January 15, 2008

"A grotesque exercise in the dehumanization of women is carried out routinely at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel about an hour’s ride outside of Vegas.

Writes Bob Herbert, inviting the presidential candidates — who are campaigning in Nevada — to pay attention to "the dark persistence of misogyny in America":
There the women have to respond like Pavlov’s dog to an electronic bell that might ring at any hour of the day or night. At the sound of the bell, the prostitutes have five minutes to get to an assembly area where they line up, virtually naked, and submit to a humiliating inspection by any prospective customer who has happened to drop by.
First of all, these prostitutes aren't at all like Pavlov's dogs, who heard a bell and actually got physically excited by anticipation that they would be fed. They're more like doctors who carry beepers. They've chosen a line of work where their clients determine when their services are wanted, and they're being paid for attending to those needs whether they are in the mood or not. That's difficult to do, so show some respect. Don't condescend and tell them they are being humiliated. It's legal prostitution, and the job is voluntary. Are doctors humiliated when patients show up and expect them to palpate and attend to their naked body parts?

128 comments:

TMink said...

Ann, While I agree with you that the cited article manufactures outrage in a voluntary situation, I am not buying the comparison with physicians. Maybe garbage collectors, but not physicians.

Trey

Middle Class Guy said...

I heartily agree with you. No one kidnapped them, held a gun to their head, and forced them into a life of prostitution. They are willing participants in the business, a legal business in Nevada.

Of course you can't tell the Victimologists that. And everyone who does not agree that the prostitutes are victims are misogynist.

Middle Class Guy said...

BTW, there is a move to open houses of prostitution to service female clients. If they are opened, will the male prostitutes be dehumanized. Will they be victims?

bill said...

Via Reason is a link toSteven Levitt:

They estimate that roughly 3 percent of all tricks performed by prostitutes who aren't working with pimps are freebies given to police to avoid arrest. In fact, prostitutes get officially arrested only once per 450 tricks or so, leading the authors to conclude that "a prostitute is more likely to have sex with a police officer than to get officially arrested by one."


Kerry Howley discusses another area of the same paper:
Prostitutes who used pimps were found to make more per hour even after they'd paid 25 percent of their earnings for the pimping. They were arrested less often and were less vulnerable to police and gang members demanding free service.

...So your options as a Chicago hooker are (1) work as a free agent, give sex away to the police, and get abused by clients or (2) hire a pimp and let him beat you occasionally. In neither case can women call on police for assistance; facilitating police protection would entail decriminalization. Which would be, you know, demeaning to women.

Doyle said...

My spidey sense tells me this post will attract negative attention.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I actually like the doctors comparison. It seems we have an unrealistically and unfairly negative view of sex-workers that has nothing to do with the nature of their job and more to do with our discomfort with honest female sexuality.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Maybe garbage collectors, but not physicians.

Heh. May I suggest the movie Rat Catcher. Might make you rethink how you view garbage collectors.

Mr. Forward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

Are doctors humiliated when patients show up and expect them to palpate and attend to their naked body parts?

In keeping with the theme of victimization, I will now claim such humiliation when I see patients, who show up or call at all hours and demand to be seen, and I must respond like Pavlov’s dog. Oh, the shame.

It's an odd mixture, the empowerment of women coupled with their inability to be independent, requiring protection. But now it's not protection by a man, but by the government. They need protection from men. We seem to have entered a bizarre Victorian age, where women wilt under the gaze of the man, but simultaneously want to be firemen or Sex Workers where they so choose.

If I have to
I can do anything (with federal help)
I am strong (but weak)
I am invincible (but victimized)
I am woman

Freder Frederson said...

While I am no fan of Catherine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin, it seems a strange brand of feminism indeed that sees prostitution as just another career choice and ignores the inherent exploitation, dehuminazation, misogyny, and degradation involved in the business.

Of course, you are writing from the perspective of a lawyer. And unlike a lawyer, there are some things a prostitute won't do for money.

Mr. Forward said...

I agree with TMink's sentiment but not his example. The customers don't wake up the garbage collectors.

Bob said...

Occasionally porn stars such as Sunset Thomas will work in the Nevada whorehouses, for either economic reasons (more reliable money than porn) or personal satisfaction (real sex not interrupted by requirements of filming).

rhhardin said...

It's a fairly popular business to be in. Guys are suckers for babes.

Excellent NYT article on strip clubs at, hmmm, here, by John Tierney .

The Exalted said...

i think most women are fairly disgusted by the idea/execution of prostitution, but bob herbert is on the left, so for ms. althouse, time for absurd comparisons and outrage at the outrage!

goesh said...

Sheesh! What's expected here, that the Contenders give some kind of speech in front of a whore house?
It seems the real issues of exploitation are occuring with Russian and Asian women being duped and trapped, not high paid volunteers in Nevada.

Doug said...

I read this article on line earlier in the day and didn't buy his line of thinking either.

I don't know much about brothels, but this guy I know told me a story about his friend who went to one of those legalized ones in Nevada. The clinicalness of it sounded so unsexual and it seemed like what the man had to go through was quite dehumanizing as well. (certain inspection protocals and application of some type of salve)

Also, I would imagine that the prostitutes are not all the unlike strippers in their ability to seperate a few hundred bucks from a man. A friend of mine used to own a strip club, and I have heard all kinds of stories about these dupes who stroll into the club, get treated like a king for a few hours, and soon have blown their whole paycheck on woman.

So depending upon how you look at it, who is the real hustler, the socially inept, lonely customer, or the smooth talking, charming, flirty dancer who just made $400 over the last two hours? Very often, the dancer is the one who holds the power in the relationship. (at least with your average sad sack strip joint regular)

Freder Frederson said...

but bob herbert is on the left

Careful, you're getting awful close to implying that Ann is a conservative. That is strictly forbidden around here. (Although by all means if someone nominates her as a "conservative bloggress diva", cast a vote for her.)

Doug said...

Another angle to view this from is the European one. With great condescension, many liberals lecture the poor, ignorant masses about how sophisticated, mature, advanced, and understanding the great countries of old Europe are. They appreciate women, elect them to run their countries and have a grown up view on sex.

