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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

I don’t want to put myself out of business as a storyteller; I just want to tell less painful stories.  –  Melissa Gira Grant

Maggie in the Media LiberTea 8-17-14

Here are a couple of conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks; the How We Talk About Sex podcast with Eric Leviton (recorded the morning after I arrived in New York City), and the LiberTea spreecast (recorded last Sunday night within minutes of my arrival from Washington DC).  These are both very loose, informal conversations, about two hours each, with a lot more laughter and joking around than you might be used to from me.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Try not to throw up when you read the name cops gave their entrapment scheme:

…[Florida] police detective…Reno Chevelle Fells resigned…after his arrest at a St. Augustine Beach hotel [after responding] to an online ad offering sex for money…”Operation Summer Lovin'” resulted in 14 arrests…

Law of the Instrument

Another cop helpfully explains that “sex trafficking” is everywhere, that “victims” don’t know that they’re victims and that women are so stupid and passive they have to be “taught” and “coached” to fear and distrust thugs who deceive, molest, chain and cage them. Words fall utterly short.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

[William McDaniel] reported he did not get the sex act he requested as part of his $350 private dance at Sagebrush Sam’s Exotic Dance Club…west of Butte [Montana].  Officers informed him asking an exotic dancer for a sexual gratification is illegal and put him in jail for solicitation of prostitution…

Schadenfreude 

In “Unraveling”, Anne Elizabeth Moore discusses the deep connections between the “rescue” and garment industries (in comic strip form, drawn by Melissa Mendes).  There are also links to other strips in the series.  If you’re ever wondered why “rehabilitation” for sex workers so often seems to involve working in sweatshops, and why Somaly Mam was sponsored by fashion companies, you need to read this.

Scapegoats

An Albuquerque woman was arrested…after…she tried to poison her roommates when they discovered she had been having sex with two German shepherds.  Shari Walters…was…caught…having sex with both her roommates’ dogs…the night after…both roommates noticed their food tasted different…Walters…admitted to putting rubbing alcohol in both roommates’ waters, as well as toilet bowl cleaner in their food…

Above the Law

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper…Eric Roberts…pulled [a woman] over without probable cause…then…forced the victim to perform sexual acts in his patrol car, before driving to another location where he…raped her…”  But Roberts is just a piker compared to his “brother officer” Daniel Holtzclaw:

…Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, was arrested…on complaints of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and indecent exposure…Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said…Holtzclaw stopped women while he was working and forced them to expose themselves, fondled them and in at least one instance [raped] a woman.  Authorities have statements from six victims and expect a statement from a seventh…investigators believe there are additional victims…

The Lion and the Ox

There’s an awful lot of “suppose” and “maybe” here:

…The link between surrogacy and human trafficking is currently under investigation.  It is unequivocal that any child conceived to be sold constitutes a trafficked human…A clause in [UN protocol]…states that “references to slavery and similar practices may include illegal adoption in some circumstances”…it is unlikely, but possible, that the babies or embryos were envisaged for exploitation in the sex industry, on the illegal donor market, for slavery or the labour market.  This, de facto, constitutes a human trafficking case…Exploring links between…surrogacy and illegal adoption…automatically leads to organised crime…we may infer that the children were to be sold into an illegal adoption scheme…Suppose the children were conceived to be enslaved or exploited in the sex industry…

Somebody’s Daughter

Stalwart ally Elizabeth N. Brown on the “Would you want your daughter to be a whore?” fallacy:

…Using his apparent mind-reading powers, [Damon Linker] asserts that no one could honestly be okay with having a child in porn…Linker knows that nearly everyone must feel appalled because… he thought about it and was appalled?  That’s some pretty shaky logic…I would sure as shit rather have a porn star daughter (or son) than one who thinks, as Linker does, that being in porn makes someone “low, base, and degraded”…There’s nothing wrong with having certain expectations for your children…But…Our best laid plans mean jack…Proponents of decriminalization aren’t asking you to become pro prostitution, to encourage your kids to go into sex work, or even to abandon thinking it’s morally wrong, if that’s what you think…All we’re asking is for you to consider that criminalizing prostitution does more harm than good.  If — gasp! horror! disgust! — your daughter did happen to become a sex worker, wouldn’t you want to make it as safe and non-ruinous for her as possible?

