May 09 2007

The rape economy, Part 1

This guy lurks outside strip clubs in his cab, waiting for dancers, who, he says, are good tippers. It’s the natural order; strippers are just rolling in the dough made possible by their empowerfulment, and the rape economy is trickle-down.

He’s a night cabbie, which means he runs into a lot of colorful characters, so he’s got a slice-of-life column at Willamette Week Online. Night Cabbie gives a short account of his fare, one of the prostituted women he looks forward to separating from her money. She reveals to him how empowerfulizing it is to work in a brothel.

There’s a pole and a stage, but the real business is shows. Men pay $150, and they go in a room with the girls with a couch, a towel, and speakers playing the country music from the main room. And they have sex with the girls. The girl gets $100, the club gets $50. But some girls will fuck for less, meaning the others get less business.”

Night Cabbie’s fare admits that she has “morals,” and so hasn’t been making much dough lately.

This is when Night Cabbie begins to perceive that the hooker has a heart-o-gold, begins to entertain romantic notions about saving her. He thinks she has “so many other options.” He wants to extend, on behalf of the dominant culture, the invitation to move into the Big House. This is because Night Cabbie finds her “reasonable and perceptive.”

Whereas (the cultural narrative goes) some women, those who may not be reasonable or perceptive or otherwise deemed by the oppressor worthy enough to be exempt from servicing rapists, just belong to the slut class.

UPDATE: I am informed that Night Cabbie is a woman. I still say P.U.

UPDATE 2: Now I am informed that the old Night Cabbie was a woman, but that the new Night Cabbie is a dude. And I still say P.U.


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  1. 'soup

    Actually Night Cabbie is a woman and she toes the paper’s party line. The Willamette Week is known for its ain’t-sleaze-groovy-we-love-serial-killers-and-strip-clubs attitude . They’re aging hipsters whose rag is only kept afloat by the sex ads in the back. Unfortunately they are being upstaged by another hip paper, the Mercury, that’s even worse, just younger. They both hate women.
    I believe my little burg has more strip clubs and hipsters hanging out in former blue-collar bars drinking PBR than any other place on the west coast. No jobs, housing prices through the roof, deteriorating schools, etc., but if you want a double latte you have 90 places other than Starschmuck’s to get one.
    Please don’t move here! We have enough body workers and baristas. Sure could use a few more hardware stores…
    I’m ranting again, aren’t I?

  2. Twisty

    Dude, chick, whatever. Whenever I see a dudely POV, I whip out the dudely pronoun.

  3. shitflinger

    Leave it to a taxi driver to miss the point of Taxi Driver.

  4. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Didn’t the Night Cabbie used to write for a San Francisco paper? Or (shit the bed, Fred) has the column been syndicated?

    The most depressing thing is that the slut class is at the pinnacle of our empowerful aspirations. Sure, you can be a scientist or a stockbroker, but first you gotta be skinny with big boobs and learn to walk gracefully in really high heels. I mean, how can you be a person if the mens don’t think you’re pork-worthy?

  5. stekatz

    Ah, yes ‘soup. Aging hipster syndrome. Also known as “I cannot believe I’m not cool anymoe even though I was a punk in high school and listened to altrock way before anyone even knew about it but at least if I’m sex positive someone might still think I’m cool.”

    I deal with it in our school community. Demographics dictate that a majority of the parents where my daughter goes to school are aging hipsters. They think it’s funny when their kids swear and are shockingly permissive. The result is that a lot of their kids are disrespectful little ego maniacs. Just yesterday I listened to a little first grade boy totally scream at and diss his mother because she had the audacity to ask him to actually do his schoolwork. She did nothing in response.

    Then there’s the nauseating parents who have a rock band. Holy mother of christ, people fawn all over these dodos, especially the women. One guy in the band has the brattiest kid I have ever met. I think it’s just plain egocentric behavior. Their full on narcissism over whether or not they’re still cool seems to trump their good parenting judgement ever single time.

    And it seems to have trumped this Night Cabbie woman’s good sense about the realities of prostitution.

  6. norbizness

    It’s true, if a “real rain [came] and wash[ed] all this scum off the streets,” the Yellow Cab profits would suffer accordingly.

    Also, Stekatz/Soup, I have no idea how aging hipster parents with their special, talented, precious children relates to the subject at hand, but I agree totally. I generally subscribe to genetic determinism, i.e. the kids are probably as dumb and non-unique as their douchewad parents.