Yet legalized prostition is widespread in much of Western Europe. If legalized whore houses are a leading indicator of misogyny, then America is far more enlightened than the Dutch.

rhhardin said...

There are a couple sociological studies of precarious situations produced by sexuality, and how they're handled.

1. ``Behavior in Private Places : Sustaining Definitions of Reality in Gynecological Examinations'' Joan P. Emerson.

The point of the attending nurse is to keep the patient in line with the medical definition of what's going on.

2. ``Precarious Situations in a Strip Club : Exotic Dancers and the Problem of Reality Maintenance'' Kari Lerum

This has the opposite problem, sustaining a fictitious sexual definition of a commercial reality.

Both in _The Production of Reality_ Jodi O'Brien

peter hoh said...

Perhaps the comparison is not fair for surgeons and specialists, but for family docs, yeah, I'll accept the comparison.

I wonder if the sex workers have to spend a good chunk of their off hours just so they can catch up with their paper work, like a certain doctor I know.

Cedarford said...

Bob Herbert is a disgrace. The man is a quintessential dumbass that only creates a buzz when he says something ignorant and stupid. Which for Herbert, comes as natural as breathing.

More the pity that the NY Times made an affirmative action hire of a subpar, hack black columnist when there are dozens and dozens of real black journalists every bit as talented as their white counterparts the Times could hire instead.

Who is Herbert anyways? The brother-in-law of a black lawyer that keeps the shareholders away from a revolt? Or did he have a past stint as a washroom attendent and catch a Sulzberger doing something very, very nasty and his column is his hush payment?

the dark persistence of misogyny in America

Yeah, moron! Brothels only exist in evil America where they persist somehow with our dark misogyny. Someone should tell the fool that whorehouses are legal in more countries than they are not legal in. Many in countries enlightened liberals hold up as examples to rubes in flyover country as to how progressive America would be if only the rubes got better educated and learned how to vote correctly.

Bob Herbert continues to shine as a beacon of hope for aspiring writers. Yes, you can be very stupid, write poorly, finish at the bottom of your class and still get a plum job at the NYTimes.

Freder Frederson said...

Yet legalized prostition is widespread in much of Western Europe. If legalized whore houses are a leading indicator of misogyny, then America is far more enlightened than the Dutch.

Whether something should be legal or not is an entirely different question from whether we should applaud the conditions and circumstances that make prostitution so prevalent.

AlphaLiberal said...

Outlawing the world's oldest profession has been such a smashing success so far. Do we really need politicians pandering over it?

Plus, the GOP (Grand Old Perverts) party really needs all the hookers they can get. Might keep them out of the bathroom stalls.

dave in boca said...

I think Doug's post on them enlightened Euroweenies describes the attitude of the double-digit IQ exhalations of a knuckle-walker like Herbert, who can be counted on for equal amounts of piety and hypocrisy in any given post.

The NYT's affirmative-action Op-Ed candidate for low candlepower anodyne bromides---choose your PC pablum.

Freder Frederson said...

More the pity that the NY Times made an affirmative action hire of a subpar, hack black columnist

Count on Cedarford to come in and inject a vile racist screed into the coversation.

And who was complaining about Kos being a refuge for anti-semites. That is rich when we have our resident Nazi who is rarely ever challenged here and Ann, for some reason, never chides.

Hoosier Daddy said...

it seems a strange brand of feminism indeed that sees prostitution as just another career choice and ignores the inherent exploitation, dehuminazation, misogyny, and degradation involved in the business.

Actually Freder, it can easily be argued that the guy who has to pay to get some tang is the one being exploited, degraded and dehumanized. Rather gives a different meaning to the phrase that a fool and his money are soon parted.

Drew W said...

Lenny Bruce, on the difference between a prostitute and a hooker, from How To Talk Dirty And Influence People:

The word has become too general. He prostituted his art. He prostituted the very thing he loved. Can he write anymore? Not like he used to -- he has prostituted his work.

So the word “prostitute” doesn’t mean anymore what the word “hooker” does. If a man were to send out for a $100 prostitute, a writer with a beard might show up.

Blue Moon said...

I keep trying to imagine Hillary! standing in front of a brothel and proclaiming "Women should not be sexually demeaned in the workplace" but I keep laughing too hard to hold the picture in my head.

AlphaLiberal said...

Will the Republicans have a wide stance against prostitution?

Will the prostitutes be offended by the politicians giving whoring a bad names?

Gawd, I love silly season.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Ophelia: I’ve got thirty-five thousand in T-bills earning interest. I figure I have a few more years on my back, I’ll have enough to retire.

Louie: You’re….you’re a…prostitute!

Ophelia: I’m talking about a business proposition. I help you get you on your feet and you pay me in cash, five figures. That’s the deal, and it’s not subject to negotiation. And one other thing, rent and food aren’t the only things that cost money. You sleep on the couch.

(Trading Places, 1983)

Henry said...

Paging Camille Paglia...

Trooper York said...

Dr. Pellagrino: [after staring at Allison's vagina for the gynecology appointment] Wow, you do look like your sister!
(Knocked Up 2007)

hdhouse said...

Writes Bob Herbert, inviting the presidential candidates — who are campaigning in Nevada — to pay attention to "the dark persistence of misogyny in America":
"virtually naked, and submit to a humiliating inspection by any prospective customer who has happened to drop"


I haven't been, I hasten to add, but that writing style may be effective for the national enquirer but not anywhere else. let's take that morsel apart shall we?

"customer who happened to drop by"

that's choice. like the guy left Vegas or somewhere and drove in the desert for an hour looking for a soft drink machine and, what's this? a brothel? i'll just "stop by" suprprise surprise. if you have been to nevada, there are cities and desert. men (and i might add women if you believe A&E documentaries) frequent these places and they are legal and voluntary and from all accounts cost big bucks.

"submit to a humiliating inspection" ... ahh no. they are not strip searched. no one inspects their teeth and gums and has them say "ahhh". the clients view the girls and pick the one they want.

sometimes accuracy doesn't make a good story.

Trooper York said...

hdhouse defends whore house. At last something we can agree on.

reader_iam said...

I love the tendency of a couple of commenters to immediately go into the anti-Republican dance--as if prostitution doesn't have, and hasn't had, its denouncers (and defenders) on BOTH sides of the political divide.