Profound Ignorance

The “before the internet most whores were streetwalkers” and “each whore has only one ad” tropes just won’t die no matter how many times we kill them:

…A snapshot as recently as last week found 2,253 individuals advertising sex for sale [in Scotland] on a series of escort and other websites…However, sources stressed numbers have been close to 3,000 in recent months as the market – largely featuring foreign women who move around or are moved around – ebbed and flowed.  The sex trade has moved off the streets in recent years as women working in flats replaced traditional streetwalkers, most of whom were Scots with addiction or debt problems…Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Gilfillan…said she believed “well over 90 per cent” of sex work was now carried out from flats or brothels…

Texas Tall Tales Facebook Pimp

Texas just loves the “Facebook pimps” myth:

…pimps, hiding behind fake identities, increasingly use social media to lure young girls into the trade.  Unscrupulous predators and the popularity of online networking have made it tougher for authorities to crack down on sex trafficking.  Police estimate that 100 adolescents are trafficked every year in Dallas…

The article also claims that the undefined “illicit sex market” in Dallas is worth $99 million (per year? per day? as a purchase price?) and that 1 in 7 (14%) of the “children” reported missing are “probably victims of sex trafficking”…which would be a good trick, since only 0.014% of all “missing children” are abducted by strangers.

Banishment

But officials claim “sex offender” registration isn’t a punishment.

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York…are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that…restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school.  Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.  But in February…["authorities" proclaimed] the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits…in New York City…only 14 of the 270 shelters…have been deemed eligible to receive sex offenders.  But with [these] often filled to capacity, the state has opted to keep certain categories of sex offenders in custody…Some have begun filing habeas corpus petitions…demanding to be released…The state’s [pretense] is that it has the legal authority to continue holding [them]…because they are largely subject to post-release supervision by the state…[such as] unannounced home visits…as well as restrictions on Internet use and interactions with minors…

Under Every Bed 

As in the Chanel Island of Jersey, population < 100,000:  “Jersey Police…are investigating a sex trafficking ring.  The force say they have received information about a growing sex trade in the island, with women potentially being trafficked and exploited…

Monsters

The parents of an eight-year-old beat “every inch” of him, until he was dead, because he played with dolls…Pearl Fernandez, 30, and Isauro Aguirre, 34, beat their son Gabriel…“for eight straight months”, and he was “tortured more severely than many prisoners of war”…According to statements given by his two siblings, he was forced to eat cat faeces and rotten spinach and was not allowed to use the toilet…He was beaten with a metal hanger, a belt buckle and lost multiple teeth when he was hit with a bat…

Lower Education 

Northern Illinois University is restricting students’ access to certain websites.  For their own good, of course…Students who attempt to visit an unauthorized site through the campus network are redirected to a creepy “Web Page Access Warning”…[which] one student reported…to Reddit after he received a warning for trying to access the Westboro  Bapist Church’s Wikipedia page…NIU cites “common sense, decency, ethical use, civility, and security,” as its various rationales for…[trying] to dissuade students from visiting websites deemed harmful by administrators…

web page censorship threat

Mumbo Jumbo

When an article is this shockingly stupid, it’s hard to decide how to file it.  Is the most important factor the hilarious “Harvard of sex trafficking” label, or the use of the word “literally” to describe something that isn’t literal?  Is it a woman’s changed, then recanted, then re-sworn testimony being described as “her true story” because it agrees with prosecutors’ claims?  Is it yet another woman being caged to compel her testimony?  I was tempted to give precedence to the statements made by “trafficking expert” Donna Sabella, who said that domestic violence is “like” domestic violence (yep); that “prostitution…often results in arrested development — young women with the social or emotional age of someone 12 or 13″; and that “trafficking…has become somewhat normalized through…music, pimp costumes and shows like Pimp My Ride“.  But I eventually decided that it had to be Milwaukee cop Dawn Jones’ claim that “girls are…property of one pimp or another” but can change this supposed “ownership” to a new pimp by “looking one in the eye”.  It is unclear whether the magical “ownership”-changing force proceeds from the eye of the whore or the “pimp”.