  7. Frumious B

    I am informed that Night Cabbie is a woman. I still say P.U.

    Why do people think a vagina is a get-out-of-the-patriarchy-free card? Women swallow Patriarchal shit and spew it back out just as well as men do. P.U. indeed.

  8. tinfoil hattie

    Night Cabbie is also a terrible writer.

    Why don’t you just file everything under “Men Hate You” and be done with it? We really only need one category. It always fits.

  9. leen

    Antoinette, the Night Cabbie for SFGate was a man, so it’s probably not the same person. I think I remember that he stopped writing (and cabbying) to go in search of a job that didn’t suck.

  10. CLD

    Actually, Night Cabbie is a dude. He’s the “new” night cabbie, and took over the column April 11th.


    So, you were right in the first place, Twisty.

  11. jamyr

    i don’t understand the problem with this column. the stripper is unhappy with her job, the cab driver wants to get involved but holds her tongue. what’s the big issue with the cab driver?

  12. Twisty

    I will answer you, jamyr, on the condition that you cease to ignore the capitalization imperative.

  13. OlderWiserFuckAlltoShowForIt

    Tinfoil, I was thinking the same thing. It’s a tag that fits everywhere. Imagine if all news stories were tagged, the “men hate you ” cloud would block the sun.

  14. Jezebella

    You’re so right, stekatz. No one over 30 should be allowed to go out in public, much less play in a rock band. No one with children could possibly be anything but a deadly-dull mommy-bot. Poseurs.

    After all, twenty-somethings INVENTED punk rock, coffeehouses, creative facial hair, drugs, and probably even sex, too.

  15. S-kat

    “I believe my little burg has more strip clubs and hipsters hanging out in former blue-collar bars drinking PBR than any other place on the west coast.”

    I’ve heard tell that Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the US.

    My hometown, how I miss her.

  16. Pellegrina, Apprentice Blamer

    Would someone be so kind as to explain the meaning of P.U., preferably before I slap my forehead and go ‘Doh’?

  17. Bird

    I just got my first “Wow! You’re really cool for 30!” from a 13-year-old girl (who I also realize is actually young enough to be my daughter). Sigh. I don’t actually turn 30 until the fall, but anyways, I’m glad to know that I’ll join the land of the staid and unhip come September.

  18. kathy a

    the night cabbie on sfgate was definitely a different character.

    P.U. = “peeeee-eewwwww” = yucky, smelly, gross.

    jezebella, kudos!

  19. 'soup

    Eek! Thanks for the correction, CLD-guess it shows how often I read the Willamette Weak these days. I see in his intro he states that he can take us to a sushi bar or strip club we will love (like they’re similiar entertainment!)-yeah, I doubt it, fool!
    Portland does indeed have a rep for having more strip clubs per capita-you know who I blame…

  20. jamyr


  21. kathy a

    bird, there is nothing that says “unhip” like a mailing from the AARP. i got the second one yesterday, and won’t even be out of my 40’s for a couple months. [of course, i really am unhip in a number of key ways, but i earned that — don’t need the kiss of potential-hipness death from the AARP, thank you.] [and how do those jerks know my birthdate and address, anyway?]

  22. Pellegrina, Apprentice Blamer

    Thanks, kathy a. I never would have got that in a month of Sundays!

  23. Twisty

    jamyr, the “big issue with the cab driver” is the subtext of his little narrative, which, as I describe in the post, mirrors patriarchal assumptions about women, i.e. that a slut class must exist, and that unless she possesses some redeeming feature — in this case, she was more “reasonable” and “perceptive” than all the other lowlifes — a woman probably deserves to be there.

  24. Bird

    Y’know, I’m actually sort of looking forward to my 30s. Not feeling the nagging need in the back of my head to fit in with the 20-something hipsters will be rather a relief.

    Of course, I’m already hopelessly uncool for a woman in my age group because I’ve never had a Brazilian wax and I’m not okay with going to the strippers. I’m good with that.

  25. buggle

    Bird-turning 30 is awesome. Seriously. Everyone kept asking me if I was worried or something, and I didn’t understand it. My 20’s were hell, and I’m SO happy to be done with them. I believe more in myself, and care a lot less what people think. I’m not sure why that changed when I turned 30, but it did. Partly because I truly never thought I’d make it to 30-much less be relatively happy and sane. And, I’m a huge dork, and have never been cool or hip or anything, and I’m fine with that. Dorks rule. You are right-it IS a relief!