What a joke. A perversion of reality, even.

terrance said...

Some doctors have told me that they get anxious every time their beeper goes off.

Zeb Quinn said...

hdhouse:

As someone from Vegas I can tell you that you are mostly right. It is indeed a long drive out into the nothingness of the Nevada desert if one sets out from Vegas to find the nearest legal brothel.

The brothels however are usually situated adjacent to major highways so it's a lock that they get significant business from drive-by travelers.

FYI, going from Reno one is far more more fortunate in this regard. The notorious Mustang Ranch is located just across the Washoe/Storey County line, only 8 miles outside of Reno.

Yes, there are health regs in place which require certain bodily inspections and the like and I'm told that this process does indeed detract from the experience for the guest. Clinical is the word I have heard commonly used. And yes it is an expensive roll in the hay. You'd have to be both horny AND hapless to have to resort to it to get some action.

Trooper York said...

I would like to make the important point that not all strippers are whores although all whores will strip. This was of course first enunciated by President Kennedy in a speech written by Theodore Sorensen in Polly Adler's in 1959. He liked the formulation so much he used it in other orations.

Roger said...

I guess my libertarian streak sees nothing wrong with legalized prostitution. Particularly if it is accompanied with some sort of health interventions to protect both clients and customers. Of course, I am also a supporter of legal drugs with the same sorts of caveats. I suspect a whole lot of burglaries, muggings, assaults and other crimes could be reduced dramatically if both of these "vices" were legalized. Plus, it would really give "sin taxes" some meaning.

Salamandyr said...

I'm a bit surprised no one has taken issue with the rather obvious point that prostitution, and the regulation of it, is a purview of the state government. The opinion for or against, by a Presidential candidate is about as useful as getting the abortion stance of the local candidate for sheriff.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I guess my libertarian streak sees nothing wrong with legalized prostitution.

I agree. Look at it from this point of view. I take a girl out on a date; say we hit the theater, dinner at an expensive steakhouse, cocktails afterward, I probably dropped a few Benjamins. We go back to her place and do the wild monkey dance between the sheets and society sees that as a damn successful date.

Now lets say I pick up the same girl and in the interest of saving time, just hand her the $200 and do the horizontal mambo and suddenly she's a prostitute and outside of Vegas/Reno, is illegal.

So instead of the steak dinner and theater at a $200, she instead gets $200 cashback to get her hair done and a manicure, or maybe a new pair of shoes which she probably preferred over the porterhouse anyway.

Just another way of looking at it.

rhhardin said...

Society's interest is that dates potentially produce stable couples ; where a whore does not.

But there is always Nately's whore in Catch 22, where he seems to be devoted to her. She treats him like dirt. As I recall.

Freder Frederson said...

Just another way of looking at it.

You're a real charmer.

hdhouse said...

hoosier daddy....

you would subject a woman to that horrible and degrading experience?

ohhhh the humanity.

knoxwhirled said...

And who was complaining about Kos being a refuge for anti-semites. That is rich when we have our resident Nazi who is rarely ever challenged here and Ann, for some reason, never chides.

FF, You started an argument you can't win. You just called Cedarford "our resident Nazi" -- that's singular. At Kos, Crooks & Liars, etc. the racist, sexist (if it's a post about Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin), or anti-semitic comments are too numerous to even keep track. So don't compare the two.

AlphaLiberal said...

Now we're back to the discredited practice of claiming that anonymous internet comments condemn a whole group of people?

How do you know those comments aren't from mischievous wingers? Got proof?
--------------
someone else says:
"I love the tendency of a couple of commenters to immediately go into the anti-Republican dance-"

Hey, man, glad you love it. I just know when I hear "sex and politics" these days, I immediately think "Republican."

After a long series of stories on the "family values" hypocrites using prostitutes (for a diaper fetish in Sen Vitter's case no less), philandering, having bathroom sex, preying on children, etc, etc, the American public is becoming likewise accustomed.

Face it: Republicans are the party of sexual hypocrisy. (and pretty easy to tease about it, to boot). Can't wait to hear what's next...

vnjagvet said...

They don't call it the world's oldest profession for nothing.

Most of the ills of prostitution are from its illegality. Pimps, drugs, use of force, brutality are all byproducts of the "business" of illegal prostitution.

You don't find those problems in connection with legal prostitution in Nevada. What you find is expensive, clinical, consensual sex.

I am not sure, though, whether legal prostitution has eliminated or reduced illegal sex traffic and its attendant problems in Nevada.

That, it seems to me, is a much more important issue than Hebert addressed in his article.

Roger said...

vnjagvet: St. Milton has made the case for legalized drugs--I am pretty sure most of those arguments would be applicable to legalized prostitution as well. I don't recall Friedman making much use of empirical data to back up his claim, however. I am sure the Netherland's experience should provide some clues.

hdhouse said...

Let's for the matter of argument say it is a woman's choice - that is, economic issues, drug/pimp/forced trafficking issues are not in play - and realizing that this (who knows) may account for a small percentage of woman who enter the business.

Part of the problem here is in our inability to cope with the choice. I don't want my daughter in that business is of course a core value held by a large majority. to some, it isn't and that we fail to understand their motivations, values, ethics etc., is no one's fault - it just is.

Nor do I think that it equates to drugs, which like smoking, drinking and other self inflicted illness or vices if you will, cause a lot of synergetic problems in health care, productivity, etc. whereas prostitution, if stripped of the elements surrounding it as vnjagvet states above, may not carry the hazards other than the risk of stds that can be somewhat controlled in a regulated environment.

I'm not sure the entire issue is served well by blanket observations and in particular generalizations. It certainly shouldn't be a political football of good versus evil.

And food for thought -

how many of the men on this board would, if a woman came to him with cash in hand for an hours romp in the hay, would refuse outright? I know there is a physiological difference between the sexes (the old men will screw anything that that they can make stand still routine) but morally the difference is what?

Synova said...

Opposition to prostitution has...

"...more to do with our discomfort with honest female sexuality."

Ah... no. I think we're all able to be honest about the fact that women can and will perform sex acts with fat ugly men for money. That these commercial transactions have anything to do with the sexuality of *women* is far from obvious.

If we're honest about female sexuality wouldn't it be that women prefer to get to choose their own bed partners?

