but the highest end of the spectrum. (In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice...)

426: Are the odds better? The prostitute buys a house and buys stuff for her kids. The bar pickup just goes home depressed.

Like I said, if I'm wrong enough about the facts that the prostitute isn't being hurt by her worklife, then I don't have a real problem with it. But I don't think we're in a position to get anywhere with convincing each other about the facts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
434

431: I'm just saying it's a very fraught situation that probably a lot of patients wouldn't be able to handle. It violates a huge trust thingy if your therapist is verifying your story behind your back.

More importantly, I'm pretty sure good therapists can smell it when someone's version of events veers into the unlikely-land. Especially because they're going to have signature patterns over time, and the specific areas where they're having difficulty dealing are going to coincide with those areas where they're not reporting life accurately.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
435

Not that it's totally "behind your back". But it still might feel that way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
436

Not that it's totally "behind your back". But it still might feel that way

No, you're right. It would feel like being teamed up on, unclear alliances, etc. But like Will with his ex, there are plenty of situations where I think, God, if only I could have 10 minutes with ___'s therapist...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
437

I'm broadly on your side here, LB, but this doesn't make sense to me. If you're talking about emotions (are you?), the odds that someone will be hurt in a bar-pickup (through misunderstanding, etc.) seem vastly higher than in a prostitution transaction.

To me, bar pick-ups don't asymmetrically hurt women as a class the way prostitution does. So while any individual transaction may go down as you've described, the big picture of prostitution is more troubling to me than a big picture of a culture of bar hook-ups.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
438

It seems cruel to me that there are people who will never have any sexual contact without being potentially "cruel" to the people whom they would be paying for sexual contact.

But women in the same position don't even have the option of finding male prostitutes, so I shouldn't weep too much I guess.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
439

Family night is a major part of my sister's program for substance abusers. Usually there are five nights, four concentrating on how the abuser had hurt his or her family, and one on how the family had hurt the abuser.

It's not symmetrical -- some abusers were not hurt by their families, and some families really were not hurt by the abusers (e.g. if they rejected them even before they started having problems). The 4 to 1 ration is because the program is for the clients, not for the families; it doesn't represent a scientific judgment of the average proportion of harm one way or another.

She also believes that "tough love" should be an absolute last resort, primarily for personal survival.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
440

It seems cruel to me that there are people who will never have any sexual contact without being potentially "cruel" to the people whom they would be paying for sexual contact.

Cruel? or sad?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
441

I don't think the difference between prostitution and a bar hook up is mutuality. One person could be having sex because she's bored and curious and the other person could be in lovelovelove, and it might be unfortunate, but it still wouldn't be in the same moral category as prostitution.

I think the difference really comes down to the fact that financial duress puts constraints on consent.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
442

432: Is there a price at which you'd be willing to have sex with someone with whom you had no sexual interest?

Isn't this the 'ticking bomb' question? Just like if 'by the power of stipulation' I stipulate that aliens will cause the earth to spiral into the sun unless you torture someone, you could probably agree that you'd torture as a lesser-evil sort of thing, there's probably some stipulation I could come up with where I'd take money for sex. But it's not an informative question about reality -- I'm no more or less a potential prostitute than you are a torturer.

Are you relying on something "special" about sex? (What?)

Yep. Concrete physical risk (violence, disease), and common emotional reactions to undesired sex (horror, disgust, disassociation).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
443

A different therapist told me that conflict of interest forbade him to therapize two members of a relationship separetely, and that by and large he didn't want the second person involved at all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
444

I would love to go to my ex-wife's therapist to provide some insight. How can he really help her without understanding her from multiple perspectives?

Right. How is the therapist going to understand my ex unless the therapist has developed the carefully reasoned, entirely objective loathing that I have for her?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
445

438: It seems cruel to me that there are people who will never have any sexual contact without being potentially "cruel" to the people whom they would be paying for sexual contact.

Cruel, in the sense I'm using it, requires a wrongdoer more individual than 'the universe' or 'the nature of reality'. To pick up heebie's term, it's sad that people don't always get what they need to make them happy. But no one's being cruel just because someone's unhappy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
446

I think there's something very different about couple's therapy or family therapy, where everyone is expected to take a hard look at themselves. That's a different situation than having a loved one sit in and clue the therapist in to the patient's delusions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
447

Right. How is the therapist going to understand my ex unless the therapist has developed the carefully reasoned, entirely objective loathing that I have for her?

I would hope that the therapist would take my comments with a grain of salt. I would hope that they could attempt to distinguish between helpful input and destructive.

I want her mental health to be good, not bad. I am not interested in destroying my ex. I am interested in her being at her peak ability to parent.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
448

I don't think anyone is being cruel if they don't have intent to cause harm, either.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
449

So I shouldnt return your therapist's call, heebie?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
450

Concrete risk is like many jobs (fisherman, logger, miner). The squick factor is the real one. "Undesired sex" makes presumptions about the individual. People who feel that strongly should not go into the field.

As for duress, maybe it's someone who wants to put together a bunch of money.

We're at the point where empirical fact is decisive, except that I think that the squick factor has been playing a big role and makes the conclusion more absolute and general than it should be.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
451

447: I hear ya. I was joking about myself there.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
452

women in the same position don't even have the option of finding male prostitutes

Not true.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:44 AM
horizontal rule
453

Apo, I think you meant, "Not true, Laydeez."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
454

My only experience with therapy was couples/family therapy my parents got us into for a couple of months in a trial breakup while I was in high school. (The therapist clearly missed a trick in not successfully convincing them to stay split.)

It was terribly unpleasant -- between the two of them, one was much more likely to be simply wrong about their memory of what had happened, so therapy would turn into the three of us explaining that the fourth was lying/delusional/mistaken. But that didn't mean they were always in the wrong, just that their perceptions were skewed; I really hated being part of a pile-on.

Luckily, the therapist fairly quickly decided that my sister and I were fine, and didn't have to keep on coming to the sessions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
455

433

In practice, being choosy about the clients seems to me to be an implausible business model at all but the highest end of the spectrum. ...

Depends on what you mean by choosy. I think even streetwalkers try to avoid clients who appear dangerous (of course they can be mistaken but that applies to bar pickups also). Limiting yourself to 5-10% of the potential client base may not be viable but 80-90% seems plausible to me.

Think cab drivers, if you won't pick up most people you won't do well but you can exclude 10-20% and not suffer much.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
456

||

This batch of apples I bought tastes disgusting. There's so much pesticide-taste on the skin that I'm practically scouring them with steel wool before I'll eat them.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
457

The squick factor is the real one.

It's the only one that really holds up under scrutiny. The best comparison is people who make their living doing Phase I (meaning mostly or completely untested in humans at that point) drug studies, getting relatively small sums of money and often undergoing invasive medical procedures.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
458

448: What if they're culpably reckless about the possibility that they're causing harm -- someone who walks through the picket-line outside the hand-knotted rug store, looks at the flyer explaining the number of children who went blind knotting each rug, and tosses it aside saying "Eh, it's probably not true" and buys the rug? I'd call that cruel.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
459

438

But women in the same position don't even have the option of finding male prostitutes, so I shouldn't weep too much I guess.

Why don't they have the option? The market is smaller but it does exist.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
460

I don't think anyone is being cruel if they don't have intent to cause harm, either.

Legalistic again. If you have reason to believe that there will be harm, it's cruel even if it's not your intent. And here we get into the "No one can really know what someone else feels" / "who are we to judge what is good for someone else" principal, which is the founding cliche of our way of life, and which isn't true and may not even be false. It's just culturally-enforced default principle.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
461

The best comparison is people who make their living doing Phase I (meaning mostly or completely untested in humans at that point) drug studies, getting relatively small sums of money and often undergoing invasive medical procedures.

They show up with the same sorts of history of prior sexual abuse as prostitutes? And end up with similar outcomes, healthwise/economically/longevity-wise? I'd be surprised if it's a good comparison at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
462

I know someone who has, allegedly, worked as a male prostitute [for female clients]. Whether it's true or not, I have no idea.*

* I didn't hear it from him, so it's not some idle male bragging.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
463

448

I don't think anyone is being cruel if they don't have intent to cause harm, either.

I don't agree, you can be unthinkingly or negligently cruel.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:53 AM
horizontal rule
464

It's the only one that really holds up under scrutiny. The best comparison is people who make their living doing Phase I (meaning mostly or completely untested in humans at that point) drug studies, getting relatively small sums of money and often undergoing invasive medical procedures.

First, medical testing does make me a wee bit uneasy. But it's not an apt comparison unless the participants disproportionately come from one group, and so the group begins to carry associations of medical testiness.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
465

442: it wasn't meant to be an invasive question, LB, much less a trap question. I understand you are not a "potential prostitute". I was trying to get a better sense why not--whether it was entirely dependant on the fact that working conditions for most prostitutes are terrible, or if there was something more going on--an objection on a the level of principle.

437 makes sense, theoretically, although I'm not sure it holds up empirically. (Not saying it doesn't, just not sure.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
466

458, 460, 463: It's a rare post that can unite me, Emerson, and Shearer in unanimous disagreement.

Comity!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
467

A different therapist told me that conflict of interest forbade him to therapize two members of a relationship separetely, and that by and large he didn't want the second person involved at all.

Indeed, when I went from marriage counseling to individual therapy, the therapist told me straight up that I was his patient and he would not see UNG. I assumed this was just because he hated UNG, too. But conflict of interest is another explanation.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
468

Wait a minute: prostitution is responsible for prior sexual abuse? I've heard this in various contexts, and the arrow of time has to be taken into consideration.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
469

history of prior sexual abuse as prostitutes

Prostitution doesn't cause prior sexual abuse, obviously.

history of prior sexual abuse as prostitutes

Well, for example, the NIH-funded study of experimental spermicides I worked on many years ago included lots of charming photographs of college-aged women who'd had their cervixes (cervices?) burned off during the course of the trial.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
470

re: 461

The key point is that the vast vast vast majority of prostitutes are people who, if they had another choice, would not be prostitutes. Concentrating on the 'high-end' individuals completely ignores the reality for the vast bulk of the people involved in prostitution.

I'm probably prepared to accept that there's a tiny minority of prostitutes who don't feel harmed by it, and who are primarily and successfully in it for their own personal gain, but I'd also bet that those people constitute such a tiny number that they are just noise in among the drug-addicted, the poverty stricken and the abused.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:55 AM
horizontal rule
471

unless the participants disproportionately come from one group

They disproportionately come from one economic group. Way disproportionately.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
472

But it's not an apt comparison

For those accustomed to prostitutes referring to them as "needle-dick," maybe the comparison seems more apt.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
473

The second quoted bit in 469 should have been healthwise/economically/longevity-wise.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
474

There's a special problem with couples counseling when one member of the couple runs off with the counselor. I know of two actual cases, one of hich cost the Presbyterian Church hundreds of thousands of dollars. (How you assess the cash value of a marriage is a question I do not understand; in many cases it seems to be zero or negative, but that's just me).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
475

I was trying to get a better sense why not--whether it was entirely dependant on the fact that working conditions for most prostitutes are terrible, or if there was something more going on--an objection on a the level of principle.

I don't think I'd be engaging in wrongdoing by taking money for sex (eh, there are nuances where I could argue I was if we got into societal effects, but not on the surface level of the transaction). 'Working conditions' doesn't sum it up, though -- set up any plausible level of pleasant working conditions (assured safety, no disease risk, protection from violence, low 'workload') and it still sounds somewhere between excruciatingly unpleasant and horrifying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
476

The key point is that the vast vast vast majority of prostitutes are people who, if they had another choice, would not be prostitutes.

That's true of every job I've ever had. For me in all cases, and for most of my coworkers in many cases.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
477

457: I was paid $1200 my freshman year of college to participate in a 6 week test where twice a week I'd go and take a handful of pills that gave me a huge buzz and then play video games for 2 hours, while researchers monitored my performance. I have no idea what they were testing, but it was the best job I've ever had.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
478

They disproportionately come from one economic group. Way disproportionately.

That's the main reason medical testing makes me uneasy. It seems like something people do when their backs are up against the wall.

Whereas all the psych testing on college first-years doesn't bother me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
479

466: But I get credit for reducing the disagreement to our varying definitions of a certain word, as most disagreements can be reduced to.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
480

470

The key point is that the vast vast vast majority of prostitutes are people who, if they had another choice, would not be prostitutes. ...

I don't believe this. Like drug addicts they may have made a self-destructive choice but it was a choice. At least in countries like the US where people aren't literally starving.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
481

Stripping is much more problematic to me than prostitution, in that I don't believe there's some ideal version where everything is so beautifully symmetric that it doesn't hurt women as a class. And it's so public and prevalent that I think it does quite a bit of damage.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
482

468, 469: Where did I say that prostitution caused prior sexual abuse? My point is that prostitution, as an industry, finds its workers most commonly in the pool of those who have been previously sexually abused. To the best of my knowledge, medical testing doesn't select for similarly traumatized workers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
483

That's the main reason medical testing makes me uneasy.

It ought to make you uneasy, and I say that as somebody who makes a decent living off of writing up the results of the studies. There's something unsettling about paying poor people that don't have the targeted disease to put experimental compounds into their bodies, even if human testing is the only way to tell whether a new drug is efficacious or safe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
484

Well, for example, the NIH-funded study of experimental spermicides I worked on many years ago included lots of charming photographs of college-aged women who'd had their cervixes (cervices?) burned off during the course of the trial.

That's horrifying (and astonishing. Don't they test this shit on animals first?) I'd still be very surprised if working as a medical testing subject was anything like as dangerous as working as an actually-existing prostitute.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
485

Most crappy jobs find their workers from populations which have various sorts of already-existing problems. I'm against crappy jobs, but the "prior sexual abuse" argument is bogus wherever it pops up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
486

481: stripping makes me more uncomfortable because of the appalling behavior of men in groups around women perceived as sex objects. I'm don't think more harm is actually caused in stripping, but I find the group-macho behavior more repulsive, whereas individual johns can even be sympathetic.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:11 AM
horizontal rule
487

It ought to make you uneasy,

Sweet! Got that one right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
488

re: 480

It's only a choice if you are working with a very impoverished conception of freedom of choice.

re: 476

I used to work in the area of Glasgow where a lot of the street prostitutes used to ply their trade. I think it's fair to say that their jobs weren't quite in the same place in the scale of shitty as the shitty job I had at the same time; and I'd be embarrassed to even make the comparison between the fact that I didn't like my job and the level of shittiness that they had to endure.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
489

medical testing doesn't select for similarly traumatized workers

It's a job people don't choose until other options run out. That sexually abused women people gravitate toward prostitution is unfortunate, but predictable. Similarly:

And when the opportunity came up and freelance design and illustration work wasn't coming in, I'd park my kids in day care and go back to work running a tar kettle and tearing off fifty-year-old factory roofs full of carcinogens all day. Which, if you've never done it, is in the top ten most dangerous jobs in America, you have to work with a bunch of racist, sexist, stupid drunks all day because hot tar roofing is like where the dregs of the construction industry end up, and you develop a layer of itchy, sticky filth all over you can never wash off completely until you haven't done the job for a month or so. It is *hell.* The only perk, really, is peeing on roofs, which can be pretty spectacular, and it's always fun to tell people, later, "Uh, yeah, if you had a roofing job done, there's piss all over your roof. Shit, too, from the total freaks. What the hell, you think the peons just hold it all the time they're up there or something?"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
490

I don't think I'd be engaging in wrongdoing by taking money for sex

Do you think you would be engaging in wrongdoing to pay a man for sex?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
491

Don't they test this shit on animals first?

Yes, but animals' bodies are only rough approximations of human bodies. Of course medical testing is safer than prostitution: it's legal and regulated.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
492

ttaM: what would you say to a prostitute / stripper who decide she hated working as a waitress and decided that she'd rather hate a job that paid a lot more?

Mostly I'm arguing philosophically against the squicky-taboo universal argument against prostitution, but I'm also talking about an actual society in which prostitution may be a better choice than the actually available options -- unemployment / some other crappy job.

Prior sexual abuse and drug addiction are problems in themselves, not arguments against prostitution. Some of the other problems (as with drugs) are functions of illegality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
493

flyby comment, I'm not really here, just on a quick lunch break. (Hi! how've you all been?)

I suspect I've socially known more prostitutes than most (all?) here. From that experience I'd have to say that while at some logical level things like James' "they can choose too" are reasonable, in practice it's completely out to lunch.

As is the concept that it's all good, 'cause she can buy a house and things for her kids. Seriously, this almost never happens.

Forgetting about "level" for a moment, there are two broad classes of prostitutes: those who do it for a little while (full time or on the side) as it's the easiest way for them to make [desired amount of money] at that particular time, and those who do it because they have few other options.