  26. jamyr

    Twisty: I understand now. I couldn’t wrap my head around the last two paragraphs the first time I read through them. Thanks for coming back to explain it to me!

  27. Catherine Martell

    the rape economy is trickle-down.

    Aaargh. If your writing gets any more brilliant, I will have to give up this pretence of working for a living and just read this blog to myself all day, cackling at your magnificence.

  28. Twisty

    Catherine Martell, you have no idea how difficult it was for me to resist the impulse to put a vulgar joke there.

    Thanks for the compliment; if I may return it, your comments consistently delight me.

  29. Catherine Martell

    Twisty: thank you!

    You resisted the urge to put a vulgar joke there? I got pin-sharp analysis of the economics of pornstitution much-needed jibe at current fashion for revivalist Reaganomics unmissably icky implication, all in five words.

    Or six, if you count the hyphenated one as two.

  30. 'soup

    Rereading my stuff I guess I didn’t mean to sound ageist-I meant that they are. My housemates are all between 22 and 39 and they rock! Pretention and unpretention know no year barriers.
    Yes life can continue to be one hell of a lot of fun despite the ageism of others. I’m 55 and in the last year I’ve gotten my nose pierced, started playing electric bass, taken up performing spoken word poetry and found some wild, sweet romance.
    AARP can bite me…

  31. Eric in Quebec

    Empowerfulment by another name has now hit The Onion, and I thought of you:

    Whereas early feminists campaigned tirelessly for improved health care and safe, legal access to abortion, often against a backdrop of public indifference or hostility, today’s feminist asserts control over her biological destiny by wearing a baby-doll T-shirt with the word “Hoochie” spelled in glitter.


  32. J

    “I’ve heard tell that Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the US”

    It’s true. In the last year live-sex shows were legalized too. Most dudes will also wax eloquently about the fact that, unlike many other US cities, Portland allows strippers to be fully nude, pointing it out as if it were a sign of true dudely refinement.

  33. deciduousfruit

    By my estimation the only reason that Portland’s strip-club-rate-per-capita remains so artificially high is precisely DUE to the overabundance of hipsters. I think stekatz is right to draw a connection between aging hipster desire for cred and the hipser worship of ironically “lowbrow” and “sex positive” activities like going to a strip club for steak and titties. Hipsters do for strip clubs what yuppies did for the Jetta, they normalize them into a higher echelon of cultural value than would otherwise be warranted (or tolerated). Their clumsy use of irony (see Willamette Weekly for examples) for evil, not good, bespeaks just how little their Holier Than Thou attitude is founded in some superior ability to criticize mainstream American culture. Who do they think they’re kidding?

  34. ew_nc

    jezebella – I believe ‘soup and Stekatz were referring to certain parents’ refusal to grow up and take responsibility for their children’s well-being; and disguising it as “being cool”. There are many other options parents can aspire to other than aging hipster or “deadly-dull mommy-bot”.

  35. stekatz

    ew_nc Yeah, that’s totally what I meant. I’m not so great at expressing myself sometimes. Besides, true hipness does not come when one is trying so hard to be hip and feels compelled to constantly point out their hipness to others. I am most decidedly not a mommy-bot, but I also insist upon good manners, speaking to others with respect, a regular bedtime, homework finished, no swearing (I swore like a sailor before motherhood so no high horse here).

    I don’t know. I think I’m such a stickler for these things for the same reason I’m a feminist. It’s about respect for others, respect for yourself and treating people like the fellow humans they are. It just irks me when parents don’t require their kids to behave well towards others simply because they view it as being oppressive. They want to be the cool parents who let their kids have parties (the ol’ “Well if they’re going to drink, at least they do it at home” crowd). Our local high school has a huge heroin and meth problem, and precious few parents seem all that concerned about it. Even my neighbor who works for the school district put her daughter in private school it was so bad.

    So, this is obviously really personal for me and really has nothing to do with this topic. It’s just that it has a certain parallel for me to the way in which people get cranky about feminists asking that society treat women with respect. Suddenly we’re all a bunch of prigs and prudes and terribly un-hip simply because we ask this.

    I am in no way insisting that everyone over a certain age should suddenly start listening to nothing but Yanni and Lawrence Welk.

