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Posts Tagged ‘How Old is Oldest?’

You need to tailor your response to the reality. You should not tailor your response to the hype.  –  Ann Jordan

R.I.P. Robyn Few

The founder of SWOP-USA died Thursday (September 13th) at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer.  She became an activist for HIV and medical marijuana in the early 1990s, but prostitution was at that time simply a way to pay the bills ; that changed after she was targeted for her activism by FBI and arrested in June of 2002.  In October of the following year she founded SWOP-USA on the model of SWOP Australia, and just two months later helped Dr. Annie Sprinkle organize the first Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Biographical details are scarce, but I’m trying to get a proper obituary together for her for this Monday.

Updates

He or She?

Sometimes, men’s transgender paranoia is so severe it can lead to violence:

…20-year-old Christian Ariel Romero met [a] 41-year-old [transgendered prostitute]…and…offered [her] money for sex, Montgomery County police said…[but] when Romero discovered his companion was a man, he…repeatedly stabbed the victim…The judge set bail at $500,000, which [Romero’s lawyer] called harsh…“The defendant is a person who’s 20 years old, never done anything wrong in his entire life.  And the person who is on the other side is…a prostitute…with a track record, a history…”

As is typical in stories involving transgendered people, everyone dances around pronouns and facts are sparse or contradictory; the reporter says the victim was a “man” but she may have been a pre-op transsexual.  And the lawyer’s insinuation that the victim somehow deserved a murderous assault is “NHI” thinking at its most repellent.

All in the Family

Robin Hustle has a great deal more patience than I do; if I had a story of coming out to parents who were in denial about my sex work, I certainly wouldn’t tell it on Jezebel.  The article is intelligent, well-written, right on and even funny, but of course the comments are largely what you’d expect (starting with the very first one, which basically accuses her of lying).  No thanks; I learned my lesson with Feministe.

Follow Your Bliss

A disproportionate number of perverts, rapists and pedophiles have been discovered in a job which allows them to grope and fondle women and children with impunity in public.  Golly gee, who could’ve predicted that?

Crystal Ball

As I predicted, a few journalists are beginning to question the “sex trafficking” hype; though this article reprinted from Christian Science Monitor overstates the credibility of some of the fanatics’ claims and quotes professional victim Stella Marr at length, it also interviews prominent trafficking hysteria critic Ann Jordan, criticizes celebrity opportunists like Ashton Kutcher and flatly states that the scare-figures are wildly exaggerated:

…the…statistic…that there are 100,000 to 300,000 sex slaves in the US – figures repeated by interviewers, blogs, TV hosts and…movie stars…are wrong…the number of actual sex-trafficking victims has been estimated by the US government to be in the tens of thousands, but even those numbers have been criticized as unfounded and far too high; between 2008 and 2010, federally funded human-trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation.  Among those cases, only 248 suspected sex-trafficking victims under the age of 18 were identified…Hype over such high and inaccurate numbers of “child sex slaves” leads to a misguided response at best…At worst, it siphons financial resources away from preventing other sorts of human trafficking…[and] undermines solutions to problems…that lead to exploited youth in the first place…

Bottleneck

Cause:  Making it essentially impossible for brothels to operate legally.  Effect:  Lots of illegal brothels.

…Elena Jeffreys said when sex work was decriminalised 16 years ago, local councils were given the job of regulating the industry…but…they are now knocking back brothels on moral grounds…”Their job is to regulate the sex industry, not just to blanket knock back every single (brothel) application they get.  There’s some local councils in NSW that have never approved a brothel application and then they wonder why there’s brothels in their suburb that are unapproved”…Ms Jeffreys said there were more than 6000 sex workers in the state and most people would have lived near a brothel or a sex worker at some point without knowing it…

Capricious Lusts

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an American sex worker activist (other than myself) make this enlightened point:

…Controversial model-actress [Gehana Vasisth] recently tweeted that she wanted to open a…high class hygienic brothel where men could come and satisfy themselves…with professional, medically certified commercial sex workers…According to Gehana, legalising prostitution and pornography in India – like it is in the West – will help reduce crimes against women drastically.  “If men can satisfy their carnal desires without any restriction, rape and other crimes against women will be reduced,” she explained…

Metaupdates

How Old is Oldest? in June Updates (Part Three)