I mean... when it's about sex rather than work?

There are persuasive arguments for the legalization of prostitution but the insane idea that this actually empowers women is not one of them. That it gives prostitutes access to law enforcement and the ability to require medical examinations of their clients and a greater ability to either avoid or prosecute violent or abusive clients *is* a good reason.

And it's a good reason *for* the reason that prostitution *is* inherently exploitative and puts women, no matter how willing, in a vulnerable rather than a powerful position.

Revenant said...

I love that the article starts off complaining about misogyny, then immediately proceeds to compare women to dogs. Delicious irony.

Synova said...

"...how many of the men on this board would, if a woman came to him with cash in hand for an hours romp in the hay, would refuse outright?"

Not everyone who pays a prostitute is fugly but for this thought experiment we ought to specifically specify... your client is Janet Reno.

Cedarford said...

Freder, Freder - you know I only beat up on you and call you on being a traitor when I catch you saying terrorist rights are more important than the American lives they seek to butcher!

I don't just call you a traitor out of the blue based on past posts.
I just wait for you to show up and say something disloyal and anti-American.
It's never a long wait.

You are free to call be whatever words it takes for the current version of Godwin's Law to be evoked when Nazi, anti-Semite accusaations take the place of intelligent debate. But you ought to wait for me to at least post something trashing the Likudniks, Jews major role in communism and it's democides.

In this thread, I was simply reflecting on the Mystery of Bob Herbert. Where else but the NYTimes has a journalist with so little been rewarded with so much? And why the heck did they hire that cretin when they could have randomly swung a dead cat 3 times and hit a better black writer than Herbert at Columbia U - or recruited one of the stellar minority writers here or abroad?

The mystery continues. My theory is he has serious dirt on one of the Sulzbergers or he saw Howell Raine fellating Jayson Blair.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You're a real charmer.

Oh you have no idea. Dazzling, brilliant. People have to wear sunglasses.

And that's when I'm not even trying.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Not everyone who pays a prostitute is fugly but for this thought experiment we ought to specifically specify... your client is Janet Reno.

How much money are you talking about?

In the dark, we all look alike.

former law student said...

Don't condescend and tell them they are being humiliated. It's legal prostitution, and the job is voluntary.

Sure, just another career choice for women, like teaching law or running for President. In fact, I think a few girls from the Moonlight Bunny Ranch showed up at my high school's Career Day. Trying to show the scope of the job, "Tanya" deepthroated a banana.

how many of the men on this board would, if a woman came to him with cash in hand for an hours romp in the hay, would refuse outright?

I would. Years ago I learned to be suspicious of anything offered without strings attached. Plus I feel like Groucho that I would never join a club that would solicit me to be a member.

Freeman Hunt said...

While I am no fan of Catherine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin, it seems a strange brand of feminism indeed that sees prostitution as just another career choice and ignores the inherent exploitation, dehuminazation, misogyny, and degradation involved in the business.

Ring a bell! Freder and I agree on something!

Middle Class Guy said...

Cedarford said:
More the pity that the NY Times made an affirmative action hire of a subpar, hack black columnist when there are dozens and dozens of real black journalists every bit as talented as their white counterparts the Times could hire instead.

Who is Herbert anyways? The brother-in-law of a black lawyer that keeps the shareholders away from a revolt? Or did he have a past stint as a washroom attendent and catch a Sulzberger doing something very, very nasty and his column is his hush payment?

Careful Cedarford. The PC Police may be trolling here. Men in black para-military uniforms may hunt you down, capture you, and place you in a black helicopter. You will be transported to a re-education camp where you will be brain washed. All critical opinion will be scrubbed from your mind. Upon release, if the re-education is successful, you will be left off on the side of the road in front of a legal brothel with a hundred bucks.

Revenant said...

Let's for the matter of argument say it is a woman's choice - that is, economic issues, drug/pimp/forced trafficking issues are not in play - and realizing that this (who knows) may account for a small percentage of woman who enter the business.

Ok, wait a second here. What is "economic issues" doing on that list? Virtually EVERYBODY with a job has that job because of "economic issues" -- we need money to live. That doesn't mean that we don't hold the jobs we hold by choice. I don't have to do what I do; I could go into another line of work. The same holds for legal prostitutes and quite a lot of the non-legal ones.

There are a lot of different categories of prostitution, too. Streetwalkers, for example, are virtually always drug addicts and usually quasi-enslaved by some pimp. Asian "massage parlors" and illegal brothels frequently use quasi-slaves as well (illegal immigrants imported for the work). "Escorts", on the other hand, are usually independent contractors who earn much better pay per session and get to choose which clients they accept (or turn down), and can insist on condom use and other conditions. They earn most of their money from regulars. Legal brothels work basically the same as the escorts do. "Dehumanization, misogyny, and humiliation" are not inherently part of the business -- they are a problem in inverse proportion to the degree to which the women have control over their work. As for "exploitation", well, we're all exploited; we all trade something we wouldn't give up for free, for money.

how many of the men on this board would, if a woman came to him with cash in hand for an hours romp in the hay, would refuse outright?

It would depend on whether or not I was attracted to her, and on how much money it was. :)

Middle Class Guy said...

It is quite or quaintly funny that the three oldest professions start with a ‘P’.

Politics- When man decided to live in a communal setting, politics was born.

Prostitution- in ancient times prostitution was not only legal, it had a religious component. Several religions, including Judaism, had temple prostitutes. These women were given stature in the community; both social and religious.

Police- aside from their military conquests, the Roman Legions were an international police force used to enforce Roman Law.

What is really funny is we complain about the existence of all three.

vnjagvet said...

Men are funny that way on your first requirement, revenant.
Even Viagra (or its analog) has its limits.

AlphaLiberal said...

"Politics- When man decided to live in a communal setting, politics was born."

A good friend of mine dislikes what she terms "politics," the quarreling, etc.

I tell her politics started when more then 2 people first gathered around a fire and had to decide who got to go out for wood.

Revenant said...

I tell her politics started when more then 2 people first gathered around a fire and had to decide who got to go out for wood.

And prostitution started when the woman figured out she had a good way to get the man to go do it. :)

George said...

Good editorial, about much more than legal prostitution.