Both groups come in various flavors. In the first group you've got a college student paying her way through college for 2 months effort every summer, but you've also got a depressed teenager sucking cocks for $5 or $10 a go because they can't keep it together enough to work shitty retail jobs. So this really isn't a "high end" vs. "streetwalking" distinction.

But mostly, it's the second group you have to worry about, and they're most of the "workforce". Sure, there are a few perfectly happy, financially secure prostitutes out there, and I'm sure you could find one bringing up a family in a happy suburb somewhere. You could make an TV how out of it, I'm sure, once Weeds runs down.

Mostly though, you'll find a tale of addiction and complex obligations. Most "career" prostitutes are beholden to someone (at least one) who doesn't have their best interests at heart. Most have substance abuse issues (often intentionally inflicted). Many live far from family and real friends (this is intentionally done when it can be). Most live pretty fucked up lives, but worse, have lost a lot of agency. Walking away from this sort of thing is more difficult than it looks from the outside.

I have stolen food for the children of a prostitute, because she was too flaky to feed them (and I didn't have any money). She was a pretty good prototype to base your expectations on, actually. Not the "english courtesan".

Likewise, I've seen many young girls (and a few boys) manipulated into making money for someone, by all sorts of means.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I met a couple of whores in Amsterdam once, and we talked shop a bit. Better, but didn't sound like such a great improvement overall. Most of the problems still existed, in much the same shape.

gotta run


Posted by: John F. Kennedy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
494

490: I don't know anything, socially, about the life and experiences of straight male prostitutes. Under the assumption that they're roughly similar to those of straight female prostitutes, sure, I'd be acting wrongfully.

If you'd like me to make a different set of assumptions about what life is like for straight male prostitutes, spell them out?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
495

489: In general, "last resort" occupations tend to be exploitative. Tarring roofs sounds awful. But tarring roofs doesn't intersect and exacerbate existing sexism/racism/prejudice in quite the same way that prostitution does, and doesn't carry the same shame and stigma. It's something you can put on your resume when you're trying to apply to be, say, a contractor of those who tar roofs.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
496

I'll add to 493 that while I don't have any direct experience with the profession (from either side), as well as knowing quite a few people who have worked the trade, I have lived with prostitutes and have a pretty good idea of the logistics.

As a kid, a friends mother put me up for a few months when I was in a rough spot. Both his mother and her roommate were prostitutes, and while they hardly conducted their business in front of us we were old enough (young teens) to have a fairly good idea of how it was all working. That and the business side couldn't help but intrude (one of these two women was the cause of the situation I was recalling above)


Posted by: John F. Kennedy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
497

re: 484

The general process is:

1. test shit in test tubes and shit [in vitro testing]
2. test shit in animals [in vivo testing]
3. test shit in small number of healthy people to make sure they don't die/blow-up/turn green [phase 1 trials]
4. test shit in small number of people with the disease to see if it might work [phase 2]
5. test shit in larger number of people with the disease [phase 3]

With all kinds of complications and intermediate stages, depending on how it's being done.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
498

Because they have few other options

Again, not caused by their being prostitutes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
499

re: 492

Oh I'd probably take it on a case by case basis. I'm just pointing out that, as a matter of actual fact, most prostitutes are in totally shitty situations.

That's not to say that there aren't other ways of being in shitty situations, or that prostitution might not be a rational choice for someone.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
500

Prostitution exacerbates racism?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
501

tarring roofs doesn't intersect and exacerbate existing sexism/racism/prejudice

"you have to work with a bunch of racist, sexist, stupid drunks all day"

Except now, a high percentage of the roofing jobs are staffed by Mexicans, which certainly carries some racist overtones. Anyhow, I'm not trying to downplay the unpleasantness of prostitution. It's a shitty job that I wouldn't want any of my friends or family performing (I have known a *lot* of men who have spent time as prostitutes, but only two women that I'm aware of). But, a lot of the reaction to it here (that is not similarly shown to other degrading, dangerous work) seems driven by the fact that it involves sex, which goes back to Emerson's squick theory.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
502

500: No. Just saying that tarring roofs doesn't exacerbate any of the go-to standard -isms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
503

497: Yeah, I basically knew that -- I was just surprised that something could both pass in vivo testing and be caustic? or whatever it was enough to burn off multiple women's cervices. That seems like the sort of thing animal testing would be expected to usually catch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
504

it involves sex, which goes back to Emerson's squick theory.

Or it involves actual differences between sex and other activities -- the fact that people want to treat sex work as different from other forms of word does not in itself prove that they're being irrational to do so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
505

Except now, a high percentage of the roofing jobs are staffed by Mexicans, which certainly carries some racist overtones.

True, and I think there's a lot of problems here, too.

But, a lot of the reaction to it here (that is not similarly shown to other degrading, dangerous work) seems driven by the fact that it involves sex, which goes back to Emerson's squick theory.

There's bad-squick visceral reactions, similar to what people have against men having sex. But there's also the fact that when prostitution occurs in 2009 United States, it's located in a culture that treats sex shamefully and denigrates sex workers and all the rest of it. So the fact that it involves sex does make it uniquely problematic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:37 AM
horizontal rule
506

The squick factor is one of the causes of the shame factor. This is getting a bit symmetrical with the drug question -- drugs are so bad that we must make the consequences even worse! Prostitution is bad and totally destroys the prostitute, so we will never hire one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
507

That's not really surprising. If people went out on weekends and met people for hot tarring, and formed potentially life-long monogamous hot tarring contracts, we'd probably have a similar squick reaction to the roofers' plight, too.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
508

caustic? or whatever it was

All (most? it's been a while since I did any reading on the topic) spermicides are essentially detergents, and the trick is getting the balance between spermicidal activity and causticity right. There are lots of women who can't handle nonoxyl-9, too.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
509

The problem with Emerson's argument is that the squick isn't just felt by those of us on the outside who are judging the activity. It is felt, and felt in spades, by the people who are doing it. The squick isn't an irrational distortion of our judgment. It is a part of the reality we are judging.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
510

Which is to say, yes, it's because it's sex, but it's not like 2009 U.S. is a place that treats sex as just some physical thing that happens, and the larger cultural context seems to be relevant, as does the fact that reality isn't usually the English Courtesan.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
511

located in a culture that treats sex shamefully and denigrates sex workers and all the rest of it. So the fact that it involves sex does make it uniquely problematic.

I think the ordering of your carts and horses needs to be revisited.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
512

Ok, I really do have to run but one more quick comment.

John, I can imagine a culture where prostitution doesn't have all the problems (and more) alluded to in this thread. Or at least doesn't have most of them. We can do away with those directly resulting from illegality, we can imagine the social issues changing etc., etc.

Only thing is, this culture I'm imagining doesn't look remotely close to USA circa 2009. And it's an awful lot easier to imaging the existence of such a place, than to imagine a plausible path to get the US from here to there.

We're collectively pretty fucked up a bout sex period, let alone about sex workers, and that is the root of several deep problems with the whole thing.


Posted by: John F. Kennedy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
513

You're picturing the horse doing it to the cart?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:43 AM
horizontal rule
514

Thanks, JFK, for the perspective.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
515

I've gotta go teach, or I'd respond more seriously to 511.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
516

To a *female* cart, yes. Otherwise it's just gross.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
517

The beloved grandnephew's dad is a Mexican-American roofer, just to illustrate the unity of being.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:44 AM
horizontal rule
518

We're collectively pretty fucked up about sex period

This is a much more succinct (and analogy-free!) summation of my point.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
519

506: This is getting a bit symmetrical with the drug question -- drugs are so bad that we must make the consequences even worse! Prostitution is bad and totally destroys the prostitute, so we will never hire one.

The difference is that not hiring a prostitute doesn't harm her in the way that jailing a pot smoker harms them. I'm not actually sure what I think the best harm-reduction strategy is for prostitution, but I could probably be talked into decriminalization/regulation and so forth. That doesn't imply thinking that even under the best possible harm-reduction conditions that I'd think hiring a prostitute was morally neutral or good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:50 AM
horizontal rule
520

Also, that if I waved my magic wand and made sex work disappear, the impact on sexism and racism in this country would probably not be noticeable. Symptoms versus disease yadda yadda yadda.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
521

Or it involves actual differences between sex and other activities -- the fact that people want to treat sex work as different from other forms of word does not in itself prove that they're being irrational to do so.

This is underrated, I think.

If a company requires its salespeople to provide sexual services to clients, should the government intervene?

If a welfare agency only gives benefits to people who can't find jobs, and someone's only job possibility is prostitution, should they be denied benefits if they don't take it?

Can a career counselor legitimately recommend that someone become a prostitute?

I don't support the criminalization of prostitution, but when you get down to it very few people truly believe that sex is really just like any other labor activity.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
522

521: Mmm, try replacing sex work with drug dealing in all of your examples and everything still works.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
523

"Not hiring" meant "not hiring ex-prostitutes".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
524

520: whereas waving away the concept of the strip club would have an effect on sexism, I think.,


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
525

Also, that if I waved my magic wand and made sex work disappear, the impact on sexism and racism in this country would probably not be noticeable.

I don't think that's the important question. I'd rather ask "If you could wave a magic wand and make sexism disappear, what would the impact on sex work be? Would it disappear? Would it suddenly become harm free?"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
526

522: Really? If drugs were actually legal in this country, do you think most people would find "yes" answers to these questions troubling?

Because I think if prostitution were legal, people would still find "yes" answers disturbing.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
527

522: No it doesn't, or at least I understood Babar to be asking about a world where prostitution (and so in your version 'drug dealing') was legal. If pot were legal, I wouldn't blink at (a) a company requiring its salespeople to sell pot (b) a welfare agency requiring someone to take a job as a pot salesman or lose benefits (well, I have trouble with benefits structured like that, but it's not about the pot) or (c) a career counselor recommending a career in pot sales. I don't feel the same way about hooking, even in a world where it was legal.

523: Sure, anyone who wouldn't hire an ex-prostitute for a different job for that reason is a complete shithead.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:01 PM
horizontal rule
528

if I waved my magic wand and made sex work disappear

I'm reading this as an allusion to the last lines of this post.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
529

525: That's the more interesting question, yes, but I don't have any idea what the answer would be. Mine was directed at the notion that prostitution exacerbates sexism/racism, which seems backwards to me (except inasmuch as those things are circularly reinforcing, I guess).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
530

333: I think that in the UK, you need to get the signature of a doctor, but that in practice, this is not a real burden.

I think that they legalized abortion before us, but that the cut-off date for unimpeded access is much earlier. I don't know what their standards are when a woman's health is in danger.

Ann Widdecombe is super annoying about how they should make the cut-off date earlier, but then she's always really annoying.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
531

||
Apropos of our conversation about software UI design recently, Google's Visual Design Lead has quit.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
532

I don't think that unemployment requires people with objections to work in bars, sell tobacco, work in strip clubs (which are legal), etc. If they do, that's a bad thing. I think that prostitution could easily be treated the way stripping already is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
533

What about the "Hey, staff, we've decided you'll probably sell more widgets if you blow the customers! Bonus for every ten buyers you suck off." In an ideal world where people weren't irrationally squicked out about sex, would you think of that as a neutral change in sales techniques on a level with asking salespeople to take buyers out to lunch?

I find that implausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
534

If a welfare agency only gives benefits to people who can't find jobs, and someone's only job possibility is prostitution, should they be denied benefits if they don't take it?

I think there was a case in Germany where some agency tried to make somebody do legal sex work, I can't remember if it was stripping or what, and the government came down like a ton of bricks and said no, this is unreasonable, you can't make people do this.

Different category to other types of work, even when public money depends on it.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
535

534: I vaguely remember that, but I think I remember it being some kind of sensationist hoax -- a newspaper or someone decided that the regulations could be interpreted that way, and got all horrified despite the fact that no one was in fact conditioning the payment of benefits on doing sex work. But my memory is unclear enough that I could be wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
536

I think there was a case in Germany where some agency tried to make somebody do legal sex work

Never actually happened.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:21 PM
horizontal rule
537

534 is a good citation. I seem to remember that was in Denmark, but what do I know.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
538

534: You'd just have to hire to the new job description, and pay more.

prostitution isn't uniquely a squicky job. Slaughterhouse work, euthenizing cats, selling porn, selling tobacco, selling alcohol, selling sexy garments, working in abortion clinics, canvassing for political candidates..... I'm just going to assume that unemployment people don't force people to take these jobs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
539

What exactly are people envisioning when they talk about a culture not irrationally squicked out about sex? Is sex still linked with emotional intimacy?

I imagine that if humans had sex like bonobos,* blowing the clients would be a part of the job. But then again you would also probably make out with the cashier when buying your groceries. But this isn't just a matter of removing irrational feeling from sex, it is fundementally changing the role of sex in relationships.


____

* Which, I'll admit, I've spent time imagining.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
540

535. Sounds likely. At the time I didn't pay much attention, because even seen in the worst light it was obvious that somebody would intervene on Monday morning.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
541

369: I didn't realize that lithium was category D. I had an annnoying primary care resident tell me that lithium was super dangerous, but many psychiatrists put pregnant women on lithium, because it's less teratogenic than the anti-convulsants, and they try to get women back on it before they give birth if they choose to go off during pregnancy. And a lot of people will only go off their meds during the 1st trimester. Accutane is unequivocally bad for a fetus.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
542

538: Huh. Genuinely wasn't expecting that answer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
543

Sex sells. Take away our irrational moral hangups about sex, and I'd think that there would be great economic incentives for salespeople willing to have sex with customers.

Now you could just adopt the attitude that if you don't want to have sex with customers, then don't take the job. But since there are a lot of middle-class and upper-class people right now who have nice jobs that insulate them from sexual stuff at work, and who like it that way, this seems like a step backwards, not forwards.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:28 PM
horizontal rule
544

Slaughterhouse work, euthenizing cats, selling porn, selling tobacco, selling alcohol, selling sexy garments,

I've known several people who worked in slaughterhouses. While some of them swore they'd never eat the products they made, none of them would have considered going on the game as an alternative. Probably they were better paid than most prostitutes, too.

And what squicky about selling booze? Bar work is a noble calling.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:30 PM
horizontal rule
545

Sex has never always been linked to emotional intimacy. Think of arranged marriage. (Found in the US, too, on the frontier or among immigrants. Mail order brides. The grandmother of a friend of mine told him about it, something like "OK, I'll do it but you have to buy me a radio first". (Actual story someone told me about his own Granny). There's even a musical: "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". (In my family two sisters married two brothers, but it wasn't arranged).

And finally, some of us are not too crazy about emotional intimacy, but are not completely sexless.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
546

Just cleaning up -- the thread has moved on!

379: (although Parsi? Where I've explicitly stated that cruelty to anything that can feel pain is wrong, describing my views as "needs to understand any and all moral obligations in terms of the rights at least theoretically held by human beings," seems to involve a failure of comprehension)

You're right; I'd overlooked that. Thanks for the clarifications.

B. at 370: Okay, and sorry. Certain kinds of talk about adoption make me crazy, so I'd decided not to read more of the thread along those lines about it. Better to have remained silent.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
547

544: For some individuals (vegetarians, churchy people) all of those are abhorrent. That was my point.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
548

Slaughterhouse work or euthanizing cats doesn't involve the level of intimate contact with a complete stranger that sex does. Skin on skin contact taps into a deep layer of the brain, much more so than any other sense.

I'm more inclined to the Emersonian view than to most of the others upthread, but skin on skin is squicky for reasons that goes back past the veldt into the goo primordial.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
549

545: Those were situations where the sexual control of women was more complete, not times when sex was free of emotional implications.

A lot of people seem to be assuming that if sex were free of irrational hang ups, it would be no different than eating a good meal. I don't think that is true.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
550

I read stories like that and think Accutane must be the acne miracle drug, or no one would ever prescribe it; I figure you pop the first pill and are suddenly imbued with a faint uniform glow, like moonlight reflecting off a calm lake, while your skin becomes so smooth and silky that you can't walk around barefoot anymore, because your feet are too slippery to stand on.

HAH. I took Accutane a few years ago for psoriasis, and while it definitely helped, it also dried out my facial skin something fierce. (To the point where my dermatologist suggested that I stop washing my face if I could handle it. I ended up just using copious amounts of facial moisturizer.)

The packaging was pretty intense. It came in blister packs in tri-fold packaging, so you had to unwind the container to get to the pills, with each fold having big warnings about NOT TAKING THIS DRUG IF YOU WERE PREGNANT. I didn't have to go through the rigamarole SK describes, although I'm not sure if that's a function of when I was taking it or my gender.

Luckily I didn't have any of the more unpleasant side effects.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
551

Slaughterhouse work or euthanizing cats doesn't involve the level of intimate contact with a complete stranger that sex does.

Nursing work does.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
552

It was really, really depressing, though (in a non-clinical way) to think that there really are people who regularly find joy in their lives and that I'll never be one of them.