Over a year after the controversy which caused his break with Psychology Today, evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa is back with a new blog entitled E pur si muove on a relatively new website named Big Think.  And though his debut is not without controversy even there, Kanazawa’s “about” blurb states:

E pur si muove is about science.  Science is the accumulation of pure knowledge for its own sake; it has no other goals or purposes.  In science, only logic and evidence are the arbitrators of the truth; nothing else matters.  No scientific conclusions can ever be good or bad, desirable or undesirable, sexist, racist, offensive, reactionary or dangerous; they can only be true or false.  No other adjectives apply.  If the truth offends people, it is our job as scientists to offend them.  In the memorable words of David Hilbert, Wir müssen wissen, wir werden wissen.  If what I say as a scientist is wrong, because it is illogical or lacks credible scientific evidence, then it is my problem.  If what I say offends you, then it is your problem.  Get over it.  Prepare to be offended.

And really, that’s pretty much my attitude in this blog as well; I wish Dr. Kanazawa the best of luck with his new site and hope Big Think proves to be more dedicated to free speech than Psychology Today has proven itself to be.

Hard Numbers in TW3 (#16)

Whenever it looks like something might be decriminalized (such as brothel ownership in Brazil), you can bet the police will launch as many “crackdowns” as possible before their window of opportunity closes:

On the eve of June 14…armed members of [Rio’s] Police…and  public prosecutor’s office arrived at a brothel called Centauros…[where] they arrested prostitutes, management and the owner, seized documents, computers…used condoms…and…$150,000…in cash.  The owner…spent a week at a maximum security prison.  The prostitutes were released the same night and found work at other upscale brothels…Quite a lot of drama when you consider that prostitution is not actually a crime in Brazil…But as Rio de Janeiro prepares for its turn on the global stage – as the host of the World Cup in 2014, then the 2016 Summer Olympics – the city is taking drastic action to keep its thriving sex industry out of the spotlight.  Rio has already shuttered 24 sex establishments…and…another 33 venues have been threatened or harassed by the police…It’s the biggest crackdown…in a generation…according to anthropologists Thaddeus Blanchette and Ana Paula da Silva, who have been studying prostitution in Rio since 2004 and have authored almost 20 academic papers on [the subject]…

Prudish Pedants in TW3 (#18)

Keep in mind, California is still under a SCOTUS mandate to reduce its prison population, yet this persecution for profit continues:

Fetish filmmaker and distributor Ira Isaacs’ sentencing was put on hold last month because federal prosecutors intended to present evidence to support…a two-level increase in sentencing…[for] federal crime[s] where the defendant knew or should have known that a victim involved in an offense was a “vulnerable victim”…presumably [this means] an actor or actors involved in films deemed obscene…prosecutors have recommended that Isaacs serve a term of up to seven years and three months in prison, as well as a three-year term of supervised release and a $10,000 fine…[the court also stole] all of his websites…copyrights…computers, servers, props and video equipment.

Against Their Will in TW3 (#20)

Another win-win situation ruined by busybodies:

The Malay Mail reports [that a] car wash in…Kuala Lumpur…had formed a partnership with a local massage parlour, enabling customers to redeem free sex from the brothel as part of a customer loyalty scheme…police stormed the parlour and found several stamped loyalty cards that had been used by customers…officer Emmi Shah Fadhil [said]…“To get the extra ‘offer’, customers must send their cars for washing nine times within a certain period…The tenth car wash will entitle them to free sex.”  The parlour would usually charge between 130 and 180 Malaysian Ringgit ($40-$55) – cheaper than the $65 price for a full-service car wash.  Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia.  As a result of the raid, nine Vietnamese women aged between 18 and 28 were arrested.

Actually prostitution isn’t illegal in Malaysia; only public solicitation is.  However, for the past four years the Malaysian government has been engaged in a campaign to violently suppress brothels under the guise of “fighting human trafficking” in order to win a pat on the head and a “good doggie” from the US State Department.

See No Evil in TW3 (#24)

An anti-sex fanatic’s crusade to criminalize a lump of bronze continues:

…a bare-breasted sculpture in an Overland Park arboretum has triggered a grand jury investigation into whether the city is promoting obscenity to minors.  The artwork, titled “Accept or Reject” and donated by Chinese artist Yu Chang, depicts…what the artist statement says is the incomplete identity expressed in one’s digital self — critics contend it promotes “sexting” to children…”The statue appeals to an unwholesome obsession with a sexual act” [said petition sponsor Phillip] Cosby…who calls sexting “the most under-prosecuted crime in America”…

Anybody who claims that any crime (other than those committed under color of authority) in America is “under-prosecuted” is certifiably insane.