I thought the key graph was at the end...

"We’ve become so used to the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent treatment of women that we hardly notice it...."

Just yesterday I saw

a) a newspaper ad for the new Terminator TV show that depicted a robot woman with wires extending out of her severed torso; and

b) a NYT feature on shopping mall cosmetic voodoo joints with a photo of a woman getting jabbed in the thigh with some bogus fat-dissolving elixir....

Thirty years ago women's groups would have marched to protect "Saw" snuff movies; today, not a word.

George said...

That's "protest," not "protect."

!

Revenant said...

Thirty years ago women's groups would have marched to protect "Saw" snuff movies; today, not a word.

Um, George... the victims in "Saw" are pretty much all MALE. Why the heck would women's groups march to protest (or "protect") those movies, then or now?

Also, would you mind explaining what is "disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent" about the Terminator picture?

AJ Lynch said...

I think we have a concensus... and it may be a first. Even Stupid Putz thinks Bob Herbert is a stupid putz.

Hoosier Daddy said...

a) a newspaper ad for the new Terminator TV show that depicted a robot woman with wires extending out of her severed torso;

So what you saying? That female terminator robots should stay home and bake cookies?

You know, Gloria Steinam and company didn't march and burn thier bras and risk bad posture just so manly men like Arnold can be Terminators.

Such thinking is so prehistoric.

TMink said...

hdh, good question! I would HOPE I would turn it down. I have a good marriage to a great woman and she would be so hurt by my screwing another woman, the money just would not come into it. The betrayal would be awful, I could not and would not do that to her.

Trey

paul a'barge said...

the inherent exploitation, dehuminazation [sic], misogyny, and degradation involved in the business

Come on. There is nothing dehumanizing about having a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it.

hdhouse said...

actually here is a very good CNN article and a picture of the dehumanizing "line up"

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/West/02/26/brothel.tax.ap/

Trooper York said...

hdhouse said
“You would subject a woman to that horrible and degrading experience?"

Although there has been a significant decline in quality in the current Broadway Season, I wouldn't consider it a horrible and degrading experience. There some interesting new shows such as Young Frankenstein and 39 Steps was pretty cool. So unless Hoosier Daddy was gonna take his babe to Thad’s steakhouse for the $5.95 T-bone, it should be a very pleasant experience.

PS I highly recommend the Drowsy Chaperone and The Seafarer if you are in the city. BUT give the Little Mermaid a big pass-a-dena if it hasn’t improved a lot since previews

rohan nelson said...

Bob Herbert is the emperor of self-righteous angst.

Mortimer Brezny said...

prostitution *is* inherently exploitative

Thanks for begging the question.

But. No. It. Isn't.

Many feminists have argued to the contrary. For example, Mary Joe Frug.

Those women choose to have sex with ugly, fat, needy men who will pay them. Apparently, they like the rush of power that comes from having sex with needy men who are so desperate that they will pay for sex. Plenty of men like having sex with needy women who are so desperate they will buy them things and co-sign their loans and so forth (just watch those daytime Judge _____ shows). I do not see why I should shed a tear for such women or such men.

hdhouse said...

Middle Class Guy said...
It is quite or quaintly funny that the three oldest professions start with a ‘P’. Politics- Prostitution-Police"

Now we know Middle Class guy isn't endowed in several places, both shriveled a grey (I'm talking about the lobes of your brain - but on second thought..)

Politician...I think you mean politics as politician has it roots in french usage in the middle 16th century..but you knew that didn't you...were you meaning politician or as in Aristotle? Just curious.

Prostitution - did you mean harlot as referenced in Ezekial?

Police - are you referring to the public slaves in Greece used to keep order or the police developed in france in the 17th century or the modern police of the 19th century in london? which? or do you know.

Gosh I would think that the oldest professions are farmers and hunter/gatherers. Fisherman may be in there too.

Don't be cute. Be accurate.

hdhouse said...

Trooper York said...
hdhouse said
“You would subject a woman to that horrible and degrading experience?"
and you replied: "Although there has been a significant decline in quality in the current Broadway Season, I wouldn't consider it a horrible and degrading experience."

ahhh i was refering to his company not the activities..well the 'doing the monkey' reference he said probably fits.

hdhouse said...

Drew W said...
"If a man were to send out for a $100 prostitute, a writer with a beard might show up."

or a senator from some wierdly shaped state out in the northwest

Revenant said...

I find it interesting that the line-up is called "dehumanizing". Wouldn't it be MORE dehumanizing if you didn't meet the woman before paying to have sex with her? Wouldn't that basically be the same as saying "all women are the same"?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Come on. There is nothing dehumanizing about having a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it.

How about 'pretending' to have a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it. Dehumanizing or just boring? :-) But with enough pay even the most boring job is acceptable. Many housewives agree. lol

Revenant said...

Gosh I would think that the oldest professions are farmers and hunter/gatherers.

Given that even non-human females (other primates, for starters) exchange sex for payment I think there is good reason to believe that prostitution is probably older than humanity itself. It is pretty definitely older than farming, but not older than hunting and gathering (which is, after all, the "profession" of every animal lifeform except for relatively modern humans).

On a side note, I'm amused at the stereotype that patrons of prostitutes are fat and ugly social misfits. In reality the majority are married men (and therefore presumably socially adept and good-looking enough to convince at least one woman to sleep with them for free). Escort ads are also known to specify "no fatties" and insist that clients be "clean", "athletic", or other codewords for "not entirely unattractive". Yes, pathetic as it may be, fat ugly men have a hard time even *paying* for sex, and generally have to pay higher prices when they do.

But hey, that's capitalism. :)

How about 'pretending' to have a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it. Dehumanizing or just boring?

Well, escorts make an hourly wage that generally starts at a few hundred bucks an hour and goes up from there. That pays for a lot of "boredom". I've worked some mighty boring jobs that paid a lot less than that, although admittedly I didn't have to worry about going to prison.

j a n said...

RE: the last sentence of this post. Yes. I think a doctor might be humiliated if the patient showed up and demanded to be attended to for their own personal pleasure. "Palpate me dammit! I'm paying you good money!" It's not really an equal comparison.

Steven said...