Sir Kraab, I don't think it's as hopeless as that even though, that's how you feel now.

(A psychotic man who thinks that the UN is on a mad effort to control the population, who believes that psychiatry is a conspiracy, that women have it easier than men and all men want to be polygomous was looking over my laptop and caught me reading this blog. He then went to it.

I apologize if I brought a troll here. Anyway, if he comes by here again, I don't want him picking up my pseudonym. (He's someone that I'm likely to see again in this building.)


Posted by: Temporarily Anon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
553

A lot of people seem to be assuming that if sex were free of irrational hang ups, it would be no different than eating a good meal

I don't think anybody is making that assumption, nor arguing it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
554

369, and 541: I hadn't been familiar with these categorizations of drugs (Category X, D). I take what I gather is a Category D medication, and I'd actually prefer that there be more standard disclosure that it causes birth defects; I learned of this completely at random. Huh, well that's good to know!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
555

I'm amazed that even two people here have not understood the point of my euthanizing cats / slaughterhouse example. These were not meant as human universals. I'm absolutely sure that there are lots of people who'd rather be prostitutes than kill animals.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
556

552: TA, I'd think that comment would be plenty enough to identify you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
557

My wingnut sister wanted to consider Accutane, but did not want to take the pill and was offended that the doctor didn't believe that she wasn't having sex. I tried to explain; it did not go well. So, she had no Accutane.

A lot of people seem to be assuming that if sex were free of irrational hang ups, it would be no different than eating a good meal. I don't think that is true.

Or, if it were, it's not a possible state of affairs that resembles our own much at all. It's further out there than libertarian fantasy world where the bloggers go Galt and everyone begs the Instapundit to come back and donates to charity in lieu of taxes. It's somewhere past the world where abstinence only ed works. Probably just to the left of the one where there is no war.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
558

Mmm, try replacing sex work with drug dealing in all of your examples and everything still works.

Not if you presume for the hypothetical that both are legal. See e.g. pharmaceutical reps.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
559

553: Henry Miller and Bertrand Russell did.

Frankly, as I just said, the emotional intimacy part is a bad thing for me, especially if it's the price of admission. I have enough quirks and tics and obsessions that I could only be completely intimate with someone who was completely and unquestionably accepting of everything, and that would be wrong too

People here really do seem unaware that lots of people in the world are very unlike them. Me, Mongols, hardup people, etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
560

"unquestioningly"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:00 PM
horizontal rule
561

apo, I don't think that he has teh attention span to read through all of the comments to figure out who I am. However, if he saw the name once, he'd probably do a search.


Posted by: Temporarily Anon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:08 PM
horizontal rule
562

Deletions? Renamings?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:09 PM
horizontal rule
563

And "by here" I meant "walks by my computer screen now."


Posted by: Temporarily Anon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:09 PM
horizontal rule
564

If you have an IUD, do they still make you use 2 forms of birth control on Accutane?


Posted by: Temporarily Anon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
565

Re prostitution, the comparisons-to-other-jobs thing, which I've done myself, now seems stupid to me. It is a fact that sex is in a unique category. Entire social institutions are constructed around that fact. Why that is is an interesting question, but I don't think one needs to answer that to assert that sex work is qualitatively unlike other work.

Re accutane, I took it years ago and it rocks. But it is drying, and not just your face either, though my docs were too shy to warn me about desert cooch until I asked. Buy the super old lady moisturizer and use pond's or somehong to wash your bits for the duration.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
566

Ah right, matching you to your pseudonym would be a different endeavor altogether. Sorry, multitasking really hampers my reading comprehension.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
567

559
553: Henry Miller and Bertrand Russell did.

What pseuds do they use?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
568

I note with interest that this thread has gone from the subject of abortion to the subject of prostitution - two subjects that have resulted in highly charged discussion here in the past - with very little acrimony.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:16 PM
horizontal rule
569

How does Accutane work? Do you have to take it forever to keep the zits away?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
570

sex is in a unique category

Many things are (eg, hospice nursing, infantry soldier). Many people here appear to be arguing different points than the people with whom they are debating.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
571

with whom


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
572

re: 569

An ex of mine took it, and no, she was on a course of it for a fixed time period. Wiki says the exact mechanism through which it works is unknown.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
573

569: No, you take it for 4-6 months and in theory it blasts away all the bacteria and then you just use regular topical stuff when you get a zit now and again. Accutane is basically huge doses of Vitamin A but for some reason actually less dangerous than taking pure Vitamin A.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
574

I think that the uniqueness is somewhat particular to our place and time, or at least the particular form it takes is. Sex has always been intensely controlled / obsessed over, but elsewhere and elsewhen arranged marriage didn't seem horrible, but random sex in bars did, for respectable people anyway.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
575

I'm not claiming that prostitution exacerbates sexism in anywhere close to the way that stripping does. I'm primarily against prostitution because in our Specific 2009 US Culture it's too often carried out in ways that I find exploitative and uniquely demeaning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
576

I note with interest that this thread has gone from the subject of abortion to the subject of prostitution - two subjects that have resulted in highly charged discussion here in the past - with very little acrimony ogged.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
577

PBUH


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
578

575: Interesting. Not a rhetorical question: Why do you find stripping more damaging than prostitution? Because of the veneer of acceptability given it by legality?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
579

||

CONFIDENTIAL TO SIFU TWEETY

Yes, you heard right. Starting Thursday, March 19th we will be having "Happy Hour". Mondays through Fridays, 4p.m. until 7p.m. Come into the "321 Lounge" for weekly drink specials along with an amazing "Small Bites Menu" created by Chef Dominique, at a great price.

...at Taix!

|>


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
580

568: Well, they've been largely beaten to death so we're refining old arguments rather than being heated about them in the moment. Although I'm contemplating raising a new issue which could be contentious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
581

LB, L/on v. Orca has been settled.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:33 PM
horizontal rule
582

Although I'm contemplating raising a new issue which could be contentious.

Ooh, is it the Special Olympics? Arugula? The Takings Clause?

Teen brides?
Giordano Bruno?
Whether cockroaches are beautiful?
Slippery slopes and sex?
Slippery slopes and toboggans?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
583

578: I don't know that I agree with heebie, but if I were going to come up with an argument it would be about publicity. Prostitution's a fairly private arrangement, so you could argue that it doesn't affect the attitudes of men who don't hire prostitutes about women. Stripping affects a broader class of men. I've got a weird little anecdote that I don't think proves anything particular, but was interesting: guy I know went to a strip club for a bachelor party. He doesn't go to strip clubs generally, but found this terribly entertaining and enjoyable: "It was like spending the evening on Planet Budweiser." And then they went to a comedy club afterward, and he kept on having to remind himself that he couldn't just hand a twenty to random women at the bar to get them to take their clothes off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
584

554: The FDA knows the letter category system needs much improvement and they're working on it. Slowly.

This site might be useful in making more informed decisions.

http://www.otispregnancy.org/hm/inside.php?id=41


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
585

578: Caveat: I have a suspect that I'll want to revise and refine whatever my answer is, as the conversation continues.

To me, wanting sex is a respectable goal, and people seeking prostitution (ideally) just have an itch they'd like scratched. I can picture an idealized transaction where the prostitute remains a human being, just like a teacher or a Walmart greeter or whatever.

Whereas at a strip club, the goal is to admire women's bodies, and I can't put my finger on why, but in a way that seems necessarily to dehumanize them. (Maybe it's the uniformity of stripper's bodies? I don't think it's that, because the "Free the boobies!" post from years ago still irritated me, and they certainly weren't uniform.) I can't conceive of a stripping industry that doesn't dehumanize the strippers. I don't know what's in the way, though.

Second, something about how it will bleed over into the rest of the John's life. I can picture a John whose respect for women is equally intact after he leaves an encounter with a prostitute (on some idealized planet, etc.) But somehow I think you leave a strip club and are slightly more likely to compare and reduce women you meet. (By which I mean: I think that if I were at a strip club and able to relax and enjoy myself, say pre-feminist Heebie, that afterwards I'd be more reductionist of women that crossed my path.) So it would bleed out and exacerbate sexism in general.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
586

582: Arugula rules and anyone who disagrees with me is a homosexual turd burglar.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:47 PM
horizontal rule
587

I can picture a John whose respect for women is equally intact

I always thought the word "john" wasn't capitalized in this context. Or are you talking about hypothetical Emerson here?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:49 PM
horizontal rule
588

Yeah it looked weird to me, too, after I posted it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
589

585: it's weird to me that your comparing stripping as-is and a very-much-not-as-is idealized prostitution. I get that you think that *is* the difference--one is idealizable and the other isn't, but it's still weird. I can *imagine* strip clubs that didn't dehumanize anyone, but were purely about admiring human bodies. (Note: not all strippers are women.) Isn't that, like, what nude modeling for art is all about?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
590

589: That's a good point. Nude modeling would be an idealized version of stripping that I'm okay with, where the dignity and humanity of the person still seems intact.

Okay, well, I can make a case that stripping exacerbates sexism in US 2009 more easily than I can make that case about prostitution. Partly because I'm more familiar with strip clubs than with prostitution. Mostly probably because I'm so disgusted by the men I know who frequent strip clubs.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:57 PM
horizontal rule
591

Stripping is not a debased form of nude art modeling. It's a different thing. Its purpose is different and its execution is different.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 1:59 PM
horizontal rule
592

591: What gets called "fine art" has had a lot more prurient motivation in history than you give it credit for.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:01 PM
horizontal rule
593

598, 590: I've read midcentury American fiction where, in at least some jurisdictions, there were effectively stripclubs with weird restrictions that were supposed to render the nudity art rather than titillation; nude posing but not dancing, that sort of thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
594

I'm not saying that there's no overlap, but lots of things rely, in important ways, on visual prurient interest, and therefore resemble stripping.

However, "idealized" prostitution would still be recognizably prostitution. "Idealized" stripping along these lines would no longer be stripping - you'd have to give it a different name, like "art modeling."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:05 PM
horizontal rule
595

Stripping is not a debased form of nude art modeling.

Is Mandate Magazine a debased form of Mapplethorpe's nude photography, or something altogether different?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
596

593: Seems to me that there are/were "dry" counties where you can buy a drink at a club if you're a member - and club memberships cost a buck. The point, in those cases, is to circumvent the rule - not to create a different category of drinking experience, but to make bars possible in counties that forbid bars.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
597

593. There was a famous venue - The Windmill Theatre - for years in London in the first half of the last century, where this was the rule. Individual "Windmill girls" were famous for 15 min., like the women who model for tabloid papers these days.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
598

It's not really completely thought out, but part of what's driving my sense that patronizing a prostitute is generally wrong where purchasing the output of other ghastly jobs isn't is the luxury nature of the purchase. No one needs a paid fuck.

It's like handknotted carpets (to the extent that I'm right that there are still children going blind over them -- I can't afford one, so I've never pinned down the moral issues around buying them). They may be nicer than the machine-made kind, and possibly you could buy one that you were pretty sure wasn't made by blinding children, not absolutely sure, but pretty sure. Still, for a purchase that frivolous, which risks supporting a harm that grave, what's the possible excuse?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:13 PM
horizontal rule
599

594: Doesn't it depend on what we mean by "idealized"? I'm assuming that surely means, among other things, free from sexism/misogyny. As heebie said, "at a strip club, the goal is to admire women's bodies". It's obviously difficult to dovirce that goal from misogyny and be left with anything resembling a current strip club. But you could certainly still have naked people, even naked people dancing to music, theoretically at least. That seems as close to me to current strip clubs as anything that could be called "idealized" prostitution could be to current prostitution.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
600

No one needs a paid fuck.

No-one needs to eat chicken, and working conditions in many chicken plants are abysmal.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:15 PM
horizontal rule
601

that women have it easier than men...

OT, but... Reading someone's FB note the other day in which she opined that dads have an easier job than moms, I asked Rory what she thought. She said moms have the easier job. Momentarily dismayed (did she think UNG put more into his parenting than I do? that my contributions were less significant? oh, woe...), I asked, "Why?" "Well it's easier for moms because you have a much closer connection to your child so you understand each other better." Sigh...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
602

598: It's not just that it's a luxury good, but there's a sense of entitlement about sex that there isn't about hand-knotted luxury carpets.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
603

Right, but they need to eat something; tomatoes are picked by migrant field workers, bees are enslaved for the almond crop and so on.

I knew this was going to get picked apart along these lines, and I don't have it thought out well enough to defend it well. But I think there's something to the point that patronizing prostitutes is not only something that (in actually existing prostitution) causes suffering, but is also a frivolous luxury.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
604

I'm not trying to be antagonistic here, honestly. However, I get the sense (as people talk through this) that most of the objections raised are really post facto rationalizations for an ill-defined sense of unease. Which, I should add, I do share, and which takes me back to the Emerson squick theory again.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:19 PM
horizontal rule
605

602: sense of entitlement about sex

Right. Part of why I described this thought as possibly contentious is that a plausible response is that access to paid sex really is an emotional necessity for a surprising number of men, and that would, I think, be likely to make me cranky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:21 PM
horizontal rule
606

I get the sense (as people talk through this) that most of the objections raised are really post facto rationalizations for an ill-defined sense of unease

Considering that most moral theories are essentially rationalizations of the status quo, this isn't terribly surprising.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:21 PM
horizontal rule
607

apostropher, you seem to be on the same page with the idea that attitudes towards sex are fucked-up, but you seem to resist putting it in a unique category, and I can't figure out why. Is it that you think the attitudes about sex are more malleable than (e.g.) I do?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
608

601: Wow, that reflects extremely well on both of you.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
609

605: Not an emotional necessity, LB. A physical necessity.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
610

my theory is that people in the prostitution/stripping industry are not only forced by their life circumstances, but perhaps they a little enjoy their business too, b/c if not, i can't imagine them doing what they do any long time or as their source of income, some people would better die than strip i think
so i think they, stripper/prostitutes have lower threshold of all things, feelings, inhibitions, etc connected to that, aversion to sex/intimacy or just plainly enjoy their trade, like the ancient greek hetaeras for example
i'm not saying it's morally wrong or something, no, it's just like a kind of self-selection


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:23 PM
horizontal rule
611

609: If that's all it is, there's no need for the hooker.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:25 PM
horizontal rule
612

access to paid sex really is an emotional necessity for a surprising number of men

Well, that would be a dumb argument, IMO. I would say, though, that physical contact is an emotional necessity for all people. When we became the only (?) simians not to groom one another socially, we set our species down the path to some severe alienation. This isn't an argument for prostitution, obviously.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
613

Random thought, re. people who buy sex: I am likely to be much less hard in condemning people who would find it seriously difficult to get sex otherwise than on perfectly comfortable middle class eejits who do it because they're drunk or whatever.

Do I therefore defend the existence of prostitution as a service to lonely widowed people, disabled people, hopeless losers, etc.?

No, I still don't. Why not?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
614

Bring back social grooming!


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
615

that reflects extremely well on both of you.

The inward gloating about having "won" probably reflects less well...

some people would better die than strip i think

Of course, the fact that others would rather strip than die does not remotely suggest that they enjoy stripping, even a little. For example, someone undergoing chemotherapy for cancer doesn't have to enjoy it to continue doing it as long as needed to avoid the dying.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
616

609: I've got this great solution for you, Brock.


Posted by: Diogenes | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
617

read, your lack of understanding of the real world is pathetic. Plenty of women -- and girls -- end up stripping or hooking because of substance abuse, poverty, emotional or physical abuse (past or present), threats, kidnapping, or some delightful cocktail of those.

Just because you can't imagine something doesn't mean it isn't so.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
618

609 was a joke, but 611 and 616 aren't serious responses to it, are they?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
619

613: A sense that the overwhelming bulk of the market is the eejits rather than people with no other plausible access to sex? And the sense that for most of the remainder, the real problem is the social isolation that means they can't get voluntary sex, so access to a $50 blowjob won't actually leave them much better off?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
620

you seem to resist putting it in a unique category

I don't have a well thought out theory on this and am mostly thinking aloud. But what I'm trying to figure out here is not about the intrinsic nature of sex work, but the nature of our reactions to it. Attitudes toward sex are fucked up, sure, but attitudes toward *all sorts of things* are fucked up in 21st-century America.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
621

No, I still don't. Why not?

Because a) we're squicky about sex as a culture and b) there seems to be something wrong with saying "no, seriously, it's about emotional intimacy, and I'm getting it via a business transaction where odds are the other party is not having a great life pretending to be emotionally intimate."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
622

618: Serious responses to the idea that there's a physical, rather than psychological, need for sex, sure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
623

that's why i'm saying diffrent thresholds, one would rather die, another strip
someone can start looking for and doing other jobs, i think, even if those are the lowest paid washing the floors for example can't be that difficult to find
comparing chemotherapy and prostitution, i really can't follow your thought


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
624

611: Completely serious. If it's just about physical release, then there are ways to get off that don't involve prostitution. If it's not, I question the idea of the poor pitiful john who both desires real emotional intimacy and suffers from the lack of it and finds that emotional intimacy with a prostitute (in most circumstances.) I feel like it's two steps away from arguing that the really degraded person is the john, for he has given away his integrity, whereas the hooker got cash.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
625

No-one needs to eat chicken, and working conditions in many chicken plants are abysmal.