Sisters in Arms in TW3 (#29)

If abortion is criminalized, do people really want women who get them imprisoned?  Or will this turn into another Swedish Model-like agency-denying thing which only persecutes abortion providers (and maybe men who urge or pay for them)?

Broken Record in TW3 (#32)

Here’s a long but must-read essay by Georgina Perry of Open Doors, a London health organization serving sex workers; she explains how Olympic “sex trafficking” hysteria was amplified by politicians, the police, the media and others, and collapsed when one especially vociferous NGO lost its main source of funding:

For the last three years I’ve been…relegated from a professional considered knowledgeable in her field, to a noisy troublemaker, determined to rail against received wisdom.  I’ve had the data I assiduously collect, analyse and make public quoted back to me by law enforcement agencies, the media and NGOs but with clumsy interpretations skewed to strengthen a particular rhetoric…as the 2012 London Olympics drew inexorably towards us, the whole of the UK suddenly became an expert on my job…[the]experience…left me cynical and at times speechless at the sheer effrontery of those who stood to gain from talking up a story that…is not, has not and is unlikely to ever be a reality…

Naked Truth in TW3 (#35)

Melissa Gira Grant was interviewed on “Behind the News with Doug Henwood” on public radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California this past Thursday; she talked about the rescue industry, agency denial and the neofeminist anti-sex work agenda (starting at 30:00).

This Week in 2011

How “feminist” laws infantilize or pathologize women, how Arianna Huffington panders to hysteria, how politicians judge others but never themselves, and why only some religions have freedom.  Also, an Algerian tribe in which prostitution was normal and accepted and an essay on whores in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This Week in 2010

The importance of caring for husbands sexually, the woman known to history as “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, a few book reviews, a story I wrote when I was 18, “whoredar”, and a little about my lesbian experiences.

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We recipients of the boon of liberty have always been ready, when faced with discomfort, to discard any and all first principles of liberty, and, further, to indict those who do not freely join with us in happily arrogating those principles.  –  David Mamet

Four short articles on subjects we’ve visited before.

How Old is Oldest? (March 12th)

Satoshi Kanazawa is no stranger to controversy, but if he had realized the firestorm his May 15th Scientific Fundamentalist column would touch off he might’ve picked a different subject.  The column attempts to explain why interviewers for a large, long-term government study called “Add Health”, who were asked to rate their interviewees’ physical attractiveness, tended to rate black women as less attractive than other women, yet did not rate black men as less attractive than other men.  The controversy has been described in many, many articles, but though this May 17th report from Huffington Post is less inflammatory than most it still makes the same basic error all the others do:  representing the offending opinion as Kanazawa’s own, when in fact he clearly stated in the article that it was the interviewers who rated the women.  Kanazawa was attacked as “racist” and the controversy has resulted in the end of his association with Psychology Today and may even have imperiled his academic position, yet nobody seems interested in recognizing that he didn’t make up the data, he only analyzed it.

Now, Kanazawa’s analysis may, as one of his colleagues at Psychology Today argues, be incorrect; I’m not good enough with statistics to follow the rebuttal.  And Kanazawa certainly could have been much more careful with his phraseology; whenever I approach an emotionally-laden topic I choose my words very carefully indeed so my meaning is unmistakably clear.  But I’m the Princess of Paranoia and 99.9% of the human race words its essays with far less caution than I employ in the composition of my grocery list.  What’s worse, most people read others’ writing even less carefully, with the result that most readers saw the words “black women less attractive”, jumped up screaming “racism!” and instantly began spreading outrage.  I can certainly understand why black women would be upset about the article, but the attacks on Kanazawa constitute a classic case of killing the messenger.  In a free country we have the right to be mistaken or offensive, and if scientists are to be censored or even lose their jobs for being wrong or pissing people off, you can kiss scientific progress in the Western world goodbye.