Under a consistent rule that women shouldn't allowed to make the choice to be exploited for compensation, Bill and Hillary Clinton should be retired from public life. Remember the 1992 60 Minutes interview?

So the actual conclusion here is that Bob Herbert is perfectly fine with misogyny, as long as the outcomes are ones he likes (Bill Clinton getting a blow job), and not ones he has no interest in (some random schlub getting a blow job).

Trooper York said...

hd I knew what you were referring to; I was just gently joshing you. It was a deliberate misunderstanding for comic effect. You know like your advertisements in which you are ostensibly selling soap suds but subliminally inserting messages from the international communist conspiracy. I am enjoying being on the same side as you for once. Don't spoil it.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Erma Bombeck had an old book _Motherhood : the Second Oldest Profession_.

Middle Class Guy said...

hdlouse said...
Drew W said...
"If a man were to send out for a $100 prostitute, a writer with a beard might show up."

or a senator from some wierdly shaped state out in the northwest

4:08 PM

It is nice to know you are such an expert on the trade, practice, and culture of prostitution. One wonders if it is due to your expertise at finding obscure facts on wiki or is it from long, personal, hands on experience?

Blake said...

I'm a little disappointed no actual prostitutes have weighed in here. I guess we're not as diverse as we think.

I'm also a little disappointed no one's mentioned the "prostitution as an attack on female power" angle. (If men can directly pay women for sex, why do they need to get married? Or so the theory goes.)

The nice thing about prostitution is that it can be degrading for everyone involved! That sort of egalitarianism is very American!

I have a theory, though, that says there are good prostitutes and there are bad prostitutes--not in the moral sense, but in the sense of being good at their jobs. Although on a personal level the whole thing sorta freaks me out, I have to believe there are far worse things in the world than a prostitute who is good at her job.

Ann Althouse said...

"While I am no fan of Catherine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin, it seems a strange brand of feminism indeed that sees prostitution as just another career choice and ignores the inherent exploitation, dehuminazation, misogyny, and degradation involved in the business."

Did I say I thought it was just another career choice? I said it was a difficult job and the women who choose to do it -- where it is legal -- don't deserve to be abused any more than anyone else who has a job with some bad aspects to it. Personally, I think it's bad to have sex without love, but that happens all the time among plenty of people and the additional thing that makes it prostitution -- the exchange of money -- isn't what makes it dreadful. People do all sorts of things for pay that they wouldn't do for free. They're working for a living. If you want to criticize people, criticize the people who have bad sex and don't even make any money. Isn't that more degrading?

M. Simon said...

Yes. Drugs are self inflicted.

PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System

Round Pegs In Round Holes

Our drug war is really a class war. The rich against the poor.

FWIW I'm a Republican. I know. It goes against the grain.

However, our drug war is unadulterated socialism. Price supports for criminals.

Tobacco you ask?

Schizophrenia and Tobacco

More on class war re:drugs:

Here is how it works in America. The rich go to a doctor to get drugs with a certain effect. The poor buy from the gypsy drug store.

Class War

Ah, well.

nik said...

Gimme a break. Not only is it voluntary, but requires less skill or training or exposure to harmful dust than even "Sanitation Engineering" yet *pays* just as well as being a doctor!!! For what type of job? Lying in bed making fake moaning noises with somewhat overweight but rather sanitary albeit perhaps a bit inebriated and sweaty married guys, or at worst a Sanitation Engineer or two.

If they legalized prostitution all over the USA, sex would cost about as much as lunch, but that's a big no-no since many fewer men would work overtime to look buy expensive shoes, and the economy would take quite a dent. It would take a pretty harsh hit too, were drugs legalized (and thus taxed and made into a million instead of multi-billion dollar tax free source of funding for Wall Street financing of startup companies).

George said...

Rev--

Well, that shows you how much I know about today's snuff movies!

I don't even know whether men or women are being dismembered.

Either way, it's disgusting.

As for the Terminator ad, I think we, generically, have all been desensitized to sex and violence and generally bizarre imagery over the years. Not a good thing, imho, especially for kids....

Hoosier Daddy said...

So unless Hoosier Daddy was gonna take his babe to Thad’s steakhouse for the $5.95 T-bone, it should be a very pleasant experience.

I was thinking Ponderosa actually. My guess is that hdhouse is more an IHOP guy and catching a late showing of Dr. Zchivago.

Windbag said...

Tmink says: I could not and would not do that to her.


I hope you don't get tested on that and fail to live up to your expectations of yourself. That's not meant to pick on you, but I learned long, long ago that humans (me, in particular) are capable of pretty awful things.

I would never frequent a prostitute personally. Not because I'm moral, because I'm too damn cheap.

BTW, for those seeking a Biblical perspective on the issue, prostitutes don't appear to bear any legal punishment from their actions. They're certainly looked on with disfavor, but they're not singled out for special vice squad roundups.

I'm with the libertarians on this one. We all compromise our morality at times for varying rewards--financial and otherwise. And precious few of us work at jobs that we would willing perform w/o financial incentives.

M. Simon said...

I'm working on this for free:

IEC Fusion Technology blog

WB-7 First Plasma

I do hope to get paid. Eventually.

Revenant said...

Well, that shows you how much I know about today's snuff movies!

You also (not to keep picking on you or anything) don't appear to know what a snuff film IS. The term you're looking for is "slasher film". One key difference between the two is that slasher films actually exist. :)

s for the Terminator ad, I think we, generically, have all been desensitized to sex and violence and generally bizarre imagery over the years. Not a good thing, imho, especially for kids....

First of all, that's an entirely different subject from the degradation of women. Secondly, I would argue that inasmuch as that sort of content is bad for kids, the problem lies in bad parenting. If you think television is horrible for your kids, get rid of your television or lock it so that it can only be watched when you're around.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

They're more like doctors who carry beepers.

As far as the degradation as a public utility, I suppose you're looking ahead to socialized medicine.

Trooper York said...

Now, now, we know that hd likes to play dress up at the midnight showing of Rocky Horror, then a quick stop at Greys Papaya for a hot dog and drink.

Plus we know he has it bad for Diane Keaton so he will be catching her new flick where in the process he can see the true epitome of feminine pulchritude, Queen Latifha.

dick said...

Why not ask Whoopi Goldberg who said she was a hooker for a while.

Synova said...