Particularly for the chickens.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
626

Read's #610 is perfectly right, except for using the word "enjoy". People who are less disgusted by the idea of being a prostitute are more likely to become a prostitute, all else being equal. That seems obvious.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:37 PM
horizontal rule
627

600: No one needs a paid fuck.

I actually agree, but then, I wish that people should shut up in general about their sexual needs.

Rutabagas are grown in entirely humane conditions, and you can live entirely on rutabagas if you want. Rutabagas are all you need. No love.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
628

527

Sure, anyone who wouldn't hire an ex-prostitute for a different job for that reason is a complete shithead.

Really? It is illegal and I think it is reasonable to not hire criminals even supposedly reformed criminals. Do you feel the same about former drug dealers? How about former johns like Spitzer?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:39 PM
horizontal rule
629

"Well it's easier for moms because you have a much closer connection to your child so you understand each other better."

I see a future for that girl.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
630

LB, here's where you're really confusing me (esp. your comments in the mid-400s): would you consider raping someone a graver moral offense than hiring a prostitute? I understand what you said ealier in the thread about the difficult in making "[x] is morally [better/worse] than [y]" statements, but this seems to me like it should be an easy question.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
631

628: Yep, I'm all about the forgiveness and redemption. Depending on the criminal history, I might worry about hiring someone for safety/reliability issues, but where that wasn't an issue I can't see it being reasonable to hold a history of prostitution against someone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
632

630: Sure, much worse, as being not only cruel but also violating the rights of the victim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:46 PM
horizontal rule
633

Bring back social grooming!

If I didn't already have a partner who did it, I'd seriously consider paying somebody to stroke my hair and scratch my back. Nothing snaps me out of a bad mood as reliably.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
634

Re social grooming:

I think that non-sexual massage can be very important for this reason.

Massage is generally not considered a medical expense, so you can't use flexible spending account dollars for it. However, I know that California had some sort of program that was using it in a medical context. I think that it was MediCal funded, but I'm not sure. Basically they paid for HIV positive patients to get massages. Part of the reason was that people are so squicked out by HIV that they don't like touching a lot of HIV positive people, and they're seriously touch-deprived and that this has adverse consequences for their health.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
635

598

It's not really completely thought out, but part of what's driving my sense that patronizing a prostitute is generally wrong where purchasing the output of other ghastly jobs isn't is the luxury nature of the purchase. No one needs a paid fuck.

Well you could similarly say no man needs to have sex with another man so there is nothing wrong with laws against it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
636

624: Cala, my comment wasn't even serious, but geez, it's not just about "release", and it's not about emotional intimacy. It's about physical contact.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
637

Read's #610 is perfectly right, except for using the word "enjoy". People who are less disgusted by the idea of being a prostitute are more likely to become a prostitute, all else being equal. That seems obvious.

Yeah, because a strung-out 16-year-old runaway dropout whose father raped her every night for years said to herself, "Hooking disgusts me less than washing floors, so this is the career for me!"

That's not the specific profile of all prostitutes, but various studies have found that something like half to 2/3 of prostitutes were abused as children. (Someone else may have more specific information.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
638

636 is to LB, as well.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
639

I really do get the idea that a lot of people here are insufficiently sensitive to the fact that large numbers of people only ever get second-best or third-best choices, either in certain respects or in everything. I'm really not proposing prostitution as a career from bright young college graduates.

I did once start to cost out how long it would take for a HS graduate on the med school track to come out financially ahead of a successful stripper the same age who's not a drug addict. My guess it's about age 35, though of course the gaps widens quickly after that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
640

635 makes a good point in terms of shooting down that particular point, but homosexuality doesn't compare with the unequal/exploitative relationship inherent in prostitution.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
641

Di--This guy is terrible. He justifies his claim based on the following:

(1.) Women are eligible for WIC
(2.) Women can get "free" financial aid. What he means is that women are eligible for financial aid without registering for the selective service. (Obviously, that doesn't make it free.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
642

635: Not very similarly at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:50 PM
horizontal rule
643

I still think that the previous-abuse argument should be retired, as I said.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
644

Yeah, because a strung-out 16-year-old runaway dropout whose father raped her every night for years said to herself, "Hooking disgusts me less than washing floors, so this is the career for me!"

That's not the specific profile of all prostitutes, but various studies have found that something like half to 2/3 of prostitutes were abused as children. (Someone else may have more specific information.)

Nothing read or I said conflicts with this in any way. The point was that when all else is equal, that is, when there are two strung-out 16-year-old runaway dropout whose father raped her every night for years, the one who has less aversion to prostitution is more likely to become a prostitute. Which is a complete and obvious tautology when you phrase it as "Which one hates prostitution less" instead of "Which one enjoys prostitution more".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:52 PM
horizontal rule
645

633: Oh, there's a reason people go to salons; getting your nails done, getting a haircut or a skin treatment; there's something about having someone fussing over you and touching you. Massage, sports, anything where another person touches you is a big deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:52 PM
horizontal rule
646

636: And massage is not illegal.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
647

Or so the mullahs would have you believe.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
648

639: Well, and they always used to have the prototypical example of a hot young woman who paid her way through medical school by hooking and left debt-free.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
649

Ugh. Sleep deprived.

"hooking" in 648 should be "stripping."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
650

I knew at least one ex-stripper at NYU Law.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
651

Cala, my comment wasn't even serious, but geez, it's not just about "release", and it's not about emotional intimacy. It's about physical contact.

I don't have any problem with the idea that prositution's squickiness has its basis in something real - that it is qualitatively different from other forms of employment. When apo brings up being an infantry soldier as a job that is qualitatively different, he is correct but irrelevant - there are many jobs that are qualitatively different from other jobs, and therefore should be regarded differently from those other jobs.

Still, the consumption of prostitution as a good is different, too, from other forms of consumption. It's not like buying fancy carpets. My guess is that the consumers of low-level prostitution are also desperate souls with some significant problems.

I'm still not sure where I come down on the overall issue.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
652

644: And that's a useful point how?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
653

And massage is not illegal.

I assume that for some percentage of clients the illegality of prostitution is actually part of the appeal. What percentage or big a part of the appeal, I have no idea.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
654

This will come as no surprise to regulars, but I'm going to say it explicitly anyway.

I think the analogy between patronizing a prostitute and eating chicken is excellent. You don't need to do either. In both cases you get pleasure from exploited labor, either directly or indirectly. Both are wrong.

You actually don't need to grant animals any moral status at all to accept all the premises for some powerful arguments for vegetarianism.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
655

653: You mean illegality as a thrill in itself, or illegality in that it permits them to do things unlikely to ever be legalized?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
656

640

makes a good point in terms of shooting down that particular point, but homosexuality doesn't compare with the unequal/exploitative relationship inherent in prostitution.

Homosexual acts (as in prison) can be very unequal and exploitative. And I don't buy inherent in prostitution.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
657

And that's a useful point how?

It's not a useful point. Neither was what read said. It's a tautology. My entire point was just that you seemed to be disagreeing with it because it inappropriately contained the word "enjoy".

Has the thread been derailed yet? Should I go on?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
658

I think the former, but I can't quite decipher the latter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
659

exploited labor

Do you mean the human workers, or the chicken? That is, does this cover any purchase of any non-union/Fair Trade/whatever goods, or is it about meat-eating specifically?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
660

Yes, rape is unequal and exploitative, Shearer. Good point.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:00 PM
horizontal rule
661

A sense that the overwhelming bulk of the market is the eejits rather than people with no other plausible access to sex? And the sense that for most of the remainder, the real problem is the social isolation that means they can't get voluntary sex, so access to a $50 blowjob won't actually leave them much better off?

So the objection to prostitution is now partly based on concern for the john's ability to look after his interests? Come on now.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:00 PM
horizontal rule
662

650: I knew at least one ex-stripper at NYU Law.

I'm too busy mentally helping Pitt to not be the first #1 seed to lose in the first round ... evah to follow all the nuances of this thread; but Katherine Frank, anthropologist who stripped and wrote about it for her thesis is an interesting read. Here is an interview she did with Salon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:01 PM
horizontal rule
663

635 makes a good point in terms of shooting down that particular point, but homosexuality doesn't compare with the unequal/exploitative relationship inherent in prostitution.

Almost everyone has an "unequal" relationship with their employer or work superior. And any economic interaction between rich people and poor people is exploitative in this sense.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:02 PM
horizontal rule
664

658: Oh, I meant people who wanted to patronize child prostitutes, or got off on actual non-consent, or whatever -- stuff that wouldn't be part of any plausible legalized/regulated prostitution.

661: That's not the objection to prostitution. That's the reason why the objection to the objection ("What about sympathetic johns who really can't get sex otherwise") doesn't seem forceful to me -- that I don't see that the capacity to get paid sex actually does them all that much good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:03 PM
horizontal rule
665

It's not a useful point. Neither was what read said.

Awesome.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:04 PM
horizontal rule
666

Homosexual acts (as in prison) can be very unequal and exploitative.

James, you do this kind of thing once, and charitable people can suppose you haven't read the thread closely. You double down on this kind of nonsense - deliberately failing to acknowledge careful distinctions people have made - and folks will get cranky.

I say this only because I genuinely give you the benefit of the doubt, and think you aren't actually intentionally trolling.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
667

664: What was the objection to prostitution again?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
668

659: I am only talking about human labor here. I think that, even setting aside the moral status of animals, the horrible working conditions at slaughterhouses are reason enough to boycott all meat unless you are 100% sure of every bit of its history.

I'll go farther. The fucked up conditions of animal agriculture are far more of a social and moral problem than prostitution.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
669

642

Not very similarly at all.

Both are forms of sexual desire that some people find icky. You think it is ok for a man to have sex with other men but not ok for a man to have paid sex with women. It is easy to imagine people with the opposite beliefs. And they can similarly argue that their disfavored form of sex is a luxury.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:08 PM
horizontal rule
670

But couldn't you strike "animal" from your last sentence, rob? And there's the rub.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:08 PM
horizontal rule
671

670 to 668.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
672

If the discussion is about whether prostitution differs from other sucky jobs in degree or in kind, which I think it is, I'm with the "degree" side.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
673

Back 40 years lots of Reed College students have stripped while in college. By "lots" I mean something like 3-5 in any given year. Stripping is constitutionally protected speech in Oregon, and more or less wide open, and maybe people there end up with a different attitude. Neither going to a strip club, knowing a stripper, not being a stripper is really news. Generally strippers and ex-strippers don't announce themselves immediately as such in polite society, but you often end up finding out. It's not a horrible secret.

Based on my brother's experience, which I somewhat shared, in high-end bars and restaurants, often of the type that someone here might go to, the lines between waitresses, strippers, prostitutes, golddiggers, models, and actresses are blurry. That's an actuality in my experience. I find it squicky too, but then I'm a Puritan.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:10 PM
horizontal rule
674

662: I used to work down the hall from a sociologist who did the same thing that Frank did. I think they have actually collaborated on some books.

My former colleague actually studied the men who visited strip clubs. Her interesting thesis was that there was a class of men who regularly visit strip clubs alone who are essentially masochists. They come there with the unconscious intention to fall in love with a stripper and have their heart broken.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:10 PM
horizontal rule
675

667: Belief that as a matter of fact patronizing prostitutes makes you complicit in inflicting unnecessary suffering on them. If you read up the thread, it got hashed out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:11 PM
horizontal rule
676

Frank worked in several clubs in a Southeastern city she calls Laurelton, a mecca for strip club enthusiasts.

Where does Apo live?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:11 PM
horizontal rule
677

660

Yes, rape is unequal and exploitative, Shearer. Good point.

Prison sex can be unequal and exploitative without being rape. As when a weaker prisoner finds it expedient to obtain a protector.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
678

670: Slaughterhouse conditions are worse than working conditions for migrant vegetable pickers, if that is what you are getting at. Slaughterhouses in the US practice de facto slavery. And of course the rate of fatal and debilitating accidents in slaughterhouses is much higher than vegetable picking.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
679

Had ocassion to look up Sarah Bernhardt last week, and wonders, she at least early in her career supplimented her stage income with the exchange of favors. Also recently read about Marie Duplessis

Back in my college days, I knew about five women people, two were guys. who had an apartment paid for by someone older who showed up 4-5 days a month.

And then there are pros who have "regulars" perhaps for years. Maybe not a good or healthy or admirable relationship, but not a bj in an alley with a stranger either.

I'm just saying there is a wide range of activity I might, or might not, call prostitution, and the framing and limits put on it by someone in a discussion are about an agenda. I think maybe we need to be concrete, and case-by-case here.

Altho I am squicked even by Bernhardt and Duplessis.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:15 PM
horizontal rule
680

669: You can argue that any form of sex is a luxury -- straight, gay, non-marital, non-intentionally reproductive -- and people have argued all of those things. The basis of the argument I'm making about prostitution is that not only is the purchase of paid sex a luxury, but it also involves the infliction of suffering; this doesn't apply in the same manner to any form of consensual sex.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:15 PM
horizontal rule
681

Consensual in 680 should be non-commercial.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
682

662, 673, 674: But surely having other choices and something else to go back to--not being totally powerless and stripping because you couldn't figure out another way to feed yourself--would make a difference in how it would affect you. I'm pretty sure that for life-changing money I'd be willing to turn a trick or two, but that doesn't mean much about what real-life prostitutes experience.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
683

Slaughterhouses in the US practice de facto slavery

That's not a universally true statement.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
684

I think the analogy between patronizing a prostitute and eating chicken is excellent.

I think this is typically referred to as "Which egged first, the chicken or the coming?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
685

680: If you're a contractualist it doesn't. Lots of kinds of consensual sex can be known in advance to be painful.

"Consent" is a legal doctrine and it works well as one, but it's not a window into the soul. The libertarians beat the word to death in justifying just about everything, including living downstream from a toxic sewer outlet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:19 PM
horizontal rule
686

This is my former colleagues book. This is the book she edited with Katherine Frank.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:20 PM
horizontal rule
687

683: True, I should have worded things better. But the extent of forced labor in the US slaughterhouse system is impossible to judge, and it includes major processors like Tyson.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
688

685: Yeah, I'm trying to summarize a whole lot of stuff I talked about in more detail above. Any kind of formally 'consensual' sex can be harmful or exploitative -- my belief, which is not a necessary truth but my understanding of contingent facts about the world we live in, is that commercial sex is overwhelmingly more likely to incorporate significant suffering and harm than consensual non-commercial sex. But that's not an a priori truth, just my understanding of the actual state of the world.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
689

i said only that prostitutes/strippers have that lowered sensitivity threshold to strangers' intimacy/sex due to their characters, upbringing or their previous history of experiencing abuse, i said they are forced by their life conditions, yes, of course
but perhaps not only that factor plays a role in there
if they don't 'enjoy' their occupation, then at least can tolerate it well enough to be one, not all are victims perhaps, there is like a conscious choice on their behalf
if i wanted to derail the thread i'd have said, supply and demand, the both sides, sellers/buyers seem to enjoy themselves, let them be, but if one would want consciously to leave all behind the society should be supportive, like hiring to other jobs freely without that, ostracising etc
but my feeling is once spoiled they don't look back, easy money and all that and what the former stripper says in the JPS's link, she sounds respectable
i mean if i enjoyed/ tolerated well prostitution myself i would become one, like, easily, but b/c i don't i would find other ways to survive or die, is it that strange idea to voice


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
690

Belief that as a matter of fact patronizing prostitutes makes you complicit in inflicting unnecessary suffering on them.

Sorry, I had skimmed the thread, and hadn't realized that this was "established."

I guess I don't understand the logic behind: "If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her for sex, you're inflicting suffering on her. But if you don't think about her at all, then the world will be a better place."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
691

The basis of the argument I'm making about prostitution is that not only is the purchase of paid sex a luxury, but it also involves the infliction of suffering

Obviously I would say this may not be true in all instances of commercial sex, or in all cases of unequal desire where sex is exchanged for some other mutually agreed commodity or service.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:26 PM
horizontal rule
692

"If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her for sex, you're inflicting suffering on her. But if you don't think about her at all, then the world will be a better place."

Isn't this the same argument as "Sure the Nike factory pays the brown people 2 cents for an 18 hour shift, but it's better than they'd get elsewhere, so?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:26 PM
horizontal rule
693

A sense that the overwhelming bulk of the market is the eejits rather than people with no other plausible access to sex?