Backwards Into the Future (March 30th)

Colorado “authorities” are apparently so certain of the vast profits they’re going to reap from robbing sex workers’ clients, that they’re spending money they don’t yet have to harass other sex workers:

Colorado Springs authorities…assign[ed] seven detectives to spend $700 at a strip club as part of a [March 5th] liquor compliance audit and prostitution sting…[which] found alcohol violations but no prostitution…Lt. John Godsey…says the $700 came from money seized in other undercover investigations.  Godsey says $100 per…[man] trying to blend in seems about right…An attorney for the club says the owners voluntarily surrendered the club’s liquor license.  The club is now all nude and doesn’t serve liquor.

Readers from civilizations more advanced than Colorado may not understand that last line; in some American states dancers in clubs where liquor is served can only go topless, and clubs which allow fully-nude dancing can’t serve liquor.  Presumably, states with such laws believe that exceeding a certain “sin density” in a confined area will cause a degradation of the space-time continuum, or something.  In any case, here’s yet another example of armed hooligans being paid to indulge their perversions (in this case trying to trick strippers into crossing one of the arbitrary lines which will excuse their being abducted and humiliated) on company time and at the taxpayers’ expense.

Subtle Pimping (April 8th)

It’s official; Kristin Davis is now the third member of The Honest Courtesan’s Hall of Shame along with Karen Sypher and Capri Anderson.  Regular readers will recall that this dishonor is reserved for those whores who have most disgraced our profession by their incredibly disgusting behavior.  I first took notice when Davis claimed only 5% of whores were professional and nominated her when she claimed that 80% of escorts are coerced, but these egregious violations of sisterhood had not yet been crowned by a blatant violation of professional ethics until May 19th, when she revealed or claimed (the veracity of the statement doesn’t matter) that disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was once a client of hers:

Kristin Davis said she provided young women for the IMF chief in 2006…and that one complained about his “aggressive” behaviour.  “He was a client of my agency…When men abuse women I’m no longer going to protect their identities”.  Mr. Strauss-Kahn…has been charged with sexually attacking a 32-year-old hotel maid at the Manhattan Sofitel…He denies the claims and is being held in Riker’s Island prison.  Miss Davis…said Mr. Strauss-Kahn…wanted an ‘All-American girl’, with a fresh face, from the mid-West,” she said.  “A girl in January 2006 complained he was rough and angry, and said she didn’t want to see him again”.  In September 2006…[another girl] reported that “he was rough”, said Miss Davis, adding:  “She told me not to send any new girls to him”…

Davis’ excuse for the ethical violation is pure bullshit; if she truly cared about other women’s safety she wouldn’t be attempting to build her reputation at our expense by promoting bogus statistics which politicians could use to justify further criminalization of our profession.  She knows very well that just because a client is rough with a working girl does not mean he’s going to commit rape; if anything, rough consensual encounters may satisfy his urge to overpower women.  That’s not to say I approve of such behavior; if I had several girls complain about a client I wouldn’t send anyone else to him, either.  But that still doesn’t constitute evidence of rape any more than reading a book about explosives means that a person is guilty of a bombing.  Kristin Davis doesn’t care about “men abusing women”; her behavior has made it abundantly clear that she cares only about herself and will say whatever will get her the most attention, whether it’s true or not and no matter whom it hurts.

The Eye of the Beholder (May 11th)

Individual liberties are not subject to restriction merely because they offend others; unless a third party is actually injured no government has the right to ban consensual adult behavior, even if that behavior upsets or disgusts most people.  Back in December there was a perfect example when Columbia University professor David Epstein was charged with incest for a three-year relationship with his adult daughter, and recently another father-daughter couple appeared on a TV talk show (as reported in Jezebel on May 17th):

Recently The Steve Wilkos Show…aired a…story about a father and his 18-year-old daughter who had been estranged during the girl’s childhood but reconnected through MySpace when the daughter, Britney, became an adult.  They struck up a romantic relationship…The footage—which features Britney and her father, Morgan, in a deep French kiss…is disturbing to say the least, but apparently it gets worse…Wilkos mentions that the couple “provided proof” that they were in a sexual relationship, which one source tells us was “video documentation” and that the “dad had filmed it”…