Rev, I don't think that the men who hire prostitutes are all fat and ugly.

*Some* of them are fat and ugly. And the fat and ugly pay their money just like the good looking guys do.

Prostitutes aren't all as sexy as the ones on television either. But the customer at least gets to decide who *not* to have sex with.

Trooper York said...

No, Whoopie said she was a looker, but that isn't very believable either.

Synova said...

"Come on. There is nothing dehumanizing about having a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it."

Come on. There is nothing dehumanizing about faking a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it.

All fixed.

Blake said...

Prostitutes aren't all as sexy as the ones on television either. But the customer at least gets to decide who *not* to have sex with.

So does the prostitute. In situations where that's not true, it's not prostitution, but rape.

Blake said...

Come on. There is nothing dehumanizing about faking a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it.

All fixed.


But is there something dehumanizing about faking a big, screaming orgasm and not getting paid for it?

'cause, you know, there go a lot of marriages.

Revenant said...

But the customer at least gets to decide who *not* to have sex with.

So do the women in the legal brothels. After the guy picks a woman out of the lineup, they go off in private to negotiate -- to discuss what the guy wants, what the woman is willing to do, and how much it is going to cost. If *either* party doesn't like the deal, they can say "no".

Revenant said...

This hasn't been mentioned yet (and doesn't apply to conservatives like Synova anyway), but it is amusing to see the same left-wingers who rail against prostitution turn around and insist "a woman's body is *hers*" when the topic switches to abortion.

Either her body is hers or it isn't guys. If it isn't then the pro-choice position makes no sense, and if it is then there can be no justification for making it criminal for a woman to have sex with a man.

Marc Siegel said...

Come on. There is nothing dehumanizing about faking a big, screaming orgasm and getting paid for it.

All fixed.


Not to be pedantic, but apparently orgasm prevalence among legal and illegal prostitutes has been formally studied.

From Crime, Law & Social Change (2005) 43: 211–235
(http://www.bayswan.org/New_Directions_prost.pdf, page 7 at the bottom):
And a comparison of 75 call girls and 75 street prostitutes in California and 150 women working in Nevada’s legal brothels found substantial differences in whether workers experienced orgasms with customers – 75% of call girls, 19% of brothel workers, and none of the streetwalkers reported that they frequently had orgasms with customers (Prince, 1986: 482).

Don't you care about the facts? ;)

Revenant said...

Interesting statistics, Marc. They make sense, too, considering the different kinds of clients each of the three groups of prostitutes work with.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Freder Frederson said...
Whether something should be legal or not is an entirely different question from whether we should applaud the conditions and circumstances that make prostitution so prevalent.

You're absolutely right. We should not applaud the fact that women are not putting out for free!

George said...

Rev--

Snuff, slash, grindcore, hardcore, speed metal, death metal, punk.....

I can't keep track....

I turn on Fox News tonight. Within minutes the host says something like, "After this message, a frantic 911 call from a man whose brother is being attacked by a tiger! And the shocking response..."

All the while, grainy mages of bodies covered in white sheets.

I turned the channel....It was even worse...Kitty PIlgrim was kissing Lou Dobbs' ass..."Yes, Lou, I agree. Absolutely!"

AntiCitizenOne said...

"I have a theory, though, that says there are good prostitutes and there are bad prostitutes--not in the moral sense, but in the sense of being good at their jobs."

The Internet helps with this problem too!

NSFW!!

http://punternet.com/frs/indexes/recent.html

Bruce Hayden said...

Zeb mentioned Reno, and I moved a bit south of there about three months ago. At lunch one day, I asked about brothels, and those just outside of Reno were mentioned, but I think there were also a couple about that far outside Carson City, a bit closer to work. Interestingly, it was the women who knew where they were, and not the men in the office.

It appears that for the most part, legalized prostitution is county by county in Nevada. Almost all of Nevada is mostly devoid of people, and often has many more cows than people. It is there that it is mostly legal. And, in those places where there are very many people, it is illegal. I work in Douglas County (NV) where it is illegal, but looks like a great business plan, if the laws can be changed, since South Lake Tahoe is in the county. The problem though is that most of the resort areas are filled with second homes, who don't vote, and neither do the seasonal workers there. So, the more conservative crowd in Carson valley keep the brothels out.

I have had several on and off again girlfriends from the Vegas area, and thanks to prostitution being illegal there (presumably the entirety of Clarke county, which is quite large, which is why you have to drive so far), there is a bit of illegal prostitution in the metropolitan area (just watch CSI). But apparently when there are big conventions in town, freelancers fly into town en mass to work the conventions from their hotel rooms. I can't usually pick them out, but the women sure seem to be able to.

Which brings me to another story about prostitution. I lived and worked in the D.C. area for about 5 years, and never saw a prostitute. Then, I connected with a friend from Colorado who had a store downtown, and we went out one night. He was quite good at pointing them out, as the strip they worked ran right by his store. About half the white ones at the expensive end of the street looked like secretaries and the other half were dressed like what's her name in Pretty Woman. Down at the other (much cheaper) end of the street, they looked much more like you would expect prostitutes to look like. It was quite a revelation, having driven by there hundreds of times over the years.

Revenant said...

This isn't a phrase you'll hear from me very often, but I kind of like the way most European nations (and, if I recall correctly, Canada) handle this -- it is illegal for third parties (i.e., pimps or brothel owners) to profit from prostitution, but sex-for-money is not itself illegal. That lets the law crack down on the truly abusive and exploitative elements of the industry without victimizing either the women themselves, or their clients.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ever wonder why prostitution is primarily opposed by women? Throughout the west, as it was settled, the norm was typically that prostitution and gambling were legal, until the women and the churches moved in, and then the towns were civilized and these vices banned. And note that much more time and energy is spent by women condemning this practice than by men.

Let me suggest that the reason may be that prostitution provides competition for money from sex from men.

I think that you can see the other end of this dynamic in middle, and esp. high, school, where the girls use peer pressure to keep this in check. Indeed, I hear the same sort of thing from 40 something women, calling the more available women "sluts". That is one of the worst insults a teen aged girl can be called by other girls - and yet, that reputation is likely to get her many more dates (since, of course, boys that age are much more interested in scoring than marrying). And the latest wrinkle is that many of these teenaged girls are now accidentally getting drunk and inadvertently having sex. Somehow that is now the approved way to have sex, and get the guys, without breaking the "slut" prohibition.

