Mar 05 2009

Spinster aunt curls lip as sexploitation reports pour in and jerks bloviate

Every day cops bust up prostitution rings in “sex sting” operations. The Exploitation Ticker-tape down at Spinster HQ clatters out the reports hourly. It is reassuring to know that law enforcement, pimps, and news media are working together around the clock to bring us this riveting rape culture entertainment.

Here’s a fun one from Ohio: a woman is nabbed when she unwittingly meets an undercover pay-for-rapist. What makes this one so sin-sational is that the woman is a schoolteacher. Readers can’t resist a little spasm of schadenfreude when the story involves someone as supposedly noble and saintly as a teacher, falling from grace in the worst way imaginable.

Only in a patriarchy!

Another of today’s dispatches was slightly misdirected into the prostitution inbox; an unintelligible blurb from an unintelligible sports site called Bleacher Report prattles on, not about exploited women, but about some soccer player. Although it does have this to say in its opener:

Prostitution has always been lined [sic] a “unique” job and one of the most natural ones. Forever linked to physical love, prostitution has a new meaning.

You said it, Bleacher Report! Paying to rape disenfranchised women is love! What could be more natural than that?

It’s “natural” and it’s so despicable that women who are caught doing it have to be imprisoned. Only in a patriarchy!

Prostitution’s “new meaning,” by the way, is not a meaning at all, but a term coined by a disgruntled player: “intellectual prostitution.” It is vastly unclear from the blurb what “intellectual prostitution” could possibly denote, particularly in the world of international futebol, but I am inclined to surmise that, whatever it is, it is a lot less like actual prostitution than, oh, say, public schools are like concentration camps.

Prostitution as a metaphor for non-humanitarian-crisis-y stuff is also big with this Florida columnist. It seems Florida State Representative Joe Gibbons charges lobbyists $500 a pop for face time, and this is exactly the same as prostitution. The columnist colorfully and with wink-wink dudely savoir-faire compares the practice of paying to talk to politicians to the practice of paying to rape women:

Head out to the sidewalk of Hollywood’s portion of Federal Highway in the wee hours of the morning, whip out $500, and ask one of the suggestively dressed young ladies what that gives you.

They call me crazy down at the Capitol whenever I point it out, but the cigars-and-single-malt circs of a corrupt politician can in no wise be compared to those of “a suggestively dressed young lady” who supports herself by submitting to violent physical abuse.

Maybe paying to rape actual women would decline in popularity if what happened to this Detroit pay-for-rapist became trendier:

A 52-year-old perv seeks out sex on the internet. His degraded urges to use a human being as a receptacle for his incontinence eventually lead him to a house where, instead of getting to rape a woman, he gets

robbed, tied up in a basement, punched in the mouth to the point where his teeth fell out and shot in the knee. The next morning, the suspects called the man’s cousin, demanding ransom.

I admit to a little spasm of schadenfreude.


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  1. Orange

    If one had a billion dollars, one could set up a whole brothel’s worth of women who could make arrangements with would-be prostitute patronizers–and then said patronizers could be ambushed as in the final tale here. This could go a long way towards taking the fun out of prostitution for the typical john.

  2. rubysecret

    Yep. The word “prostitution” has been co-opted to mean “a dude doing just about anything inconvenient for extra cash to spend on strippers.” Just like the word “rape” in dude culture now means “a dude having to do anything inconvenient for no cash and having to pay strippers out of his own pocket.” Because, as we all know, it’s exactly the same for women.

  3. rubysecret

    Ha! My random monster avatar looks like a naked cartoon Lakshmi. Awesome.

  4. Kathleen

    That teacher got “nabbed” on an “anonymous tip”? I’d like a lot more background on that — who turned her in? Some asshole disgruntled pay-for-rapist, I’m willing to bet. And I know this is the standard cranky complaint, but, the police REALLY have nothing better to do than THIS? Even buying into the whole bs that this woman should have been prosecuted at all (while IBTP, I agree with Sweden — IAWS? — that buying sex should be treated as a criminal act and selling sex should not) — even within that framework, the police *really* have no more pressing duties? really???????