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #409)

Pamela Stubbart is a libertarian who resigned from an organization called Young Voices because it allowed Belle Knox, who is also a libertarian, to join.  While I totally support the right of any person to associate or disassociate with others as she sees fit, and to like or dislike people (including me) or activities (including mine) as her psyche dictates, I do rather wish she hadn’t laced her resignation letter with prudishness draped in faux-reason.  Anyhow, Cliterati writer Slut O’Crat has penned an in-depth look at what’s wrong with Stubbart’s behavior, and more generally at the weird aversion some sex worker activists have to many sex workers’ wholly-natural and eminently-predictable embrace of libertarian ideas.

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

the [Arkansas] Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking…presented findings and recommendations to the Judiciary Committee…It…[wants] to add human trafficking convictions to those requiring registration as a sex offender.  Other recommendations include posting a hotline number at all rest stops, state parks, and schools with grades 6-12.  This is an extension of legislation already passed which requires the hotline number to be posted at sexually oriented businesses and truck stops…

A Whore in Church (TW3 #433) Patrick Johnson

[After] bare-breasted women…marched in front of the New Beginnings Ministries church in [Ohio]…Patrick Johnson…of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, responded…by asking Ohioans to call the legislature in support of banning “all public nudity in the state,” according to WSYX.  “I am sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio…what they did was an offense to God, was an offense to the public morality, and the legislature should act to criminalize what they did”…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

The proposed new law to “protect” German sex workers is very, very bad:

…the underlying spirit of this bill appears to be the perception of sex work as a social evil the government cannot rid society of and feels therefore obligated to impose regulations on it to such an extent where completely adhering to them is rendered virtually impossible, which in turn will enable law enforcement agencies to persecute sex workers and operators of prostitution businesses.  Hence, the title of this bill is utterly misleading and an insult to sex workers fighting for equal rights under the law…the bill will not protect sex workers, but instead…aims to protect society from the imaginary evil of prostitution…

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I hope one day you find happiness…though “Happiness” will probably be his prison name.  –  Canadian cops who think they’re funny

The ACLU really did care about civil liberties once, as you can see by today’s second video (provided by Brooke Magnanti); it’s a series of TV spots from 1974.  Of course, it still does care when that caring intersects its other agendas, as in the link from Stella Zine immediately above the video.  The first video demonstrates the concept of spontaneous order, meaning things humans choose to do together without threat or coercion; it was contributed by Mistress Matisse.  Every link above the first video came from Popehat, and the links between the videos from Eddie J Cunningham (“signage”), Michael Whiteacre (“Canada”), Jemima (“coming soon”), and Angela Keaton (“never call the cops”).

From the Archives

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There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.  –  The Gospel of Philip

Today is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, long considered to be either a prostitute or “reformed” prostitute and therefore the subject of special devotion by many Catholic (and Orthodox, and Anglican, and Lutheran) whores.  As I have explained before, there is no canonical evidence for this; the idea seems to date to a sermon  delivered in 591 by Pope Gregory the Great, in which she was identified as a repentant harlot (possibly by identification with the “adulterous woman” whom Jesus rescues from being stoned in the 8th chapter of John).  But the four canonical Gospels are not the only ones:

…among those used by Gnostic congregations (and subsequently excluded from the canon) were four more Gospels:  Thomas, Philip, Mary and Judas, all but the last of which assign a much more prominent role to Mary Magdalene than the four canonical ones; indeed, the Gospel of Mary is actually attributed to her.  These Gospels refer to Mary as Jesus’ “companion” and describe him as loving her more than his other disciples and often kissing her on the mouth…the Gospel of Mary identifies her as the unnamed “disciple Jesus loved” mentioned so often in John…

Pope Gregory may well have been aware of these gospels, and perhaps intentionally conflated the Magdalene with the adulteress as a way of smearing her in a time of increasingly-patriarchal Church practices and increasingly-prudish Church attitudes toward sex.  It is possible that one of the reasons Mary the Harlot caught on so quickly as a mythic figure was that she built upon and supplanted the clearly sexual (though not specifically professional) portrayal in the Gnostic gospels, oral traditions of which could well have survived their suppression two centuries before Gregory’s sermon.  I might even point out that she could well be viewed as a Christianized Venus, just as the Blessed Mother is a Christianized mother-goddess and Jesus himself a Christian solar deity.  The actual biographical facts of the lives of the human beings upon whom the mythic figures are based is of no more importance than whether Buddha could actually perform miracles, King Arthur pulled a sword from a stone or Mohammed flew into heaven on a winged horse; as in the case of Saint Nicholas (the official patron saint of whores), the mythology which has developed around the historical Mary Magdalene has a life of its own independent of the mundane facts.  The process of apotheosis creates a new being separate and distinct from the long-dead person whose name he or she shares, and that being inhabits the irrational realm of faith rather than the rational one of fact.