I don’t mind telling you that I find this creepy, icky, weird and sad on a number of levels and that I’m 95% sure that the woman will regret it at some point in the future, but I could say the same thing about doing cocaine or obsessive levels of body piercing.  In the days before reliable birth control and genetic testing incest laws had the valid rationale of preventing inbreeding, but with the advent of those resources (and the descent of eugenics into disfavor) such arguments have lost their former impact.  So should we really ban sexual relationships just because others find them skeevy?  If you think so, tell that to your friends who support same-sex marriage.  Being a free adult means having the “right to be wrong,” to make decisions others find questionable or even distressing and which may even result in considerable harm to oneself.  Still not convinced?  Take a look at the debate in the comment thread after that article and see how you feel about statements like “Do you actually believe that just because a woman says ‘okay’ to have sex, that everything’s okay?”  The arguments against tolerance – that adult women cannot be trusted to make their own sexual decisions, that in a “bad” relationship it’s always the man who is wrong, that there can be a crime without a victim – are the same ones used to rationalize criminalization of sex work and a host of other things.  Tolerating others’ unpleasant or even self-destructive behavior is the price we pay for others tolerating ours.

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Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies are. –  Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s time once again (though relatively early this month) for my monthly collection of articles which hearken back to previous columns.

Think of the Children! (September 30th)

The considerable hysteria around child sexual abuse, which has grown to the proportions of a full-fledged witch hunt in which thousands of lives have been ruined, rests upon the belief that any sexual contact between two humans, at least one of whom is under the local age of consent, is inherently and devastatingly harmful, no matter what the circumstances.  Yet, “playing doctor” was at one time very common among children, even children separated by a few years, and I’m not aware of any claims that practically the entire human race existed in a permanent traumatized state prior to the genesis of sex abuse hysteria in the 1980s.  I’m not talking about rape or exploitative incest (which can be harmful indeed), but rather contact between children who are friends or voluntary contact between adolescents and adults.  At one time it was common for girls of 14 or 15 to marry men in their 30s; are we to believe they were all irreversibly traumatized by it?  And frankly, I’m highly skeptical of currently-fashionable claims that the average teenage boy considers being seduced by an adult woman anything other than fantastically good luck.  What if most of the trauma associated with sexuality involving minors derives not from some mystical property of sex itself, but from the considerable fuss adults make over it when it is discovered (including endless invasive and uncomfortable interviews with creepy strangers asking highly personal questions), not to mention guilt over getting someone else in trouble?

Psychologists Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch and Robert Bauserman asked those questions, and in 1998 published a meta-analysis of 59 child abuse studies which found that, when physical abuse and other such factors were controlled for, university students who had experienced what authorities termed “child sexual abuse” (CSA) reported that “negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women.  Basic beliefs about CSA in the general population were not supported.”  But did the therapeutic and law enforcement communities breathe a collective sigh of relief upon hearing the good news that most of those kids weren’t as badly hurt by this “secret epidemic” as previously thought?  Of course not!  Therapists were unhappy at the prospect of a lucrative income stream being interrupted, and cops NEVER welcome the removal of excuses for harassing, controlling and destroying people.  For their pains, the good doctors were widely vilified and even subjected to a vote of censure by the United States Congress, and since then the paper has been largely ignored except for misuse by child molesters attempting to defend their disgusting actions in court.  This is particularly sad because, though child sexual abuse is relatively rare in comparison with physical abuse (beatings, etc), the sexual abuse gets vastly more money and attention due to its lurid appeal; the common problem with serious (sometimes fatal) consequences is therefore pushed aside in favor of a far less common one with less serious consequences.  And that’s a damned tragedy.

Lack of Evidence (December 16th)

I’ve often pointed out that as long as prostitution is criminal not even amateurs are safe because, since prostitution is defined by its motive, no actual evidence of the “crime” is possible and cops are allowed to claim almost anything as “evidence” of it.  Well, a particularly horrible example came to light on March 23rd as Amnesty International reported that Egyptian women arrested in last month’s protests were subjected to “virginity tests” and told that any who “failed” them would be charged with prostitution.  Would these women have still been tortured if prostitution were legal in Egypt?  Undoubtedly, but it would have been impossible to pass off a sort of medical rape as an “evidence-gathering” procedure for any other “crime”.