  5. yttik

    My deepest and most sincere sympathies for the man who was ambushed in the basement. I strongly encourage him to not dress so provocatively, to avoid going anywhere alone, to be careful what he says so it is not misconstrued, and to take some assertiveness classes so his screams of “no” aren’t interpreted as a “yes.”

    When this case goes to court, I hope he has it well documented that he resisted and did not ask for it. Judging from the way men act in this culture, it is natural for women to assume they would all enjoy being shot in the knee or punched in the mouth.

    I am of course not serious. I wouldn’t wish the reality of women’s lives on anybody.

  6. caitlinate

    I often have an argument with men about prostitution that goes along the lines of me stating ‘sex work = bad, agreeing to elevate the financial status of your wallet is not the same as consenting to sex, notions of power differentials, etc’ and them replying that prostitution is pretty much the same as their job-which-they-hate. Apparently my small brain is just failing to grasp the notion that ‘the state rapes everybody equally’.

    Which is why stuff like what happened to that fella in Detroit does give me satisfaction, as much as political points aren’t awarded to those who revel in the misery of others.

  7. Kathleen

    Caitlinate — I’ve run across that guy! They always trot out “how is ‘sex work’ any worse than cleaning toilets?”

    & suddenly you realize, *that’s how they think about sex*, and specifically *that’s how they think about the sexual role of women*

    (not, actually, to harsh on cleaners of toilets. in a fair world, offices would have rotating janitorial duties and everyone would spend part of each month cleaning up after themselves)

    anyway, not that it helps in the big picture, but in the small context of arguments it does seem to work to say, “wow, when *I* have sex, it’s actually not like cleaning toilets at all. But if when you have sex that’s what it’s like — and particularly, what it’s like for your partner — I can see why you’d find that line of reasoning persuasive”. And then look puzzled, sad, grossed-out, and walk away.

  8. lawbitch

    The Fail blog had a news clipping about a dood who got part of his penis bitten off while attempting to rape a raccoon. Proof positive that some doods go around looking for anywhere to stuff their penis. The article cleverly states that he insists that the raccoon was acting all slutty just prior to the assault. Maybe we should make trained raccoons standard feminist issue.

  9. wisewebwoman

    And not forgetting his entire sexual history trotted out in court for all to ‘enjoy’.

    The movie “Hard Candy” explored the revenge of a potential rape victim in a riveting way. Recommended.

  10. PatriarchySlayer

    wisewebwoman: actually watched “Hard Candy”, and didn’t really know how to feel about it. Should I feel sad, horrified, disturbed, or satisfied? So much conflict, so little time.

  11. Jezebella

    Well, really, that’s what a fella *gets* when he goes to a stranger’s house. He should’ve known better. Rilly. Stupid boy. He’ll know to bring along a big strong woman next time he thinks about meeting a stranger.

  12. Hattie

    And yet I just read on a blog by a woman (!) that guys who prong prostitutes are only jolly and fun-loving fellows who can’t get enough.

  13. phiogistic

    “Johns” (notice how the men are all the same man, all with the same face and same anonymous name) are merely rapists who prefer to outsource the beatings to pimps rather than do it themselves. They are even more unlikely to face any consequences than the rapists that administer beatings first-hand.

    Also, I would like to complain about the mainstreaming of the word “porn” used to mean “anything good/anything I like looking at.” I don’t want my catalogs of bulbs or seeds called “flower porn.” I do not want to see food porn, knitting porn, airplane porn, or any kind of porn at all. “Porn” is the graphic representation of rape, not pictures of flowers or socks or Cessnas.

  14. Liz

    The dude probably just says he wasn’t asking to be beaten up. I mean, it’s all he says/he says. He clearly was asking for it! ;-)

  15. CassieC

    Gah. Schoolteachers supplementing their pathetic paychecks through prostitution weren’t new in, let’s see, the late 50s, when my mom recalls going up from Barnard to visit a Harvard student friend of hers and found him sitting out on his porch steps. He explained that Saturday afternoon was when his housemates (all Harvard students) would hire a prostitute _for the house_. She charged by the number of men in the house, which is why he was outside. And yes, she was a schoolteacher.

