Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Risky Business

The reason Eliot Spitzer’s sexcapade is news is not that the man had sex with a high priced prostitute but that he was, in New York law and order circles, Mr. Moral Rectitude. He was a tough Prosecutor who went after cases just like the one he is embroiled in, with the zeal of the righteous. Then he was Attorney General and according to the news papers and broadcast news stories on this scandal, he was brutal and thorough in prosecuting just this kind of case. He could face several felony charges, the most serious of which is the Mann Act, unless he cuts a deal, and resigning his position as Governor might be just the deal to keep him out of jail. I had a friend in Junior High School whose father was prosecuted under the Mann Act. He supplied “girls” to a pimp in another state, and when he got caught, he served a long prison sentence. Eliot Spitzer arranged to have his “girl” Kristen transported across state lines to service him at the Mayflower Hotel in DC. And it was some unusual aspect of the money trail that seems to have alerted the Feds and ensnared Spitzer.

It isn’t that a man has sex with someone other than his wife that makes this a story—that’s as common as dirt, it happens a million times a day and often with prostitutes. No, it’s the tough prosecutor who has busted up prostitution rings in his long career—jailing the girls (and mostly ignoring the Johns) to go after the mobsters who make their money preying on the girls-- that makes this a big story. As long as prostitution stays illegal, the men who profit from the labor of the prostitutes on either side of the transaction—pimp or John— don’t usually get hurt much when the ring gets busted up. But the prostitutes get jail time. And men get to go on calling it a victimless crime. And that’s the whole point of this entire episode. Eliot Spitzer is only a victim of his own bad judgement and hypocrisy. His wife and daughters are victims. If the prostitutes go to jail, they are victims of a legal system that makes the girl the criminal and the John just a poor innocent man whose little brain has talked him into a little risky business. What a sad and sleazy mess.

If prostitution were legal, none of this would be an issue. We need to allow prostitutes to unionize, run their own Empress Club, hire their own security, tax their earnings, so they get workers compensation, insurance, and retirement packages. Until then, the Johns and the racketeers are the only ones who should be prosecuted under existing law.

7 comments:

K McKiernan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Utah Savage said...

K, OK, the conversation is on. This "issue" is something I have thought a lot about. I have always known that women have a market value as walking flesh. Beauty has it's price, So does an education. Put the two together and you've got yourself a fortune. I made my living, such as it was, as a professional beauty. The reason I didn't make a real fortune was that I am essentially lazy and worked as little as possible. I was not ambitious for money. But I certainly know what it means to be an object, objectified--spoken about as if I were not there. She's too thin, too fat, not tall enough, did her nose look like that yesterday? And on and on. And envied and hated by lots of women for no good reason. Hit on by men for less reason.

I was objectified at infancy, and seen from birth as competition by my mother, used as barter in a marriage to a rich doctor's son, sex slave at six. Without any benefits to me. When asked at sixteen(when I was making money as a model) what i wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "Prostitute." I had no illusion that what I did was really close to whore. But it was also what my feminist mother did in her marriage, using me as coin. That marriage gave her status and economic security--it gave me PTSD.

My bet is that almost every sex worker is a victim of childhood sexual abuse. And, K, until you've gone to a handsome male massage therapist and got the Happy Ending, you don't understand the value of the illusion that great orgasms are free and without consequences.

I do not know a single man who isn't a consumer of pornography. If you are will to have conversations with men about everybody's sexuality, including you own, and without judgement or censure, then you might really begin to understand the magnitude of the $$$$$problem$$$$ Why should women, who are the product, not have the means to the production. Unionize Sex Workers and give them the respect they deserve. Wives are the real victims in the sex trades. Unpaid labor. Oh yeah, I know you believe loves got to do with it. But I'm on Tina Turner's side in this one.

sitenoise said...

It's not clear to me how this guy's wife and daughter, as 'victims' of the guy's dick-headedness, become 'victims' of the crime of prostitution.

If a shoplifter steals all the Good 'n Plenty from our neighborhood market, is my wife a victim of that crime because I get all grumpy if I don't get my Good 'n Plenty?

K McKiernan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Utah Savage said...

Sitenoise, I guess it depends on how really cranky no Good-and-Plenty makes you, doesn't it?



And K, great response, thank you. This is beginning to feel a lot like a real conversation. Where is J? if I may ask? in all of this.

K McKiernan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stella said...

If prostitution were legal, none of this would be an issue. We need to allow prostitutes to unionize, run their own Empress Club, hire their own security, tax their earnings, so they get workers compensation, insurance, and retirement packages.

Absolutely. Nor would women be abused at the hands of their Johns or pimps, and they would be able to live safe lives. Further, prostitution could be regulated by the government: their taxes could go to health insurance for mandatory checkups once a month.

Many, many prostitutes have died at the hands of men. If someone chooses that lifestyle, then they should receive respect for their profession. Whether or not I agree is not the point: a woman (or man) who chooses prostitution is making their own decision.

Sure Spitzer is a hypocritical asshole. But if prostitution were turned into the respected profession it is in Las Vegas and much of Europe, the prostitutes would be safer. Ultimately, it's these women who would be better off.

This is another example of America's hypocrisy and prudery about sex. Men do, in fact, create the demand for prostitution: but this is a financial transaction between two consenting adults. I understand your disgust, k mckiernan, but I've always felt it's not my business to judge. It certainly may harm people's being, but what about killing over a million people in a useless war? That's a far worse hypocrisy.

Spitzer deserves what he gets because he was so self-righteous about "family values." For that reason, he deserves ridicule. However, were he not trying to demonize women, I wouldn't care.

My bet is that almost every sex worker is a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Absolutely. But there's another issue: women still make 75 cents on the man's dollar. We are less likely to get well-paying jobs, and society teaches us to keep our intellect and strength to our selves. Further, 88% of single head-of-household families are women. As our economy crumbles, I sense many women take to the streets to earn money to support their families.

I'd rather see prostitution legalized before our economy takes are real nose dive.

What a wonderful thread. Thank you for all your thought-provoking comments.