Simply put, Mary Magdalene the symbol is an entity wholly distinct from Mary Magdalene the first-century Jewish woman, and whether the latter was a whore, wife or mere follower to Yeshua bar Yosef is immaterial to the power of that symbol.  For centuries, the name “Magdalene” has been synonymous with “prostitute” in Christendom; when in the 13th century the idea arose for the first time that whores were “fallen” women in need of “rescue”, the asylums established for the purpose were called “Magdalene homes”.  Though few of these institutions survived the Black Death, the movement was revived in the mid-18th century and the number of such places multiplied with the rise of the “white slavery” myth a century later; though they again died out in most places in the early 20th century, they continued on in Ireland until 1996.  In various parts of the British Isles, the term “Magdalene” became “Maggie”, and applied either to whores in general (in England) or ones confined to Magdalene laundries (in Ireland).  The working girls in a number of folk songs are named “Maggie”, and of course Stephen Crane gave us Maggie:  A Girl of the Streets; some of y’all have probably guessed that I chose the name “Maggie” for a reason, and perhaps noticed that the name “Maggie McNeill” has a similar cadence to “Mary Magdalene”.

So even though I well understand that Mary Magdalene may not have “really” been a member of my profession, I also understand the difference between fact and truth.  The sacred whore may have largely ceased to exist in the mundane world of matter, but she still exists in the human unconscious.  And in the West, it has pleased her for a number of centuries now to work under the stage name Mary Magdalene.

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The mind demands rules; the facts demand exceptions.  –  Mason Cooley

kiwiOf all the different varieties of irritating weenies in the world, one of the worst is that species of tiny-minded pedant who is completely unable to comprehend the concept of a generality.  Though there is no such thing as a rule without exceptions (except, perhaps, for that one), this perennial poop feels compelled to interrupt any general statement with the unnecessary declaration that there are exceptions to it.  Make the statement, “Birds have wings,” and this knob will invariably remind you that kiwis do not; it doesn’t matter to him that kiwis are but five species of the roughly 10,000 in the class Aves, that they are entirely limited to New Zealand, and that they number only about 60,000 of the total 400 billion birds in the world (approximately 0.000014%).  Expressed another way, if at birth you were given a magic hat which produced a randomly-generated bird once per minute, you’d probably be past puberty before the first kiwi popped out.  But to the anti-generalist, that doesn’t matter; his creed is, “If it results in the recognition of even ONE KIWI, it will all be worth it!!!!1!11!”

Though I used the masculine pronoun in the paragraph above because that’s what one does in English, I’ve never noticed any difference in the gender distribution of this particular personality flaw; men and women seem equally afflicted by the inability to comprehend that exceptions don’t invalidate rules.  For years, MRAs have complained about the syndrome they refer to as “NAWALT” (Not All Women Are Like That), and in the past year feminists have started making the same complaint, which they refer to as “Not All Men” and bizarrely associate with fedoras and the Kool-Aid Man character.  Of course, both of them are right in considering this sort of person annoying, and dead wrong in pretending the syndrome is limited to the opposite sex…which, as it turns out, supports my contention that feminists and MRAs are actually the same critter with different genitalia.  Yes, there are some negative characteristics that tend to appear in many women…and not all women are like that.  And yes, there are some negative characteristics that tend to appear in many men…and not all men are like that.  And in neither case is it actually necessary to say so, because fanatics won’t believe it anyway and rational people already know it.

Unfortunately, the word “rational” does not actually describe very many people in the modern West.  As the spring wore on and the “Not All Men” thing grew from an inane trope into a fad far more annoying than the behavior it was intended to mock, some master of Not Thinking Things Through apparently decided that the way to counter the truthful-but-unnecessary assertion that not all members of a sex are identical was to wrongfully assert that they are.  At least, that seemed to be the premise behind #YesAllWomen, a Twitter hashtag apparently dedicated to the notion that the actions of a homicidal psychopath were somehow indicative of the behavior of ALL men, and that ALL women constantly live in mortal terror of this.  Or something.