    I swear “consenting adults” means very little. “Consenting adults of comparable socio-economic means and with equal protection in front of the law” has a better ring to it, no?

  16. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    I swear “consenting adults” means very little. “Consenting adults of comparable socio-economic means and with equal protection in front of the law” has a better ring to it, no?

    Thanks, Cassie. I’ve had a little trouble recently explaining the concept of ‘rape culture’ to another woman. I don’t even try with men any more. That bit will be very helpful when I go back into the fray. My version wasn’t quite so clear.

  17. Pantsuit Sally

    Don’t forget, that John in Detroit also purchased DRUGS from the people who attacked him, so why should we believe that he was actually attacked against his will? He probably consented to being shot while he was high but regretted it afterward, and now he’s just trying to get those nice people who gave him a ride in trouble.

  18. D.

    Prostitution’s “new meaning,” by the way, is not a meaning at all, but a term coined by a disgruntled player: “intellectual prostitution.”

    Lenny Bruce ragged on that one back in the ’50s. (Scruffy guy, volume of Proust and/or a typewriter. You could look it up.)

    yttik: Horribly, I was nodding right along. (My own “spasm of schadenfreude.”)

  19. Jezebella

    Gosh, yes, Pantsuit Sally, you’re right! These men who cry assault after regretting a drunken night out really aren’t doing their innocent brethren any favors.

  20. another voice

    “in the small context of arguments it does seem to work to say, “wow, when *I* have sex, it’s actually not like cleaning toilets at all. But if when you have sex that’s what it’s like — and particularly, what it’s like for your partner — I can see why you’d find that line of reasoning persuasive”. And then look puzzled, sad, grossed-out, and walk away.”

    Thank you for this genius reply. But where were you years ago when my (female) friend threw this one at me? Dear lord, she made it sound as if “working for the man” (in an office, with her clothes on) was the same as placing herself in harm’s way with people who want to hurt her. As you might guess, IBTP!

  21. Lovepug

    Rape as metaphor bugs me enormously – not just because it dilutes the seriousness of the crime, but because I get dang sick and tired of hearing that word come out of a dude’s mouth unless that word has been preceeded by the phrase, “You’ve been found guilty of…”

  22. Joel

    Kathleen – As a swede, I am all for the acronym IAWS.
    Unfortunately, it seems this law is pretty much unique.

    Yttik – I am fairly sure his ‘no’ meant ‘yes’, getting teeth knocked out and shot in the knee sounds like this ‘rough sex’ that’s gotten popular lately. Besides, they said it was consensual, he said it wasn’t, who are we going to believe? He’s probably just lying to save his reputation.

    There’s a saying: The only true form of joy is schadenfreude. (It’s catchier in swedish)

  23. belenen

    I find joking/ironic references to rape-with-pay (calling something that is not a violation ‘prostitution,’ or someone calling zirself a ‘___-whore’) upsetting but the worst of all is the casual/ironic/joking use of the word ‘rape.’

    Rape is the worst thing that a person can experience, and minor upsets like buying something that is overpriced or losing a game are absolutely nothing like it. Rape is a stripping of one’s basic rights, a complete and utter denial of one’s humanness.

    I feel that casual use of the word rape (or molest, used in a sexual connotation such as ‘so-n-so is molestable’) makes it more acceptable to joke about the actual act, which in turn makes the actual act seem less horrific and annihilating, more acceptable. I believe words have power, and how we use them affects the world around us. I believe our culture is growing more and more tacitly approving of sexual violation, and it bothers me extremely whenever I see it.

    I once was working as a cashier and I had a guy come up to me and in the friendliest tone say, “I’m going to rape you–

    r drawer” (referring to paying for something small with a hundred) — ze did not include the pause but I felt it like that. (I was so in shock and triggered I couldn’t respond. Nowadays I’d have Something To Say.) How is it acceptable to say something like that? Only in a world that thinks rape is okay is it acceptable to speak so casually of it.