Why? I think of prostitution as a sad commercial response to men unable to form families-- migrant workers, military bases, and the like. I think of the typical prostitute as kidnapped or coerced, not a blogger. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't know that Elliott Spitzer-style transactions are typical. Literate people care more about them because we understand both Elliott and Ashley at some level and enjoy the scorn, but I think that's sampling bias.

I guess it depends on the place-- Prague or the towns near the Austrian border seem to differ a lot from DC or Chicago, and again from Paris, where brothels near Montmartre can be identified by the lines of shabbily-dressed immigrant clients in front.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:29 PM
horizontal rule
694

690: I'm not claiming it's 'established', I'm telling you what my position is.

I guess I don't understand the logic behind: "If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her for sex, you're inflicting suffering on her. But if you don't think about her at all, then the world will be a better place."

How does "If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her to stand still while you beat the shit out of her, you're inflicting suffering on her. But if you don't think about her at all, then the world will be a better place." work? I'm not claiming that paying someone for sex is the same thing as paying someone to be beaten, but clearly it's possible to wrongfully inflict suffering on a person even if they agree to it because they need the money. It's separately wrong to allow people to be in desperate need, but I'd rather address that through income support programs and social services than by arguing that they're better off if they can hook than if they can't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:30 PM
horizontal rule
695

690, 692:

"If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her for sex, you're inflicting suffering on her.

Isn't this the same argument as "Sure the Nike factory pays the brown people 2 cents for an 18 hour shift, but it's better than they'd get elsewhere, so?"

I think this is a complicated question. In some places in SE Asia, the availability of sweatshop factory work is what enables women and girls to stay out of sex work. I'm not sure what to do with that fact, except that it has made me rethink my automatic support of sweatshop boycott.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:32 PM
horizontal rule
696

691 was me

Now if you want to say that all instances of sex involving unequal desire are sadistic, brutal, and exploitative we might have another discussion, in which prostitution plays a minor role.

I don't spend my time judging other people's activities quite that much.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:32 PM
horizontal rule
697

It's wrong to exploit people. Lots of jobs have the capacity to be exploitative. Prostitution in its ugliest forms is probably worse than anything else. Prostitution comes in a wide range from not-probably-that-exploitative to incredibly so, and that range is so big that it overlaps in degree with other tragedies, like extremely lonely men or tarring roofs or sucky summer jobs cleaning fish. But as an industry, it certainly has the capacity to be uniquely more horrible than any of those.

What exactly are we arguing about?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:33 PM
horizontal rule
698

I think this is a complicated question.

It is a complicated question, certainly. But there are subsidary ways to break it down, like if they're getting kidney infections because they're not allowed bathroom breaks, that's a wrongful way to treat workers even if working in your factory is their best available option.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:33 PM
horizontal rule
699

How does "If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her to stand still while you beat the shit out of her, you're inflicting suffering on her. But if you don't think about her at all, then the world will be a better place." work?

The difference is that if you want to argue that beating the shit out of someone is wrong, you don't need to refer to poverty to do it.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
700

676: Where does Apo live?

Well, she did get her degree from Duke. But from her description here, I think Laurelton is Atlanta (not completely consistent, but it fits better than anything else I can think of and has that reputation).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
701

when there are two strung-out 16-year-old runaway dropout whose father raped her every night for years, the one who has less aversion to prostitution is more likely to become a prostitute. Which is a complete and obvious tautology when you phrase it as "Which one hates prostitution less" instead of "Which one enjoys prostitution more".

Sure, if we presume two entirely hypothetical teenagers who are identical in every way except for the degree of their aversion to prostitution. Again, I am assuming in the real world that lots of other factors tip that balance that have nothing to do with one enjoying/tolerating it more.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:35 PM
horizontal rule
702

I think this is a complicated question. In some places in SE Asia, the availability of sweatshop factory work is what enables women and girls to stay out of sex work. I'm not sure what to do with that fact, except that it has made me rethink my automatic support of sweatshop boycott.

I don't think it's complicated. It's wrong to hire someone and provide inhumane work conditions, period. That their alternative is even worse just means that someone else is committing this crime to an even stronger degree.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
703

Prostitution in its ugliest forms is probably worse than anything else.

"Ugliest forms" makes that true, but I'd rather be an average prostitute than an average underfed slave in a mine who was chained up whenever he wasn't working.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
704

698: Wait, LB. I wasn't saying there weren't other methods of dealing with the issue. I was addressing the question of whether, in absence of social programs or laws that bettered people's conditions, it was preferable to provide them with pay for work that you consider harmful, or not to do so.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
705

That their alternative is even worse just means that someone else is committing this crime to an even stronger degree.

Half the world lives on less than $3/day.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:37 PM
horizontal rule
706

but I don't know that Elliott Spitzer-style transactions are typical.

Of course it isn't. But neither is the kisnapped Ukrainian sexslave or desperate 3rd-world minor the entirety of the commercial sex world. And so I don't like to talk about "prostitution" without more concrete and specific qualifiers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:37 PM
horizontal rule
707

697: Well, this is the underwater sex rigorous argument blog, so we're running into a lot of trouble with whether prostitution necessarily involves suffering and exploitation. And I'm sure it doesn't -- The English Courtesan is probably doing just fine, and would be cross if she thought we were worrying about her. But there are all sorts of things that are not necessarily or always true that are often enough true to base general moral rules of thumb on, and my sense of the facts is that prostitution harms prostitutes is one of those. If anyone asks me to provide a rigorous basis for this belief from the peer-reviewed literature, I will be stymied, and will have no adequate response.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:38 PM
horizontal rule
708

"Ugliest forms" makes that true, but I'd rather be an average prostitute than an average underfed slave in a mine who was chained up whenever he wasn't working.

This is idiotic. The very first sentence of my entry was "It's wrong to exploit people." It's wrong to exploit people. It's wrong to exploit people. This is a different exploitation. What's the point of this comparison?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
709

"Sure the Nike factory pays the brown people 2 cents for an 18 hour shift, but it's better than they'd get elsewhere, so?"

You need to separate the wage rate from the living conditions here.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
710

Half the world lives on less than $3/day.

The world is full of shitty, shitty people who exploit each other.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
711

699: Why else is she consenting to be beaten, if not her poverty? The poverty is what buys you the consent, and makes it different from rapeassault and battery.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
712

I don't think it's complicated. It's wrong to hire someone and provide inhumane work conditions, period. That their alternative is even worse just means that someone else is committing this crime to an even stronger degree.

If you make $5 a day and live in a hut with your extended family, is it a crime for you to hire someone (indirectly) at $1 a day to grow your food? What else are you supposed to do?


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
713

I just don't get why we're comparing exploitative situations. It seems like some weird pissing match.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
714

I was arguing with Prostitution in its ugliest forms is probably worse than anything else. I was saying that it isn't.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
715

This is idiotic. The very first sentence of my entry was "It's wrong to exploit people." It's wrong to exploit people. It's wrong to exploit people. This is a different exploitation. What's the point of this comparison?

Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

In the real world, the line between exploitation and non-exploitation is not perfectly clear. We tend to rely on the idea of "consent" to get there. There are many prostitutes who say that they have consented to their working conditions. Not all, but not a negligible number either.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:42 PM
horizontal rule
716

71O:Hey! The thread moved somewhere I cannot troll. Comity!

Must go hate investment bankers elsewhere now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:43 PM
horizontal rule
717

712: The monetary amounts are confusing here -- incredibly small numbers can be a living wage depending on where we're talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:43 PM
horizontal rule
718

If you make $5 a day and live in a hut with your extended family, is it a crime for you to hire someone (indirectly) at $1 a day to grow your food? What else are you supposed to do?

It is not exploitative to hire someone at a standard that matches your own work conditions. If the two of you are out in the field and you're splitting the pay-by-labor, plus giving yourself a bit extra for the managerial responsibilities and time and taking on the profit/loss risk, then you're behaving ethically.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
719

Further to 717: What that means to me is that I'm not bothered by incredibly low wages in developing country factories, so long as they're respectable living wages by local standards. Working conditions, on the other hand (working hours, safety equipment, bathroom breaks) are more directly comparable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
720

We tend to rely on the idea of "consent" to get there.

Sure we use consent as shorthand for "not being exploited", but it's pretty worthless since "consent" is often not real consent if the person doesn't have many other options.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:47 PM
horizontal rule
721

719: Right, but you get what he meant. If I make jack-fifty an hour, is it exploitative to hire someone at jack-fifty/5?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
722

718: Oh, heebie, what would Uncle Rik say?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
723

(Should that be changed to Uncle Jethro?)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:49 PM
horizontal rule
724

715 was me.

720: in other words, poor people have no agency, and need nice middle-class liberals to set the rules for them.

I'm not saying that prostitution isn't problematic, but the idea that a poor person cannot possibly consent to prostitution is problematic in itself. And no, just as not every prostitute is servicing Eliot Spitzer for thousands of dollars per hour, not every prostitute is an out-of-her-mind starving drug addict.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:50 PM
horizontal rule
725

Seriously depends on the local conditions. Can they eat and sleep someplace comfortable and send their kids to school on jack-fifty/5? It's fine. If not, is it the most I can possibly afford to pay them? Then I don't see what better options there are. You need specifics to tease out what the right thing to do is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:50 PM
horizontal rule
726

LB, didn't you say you had something else for us to argue over?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
727

My angle on "consent" is that just because someone freely consents to a harmful relationship, without receiving money, doesn't mean that the other party is blameless.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:53 PM
horizontal rule
728

but the idea that a poor person cannot possibly consent to prostitution is problematic in itself.

For this reason, I've been trying to move away from talking about 'consent', as if beating the shit out of someone were morally unproblematic if you could purchase their consent with money they really needed. Sure, I'll call that real consent, and say that what you're doing is consensual. But it's still cruel, and it's still wrong.

The facts about prostitution are less clear than about being beaten, obviously, but the structure of my argument is the same.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:53 PM
horizontal rule
729

727: Or what Emerson said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:54 PM
horizontal rule
730

I just don't get why we're comparing exploitative situations. It seems like some weird pissing match.

Maybe we should just run with it.

Setting fire to homeless people sleeping on heating grates vs Abu Ghraib: Discuss.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
731

The monetary amounts are confusing here

We've already established what you are. Now we're just haggling over price.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
732

722: I was totally channeling him. I remember asking him some version of the Nike Factory question at some point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:56 PM
horizontal rule
733

727: That is the law in England. Is it otherwise over there?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:56 PM
horizontal rule
734

That is the law in England.

I don't follow this -- what's the law?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:57 PM
horizontal rule
735

728.1:as if beating the shit out of someone were morally unproblematic if you could purchase their consent

So much for football or boxing. Maybe.

Or becoming Tim Geithner's replacement as Treasury Secretary.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:57 PM
horizontal rule
736

694

How does "If a woman desperately needs rent money and you pay her to stand still while you beat the shit out of her, you're inflicting suffering on her. But if you don't think about her at all, then the world will be a better place." work? ...

Strange analogy. Women voluntarily have sex without pay all the time while few voluntarily get beat up. So perhaps being paid to have sex is more like being paid to prepare dinner than being paid to be beat up.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:58 PM
horizontal rule
737

613 lonely widowed people, disabled people, hopeless losers, etc.

ouch


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:58 PM
horizontal rule
738

736: See the last two sentences of my 707.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 3:59 PM
horizontal rule
739

I don't follow this -- what's the law?

"...that just because someone freely consents to a harmful relationship, without receiving money, doesn't mean that the other party is blameless."


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
740

I was trying to get away from contractual law discussions. This isn't really an argument about whether prostitution is a legal contract or a legitimate consensual agreement, because in American law it isn't. I was comparing two situations of harm, one consensual and one not, and arguing is that they're the same for the purposes of this argument, since prostitution is a legal contract in some places, and LB and others still think that it's wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
741

739: No, I got what you were referring to on the thread, but what category of 'harmful relationship' are we talking about legally, and what does UK law have to say about it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
742

730:Or we could compare occupations involving abusive clients.

Do call centre workers suffer more than MMA referees?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
743

Now we're just haggling over price.

That is to say, once you work this problem out, it's hard to escape the conclusion that wage labor is morally problematic no matter the wage scale. Which it is.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
744

Okay, the hell I'm going to read the thread that started with abortion and has moved on to false consent dilemmas. Instead, I'm going to wish everyone a happy new year! Eat something with saffron in it today, in memory of ogged (pbuh).


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
745

Why else is she consenting to be beaten, if not her poverty?

Perhaps because she feels she deserves punishment for some separate wrong.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
746

707

... But there are all sorts of things that are not necessarily or always true that are often enough true to base general moral rules of thumb on, and my sense of the facts is that prostitution harms prostitutes is one of those. If anyone asks me to provide a rigorous basis for this belief from the peer-reviewed literature, I will be stymied, and will have no adequate response.

Many jobs (like coal miner) harm the worker in some sense. So you need to make the case that prostitution not only harms prostitutes but that the harm is so uniquely great and so uniquely impossible to adequately mitigate via regulation that prostitution unlike other damaging jobs should be banned entirely.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:09 PM
horizontal rule
747

Perhaps because she feels she deserves punishment for some separate wrong.

Although Emerson did use a woman as example, I do think it is useful, if not wholly accurate, to not discuss sexual exploitation in gendered or hetero-normative terms.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
748

746: Well, that's where the argument from frivolous luxury comes in. I'm not really bothered about discouraging prostitution more than a socially optimal amount like I would be about coal mining or food production.

But certainly, Shearer, if I find myself in the position of drafting legislation on the subject, I'll do some more rigorous research before I go off half-cocked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
749

I'm not talking about contractual law. In English law, physically abusing (e.g. raping) your partner is technically illegal even if your partner doesn't lodge a complaint (consensual). For that matter, a BDSM dom who injures their sub can be prosecuted for causing grievous bodily harm, even if the sub consented to whatever they were doing (established case law).

Is American law not similar?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:12 PM
horizontal rule
750

If you, the client, ask the prostitute, "Do you enjoy your work?" and she says "Oh yes, I love fucking strangers, especially devastatingly handsome ones like you," I guess you're off the hook, and don't need to consider the possibility that someone might stick an electrode up her vagina and shock her repeatedly if you find her insufficiently compliant. Because that never happens. Enjoy your fuck.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:12 PM
horizontal rule
751

That is to say, once you work this problem out, it's hard to escape the conclusion that wage labor is morally problematic no matter the wage scale. Which it is.

There's a real meta-problem, though. If you determine that all wage-labor is morally problematic, and do not have what appears to be a viable alternative, then people are forced into concluding a) pretty much everyone is morally wrong, or b) your definition of morality is not useful and should be disregarded.

aka "That's sexist!" "But everything is sexist, so whatever."


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:14 PM
horizontal rule
752

749: Huh. I'd call the first of those not really consensual -- if it was rape, it was nonconsensual, and if it was consensual, it wasn't rape. The 'not pressing charges' bit seems to me to say that the police won't take 'not pressing charges' as decisive evidence that sex in a relationship was consensual.

On the injury caused by BDSM? I don't know how the law would play out here -- I'd expect it to be that it wouldn't come to the police's attention unless the sub was saying "I consented to be [beaten] but not to be [severely injured]," which makes it non-consensual again. But this is one of those 50 states with their own legal systems problems -- I don't know the answer in any state, but I'm sure it's not uniform.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:16 PM
horizontal rule
753

I don't get the frivolous luxury argument, except in the context of my belief, shared by few or none, that there's no such thing as "sexual needs" and everyone should STFU about them. Any food beyond rice, beans, and few vegetables is a frivolous luxury, not a necessity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
754

748: The frivolous luxury argument is crucial here. Also, it is important to note that it is far, far easier to see that other people's desires are frivolous luxuries than your own. Sure, the john is exploiting someone to satisfy a desire that he could satisfy with his right hand. But what desires do you have that you could satisfy with less harm?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
755

There's a real meta-problem, though.

Indeed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
756

753: A rigorous distinction between luxuries like paid sex, cocaine, and handknotted rugs and luxuries like peanut butter or wool sweaters is admittedly something I haven't come up with yet, but I think it's doable. Doesn't it seem plausible that there is some such distinction?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:20 PM
horizontal rule
757

748: Is football frivolous? How cheap would non-coal power have to get before coal-mining would become frivolous as well?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:21 PM
horizontal rule
758

I'd call the first of those not really consensual -- if it was rape, it was nonconsensual, and if it was consensual, it wasn't rape.

I wish I thought it was so simple. What about people who don't understand that what's happening to them is rape (or other abuse)? Who have no experience to compare against theirs to suggest it isn't normal? Who think that what happens to them is just what happens?

And never doubt that there are plenty of people in that position. It isn't consent as you or I understand it, but it's long term resignation, which is hard to disentangle from it.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
759

Football and boxing worry me -- they seem to involve a level and risk of injury that makes enjoying them wrong. I'm not sure of myself here, though.