At some point in the past century, extremism became the norm in the United States; that defective way of seeing the world seems to have since spread to much of the West.  No longer is it enough to disagree with someone else’s political position; now its opponents must assume a diametrically opposite posture.  Dislike some aspect of x?  Crusade for its total eradication, no matter how many civil liberties must be trampled, how many billions wasted and how many people killed in the process.  Dislike a politician?  Oppose all of his policies, even those which were started by your party the last time it held the office.  Irritated with “Not All Birds” yo-yos?  Insist that every last bird is as identical as a plastic toy made from a mold, and that one draconian, narrow-minded policy is good for all of them.  Then argue until you’re blue in the face with your supposed “enemies”, and don’t be too surprised when reasonable people want  nothing to do with either of you.

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History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us.  –  Johan Huizinga

Those of you who were paying attention in world history class may remember that the Western Roman Empire ended on September 4th, 476 AD with the accession of Flavius Odoacer as King of Italy, and that the Eastern Roman Empire was thereafter known as the Byzantine Empire.  But this is merely a convenient lie invented by historians; to the citizens of Rome, Italy, areas of Europe still dominated by either Eastern or Western Empires and foreign governments who had dealings with the Romans, 476 was very much like 474 and 475 had been, and nobody noticed much change in the years 477-493, either.  To be sure, the Empire under Odoacer was quite a different place than it had been under Augustus, but then the same could be said of the Empire under Hadrian, Constantine, Honorius or Justinian.  The laws, structures and political realities had changed dramatically (and not for the better) since the end of the Republic, yet even when the vast territory was divided in two (temporarily, then later permanently) it was still called the Roman Empire, and its people still thought of their government as continuous with what had gone before.  The term “Byzantine Empire” for the eastern half is a total fiction; it was still referred to both officially and in popular use as the Roman Empire (even after its territory had shrunk to only part of the area of modern Turkey) until Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.  And even then, Germanic kings who had been granted the title of Roman Emperor by Papal edict continued to use it until the last of them, Francis II, abdicated the title to Napoleon in 1806.

By the 14th century it would have been obvious to all but the dullest historians that neither the German nor the Greek pretenders to the title of “Roman Empire” were remotely the same as the original entity which had borne that name, and unconnected to it by anything other than a long and winding chain of historical events.  But it would not have been so obvious to an historian of the 10th century, and one of the 6th would probably have violently disputed the claim (at least in the case of the Eastern Empire).  Modern scholars looking at the events from over a millennium later decided that after 476, things began to change so dramatically and so quickly that a different name needed to be applied to the political entities existing after that date so as to make the difference clearer for purposes of study and discussion.  But the people living at that time had no such historical perspective; few of them would have agreed that the differences between Odoacer’s reign and that of Julius Nepos were any more meaningful than those between the reigns of Constantine and Constantius, and probably less significant than the difference between the reigns of Diocletian and Aurelian.  They were emotionally invested in the name “Roman”, and the changes in both the Empire and its people had been so gradual that only by viewing the events from a period completely removed from them could a meaningful line be drawn between “Roman” and “Post-Roman”.

Rome is an especially prominent and striking example, but by no means the only one; except in cases where a culture is completely overrun by wholly alien invaders (as in the case of the European conquest of the Americas), most lines drawn between historical periods and most names given them by historians are rather arbitrary and only make sense to people of later eras.  Those living at the time see no seismic shift, no change of identity; the English still considered themselves English after the Norman Conquest, and the lives of peasants were largely the same in 1067 as they had been in 1065…but historians regard the unified England of the late 11th century as a different thing from the Anglo-Saxon realm of a generation before, and not only because the rulers were speaking a different language.