  24. Kathleen

    Hey another voice — yeah, and what I most totally don’t get about that reaction is the equation “my soul deadening job = sex”

    Like, it just sort of gives you this little window into the worldview of a lot of people, men and (sadly) women: sex is a task, a chore, dirty, etc. etc. Where it seems to me that the way prostitution is MOST unlike crappy jobs is people don’t get joy out of freely photocopying together, filing accounting reports, doing sales pitches, etc. etc. in their chosen, unpaid time.

    The reason prostitution is a no-good thing is b/c it turns a joyful chosen thing between two equals into … something not like that at all.

    so people who champion prostitution hate sex, is what I reckon. And they hate it because they either hate the sex class (men who hate women) or because they hate being in the sex class and think the “sex” part is the problem (women who hate women)

  25. auntieintellectual

    Schadenfreude ist die beste Freude!

  26. Oaktown Girl

    I’d like to say “right on” to just about everything everyone has said here.

    Joel – please write out that phrase you mentioned in Swedish if you’ll be so kind (if you can get the letters to come out correctly). Tack.

  27. Rebekka

    “in a fair world, offices would have rotating janitorial duties and everyone would spend part of each month cleaning up after themselves”

    No, in a *fair* world, it’d only be the men who had the rotating janatorial duties for around the next 270 years, to make up for the fact that women have cleaned the toilet since it was invented in 1738. After that everyone can take turns.

  28. slythwolf

    It’s never okay to rob a man, tie him up in a basement, punch him in the mouth until his teeth fall out, and shoot him in the knee, but men should really know what to expect if they’re going to open their mouths. I think we all know how men get, and they should really learn that some people aren’t going to take it from them. I’m not blaming the victim, but he really should have known what he was getting himself into, and anyway, we don’t know both sides of this story.

  29. Twisty

    “Pantsuit Sally”

    I am absurdly fond of this screen name.

  30. Kathleen

    rebekka — fair enough. :)

    Though the people who clean the bathrooms in the building I work in are male African immigrants, so we’d probably have to work out some kind of sliding scale.

  31. Pantsuit Sally

    Sweet- a shout out from Twisty! That just made my week! It was inspired by a discussion of the term “pantsuit” v. “suit” on the IBTP forum (I used to post under the name plainjane there, but then found there was another PJ floating around the feminist blogosphere), and then during all the election nonsense a male acquaintance referred to Hillary Clinton supporters as “pantsuit feminists”, and said he was so excited that his girl Sarah Palin was going to break the glass ceiling.

  32. butterflywings

    Ha, yeah, men always say ‘no’ to being tied up, punched and shot when they mean yes! ;-)

  33. Jonathan


    “Also, I would like to complain about the mainstreaming of the word “porn” used to mean “anything good/anything I like looking at.” I don’t want my catalogs of bulbs or seeds called “flower porn.” I do not want to see food porn, knitting porn, airplane porn, or any kind of porn at all. “Porn” is the graphic representation of rape, not pictures of flowers or socks or Cessnas.”

    The mainstreaming of porn is taking over feminist spaces these days too. Bitch Magazine’s latest issue (the Buzz issue) ran a misty-eyed, whitewashed salute to Bettie Page that would have done Playboy proud. They ran a large pinup picture of Page, drooled over her BDSM shots, and filled the article with dudely crap like, “her ability to speak to the camera”, “in the photos where you can see the sparkle in her eyes”, “with a sunny, girl-next-door smile”, and “Page’s wholesome beauty led our subconscious to see what very well might have been going on in the house next door.” They didn’t even bother to spare a sentence to talk about her depression, forced institutionalization, or flight to Baptist Christianity in an effort to get away from the evil industry.

    Add to this the first-time-ever full-color pages in the last issue (the Noir issue) that were dedicated to a non-consensual BDSM comic and “art” that involved women mutilating themselves, and you have a feminist space that is falling apart. To quote the editors (while they were chiding readers who were requesting that trigger warnings be used in the future) “(Bitch) is not (a de facto safe space), and it shouldn’t be expected to be.”