But what desires do you have that you could satisfy with less harm?

Sure, this argument taken to its fullest implications probably leaves me needing to make a whole lot of lifestyle changes. As a comfortably upper middle class American, so does pretty much any consistent moral position.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
760

752

I believe in New York you cannot consent to be beaten although absent serious injury the law is not enforced much.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:24 PM
horizontal rule
761

If you, the client, ask the prostitute, "Do you enjoy your work?" and she says "Oh yes, I love fucking strangers, especially devastatingly handsome ones like you," I guess you're off the hook, and don't need to consider the possibility that someone might stick an electrode up her vagina and shock her repeatedly if you find her insufficiently compliant. Because that never happens. Enjoy your fuck.

Prostitutes and ex-prostitutes have been known to write books and make arguments on behalf of legalizing prostitution.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
762

Please don't respond to 758. I have to go to bed.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
763

concluding a) pretty much everyone capitalism is morally wrong

It's true that I don't have any solution.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
764

758: Oh, sure, but once we're getting the law into it, someone's making the determination it was non-consensual. That doesn't mean there aren't hard cases, but if prosecutions are going to be made under those circumstances, someone's going to make the call.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
765

762: Whoops, sorry.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:27 PM
horizontal rule
766

760: Boxing's legal in NY.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:28 PM
horizontal rule
767

756: Paid sex for the sake of paid sex might be considered a frivolous luxury. Paying for sex because you're a male of low enough status that it is very hard to find women who will have sex with you unless you pay them seems like less of a frivolous luxury to me, but I'm a man. It gets a bit more complicated if you replace "women" with "women you find attractive", but not impossibly so.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:33 PM
horizontal rule
768

I get the impression that with boxing, football, and mining coal, your odds of long term health problems are comparable to the risks of smoking. This is a level of risk that calls for legislative solutions. We ban smoking in bars because of the damage to the lungs of bartenders.

I'm moving towards Apo's attitude here. Not the "but what about all the hypothetical happy hookers" attitude, but the "holy shit there is a lot of wrong in the world" attitude.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:36 PM
horizontal rule
769

767: I think LB's argument was that sex is a luxury. Hence Shearer's attempt to compare her position to those who want to outlaw homosexuality.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:38 PM
horizontal rule
770

767: Soldiers and migrant workers aren't more likely to visit prostitutes because they are lonelier than most. The do so because they are separated from the community that grounds their sense of morality and reasonable action. A book I am reading claims that the Jim Jones mass suicide would not have been possible if the Temple was still in California. People physically closer to home will also be closer to their basic intuitions about rational behavior.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:40 PM
horizontal rule
771

767: Well, and if you take options for obtaining sex like 'becoming socially acquainted with a woman or women and treating her pleasantly enough that the idea of having sex with you is appealing to her' off the table. I'm not terribly sympathetic to the idea that a year or two without sex is an onerous hardship, and someone who's functioning in society enough to have the money to pay prostitutes is probably capable of becoming acquainted with at least some women.

Also, if we're talking about these tragically low-status men, we're talking about horrifically exploited $25 a throw hookers, not our theoretical non-exploited high end prostitutes. I don't think you can fit the tragically low-status men and the prostitutes with decent working conditions in the same hypo. At which point I still think no one needs sex that badly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
772

768: comparable to the risks of smoking

or of being very overweight.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/mar/18/health-nhs-obesity-smoking


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:44 PM
horizontal rule
773

Soldiers and migrant workers aren't more likely to visit prostitutes because they are lonelier than most. The do so because they are separated from the community that grounds their sense of morality and reasonable action.

People who live in nearly all-male environments aren't "lonelier than most"? Not for the definition of "lonely" that's relevant to the current discussion.

More it seems to me that that is simply a scenario where a vast number of males are "low-status males", as water moccasin says. The "no longer rooted in society and therefore no longer rooted in morality" is not the most important factor.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:44 PM
horizontal rule
774

767: Another way to pick at this is that it seems to assume that women are a scarce resource or something. There's a pretty close to one-to-one ratio in the population, and last I checked high-status men weren't holding harems. So these low-status men should be able to socialize and form intimacies with their female social peers, and if they can't, I'm not sure that prostitution is the solution.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:44 PM
horizontal rule
775

Soldiers and migrant workers aren't more likely to visit prostitutes because they are lonelier than most. The do so because they are separated from the community that grounds their sense of morality and reasonable action.

Men who live in nearly all-male environments aren't "lonelier than most"? Not for the definition of "lonely" that's relevant to the current discussion.

More it seems to me that that is simply a scenario where a vast number of males are "low-status males", as water moccasin says. The "no longer rooted in society and therefore no longer rooted in morality" is not the most important factor.

[I hope I didn't double post...I changed one instance of gender neutrality, but not the one that agrees with it]


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:45 PM
horizontal rule
776

How many men spend significant parts of their lives in all-male (other than the hookers) environments? Soldiers don't generally -- if we're talking about periods of six months to a year or two here and there, I have trouble categorizing that as a need.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:47 PM
horizontal rule
777

771 is kind of weak and contradictory. There are people in society, both rich and poor, whom nobody will ever want to have sex with. At least admit that those people are sympathetic.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:49 PM
horizontal rule
778

770: The do so because they are separated from the community that grounds their sense of morality and reasonable action.

Fictional, but I liked how Herzog explored that in Aguirre, Wrath of God.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:51 PM
horizontal rule
779

whom nobody [they find attractive] will ever want to have sex with.

Sure; plenty of them are women over 35. It's a lousy position to be in and I do sympathize, but I don't think it justifies cruelty.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:51 PM
horizontal rule
780

At least admit that those people are sympathetic.

Sympathetic, but not enough to justify the social costs of prostitution.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
781

People who live in nearly all-male environments aren't "lonelier than most"?

Depends on your opinion of "situational homosexuality"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
782

So perhaps being paid to have sex is more like being paid to prepare dinner than being paid to be beat up.

This is why it's important to consider the real world. If we treated preparing dinner with as much social baggage as we do sex (oh noes, I had dinner WITH A FRIEND), then this would almost make sense.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
783

The do so because they are separated from the community that grounds their sense of morality and reasonable action.

Anecdatum: the closest I ever came to going to a brothel was in a particularly remote region of Bolivia.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
784

781: Silly Rob, modern brain research has established that there's no such thing at all -- men have an absolutely fixed sexual orientation, unaffected by circumstance.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
785

770: Soldiers are also far away from all legitimate dating possibilities, as are most migrant workers.

I've known at least one guy who quit dating and switched over to prostitutes because he really wasn't all that attractive, had no serious career future though he was doing OK, absolutely didn't want to marry, did not want a serious relationship, didn't want to go through the whole haystack to find the needle of compatibility, and in that context did not want to do the charm, bullshit, seduction, deception, "what they don't know won't hurt them" FFFF routine.

In case all these "brothers" and "guys I knew" and "people I've heard about" are starting to make you suspicious, I've never been to a prostitute and find the idea squicky and depressing, I frequently went to strip bars at one time, I like soft porn, and that's about it.

And again, I think that people here are a bit unperceptive about people whose lives are second or third rate in certain serious respects. Such people end up trying to get buy, they're not trying to figure out what they should do in a more perfect world, or to make the world more perfect. At a certain point you have a more or less complete absence of surplus.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
786

Those guys are just whiners. Direct them to comment #774.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 5:00 PM
horizontal rule
787

Here is a recent article about legalized prostitution in new zealand:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7927461.stm


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 5:03 PM
horizontal rule
788

766

Boxing's legal in NY

I believe boxing is a special case. The jury was instructed in the Jovanovic case that consent was not a defense to an assault. And although the conviction was overturned it was on other grounds.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 5:05 PM
horizontal rule
789

774: Seriously, LB, what kind of intentional community do you think this world is? Migrant workers aren't really very marriageable, and most of the actual women of their own class they might date are either conserving their scarce resource in hopes of marriage, unwilling to marry or date for darn good reasons, or else prostitutes. The world isn't a freshman college class.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
790

A rigorous distinction between luxuries like paid sex, cocaine, and handknotted rugs and luxuries like peanut butter or wool sweaters is admittedly something I haven't come up with yet, but I think it's doable. Doesn't it seem plausible that there is some such distinction?

I don't think so. The slope, it is slippery.

The discussion of whether anyone can be said to really need sex badly enough that it's OK to pay for it would be way better if we substituted "deeply closeted Republican politician" for "low-status man" everywhere it appears.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
791

John, you don't know what you're talking about. You don't know any street walkers yourself, and you're not familiar with the relevant research or scholarship. Despite this, you're kinda condescending to other people.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
792

I know at least one prostitute and lots of strippers myself, and you have to bracket out the American condition just as with drug wars. I'm not sure anyone here has read the literature, and being annoying is my whole game.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:38 PM
horizontal rule
793

791: are you kidding? At the risk of sounding offensive, John is probably the lowest-social-status male who regularly comments here, and would be my guess for the person most likely to know those who patronize prostitutes and strippers.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
794

So these low-status men should be able to socialize and form intimacies with their female social peers, and if they can't, I'm not sure that prostitution is the solution.

Quite a lot of them blame feminism for making women fat, unattractive, and unwilling to settle for them, and go overseas where women exist in their pure uncorrupted state and love nothing more than to go down on American men, because these foreign women, they know their place and will always dress up and never get fat. Surprisingly, all the foreign women are from third-world countries, and there's a big worry about whether they'll Americanize, defined as, roughly, thinking that it's okay to have a job and get fat. Or age.

The men are not that sympathetic either, even if the American dating market isn't working for them.

Point is, plenty of people are lonely, and not all of them use that fact to justify participation in a fundamentally (in this world) cruel practice.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
795

(794 of course is reporting what the men believe, not reality.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:44 PM
horizontal rule
796

I don't quite know what I'm talking about either, but from what I've read, the countries that legalizied prostitution in the 90's all experienced a drastic increase not just in brothels, not just in low end street walking, but in trafficking, ie sexual slavery. It makes intuitive sense.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:46 PM
horizontal rule
797

I've read some of the literature. Quick summary: prostitution is not one thing.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:48 PM
horizontal rule
798

Apologies, I must have misread something.

Being annoying is far from your whole game.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
799

despite what she said in the brackets i wish she was not this eloquent Cala when describing the foreign women's plight


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
800

The Netherlands legalized prostitution but banned immigrants from engaging in prostitution. To say that this was a pure plus for immigrant prostitutes ("trafficked sex slaves") is not quite correct, IMO.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
801

Trafficked sex slaves aren't usually legal immigrants, so a legal ban might not do as much as one would hope.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:54 PM
horizontal rule
802

I know a guy who, for some period of time, paid a neighbor for sex. That's pretty much all I know about the arrangement, but it did not strike me as necessarily exploitative.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
803

"and you have to bracket out the American condition just as with drug wars."

I'm not sure what this is referring to, but I was thinking myself legalization wouldn't as necessarily lead to the same shift in attitudes. It's hard to predict with such a bizarre country.

But the increase was about more than attitudes.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
804

To clarify: in 800, I wrote "immigrants" but meant "people without EU papers."


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:57 PM
horizontal rule
805

801: I think prostitutes needed to carry papers with them, and brothels with illegals were shut down (ie, penalties were increased).


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
806

Sure; plenty of them are women over 35.

Way to rub it in, LB.


Posted by: 35 | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:00 PM
horizontal rule
807

("trafficked sex slaves")

Why the quote marks? All illegal immigrant prostitutes aren't sex slaves, but a lot of them are.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:01 PM
horizontal rule
808

Wow. 806 was me. Apparently trying too hard to hold on to 35 just a little longer...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
809

I also think illegal immigrant hookers often exercise more agency than you might think to end up where they are; that is, they aren't all kidnapped or deceived or bought and sold. As I said above, prostitution is not one thing.

This particular point is from the book "Temporarily Yours" by Elizabeth Bernstein, who was surely mainly motivated by her fantasies about subservient third-world women, or perhaps just rationalizing her eedjit behavior.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
810

"It's hard to predict with such a bizarre country. "

With all due respect!

And of course all countries are pretty bizarre. That's the human condition.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
811

I'm not entirely sure what 799 means, but Cala is pretty well always that eloquent.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
812

I dunno about the states, but there's plenty of unambiguous sex slaves in western Europe. It's not a minor problem.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
813

810 It is what it is.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:08 PM
horizontal rule
814

811 she doesn't sound progressive feminist, but like entirely opposite in that comment which she explained in the next comment, and i still find her first comment offensive, it like oozes racism and misogynism from all its intonations
and this kind of comments despite of their being ironic and all that witty just reinforces racism and misogynism imho


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
815

814: Remember to ease up on the judgment when talking to delicate Americans.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:37 PM
horizontal rule
816

814: Hmmm. I don't think she was being "ironic" or "witty," so much as attempting to highlight what you correctly identify as a misogynist and racist way of thinking and, by exposing it to the light of day, to deprive it of it's crude force.

Putting that more succinctly, Cala is pretty well always eloquent and exactly right at least as often as heebie.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
817

exposing to the light? i call it reinforcing racism and mysogynism either consciously for that wittyness effect or unintentionally, and even if unintentionally i wish she wouldn't comment like this


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
818

817: Yes, well. I suppose we all have people we wish wouldn't comment the way they do. I think you have seriously misinterpeted Cala's comment.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:50 PM
horizontal rule
819

can't help myself, i read it and get only what she wanted to say about the third world's women knowing their place


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
820

That's actually the opposite of what she as conveying.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
821

can't help myself, i read it and get only what she wanted to say about the third world's women knowing their place

No, you certainly don't get what she wanted to say. Again, I think you should try to understand what we mean by a charitable reading of someone's comment.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
822

athat's why i'm saying it's not helping


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
823

Emerson, does #794 accurately describe the various lonely guys you know? I hesitate to guess.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
824

789: Sure, Emerson, life is hard for lots of people. No matter how badly off you are, though, being badly off doesn't justify maltreating someone who's worse off than you are. As between the low-status men with no options for voluntary sex they find acceptable, and the prostitutes they're likely to be patronizing, I can't really see that the net level of utility measured in rat orgasms goes up when low-status men purchase sex from women who are equally poor and desperate or poorer and more desperate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:56 PM
horizontal rule
825

just saying that out loud she reinforces what she wanted maybe "to expose in the light" and perhaps even eliminate


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
826

Read, Cala was definitely saying something she thinks American men who marry third world women think, a bad attitude that they have about women and foreign women which is part of their wanting mail order brides. She wasn't talking about what she thinks about third world women or what she thinks the reality is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
827

That is to say, once you work this problem out, it's hard to escape the conclusion that wage labor is morally problematic no matter the wage scale. Which it is.

Wait, what? No, you can make (most? all?) jobs one's which don't compromise the worker's dignity, allow decent hours and conditions, and appropriately compensate them for danger on the job.

(Yes, of course I'm being unrealistically optimistic. I'm just saying wage labor isn't a priori problematic.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 7:59 PM
horizontal rule
828

just saying that out loud she reinforces

Are you suggesting that if we don't talk about bad things, they will go away?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
829

and i get all that noble intention of hers and still object to her comment for sounding that eloquent and witty and perhaps funny, it's not a matter of a joke, how very humiliating


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
830

827: But they always compromise something. That's why they call it compensation.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:02 PM
horizontal rule
831

the matter perhaps, anyway, enough offences to take for me for today


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:03 PM
horizontal rule
832

824

... being badly off doesn't justify maltreating someone who's worse off than you are. ...

You are basically assuming your conclusion here. Why is buying sex from someone who is selling it automatically maltreating them?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
833

I think what read is objecting to is the division of women into "American" and "love nothing more than to go down on American men" She's not picking up on the irony in "surprisingly", and is seeing this as an endorsement. That's my best guess, anyway.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
834

Read, there is a line of thinking that says, "Mentioning a set of stereotypes, even to joke about them, just reinforces people's ideas that the stereotypes are true." I'm somewhat sympathetic to this argument, because in my experience it can often be true.

There is another line of thinking that says "It is possible and sometimes useful to refer to offensive and unpleasant ideas to illustrate how some people think, even if you yourself do not agree with those ideas."

I believe unequivocally that Cala's comment was following the second line of thinking. I also think -- and forgive me for making assumptions about you, since I've never met you personally -- that your reaction is very typical of a certain kind of cross-cultural communication gap. It's really, really hard to tell the difference between category #1 (above) and category #2 when you're not operating in your native language/culture.

I once watched a professional interpreter badly misunderstand the woman she was interpreting for -- the woman made a sarcastic remark about US foreign poilcy while she was telling a heartwrenching story about her child, and the interpreter spoke it as though it was honest belief and not sarcasm. The English speakers in the room did not react at all, but several of the native speakers of the other language reacted in horror, tugging on the interpreter's sleeve and interrupting the conversation to try to tell the audience that she had misunderstood.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
835

794: no.