Declaration of IndependenceExactly two months short of exactly 1300 years after what we now think of as the end of the Roman Empire, a group of colonies belonging to a country which had itself once been a Roman province declared themselves independent of their parent nation.  And though colonies, provinces and other dependent entities had done this sort of thing many times before, what made this one unique in world history was that the revolutionaries were not merely the followers of a rival monarch determined to wrest the territory from its legal ruler by military force; instead, they were philosophically-inclined sons of the Enlightenment who argued that human beings had certain unalienable rights which no ruler, no matter what his titles or antecedents, had the right to abrogate.  This was such a new idea that historians recognized it as a dividing line as soon as the British government did, five years later…but for the average working man, not much really changed, and for the slaves absolutely nothing did.  Even most of the laws of the states and cities of the new country were the same laws they had before the revolution…laws based on traditions dating back to the time when almost no educated person would have agreed that the Roman Empire was a thing of the past.

But less than a hundred years later, that began to change; the United States now bears more resemblance to the bloated, top-heavy, militaristic, moribund Roman state inherited by Odoacer than the lean, minimal government conceived of by the Founders.  Yet for now, the people of the US are still so emotionally invested in the label “American” and so blindly devoted to worship-words like “freedom” that they are unable to recognize that we’ve already crossed the line future historians will draw between the American Republic and the American Empire.  When did we pass from one to the other?  Alas, I’m in the same forest as you are; only the perspective of time will allow us to determine that.  Perhaps they’ll draw it at the end of the Cold War; perhaps even earlier, at the end of World War II.  Maybe they’ll make it simple for student memorization by setting it at the beginning of the 21st century.  But one way or another, it is insulting to the Founders’ memory to associate any patriotic feelings you have for the memory of the nation they created with the repressive fascist police state that now occupies its territory; the 4th of July is now a memorial rather than a celebration, and the Spirit of ‘76 is nothing but a ghost.

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The word career is a divisive word. It’s a word that divides the normal life from business or professional life.  –  Grace Paley

A couple of months ago I saw an article on a study which found that members of couples can probably tell when their partners are faking orgasm; it bore the provocative title “Your Partner Knows When You’re Faking”.  My immediate reaction?  “I’m a professional, Honey; maybe yours know, but mine don’t.”  But that little joke set off a train of thought:  isn’t it likely that one of the reasons so many women are anti-whore is that they’re intimidated by our superior sexual skills?  To be sure, not every whore is a virtuoso in the bedroom; some get by on looks alone, or cater to unusual fetishes, or have incredible charm, and some just excel at marketing.  But by and large, the average professional has both a greater range of skills and is better at each than the average amateur.  Part of the reason is that we get a lot more practice, and part is necessity:  except as noted above, we have to be better at it because our livelihoods depend on it.

I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial here; the sexual proficiency of harlots is not really in dispute.  Male commenters on this blog have often  praised the abilities of their favorites, and our prowess underlies the myths depicting us as enchantresses, succubae and vampires.  Insecure men fear that we will control them thus, and insecure women fear that we will steal their husbands (presumably to add to our collections); the whole “pimp” and “sex slave” mythology derives from the need to deny the legendary sexual powers of whores by pretending that we’re the pathetic, powerless victims of men.  Nor are those women with enough sense to know that hookers really aren’t interested in their husbands wholly immune; many of them find the very idea that other women are better in bed than they are somewhat upsetting.  Remember, society defines a woman by her sexuality to a far greater degree than it does a man: she is assigned to either the “Madonna” or “whore” category based upon it; selling sex is called “selling herself”, as though sex constituted her entire being; and sexual violation is supposed to utterly destroy her soul and irremediably pollute her body.  Nor is it only traditional “patriarchal” thought which elevates female sexuality thus; neofeminists are simultaneously obsessed with it and defined by their rejection of it.  So it’s not surprising that many women would be intimidated by the knowledge that others are better in the sack than they are; on some level, they see whores as better women than they are, and must reject that painful concept by imagining us as the exact opposite.

Don't try this at homeOf course, this is all a load of nonsense.  Sexual ability is a skill, no more or less valuable than many others; it isn’t magical, earth-shaking or ego-defining.  Some people have a natural talent for it, and others don’t; some take the time to develop it, and others don’t; some earn their bread by it, and others don’t.  Yes, I’m better at sex than most women; I’m also an above-average cook and (so I’m told) an excellent writer.  My business skills, however, are below par; my housekeeping skills are mediocre at best and my musical ability is practically nonexistent.  The fact that I possess the talents necessary to succeed as a professional sexual partner does not make me a better woman than someone who lacks those talents, but neither does it make me a worse one; each of us has her role to play, and society would have a lot fewer problems if each of us concentrated on her own rather than attempting to perform, critique or manage everyone else’s.

