I’ve been away from my desk, but even without having spent the past 4 days jacked into the blogular Matrix of Snipe I know there have already been 57,932 posts about Eliot Spitzer. Here’s 57,933. Sorry.
But the reader can dance the rhumba of relief, because I’m not gonna dwell on the surpassing extent to which Spitzer exemplifies the steaming turds of honky male arrogance festering in our domination culture’s putrid bowels. No, he and his vulgar dudely hubris are remarkable only in their thoroughgoing predictability. In fact, from the self-preservational perspective of the radical feminist blogger on sabbatical in the wastelands of North Dallas, all dudes are automatically presumed to be smug, patriarchy-loving thugs until proven otherwise. So tiresomely commonplace — in all social strata, not just politics — is the antifeminist Spitzer worldview that a (hypothetical) news blitz on AnyDude’s relationship to the Law-Abiding/Ethical Continuum would be news to me only if the reporter miraculously found a way to prove unequivocally that the guy in question had never used his status as a privileged overlord to, metaphorically or otherwise, fuck some insouciant young innocent in the ass.* In other words: so the governor of New York is addicted to pay-per-rapes? Same shit, different day. Thanks, patriarchy!
But I digress. What I’m going to complain about is the perennial missed golden opportunity, whenever one of these dickheads implodes, for a nice, plump public discourse on the human toll of prostitution. I mean, what Eliot Spitzer has quaintly referred to as his “private failings” are not private in the least. Even if he weren’t a public figure, such “failings,” which seem to afflict a significant percentage of the dominant class, affect all members of the sex class — i.e. all women — everywhere. They represent the replication in miniature of a global network of violent misogyny the existence of which has been, so far as I know, magnificently ignored, as per the usual universal agreement, by all the major papers and news networks.
I allude, of course, to the unquestioning, winkwinknudgenudgical acceptance of prostitution as one of Dude Nation’s most venerable and inviolable capitalist institutions. News copywriters drool longingly over the words “high-priced call girl” before they hasten to reassure legions of anxious lechers that “customers” are rarely prosecuted in prostitution stings. Spitzer’s episodic incontinence is romanticized poetically as “encounters” or “trysts.” Bloggers who love to hate on a sister speculate on the amazing staying power of this latest in an apparently endless string of stand-by-your-man “wronged wives” (Is she delusional? Stupid? Why doesn’t she dump the motherfucker?). Drunk on schadenfreude, the Wall Street Journal alternately cheers Spitzer’s meltdown and jeers at his hypocrisy. There’s no shortage of op-ed columnists who, noting that he was on Clinton’s short list for VP, cannot resist salivating with ill-concealed regret over the lost opportunities for the nationwide Spitzergate-that-might-have-been. And, naturally, David Letterman has been on a three-day Spitzer bender, which bender has consisted exclusively of ceaseless repetitions of the word “whore”, which word is, as we know, comedy gold.
Inevitably, “Kristen,” the prostituted woman, has been duly rewarded with her fifteen minutes for her capitulation to the porn mandate; her real name and the details relating to her status as an expensive receptacle (her age, photos attesting to her fuckability, etc) are all over the papers, and her MySpace page tops the Google hit list; she’ll give interviews to Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair and Oprah, and write a book, and become a shoe designer. So what’s my fucking problem?
For starters, “Kristen’s” purported highclassiness is a red herring.
Imagining her as some sort of well-heeled courtesan who’s laughing all the way to the bank allows prurient consumers of the Spitzer Demise to rationalize that “Kristen” has been amply compensated for her role in the spectacle; the bill having been settled, they can continue to indulge in jokes about “Greyhound’s Hooker Express from NYC to DC (’pimps ride free!’).“ Bitch got paid, we can humiliate her all we want!
This attitude is prevalent, I have noticed, among the young white male liberals who argue in favor of strip clubs and porn.
I don’t know anything about “Kristen”, except that as a prostituted woman — however “high class” or “expensive” — she is a de facto sub-human. As are the millions of other, more invisible prostituted women she so inaccurately represents in the popular imagination. “Kristen” may achieve a kind of kitschy, pop-culture cachet because of the high status and celebrity of the asshole who used her as a meatsock, and she might be able to parlay her position as a footnote to history into some kind of financial reward — such things are not unheard of — but the vast majority of what so many progressives like to call “sex workers” subsist much, much more precariously. Some merely teeter on the precipice of indenture and some are genuinely enslaved, but all are subject to violence, disease, imprisonment, marginalization, shame, and all the other degradations, large and small, that accrue with membership in the planet’s most despised class.
So once again, some white guy is lionized for his extraordinarily comprehensive assimilation of the megatheocorporatocratic ideology, but the fact that he has taken an active role in what can only be construed as a human rights violation is significant to the media not because he so magnificently represents the inevitable product of a culture based on the toxic dominance/submission dichotomy, but because in choosing a lesser object to dominate, he arrogantly declined, as the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger put it, to “spend his free time with Albany’s in-house hookers.” In other words, it’s not that Spitzer went whoring — everybody goes whoring! — it’s that he bought the wrong girl. Gotcha!
If you’re thinking you’re gonna take me to school in the comments section about how “sex work” is noble and should be a legal, legitimate profession, la la la, read this first: at issue is not the objective act of boinking. Until you factor in patriarchy and its wacko concepts of property and gender, sex is just a thing, like eating a couple of Cheez-Its, or going to the movies. But in a patriarchy, all women belong to the sex class, and are defined in terms of men. Men, on the other hand, belong to the default human class, and get to define themselves (and everything else). In a heterosexual boinking situation, the power differential inherent in the relationship between fucker and fuckee absolutely precludes the possibility of any woman participating with full agency in prostitution.
The jovial nonchalance with which the subject of prostitution is bandied about — and prostitution, I say again, is a human rights violation — makes me want to puke.
* And that goes for anyone whose status gives him leverage over hapless minions: bureaucrats, bosses, priests, horndog professors, coaches, parents, gangsters, pimps, johns, cops, prison guards, Army types, creepy uncles, and husbands who only do 30% of the housework. I’m not just talking about sex, obviously, but about the general proclivity of privileged males to inflict almost any other aspect of their will, willy-nilly, on subordinates, willing and unwilling.