  36. Sam

    The facts are a little fuzzy to me so anyone should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly sure Portland has a law allowing small children to go into strip clubs with their fathers if dad has custody of them on nights he can’t bear to miss a teenaged girl-on-girl live stage show.

    I moved here with my sex poz feminism and pornography collection, and within two years of living around and befriending various sex industry and polyamory scenesters I tossed the porn into the garbage and became a radical feminist.

  37. MedeaOnCrack

    “Don’t tell this bitch what to do,” said Kari Eastley, 24, a participant in the Oberlin study and, according to one of her T-shirts, a “Slut Goddess.” “I wear what I want when I want, and no man is going to tell me otherwise. We’re talking Pussy Power, baby.”

    Pretty damn on it. Reluctant kudos to The Onion.

  38. Rainbow Girl


    You don’t have to put out that red light.

    I’m a cabbie drivin’ the high road,

    Of all people I’d know what’s wrong or right.


    You don’t have to wear that dress tonight.

    On second thoughts you should keep the dress,

    But stop being on your own, out at night…

  39. deciduousfruit

    I have to say, it wasn’t until I caught an episode of the Lawrence Welk show one dreary Saturday evening that I truly appreciated the juggernaut force of gender steryotypes that my mother’s generation had to overcome. Then again, that HAIR… how do they DO that?

  40. kathy a

    stekatz — it is all about respect and being a decent human.

    sam, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.

  41. Mau

    Re: The Onion‘s “Empowerfulment” article (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38558):

    Oh my frikkin’ deity… Twisty, did you write this? *g*

    Real life masquerades as satire once again.

  42. kate

    For all you 30 somethings, I have something to say: It gets better as you get older.

    Hard won wisdom that can weed most nonsense from useful information, kids grown and mature contributors to household and/or society, a sense that I’m getting an improved grasp on this living thing.

    I will be 43 this summer and wouldn’t go back to my teen years or my twenties for anything in this world. I share the disgust with those who should know better, but wish to persist in behaving like they don’t. Many people seem to stop growing somewhere between 20 and 35. The worse stop at seventeen.

    I feel disappointed when meeting such people, like opening up what should be a nice, ripened cheese to find the cure didn’t take.

  43. Rozasharn

    “He wants to extend, on behalf of the dominant culture, the invitation to move into the Big House.”

    Twisty, your choice of words is always exquisite. If I recall correctly, ‘the Big House’ is an old slang term for prison.

  44. jami

    being twenty-something, feminist, and single (and straight) in portland fucking sucked in the early aughts. EVERYONE went to strip clubs, even the goddamn reedies who called themselves feminists and should have known better. it was apparently all the rage for men to get erections in public places with groups of friends while their “sex-positive” girlfriends sat there dying inside.

    i’m 32 and settled down now, so i don’t know (care) if they realize how cliche and barely distinguishable from frat boys and girls they are yet. but i haven’t seen a fucking pigtailed suicide girls sticker in gosh, a good six months. and i haven’t seen a gal with dyed orange hair in at least 24 hours.

    there was a story on npr’s “this american life” recently about a gambling addict from portland. his story brought together two things portland insists on having on every street corner: video poker and paid-for naked ladies. it made portland, which generally has some great things about it, sound sad and disgusting, and it made a guy who made his living on other people’s misfortunes sound like a hero just for escaping.

  45. Twisty

    ” If I recall correctly, ‘the Big House’ is an old slang term for prison.”

    I meant ‘the Big House’ of plantation-speak in the pre-civil-war South; favored slaves could be moved from gruelling labor in the fields and crappy slave quarters to comparatively less horrific domestic positions in the slave-owner’s mansion (called the Big House). But they were still slaves.

  46. mearl

    A genius blamer (can’t remember who) posted that Onion link in another post somewhere in the archives, and I have been too lazy to look for it to quote it for my paper which thumbs its nose at pomo feminism. So thank you to Eric in Quebec for the new link!

  47. mearl

    Shit, I guess I should have said, “…in which I thumb MY nose at pomo feminism.” And I do.

  48. Feminist Avatar

    “Owning and wearing dozens of pairs of shoes is a compelling way for a woman to announce that she is strong and independent, and can shoe herself without the help of a man. She’s saying,

    ‘Look out, male-dominated world, here comes me and my shoes.'”

    Totally thinking about this as my new slogan. Right after ‘I am a radical feminist, not the fun kind’.

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