    At least the jerks warned us.

  34. Silence

    Ironic. The word ‘porn’ is being co-opted to mean ‘something that is nice to look at’ when it is obvious that actual pornography is anything but.

  35. VibratingLiz

    “Porn” is being co-opted to mean not just “something nice to look at” but “something impossibly flawless, endlessly abundant, slightly forbidden, and essentially unattainable that arouses fervent and lusty desire.” As in “food porn” photos in cookbooks and magazines, or “rose porn” photos in gardening books and catalogs. There needs to be a better word for it than “porn,” but I’m not sure what it could be.

  36. Joel

    Oaktown Girl: “Skadeglädjen är den enda sanna glädjen”. It’s essentially the same as what auntieintellectual wrote in german (as far as I can tell, I don’t speak german).

  37. HistoricUpstart

    Yeah, I’m getting hitched next year (don’t kill me!) and you wouldn’t believe how many wedding websites have entire sections dedicated to “wedding porn” and “dress porn,” and “centerpiece porn!” Ughh. It was enough to make me run for the hills, swearing to never ever visit an internet site dedicated to getting married ever again. I’ll plan it all myself, thanks. I have plenty of good ideas in my own non-pornified brain.

  38. orlando

    The German version carries the bonus of a Freud pun. As in: The only useful Freud is schadenfreude.

    Apologies to Hedgepig, who hates puns.

  39. Frumious B.

    HistoricUpstart, when I read your comment, I automatically thought by “p*rn” you meant actual depictions of women’s degradation. That someone out there wants pictures of women in wedding dresses and centerpieces to aid their manual activities didn’t cause me even an ounce of doubt (although I did briefly wonder what role the centerpiece played). This is mostly a reflection on how unsurprising I find every new form of depictions of women’s degradation to be, since the P seems to delight in finding new ways to depict degraded women. Sigh.

  40. Hedgepig

    orlando, I’ll let you off just this once.

    Hey, where’s my green constipated sumo wrestler gone??

  41. Jezebella

    Despite its connotations, I enjoy using the term “house porn” and the like to shock my co-workers here in Buttcrack, Mississippi. Is that so wrong??

  42. mearl

    Once upon a time when we had more freedom and peace of mind to be creative, my best buddy and I used to dream up crackpot ideas for screenplays. One was about a pair of women buddies (not-so-loosely based on us) who would bait and beat up would-be rapists. How the women did so was that one woman (dressed up like a hooker or not, depending on the scene) would walk around urban neighbourhoods at night looking meek and confused as to where she was headed, against all recommendations of striding along confidently at night and watching who’s around you. Of course, she didn’t have much to worry about, being armed, and knowing that the other woman was keeping pace with her on the other side of the street or from behing buildings and bushes. Assuming a rapist or group of rapists happened along and started giving the first woman a hard time and assaulting her (for the purposes of our movie idea, they did), the other woman would then jump out with a large gun, and the two women, trained in martial arts, would beat the shit out of the rapist(s)/harasser(s). They would never go so far as to kill the guy, since that would cause an uproar. They would then leave a Zorro-like mark, and it would be in the news the next day.

    Sort of a Mafia-esque, vigilante-type warning, in the style of the guerrilla women in Sri Lanka, Uma Thurman’s Bride character in Kill Bill, and Thelma and Louise, that rapists and johns would be at risk EVERY time they attempted to enact their Patriarchal sense of entitlement on women. Of course, the world would look upon this notion of vigilantism the way they look upon Aileen Wuornos, and any actual screenplay would require the women to be either locked up or killed in the end.

  43. Jezebella

    I would pay at least double the normal movie fee to see that film, assuming the ending doesn’t involve jail or death. Instead, the vigilantes should franchise their method, building a secret training school in the Himalayas (or the Texas Hill Country, whichever) and spreading their awesomeness world-wide.

  44. mearl

    Jezebella, in a coupla years when I get these ideas down, I will be coming round to consult you!

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