LB, probably most guys in that position hang out in bars and pick up some drunk woman with dependency issues, or they court some nice girl with a mixture of schmooze and evasions and then dump her when they get tired of her, or until she gets wise to heim, or something like that.

And no matter how badly it turns out, and no matter how predictable the bad ending is, per LB Esq. it's OK if it's consensual and contractual. The guy I mentioned went to professional women because he didn't want to do that. He didn't want intimacy or two hearts beating as one or a relationship or a marriage, and he didn't want to pretend that he did. He just wanted sex. He didn't regard his arrangement as a shining model for the whole world to follow, he just thought it was the best he could come up with.

Based on the context, when he said "professionals" I think that he meant "strippers who occasionally date customers for a fee", as opposed to "strippers who never date customers" (most of them). But he may have meant escort service prostitutes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
836

830: I believe in some theoretical threshhold, below which you're being exploited and above which you're being compensated.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
837

831 is a good attitude to take.I try not to get pissed off of more than one thing at a time.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:11 PM
horizontal rule
838

s between the low-status men with no options for voluntary sex they find acceptable

The key bit being the last part. Plenty of the guys on the mail-order bride kick who believe all sorts of nasty things about women from overseas believe that they've been wronged by a dating market that just doesn't provide what they deserve (e.g., ruined by feminists.) They're guys who believe that they can't get hot women unless they make X and look Y. That might make them pitiable, but it doesn't make their decision to shop overseas terribly justified.

(Of course, this is not all men with foreign spouses, or even a majority, but they are a rather loud contingent.)

I dunno about the states, but there's plenty of unambiguous sex slaves in western Europe.

One of the sets of silly hoops one has to jump through to get a spouse a greencard in American immigration is the result of a series of legislation meant to prevent human trafficking through the fiancee visa process. (Rough model: "marriage broker" sets up American dude and foreign woman; tells the American dude he is getting a perfect wife, tells the girl this is just a good way to get to America, the guy will be fine, and she'll have a job doing something decent like being a waitress; she gets here, and is more or less kidnapped; sometimes the American is innocent, sometimes not.) It's a serious enough problem that there's a separate visa class for trafficked persons, basically so there's a legal way for them to stay here if they co-operate with cops. No doubt there are some willing ones, too, but by "trafficking" we don't mean willing, usually.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:12 PM
horizontal rule
839

I also wasn't intending to be joking, just to point out a similarity between certain nasty attitudes. If anyone cares.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
840

I believe in some theoretical threshhold, below which you're being exploited and above which you're being compensated.

Right, and you also believe that individuals can't be trusted to decide for themselves what that theoretical threshold amounts to in reality. Which makes for a nice long comment thread.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
841

Are we explaining sarcasm/satire to read again?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:16 PM
horizontal rule
842

835: The thing is, there are women out there who likewise don't want intimacy or a relationship or marriage and just want sex. Would that men and women could be honest with one another about this -- and believe one another when they were.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:16 PM
horizontal rule
843

Cala has a Canadian sex slave in her basement?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:16 PM
horizontal rule
844

836: And this varies with industry, or class, or what? It would be kind of a coincidence if it were $6.55/hour.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
845

They indeed were worried about that! I had to sign a form saying, no, this was my first eBay husband.

He's not in the basement cuz we live in an apartment.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
846

843: I think she's loaned him to BG.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:19 PM
horizontal rule
847

Clones. You can get that these days.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:20 PM
horizontal rule
848

Right, and you also believe that individuals can't be trusted to decide for themselves what that theoretical threshold amounts to in reality. Which makes for a nice long comment thread.

What exactly are you referring to, here?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:20 PM
horizontal rule
849

Canadian men are clean, meek, obedient, and trusting. You need to watch them is social situations so they don't embarrass you. They're strapping lads from all that hockey, but usually have no front teeth and a moderate amount of brain damage. Canadian women prefer bears.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:22 PM
horizontal rule
850

Canadian men are made hard by the cold, frozen North, unlike American men, who are fat, soft, and don't make enough money. A True Woman deserves someone from the True North.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
851

848: It's problematic to say that whatever poor people consent to is OK; but it's also problematic to say that there are things that are simply not OK whether or not people consent to them.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
852

Are we explaining sarcasm/satire to read again?

No, we're gently explaining that if you don't assume one of the commenters is a cruel asshole, then their comment becomes an intelligent contribution to the thread. Again.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
853

And no matter how badly it turns out, and no matter how predictable the bad ending is, per LB Esq. it's OK if it's consensual and contractual.

Sure thing, Emerson. What you just said sounds like the guy you know decided hiring prostitutes was harmless, because he wanted sex and anything else he'd do to get sex would be morally worse. If you can limit your options into (a) bad thing and (b) thing defined as worse than the bad thing, the first option always looks good. If all your options for getting sex involve wrongdoing, jerking off and spending the money on non-sexual massages isn't a choice that's going to kill you.

I'm not committed to saying that all prostitutes are always in misery, but generally I'd still say that working under the assumption that prostitution is painful and damaging is the way to bet, and a customer's badly placed to figure out if he's found an exception.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:24 PM
horizontal rule
854

851: And where did I say anything like this?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:24 PM
horizontal rule
855

If you can limit your options into (a) bad thing and (b) thing defined as worse than the bad thing, the first option always looks good.

This is a classic logical fallacy referred to as the "false dichotomy." I felt it appropriate for me to note this.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
856

851, 854: I think we've melded into the Borg, a bit (which means I'm right, I think). That sounds like Barbar's reacting to my claim that if you pay a woman desperate for money to let you beat her up, it's cruel and wrong even if she consents; the fact that it's consensual doesn't make it okay.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
857

I'm just saying wage labor isn't a priori problematic.

Uhh uhh uhh ...never mind.


Posted by: Karl Marx | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
858

855; It's like your evil twin! What's the feminine equivalent of having a goatee?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:29 PM
horizontal rule
859

Unshorn armpits. [hates self instantly]


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
860

855

I'm not committed to saying that all prostitutes are always in misery, but generally I'd still say that working under the assumption that prostitution is painful and damaging is the way to bet, and a customer's badly placed to figure out if he's found an exception.

Your assumption is not just that prostitution is painful and damaging but that every customer makes things worse.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
861

858: harshly sculpted eyebrows


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
862

At the risk of sounding offensive, John is probably the lowest-social-status male who regularly comments here

I am very fucking offended.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:34 PM
horizontal rule
863

Someone upthread commented that we are a country where people aren't really starving, which makes prostitution a "choice".

Bullshit. The Offspring worked with a project that did peer counselling and tried to get street kids some help -- because a lot of them were effectively starving and were selling themselves to earn a meal or a few dollars to buy food. There aren't jobs available for homeless teenagers, so they didn't see any alternative. The majority of the ones he dealt with were gay and had run away or been thrown out by parents when they came out. [We live in a heavily gay city; the kids drift here because they think they'll be somehow safer.] The city doesn't have nearly enough rooms in shelters to house these kids, many of whom have been so battered by circumstance - even the ones whose home lives were not overtly abusive - that they can't even trust the people who offer them help. The minors, especially, are either afraid to be sent home or aware that their parents would pitch them to the curb again.

So, yeah, there are people out there "literally starving" who sell themselves just to live because there isn't an alternative.

Personally, I'm in favour of very, very long prison terms for the men who "patronise" these kids. Or maybe just summary execution.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:35 PM
horizontal rule
864

People here really have no idea how other people live. You all know what the right way is and believe that it's attainable for them. Lots of people, M and F don't believe that the right way is unattainable for them personally, based on their personal circumstances. So they patch together workarounds and kludges which they and everyone else in the world knows are scond, third, or fourth best.

For Christ's sake, LB, for you it was an enormous sacrifice to drop down from whatever it was to $60,000 a year, plus your husband's income, so that you could quit working to cheat dying people and their families out of the compensation your employer might have had to pay them. How the fuck can you be so judgmental of someone making half or a third of what you personally making now who are trying to patch together something that works?

A lot of guys are just plain objectively not good matches for anyone. The sum total of what people want is much more than th sum total of what there is to have. Some people make the choice you want them to make, and some do something you disapprove of.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
865

850: "[C]old, frozen North"? Is that what they're calling it these days?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
866

858/859: Don't be silly! It's using mustache was to sculpt your pubic hair.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
867

How the fuck can you be so judgmental of someone making half or a third of what you personally making now who are trying to patch together something that works?

Huh. Come to think of it, I'm better off than almost everyone whose ever lived. Damn, that leaves me absolutely disqualified from talking about ethics. Sorry about that, I'll remember to keep my mouth shut in future.

Hey, can we dig up someone impoverished enough to have an opinion here?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
868

People here really have no idea how other people live. You all know what the right way is and believe that it's attainable for them. Lots of people, M and F don't believe that the right way is unattainable for them personally, based on their personal circumstances. So they patch together workarounds and kludges which they and everyone else in the world knows are scond, third, or fourth best.

It's really helpful and not at all condescending for you to keep making this point. None of us know dissatisfied people who are making do with unsatisfactory make-shift solutions.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
869

How the fuck can you be so judgmental of someone making half or a third of what you personally making now who are trying to patch together something that works?

She's NOT being judgmental of them. She's being judgmental of the people who patronize them.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
870

854: I was referring to 720.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
871

The people Cala describes would make up the "asshole" portion of the population that John describes, who respond to their situation by wanting to dominate and control someone else. Then there are the non-assholes, whom she doesn't encounter because they aren't trying to import wives; they respond by not wanting to dominate and control someone else, and they would turn to the transactional way of getting sexual intimacy if they try anything. Which nonetheless is automatically cruel in an abstract sense because by doing so they contribute in a tiny way to the exploitation of the prostitute by society in general, by marginally increasing the market for his/her services.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
872

Goddammit LB, during the first year or two I knew you here you were pretty much a professional criminal by my standards. You were trying very, very hard to be a more successful conscienceless legal technician. And I was cool about it, on general liberal relativist tolerance principles.

Maybe you could could chill a little with your heavy sarcasm about poor lonely guys who make sexual arrangements you don't approve of. It's not like you'd be able to accept the female victims either, if you knew them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
873

863

Personally, I'm in favour of very, very long prison terms for the men who "patronise" these kids. Or maybe just summary execution.

Even though according to you these men are the only thing standing between these kids and starvation?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
874

I think 860 makes a good point, but 872 doesn't. Time for bed, I have a cold.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:47 PM
horizontal rule
875

872: And I never asked you not to judge me for it. If what you knew about what I did for a living fell within your general liberal relativist tolerance principles, that's how your principles work.

The way my principles work includes thinking patronizing prostitutes is pretty much always going to be wrong. I'm not planning to lynch anyone, but I think it's wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:50 PM
horizontal rule
876

862 wins the thread.

I'm offended that some people see fit to generalize about Canadian men, but without even a mention of their superior skills at jump-starting dead batteries.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:50 PM
horizontal rule
877

720: Sure we use consent as shorthand for "not being exploited", but it's pretty worthless since "consent" is often not real consent if the person doesn't have many other options.

848: It's problematic to say that whatever poor people consent to is OK; but it's also problematic to say that there are things that are simply not OK whether or not people consent to them.

So I didn't say that whatever poor people consent to is OK. I said that consent can be compromised if you don't have humane options.

Whether there are some acts which are always off-the-table to consent to (idealized, freely given consent) is a different topic. We walked through idealized prostitution and idealized stripping above, and I was hypothetically okay with those. And I'm on board with idealized euthanasia. I can't think of an example off the top of my head of an act that I think a person could not grant consent to, but maybe I'm not thinking hard enough.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:51 PM
horizontal rule
878

I'm offended that some people see fit to generalize about Canadian men, but without even a mention of their superior skills at jump-starting dead batteries.

shiv excels at calling AAA; he thinks generally that cars should come with plugs, to avoid dead batteries.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
879

Without the squick factor, the fact that prostitutes were disproportionately likely to have been sexually abused doesn't prove much. If it turned out that 2/3 of women who were doctors or social workers had a prior history of sexually abuse, I don't think we'd interpret it the same way.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
880

Damn, that leaves me absolutely disqualified from talking about ethics.

I think John's point is more along the lines that you'd judge a lower-class person involved in prostitution or "sex work" in some capacity much more harshly than you would judge a corporate lawyer living in Manhattan.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
881

And to something Rob said, re: role of sex - I don't think sex has to be intimate; from my POV, that's a social construct primarily devised by a patriarchal over-culture to keep female sexuality in check. With few exceptions, males in our society aren't brought up to connect sex and intimacy; that's what's taught to women. [Hence, the classic 'I love ya, baby' line boys are encouraged to use.] Women, OTOH, are brought up to connect love=intimacy=sex and discouraged from admitting that sometimes, all they want is a competent fuck from someone they don't ever have to see again.

Which has little to do with exploitative prostitution, but speaks to the higher-end sex worker's position. The former should be abolished by freaking helping women [and men] in that position, rather than arresting them and letting the john go, as is the present social stance. The latter should be legalised, IMNSHO, and taxed, which monies should be used to help the former.

And the view that hooker's can't be raped should be beaten out of society with a big stick.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
882

Hey, can we dig up someone impoverished enough to have an opinion here?

Too poor to file Chapter 7? Do I qualify?

What was the question, anyway?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
883

(I'm on board with non-ideal euthanasia too, for the record. I just stuck the "ideal" in there because it went along with all the others. (Although I can also picture a bad scenario where the person elects euthanasia because they feel like a burden, so there are situations where I think it gets sticky.))


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:55 PM
horizontal rule
884

I think John's point is more along the lines that you'd judge a lower-class person involved in prostitution or "sex work" in some capacity much more harshly than you would judge a corporate lawyer living in Manhattan.

Have I said anything indicating that I'm judging the sex workers rather than the customers?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:56 PM
horizontal rule
885

880: I think the judgment is on the rationalization (it's only because of loneliness and not being able to get one's top choices in love*), not the behavior.

*this is a lot more people than those who patronize prostitutes, so I'm guessing we don't really have a necessary or sufficient explanation in the case of the Very Lonely John.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:57 PM
horizontal rule
886

873: I'm also in favour of confiscating their worldly possessions and using the proceeds to feed and clothe the kids. But yeah, baby-fuckers make me homicidally angry.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:58 PM
horizontal rule
887

866: waX, waX


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:59 PM
horizontal rule
888

I personally picture the typical john as being the bachelor's party in Vegas, not Emerson's hapless Bruce Springsteen who's just longing for that human touch.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 8:59 PM
horizontal rule
889

884: I personally think it's a little too convenient to condemn the institution of prostitution while also assuming that every single woman involved has zero agency and responsibility.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:00 PM
horizontal rule
890

884

Have I said anything indicating that I'm judging the sex workers rather than the customers?

Yes, by regarding them as passive victims. And by exempting the English Courtesan.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
891

I can't think of an example off the top of my head of an act that I think a person could not grant consent to, but maybe I'm not thinking hard enough.

Dollhouse brainwipe? You are committing a future self to acts that self is not themself capable of consenting to. [Awkward]

That may be wrong, because it might have implication for things like living wills. Living wills seem to say that the person who signed a living will is no longer there and can thereby consent to euthanesia.

Do we "own" our future selves under all circumstances?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:04 PM
horizontal rule
892

889: Convenient? I'm not getting how that works. I think the important harm done in prostitution is the harm to the prostitute. To the extent the prostitute has agency and responsibility, the prostitute has partial responsibility for the harm being inflicted on herself. Self-inflicted harm isn't something I think of as wrong, which leaves me still judging the johns rather than the hookers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:05 PM
horizontal rule
893

858: classically, they're the same except the evil one dresses slutty. Glasses are often involved.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:05 PM
horizontal rule
894

893: Right, vampire Willow in the leather bustier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
895

Yes, by regarding them as passive victims. And by exempting the English Courtesan.

One woman I knew piled up $15,000 in gambling debts and worked it off in a brothel.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:08 PM
horizontal rule
896

but without even a mention of their superior skills at jump-starting dead batteries.

FIXED THAT FOR YOU.


Posted by: OPINIONATED CANUCK | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:10 PM
horizontal rule
897

892

Convenient? I'm not getting how that works. I think the important harm done in prostitution is the harm to the prostitute. To the extent the prostitute has agency and responsibility, the prostitute has partial responsibility for the harm being inflicted on herself. Self-inflicted harm isn't something I think of as wrong, which leaves me still judging the johns rather than the hookers.