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If men were angels, no government would be necessary.  If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.  –  James Madison

Adam and Eve are Driven Out of Eden by Gustave Dore (1866)No scientifically-literate person would deny that human beings are animals, and no sane person would deny that we are not only imperfect, but unperfectible; it is literally impossible to remove all the flaws from any human being.  No accident of birth, no social pressure, no education, no surgery, no psychoactive drug, no holy book, no set of rules or procedures, no machine and no god can remove that flawed nature; we are born flawed, develop new flaws even while trying to correct old ones, and eventually die still flawed (and often because of those flaws).  The Christian myth of original sin may be based in this realization, but there is no baptism or consecration which will wash it away; we are stuck with it, and the best we can do is to recognize the truth and ask for others’ help in controlling the damage our flaws may cause.

Unfortunately, one of the most profound and dangerous of human flaws is our love for authority; the average human craves being told what to do by someone he perceives as superior to him, and the majority of exceptions to this are those who crave the power to tell others what to do.  And though a wisely-organized system would recognize this by limiting both the ability of all humans to exercise power over others, and the opportunity for individuals to surrender power to self-proclaimed leaders, we do not have a wisely-organized system for the simple reason that humans on the whole are not yet wise enough to design such a system.  Theoretically, democracy is supposed to do this, but humans’ love for titles, badges, costumes and Great Men has undermined every attempt since Classical Greece; whatever system is designed to put “the people” in power will eventually allow thugs and strongmen to arise, and no matter how carefully individual rights are protected the hoi-polloi will eventually rush to give up those rights for some perceived advantage (usually “safety”).  And when they do, the rights of the individualists are destroyed right along with those of the mob by the flawed and fallacious mechanism that all democracies to date have depended upon, majority rule.

Any human given power will eventually abuse that power if given the opportunity to do so.  Any human.  Let that sink in, because every argument for the “necessity” of government invariably ignores it.  Every single official, every single cop, every single judge, every single representative.  Every tax collector, inspector, legislator, minister, noble and king.  All of them, to a man, will abuse his authority if given the opportunity to do so; obviously, the solution is to limit and check the power of every single government actor and every group of actors so as to remove that opportunity.  But that is not what we do; in fact, the tendency is to do the opposite, increasing the power and decreasing the accountability of officials until we arrive at the situation illustrated every week in my TW3 and Links columns.  Nor are we satisfied with giving this kind of power to “official” authorities; oh no.  The human desire to be controlled by people who know absolutely nothing about them as individuals is unsatisfied with having the boots of elected officials, appointed officials, bureaucrats, hirelings and henchmen on their faces and bodies; they must also invite a host of ministers, gurus, celebrities, bosses, academics and other Pillars of the Community to stomp on their genitalia as well.

That last metaphor was not merely chosen for shock value; humans, as I said at the beginning, are animals, so although most do use their power for rational (if wrongful) purposes like enriching themselves or destroying their enemies, they also tend to use it for feeding their appetites:

…a minister…is facing 59 counts of first-degree sexual assault in cases against girls…as young as 13…Victor Barnard [led]…a cult-like faith community in central Minnesota…[and told girls he] chose [to rape that they were] to be “sacrificed to God”…

The Witches (1966)The writers of stories like this always pretend to be shocked, as though this were an aberration rather than the norm; for example, people point fingers at Catholic priests who molest boys as if the clergy of their religions were any different.  Atheists in turn point fingers at clergy, ignoring the fact the same kinds of abuses are committed at the same rate by secular authority figures.  If such incidents are rarer in some situations than others it’s merely due to lack of opportunity, not lack of desire.  Do you realize how many different headings on this blog cover variations on the theme of “authorities” abusing their power to get sex in one way or another?  “Above the Law” is the most obvious one, but there’s also “License To Rape”, “Droit du Seigneur” and “Follow Your Bliss”.  Furthermore, “Reaction Formation” and “Buried Truth” deal with “authorities” who work to punish others for sexual kinks they hide in themselves.  Spend some time perusing the stories filed under those tags, then tell me again how power-mad “authorities” are just a few isolated cases, and that it’s sane and sensible to keep giving them more power, more money and more control over every aspect of our lives.

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