It’s a Start (December 30th)

It looks like New Orleans may really be serious about curtailing its long tradition of harassing prostitutes; according to a March 25th report by WDSU-TV, the NOPD fired two cops for arresting women on a charge of “loitering for the purpose of prostitution”:

The New Orleans Police Department terminated officers Beau Gast and Thomas McMasters on Friday after an administrative investigation…[which] revealed that both men falsified records and knowingly arrested two women on prostitution charges without a warrant…[both] admitted that they didn’t check to see if either of the women had a prior conviction of prostitution solicitation within the previous year…That check is required by law to arrest anyone on prostitution loitering charges.  Both men said they were aware of the law, but they did not abide by it.  The charges…include…false imprisonment, neglect of duty, failing to take appropriate and necessary police action and creating false and inaccurate reports.  McMasters had been with the force for 13 years and Gast became an officer in 2007, NOPD said.

Thanks to regular reader Joyce for calling the story to my attention.

Check Your Premises (March 10th)

Witch-hunting is apparently still a popular pastime in Salem, Massachusetts, where a journalist was recently convicted of “victimizing” two prostitutes by employing them in his low-end escort service.  The following is paraphrased from a story which appeared in the Eagle-Tribune on March 19th and was sent to me by regular reader Alex:

Former sportswriter Kevin Provencher, 52, was sentenced to 2½ years in jail after he pled guilty in Salem Superior Court to running a “prostitution ring” out of hotels in Andover, Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.  Assistant District Attorney Melissa Woodard accused Provencher of “taking” half of his employees’ earnings and charging them for the hotel rooms he booked for them.  Provencher carelessly booked rooms for the hookers at the same hotel every weekend, eventually attracting the attention of busybody hotel staff who called the cops on them.  The women earned $240 per hour or $150 per half hour with a 50% agency fee.  Provencher was also charged with intimidating a witness after he “threatened to have his attorney shred the two women apart in the media if they spoke to the police,” Woodard claimed.

The two prostitutes, who were identified only as “Jane Doe” and “Jill Doe” during the hearing, decided not to appear in court but one said she believed Provencher took advantage of her, and the other said that she was held accountable after being arrested, and Provencher should be as well.  Based on these claims, Woodard tried to get Provencher imprisoned for 35 years and was apparently disappointed when she didn’t get her way; “His crime was not a one time lapse in judgement,” Woodard said.  “(Provencher) planned, thought out and ran these services on the expense of these two women.”  Defense attorney Paul Garrity said that his client should only serve probation because he has no prior record, saying that the “side business” was started because the downturn in the newspaper business resulted in a significant salary reduction.  He called it a bad decision on Provencher’s part and said the district attorney’s recommendation was not reasonable.  “To call these women victims is really overplaying this,” Garrity said.  “That’s just not accurate.”  He said the two women and Provencher were “equal players” in the operation, and said there is evidence that the two women still may be active prostitutes.

Of course they were equal players, and of course they’re still working as whores; why shouldn’t they?  They probably have extensive client lists now, and if they get caught again they have learned how to play the victim card by pointing a finger at a driver, boyfriend or other convenient male.  Assuming the threat accusation was a prosecutorial fabrication intended to paint him as a dangerous criminal, Provencher made three major mistakes that I can see; he took too high an agency fee (50% is excessive if he charged the girls for the room), should have changed hotels and enforced discretion, and should have provided a lawyer when the women were arrested.  But his greed and stupidity don’t automatically convert hookers into innocent lambs, except in the eyes of predatory DAs employing trafficking rhetoric to score convictions.

How Old is Oldest? (March 12th)

In this column I mentioned the blog The Scientific Fundamentalist and described a correspondence I had with its author, Satoshi Kanazawa.  He was very interested in what I had to say, and told me he was going to do a follow-up column on what we discussed.  Well, he published that column last Sunday night (March 27th) and not only was I very flattered by his praise, but also very pleased at the huge amount of traffic which came from the links in his post!  That influx enabled me to hit a milestone I’ve been slowly approaching for a few weeks now: 100,000 total views as of the morning of March 28th.  That’s still just a small cloud in the blogosphere, but it’s growing fast (116,208 at the time this was posted) and is a big step toward my first million.  Thanks, Satoshi!