Convenient in the same way it is convenient for antiabortion activists to blame the doctors rather than the women.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:12 PM
horizontal rule
898

Because in the eyes of anti-abortion activists, women getting abortions aren't doing anything wrong other than injuring themselves? I had no idea that was the thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:14 PM
horizontal rule
899

In the abortion scenario supposedly the woman and the doctor are teaming up to commit a sin on someone else. In the prostitution scenario supposedly the john and Society At Large are teaming up to commit a sin on the woman. The agency issue is not similar.


Posted by: Es-tonea-pesta | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
900

I don't say a lot about my 70s street life because I don't know what to say about it. Like at the end of V I guess I didn't learn a damn thing.

Pimps & hookers, pushers & junkies, burglars & hitmen (just one crazy biker)...they were all just folks to me.

That sounds crazy. I guess I was.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
901

The men leaping to defend the institution of prostitution on behalf of the poor lonely souls who have no other choice! is seriously grossing me out.

Seriously, what the fuck.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
902

901, that's what's being discussed because it's the marginal case and the most detabable thing, between the two extremes which nobody disagrees on. Like in every internet discussion.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
903

I don't say a lot about the time I moved from Africa to go to high school in a typical American suburb. I was a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at my new school, until I made the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George.

That sounds crazy. I guess I was.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
904

One 16-yr-old girl I thought I loved had an older sister who turned tricks. The younger wanted to become a hooker just to get out of the house, but her older brother scared the guys away, even from prison.

She quit HS, got married & divorced, with two kids before she was 20. Waited tables or was on welfare.

What did she preserve or save by not going pro? Her pride? The hookers had nice clothes, parties, better drugs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
905

Well I'm not going to be servicing the poor lonely souls. I have all of these comment threads to read.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
906

898

Because in the eyes of anti-abortion activists, women getting abortions aren't doing anything wrong other than injuring themselves? I had no idea that was the thinking.

No because in the eyes of anti-abortion activists women (especially poor women) who have abortions are incompetent and therefore not capable of true consent. While you believe women (especially poor women) who prostitute themselves are incompetent and also incapable of true consent. In both cases the evidence of incompetence seems to be that no truly competent women would do such a thing.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:31 PM
horizontal rule
907

This is one depressing thread. And yet, I hate arugula too much to read the other one.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
908

The official T-shirt of this thread?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
909

Well I'm not going to be servicing the poor lonely souls. I have all of these comment threads to read.

Isn't this just the crux of the problem though? It's Friday night and we're all too busy discussing sex to go have any!


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:50 PM
horizontal rule
910

I personally think it's a little too convenient to condemn the institution of prostitution while also assuming that every single woman involved has zero agency and responsibility.

Well, I don't think anyone here has actually assumed a complete lack of agency. But I personally find it curious that you move directly from the institution of prostitution to the question of the personal agency and responsiblity of women, but without mentioning the agency and responsibility of men, and without even acknowledging the possibility that the institution itself is founded on certain gender-based assymetries of power in the first place.

The thing about "sex for sale," or however we want to call it, is that "sex" isn't some detachable item or something that can just float freely as a commodity, detached from all considerations of human exchange and human intersubjectivity (well, not that any commodity actually is, of course, which I take to be Apo's point above). But for all sorts of reasons, cultural, historical, contemporary, and etc, and some of which are no doubt "irrational" and atavistic, "sex" is highly loaded, and freighted with values, "meanings," expectations, cultural baggage, and so on. And for all sorts of reasons, some of them quite directly and concretely material, some of them more based on "irrational" and atavistic values/meanings considerations, selling sexual services is usually (but I don't say always, because I recognize the possibility of exceptions, marginal cases, and etc) going to be damaging to the sellers. And then, for reasons having to do with certain fairly specific traditions of the oppression of "women" (I don't say all women) as a class by "men" (I don't say all men) as a class, any defence of a sexual trade where the female is the provider of services rendered to the male as the recipient of said services, has to at least acknowledge the historical/contemporary power imbalance, or stand accused of cultural blindness, or massive insensivity, or perhaps just garden-variety libertarian arsehole-ness.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 9:54 PM
horizontal rule
911

910 is what I was trying to say in 901, only with more, you know, words.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
912

People here really have no idea how other people live. You all know what the right way is and believe that it's attainable for them. Lots of people, M and F don't believe that the right way is unattainable for them personally, based on their personal circumstances. So they patch together workarounds and kludges which they and everyone else in the world knows are scond, third, or fourth best.

The second sentence is over the top, but the rest of this rings true to me. If you're poor and inept and marginal, there just isn't much margin there for small, harmless lapses. When I fuck up, I apologize and life goes on. Closer to the line, a fuckup is more likely to do more harm. Some of you seem to be having a really hard time getting past stereotypes of fratboys and asshole construction workers to really try to empathize with the Lifestyles of the Poor and Schlubby. Which is not to say that patronizing prostitutes is OK if you're really desperate, but only that I'm still having a hard time seeing how it's different in kind from other sorts of not-OK behavior that marginal, desperate people get pushed to.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:11 PM
horizontal rule
913

I note with interest that this thread has gone from the subject of abortion to the subject of prostitution - two subjects that have resulted in highly charged discussion here in the past - with very little acrimony.

That was bound to last.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
914

913: That's because everyone ignored my helpful suggestion in 790.3.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:19 PM
horizontal rule
915

And 912 was me.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
916

912:to really try to empathize with the Lifestyles of the Poor and Schlubby. Which is not to say that patronizing prostitutes is OK

Umm, I think you are misapprehending the kinds of guys who use prostitutes. With the exception of service time overseas, certainly none of the people I associated with spent their money that way. What money we had went to drugs.

The poor & schlubby usually don't have 200 dollars to spare, and you get better relief with 50 from something in a plastic bag.

Emerson may be different, but I haven't known any johns.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
917

without even acknowledging the possibility that the institution itself is founded on certain gender-based assymetries of power in the first place.

prostitution is founded on veldt-related differences between men and women that would exist without gender power asymmetries. Without money, or something like it, there will be surplus male demand in the casual sex market. Unless all the males put in a lot of effort to learn game.

OK, folks, that's ev psych, economics, and pick-up all in one paragraph. If that doesn't push this sucker to 1000 then nothing will.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:25 PM
horizontal rule
918

oh, and "consent" is a legalistic fiction that is totally unrelated to how human beings work. Except insofar as we work by shaping our consciousness around social narratives and fictions.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-20-09 11:26 PM
horizontal rule
919

That's because everyone ignored my helpful suggestion in 790.3.

I didn't get that at the time, but it seemed interesting. Can you elaborate?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
920

I haven't known any johns.

Me neither. But then I don't know anyone who cheats on a spouse either. S'pose maybe people just aren't telling me stuff?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 7:31 AM
horizontal rule
921

I'm just saying wage labor isn't a priori problematic.

And there are high-price hookers who enjoy their job. But the entire system is built on oppression, right?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
922

My 836: I believe in some theoretical threshhold, below which you're being exploited and above which you're being compensated.

So the entire system can be built on oppression, but theoretically there could be a non-exploitative version, like your high-priced hooker with the g-spot in the back of her throat...what am I answering again?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
923

theoretically there could be a non-exploitative version

Not by my definition of exploitative, but I think we approach this from different directions. Which is okay.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
924

What's your definition of exploitative/which way do you approach it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
925

The only time I ever feel conservative is at family reunions, where there's a large Marxist branch and a smaller Socialist wing of the family. I'm having this deja vu with Apo that I'm walking back into this situation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
926

920 made me think of the part of "Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar" that goes, "Not me. Then who?"


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
927

Kraabie stole the cookies from the cookie jar!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
928

Well just that, much more so than for prostitution or stripping, the folks "winning" at the top of the wage labor pyramid depend on the existence of an enormous population below them that isn't.

925: Dreamy. It's pretty much just me in my family.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
929

927: I've never been married, so by definition I've never cheated on a spouse. I've never cheated on anyone, though. Really.

It turns out that I do know that I know (if you see what I mean) several people who've cheated on a spouse/partner, and a significant number of women who've had abortions, as long as we're on the topic of thing people generally don't publicize, but not anyone I know who's patronized a prostitute.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
930

True, the height of the pyramid should figure into it. If someone owns their own farm and lives in poverty on $5/day, and they hire a worker to double their harvest and profits, and pay them $5/day as well, I don't think there's any exploitation going on.

Maybe that's a more consistent definition of exploitation than requiring a threshhold of working conditions. Should only hookers be pimps?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
931

929: Let's hear it for dependent clauses!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
932

I knew a guy that hired hookers. He was a pretty terrible person, but not in the ways you might expect.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
933

I suspect some of the guys that Jammies plays hockey with have/would hire hookers when they've got hockey tournaments in Vegas. The Vegas trips are notoriously raunchy, and (parts of) this crowd already just love the hell out of garden-variety local strip clubs.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
934

Coincidentally, I'm about to go meet a guy in a hotel. For work, I swear. Besides, if I were planning to cheat, I probably would have washed my hair, or at least brushed it.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
935

For work, I swear.

Don't exploit him, Kraab.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
936

933: see, this guy I knew was exactly nothing like that stereotype. For him, hiring a hooker was something he'd do basically secretly, when he was feeling all sorry for himself because he wasn't getting any action. Definitely no fun-time-raunchy-party vibe about it. A deeply unreflective sense of sullen entitlement, maybe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
937

So it seems like the fundamental problem is that there's a large group of sullen unappealing men, and a large group of single women over 35, and these two groups don't click when you stick 'em in a petrie dish.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
938

930

True, the height of the pyramid should figure into it. If someone owns their own farm and lives in poverty on $5/day, and they hire a worker to double their harvest and profits, and pay them $5/day as well, I don't think there's any exploitation going on.

So you don't think the guy who owns the farm is entitled to anything extra?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
939

He's taking on more risk than the paid laborer hire. So sure. I was just illustrating how the height of the pyramid is inversely correlated with exploitation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
940

937: Yep, unless you introduce a growth medium. Money is the agar of depressing sex.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
941

I know one guy who has admitted to patronizing a prostitute. He claims to have only done it once, while in Amsterdam, as some sort of 'had to try it' thing. He was fairly open about it -- when he told me a bunch of mutual, female, friends were in the room -- but then, he's that kind of person.

I, on the other hand, have never even seen a stripper, or stepped foot inside any kind of establishment of that kind. Partly because I really don't like the kind of laddishness that goes with it [along with all the other ethical reasons, etc.]. That kind of 'stag' male bonding ... eech.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
942

930: The thread is groping its way toward a theory of surplus value. So far, we have profit = exploitation, which is in line with Heebie's socialist background, but what about the labor of the entrepreneur?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
943

profit = exploitation

Profit is too broad.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
944

whoops, pwned. I took a long break to score my NCAA bracket before hitting post on that one.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
945

Katherine Frank, the anthropologist/dancer I mentioned above, talks about how pleasant bachelor-party style outings are(big surprise I guess, but validation from someone in a position to really know).

Men in groups are different from men alone. Men in groups talk more, compare women's bodies more blatantly, are more critical of their wives' or girlfriends' bodies. I didn't like working Saturday night -- bachelor party night. When I started stripping I thought it would all be groups, and I was really pleased to find out that a lot of it was sitting and talking with an individual guy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
946

any defence of a sexual trade where the female is the provider of services rendered to the male as the recipient of said services, has to at least acknowledge the historical/contemporary power imbalance, or stand accused of cultural blindness, or massive insensivity, or perhaps just garden-variety libertarian arsehole-ness.

I came into this thread (521) pointing out how sex was not like any other "labor service," and how even people who support the legalization of prostitution are clearly not truly comfortable treating sexuality like any other "good." I also cited a female sociologist in defense of the claim that not every poor prostitute wishes that well-meaning liberals would save her. I'm pretty sure I was still seriously grossing out mrh though.

But I personally find it curious that you move directly from the institution of prostitution to the question of the personal agency and responsiblity of women, but without mentioning the agency and responsibility of men, and without even acknowledging the possibility that the institution itself is founded on certain gender-based assymetries of power in the first place.

Well, I really don't understand why you find it so curious; I was directly responding to LB's statement that she *only* judged the men, not the women. I also don't think it's clear that prostitution is entirely founded on gender-based asymmetries of power, because gay male prostitution also exists (although it fails to conveniently lend itself to "class" analysis).


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
947

also don't think it's clear that prostitution is entirely founded on gender-based asymmetries of power, because gay male prostitution also exists

I think one could make the argument that gay male prostitution also involves gender-based asymmetries of power.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
948

941: I know that guy!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
949

I think one could make the argument that gay male prostitution also involves gender-based asymmetries of power.

How would that go, roughly?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
950

I may have time to respond more fully when I'm dealing with a somewhat more advantageous infant-to-parent ratio, but as a starting point, it might be interesting to think about the different ways that society (in its grossest stereotypical form) things about (a) a female prostitute, (b) a gay male prostitute, and (c) a straight male prostitute. Which of the three would, say, a "frat boy" think be a totally awesome job?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
951

re: 948

He Scottish, too?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:40 AM
horizontal rule
952

No. But he has been to Scotland, so maybe you were fooled.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
953

Damn, he was pretty cunning.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:43 AM
horizontal rule
954

Contra 936, I've known a john who is a handsome multi-millionaire who is extremely successful in his field. He was basically a sex addict and highly attractive to women. He would always have a few women who approximated conventional girlfriends and then there would be all these stunning escorts on the side just for kicks. I suspect it's just as difficult to peg the "typical" john as it is the "typical" escort.

I really do think the overrepresentation of women in prostitution is rooted in fundamental, natural imbalances between male and female sexuality. But how that overrepresentation plays out in any given society is of course highly socially determined and profoundly affected by gender power differentials.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
955

I really do think the overrepresentation of women in prostitution is rooted in fundamental, natural imbalances between male and female sexuality.

I'm pretty skeptical of this claim. Nothing in life has led me to believe that any such innate difference exists.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
956

942

The thread is groping its way toward a theory of surplus value. So far, we have profit = exploitation, which is in line with Heebie's socialist background, but what about the labor of the entrepreneur?

Per 939 Heebie is ok with profit (return to capital) so perhaps what she is objecting to is the hierarchical organization of work in which bosses get paid more (for example principals are paid more than teachers and superintendents are paid more than principals). So the higher the pyramid the greater the exploitation. This is not really surplus value.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
957

955

I'm pretty skeptical of this claim. Nothing in life has led me to believe that any such innate difference exists.

You know a lot of guys who are capable of servicing 10 women a day?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
958

955: I'm sure plenty of male prostitutes rely on blow jobs and recieving, since they can't ejaculate ten times every day.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
959

I mean 957.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
960

Which of the three would, say, a "frat boy" think be a totally awesome job?

I really can't see the connection between this and the existence of gay prostitutes. Frat-boy attitudes do not dictate or even affect all of human behavior.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
961

re: 957

That wasn't what I read 954 as referring to.

And also, what heebie says.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 10:59 AM
horizontal rule
962

Actually, Shearer's point is one thing I was thinking of (Heebies point is relevant mainly to men servicing men). But there are also evident male/female differences in the desire for casual sex with total strangers. If you haven't observed those there's not much I can say, plus that has been hashed out endlessly around here.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:12 AM
horizontal rule
963

But there are also evident male/female differences in the desire for casual sex with total strangers.

Yeah, this. I don't believe there's much difference, and what difference there is [and there's probably a little], isn't innate.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:14 AM
horizontal rule
964

Actually, Shearer's point is one thing I was thinking of (Heebies point is relevant mainly to men servicing men).

Also, what makes you think that ejaculation on the part of the male prostitute need necessarily be an essential part of his servicing women?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
965

(Heebies point is relevant mainly to men servicing men).

No it's not. If het women were the primary customers, men would give a lot of oral sex and use dildoes, along with PIV to whatever extent they could.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
966

is objecting to is hierarchical organization of work in which bosses get paid more
i think they are paid more for responsibility
it's only fair that CEOs get paid more b/c they are responsible for so many people's livelihoods, it's like doctors being paid a lot b/c they are responsible for someone's life
i don't know how it connects to prostitution though


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:18 AM
horizontal rule
967

I mean 957.

Ejaculations per day?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
968

If he wants to be my lover.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
969

A story that I think interestingly revealed some light on attitudes towards gay male prostitution versus female prostitution was the Jeff Gannon stuff. Despite the initial shock value of discovering that he had worked as a male escort, I think that the story went away much, much faster than it would have if it had been a female escort in that position. (The press hanging a bogus charge that people were "outing" Jeff Gannon was particularly rich.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
970

If you experience an erection lasting more than four hours, it can be worth a lot of money to you

During his decadent phase my bro met a guy who performed in a live sex show. a couple of times an hour. "Just a job", he said, meaning it was OK but not fun. He had to fake it a bit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
971

965

No it's not. If het women were the primary customers, men would give a lot of oral sex and use dildoes, along with PIV to whatever extent they could.

Actually that doesn't appear to be what happens .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-21-09 12:50 PM
horizontal rule