Prostitutes are outside this social norm, and are thus arguably a threat to the other women who are playing by what they consider the norms. My girlfriend from college who grew up in a small town in Nevada would talk about this, how the other women in town wouldn't give the prostitutes the time of day. This bothered her, as she had to wait on them, and found them on average a lot nicer than a lot of the women condemning them.

I am a (small L) libertarian, and so would rather see both prostitution and (most) drugs legalized. The legal brothels in Nevada may see almost clinical, but that is partly because they pretty much guarantee "clean" safe sex for both parties. The women there are much better protected than the prostitutes who work illegally around the world.

And, no, despite this, I haven't partaken in the local brothels, nor do I intend to.

Blake said...

And Bruce scores with the "prostitution is attack on women's sexual power" angle!

(Bruce, I mentioned at 5:39 that no one had brought that up yet. :-))

Synova said...

(and doesn't apply to conservatives like Synova anyway)

;-) Most things don't.

With issues like abortion I figure her owning her body doesn't allow her to morally own or dispose of someone else's.

Now, prostitution? Obviously I don't think it's healthy (for various values of the word "healthy") but I do think that legal is better than illegal for practical reasons and I *do* think that a woman has a fundamental right to... oh, rent out her body if she wants to.

I also think that she should be able to legally rent out her womb for money, which I believe is illegal. It shouldn't be.

I don't quite understand why people get so squicky about that.

Revenant said...

I wasn't going to bring it up because the local conservatives already think I'm a god-damned hedonistic atheist with no respect for traditional morality as it is. :)

Synova said...

I would agree that *disapproval* is probably a great deal about sexual power, though that's relevant to the source of disapproval and not a counter argument to the question of whether or not the sex trade itself is dehumanizing or otherwise something you should encourage your daughter to do to pay her way through college.

Trumpit said...

I see no problem with whorehouses so long as the prostitute can refuse the john. If she's grossed out by his appearance, smell or that she knows that he's freaking weirdo then she can say that she's not interested. She should have job protection and not risk being fired for exercising her right of refusal. Sorry, she's not a piece of meat, just a piece of ass.

M. Simon said...

I recently heard a joke that fits in with the competition idea.

What is the married woman's favorite porn movie?

Debbie Does Nothing

Hoosier Daddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
terrance said...

Did I say I thought it was just another career choice? I said it was a difficult job and the women who choose to do it -- where it is legal -- don't deserve to be abused any more than anyone else who has a job with some bad aspects to it.

Ms. Althouse didn't say it was just another job in her original post but her words pointed the reader in that direction. However, Ms. Althouse must be on to something when she compares prostitutes to physicians. Both have suicide rates that are higher than the general population and many other professions. In particular, female physicians have considerably higher rates of suicide relative to women in general. I also read somewhere that prostitutes were much more likely to have experienced sexual abuse in childhood compared to other women. Maybe early exposure to abuse sets some people up as more likely to choose activities where the chances of abuse are higher and the risks for suicide are greater? Now, I wonder why physicians are at higher risk?

knoxwhirled said...

Personally, I think it's bad to have sex without love

this makes me think of the movie we watched last weekend: Superbad. Funny, but also really depressing in parts. Very anti-casual sex.

Freder Frederson said...

Did I say I thought it was just another career choice?

Not exactly, but you did compare to being a doctor, which is a highly skilled, compensated, and respected profession. You didn't even compare it to the practice of law (often law is potrayed as being a less honorable trade than prostitution), which is compared to prostitution a lot more often than medicine.

Sure sounds like you were saying it was a career choice to me (and one that doesn't require seven plus years of post graduate education).

Seneca the Younger said...

Everyone knows that women are humiliated and ashamed of their life choices when some guy tells them they should be.

Ann Althouse said...

Freder, I compared the prostitutes to doctors on the point that Herbert was making: that they answer to bells. Additionally, their job is to handle the needs of the physical bodies of numerous strangers -- often bodies that are not aesthetically pleasing and that they wouldn't want to get intimate with for their own gratification. Get it? The fact that doctors are respected and prostitutes are not is what made it interesting compare them.

Blake said...

this makes me think of the movie we watched last weekend: Superbad. Funny, but also really depressing in parts. Very anti-casual sex.

I found that very non-depressing, since the films of my teen years were very pro-casual-sex, pro-drug, pro-casual-abortion. And I found that depressing.

Superbad also, while not anti-drinking, is anti-drinking-so-you-seem-cool. And that's cool.

Blake said...

Not exactly, but you did compare to being a doctor, which is a highly skilled, compensated, and respected profession.

I think we've already established that prostitution is highly compensated (the curve is probably lower on the lowest rung of the prostitution ladder, but the highs are probably not far off).

As for skilled, I think you're selling prostitutes short (as it were).

Respected? I don't know, but I imagine there's a curve there, too.

Revenant said...

I think we've already established that prostitution is highly compensated (the curve is probably lower on the lowest rung of the prostitution ladder, but the highs are probably not far off).

I think you need to distinguish the lower end of the scale (streetwalkers and massage parlors) from the higher end of the business. The former consists almost entirely of addicts and women coerced into prostitution. They make more money than they would at McDonalds, sure (if they could hold down a job at McDonalds, that is), but their pay rate still stinks, especially compared to the risk.

On the other hand, independent escorts (judging from the websites that track this stuff) here in California mostly charge in the $200-$400/hr range (with some going up into the $1000s), depending on looks and how "girlfriendly" they are willing to be (i.e., don't expect any kissing from the $200/hr girls). Girls from escort services charge more (presumably because the "house" takes a cut). At those rates an 18-year-old with no skills or training could earn a six-figure salary working less than eight hours a week. That beats the heck out of working at the Gap -- if you can handle the risks and the emotional stress.

I think it is fair to say that the first group are being exploited, but their circumstances exist largely *because* of the anti-prostitution laws. The second group cannot reasonably be said to be being exploited; like pot dealers or other purveyors of victimless crime, they earn a hefty profit by voluntarily engaging in highly-demanded activity that happens to be illegal.