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Prostitution is not just a service industry, mopping up the overflow of male demand, which always exceeds female supply. Prostitution testifies to the amoral power struggle of sex…. Prostitutes, pornographers, and their patrons are marauders in the forest of archaic night. –  Camille Paglia

Just how old is the “world’s oldest profession”?  Many people (including myself) feel it’s just a formalized version of natural female behavior, and I’ve discussed this idea at least twice before (on October 12th and January 17th).  The latter column was inspired by one written by Amanda Brooks, and a number of working girls commenting on these columns stated that the work felt perfectly natural to them, or that they were drawn to it at an early age.  But whores aren’t the only ones contemplating the origins of our profession; some evolutionary biologists think about it as well.  Regular reader Joyce sent me a link to the March 6th entry in a blog called The Scientific Fundamentalist which appears on the Psychology Today website.  The blog is written by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics (who is currently a visiting scholar at Cornell) and the column is called “Do Men Try To Impress Prostitutes?”:

…In the epilogue of… [Superfreakonomics] entitled “Monkeys are people too,” Levitt and Dubner discuss the research by M. Keith Chen and Laurie R. Santos with capuchin monkeys.  Chen and Santos introduced money in a small group of capuchin monkeys and taught them how to use it.  Eventually, the capuchins learned that coins had value and they could exchange them for valuable commodities like food.  One of the things that Chen and Santos discovered in their research is just how humanlike the capuchins are.  As soon as they learned that coins had value, one of the male capuchins gave a coin to a female in exchange for sex.  Yes, capuchins engage in prostitution.  The observation that nonhuman species engage in prostitution is not new, however.  Frans de Waal and other primatologists have long observed that bonobos also engaged in prostitution, by exchanging food for sex.

If monkeys and apes routinely engage in prostitution, then it means that the evolutionary origin of prostitution probably dates back before we were human.  It means that prostitution is indeed the world’s oldest profession.

Kanazawa then goes on to describe a passage of the book in which a man describes an encounter with an escort in which he tried to impress her, and then continues:

…This does not make sense…if the evolutionary origin of prostitution thus dates back long before we were human, then it means that prostitution is evolutionarily familiar…[and]  men’s brains should be able to recognize prostitutes and to treat them differently from “ordinary” women, whom they do have to impress if they want to have sex with them.  In other words, there should be an evolved “hooker module” in the brain.  The deep evolutionary origin of prostitution and prostitutes and thus their evolutionary familiarity suggest that men would not try to impress prostitutes, because they know it is not necessary…I don’t suppose there are any systematic and high-quality data on how men treat prostitutes, whether they indeed try to impress them, even when sex with them is a sure thing.  If it turns out that men routinely attempt to impress prostitutes before having sex, then it means that prostitution is evolutionarily novel and it is not the world’s oldest profession.

He then went on to cite research showing that “intelligent men are significantly more likely ever to have paid for sex”, which he said also suggested that prostitution is a recent development.  While I was glad to see the subject seriously being studied, I was a little put out over Kanazawa’s conclusions.  Still, he seemed like an open-minded person so I decided to take the plunge:  I looked up his email address and sent him an email stating that I had read his article and was confused by his logic:

This presumes that prostitutes are fundamentally different from what I call “amateurs”, which we aren’t; your assumption seems to be based on the fallacies that 1) prostitutes provide a consistent level of service no matter how we’re treated, and 2) that to a man, all sex is good sex.  While the second statement may certainly be true of some men…it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination true of most; the average client of a $300/hour hooker…wants a good, quality “girl friend experience” (GFE) which will be much more likely if he treats his “date” like a lady.  Most escorts who are treated as though they’re “bought and paid for” will try to complete the act as quickly as possible and get such a client out the door.  Furthermore, in my experience the typical client enjoys the illusion that a beautiful woman wants to spend time with him, even if he intellectually knows she is there for the money.  I guarantee you that the majority of my clients tried their utmost to impress me, even to the point of bringing me gifts, flowers and the like.

I went on to say that I reckon intelligent men are more likely to have patronized us because they are more likely to make “the reasonable and pragmatic decision to spend [their] money on a ‘sure thing’ rather than chasing women whose price and quality are uncertain.”  I rather expected to be ignored; I worried that my letter might be taken as rude and I thought Kanazawa might dismiss me as some silly tart with notions.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised; less than two hours later he replied very graciously thanking me for my input and asking a number of questions which let me know that he was not merely being polite, but was genuinely interested in my thoughts on the subject.  We exchanged several emails over the next few hours and he told me he’ll be doing a follow-up article based in part on our conversations, and will let me know when it’s published.  In the meantime, I read a number of his other columns (especially this one on modern feminism and the ones on sex differences linked within it) and found them quite interesting; I suspect y’all will, too.

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