A society needs minimum standards

A lot of people look at laws that are hard to enforce and say, “let’s get rid of those laws.”  The three major recipients of this line of reasoning are drugs, prostitution and illegal immigration.  People ask, “Why criminalize these inevitable behaviors, especially since criminalizing them draws into the law enforcement net people who seem more like victims than bad actors?”

I happen to think that some behavior needs to be criminalized, because a society has to draw lines defining what its values are.  I won’t touch the drug question in this post, since I think it was well hashed out here in Don Quixote’s earlier post.  However, I would like to talk about prostitution and illegal immigration.  The first issue — whether we’re right to make prostitution illegal — seems to me to reflect two core values.  The first is respect for women.  We as a society refuse to allow women to be treated as pure sexual commodities.

Of course, in reality that principle teeters on the edge of a very slippery slope.  We allow pornography and Vogue Magazine, and sleazy TV shows and sex in movies, all of which arguably fall into the same category of female exploitation.  It’s hard to draw bright lines, because the relationship between men and women is always going to be sexualized.  More than that, women tend to do a lot of parading for each other, not in a sexual way, but in a boastful way.

As a perfect example of this last point, I urge you, if you can, to watch Chris Rock’s Good Hair, which examines the obsession so many black women have with avoiding the genetic legacy of “nappy” hair, opting instead to try to replicate straight, long, Anglo hair.  The link I included above advertises the video as “funny” and, in a way, it is.  Mostly, though, it’s tragic.  It turns out that black women who want Anglo hair have two choices:  dangerous chemicals or staggeringly expensive human hair weaves.  The irony with this Hobson’s choice is that the women’s real audience isn’t men or white people, it’s other black women.  I doubt white people notice black hair much.  (The last time I noticed was in the early 70s, when ‘fros were a political, not a fashion, statement.)  Even worse, the black men to whom Rock spoke hated the weaves:  they hated the time and money spent, and they hated the fact that weaves mean that black women will not allow anyone to touch their hair, nor will they engage in any activities that mess that precious hair.

My point about the black women’s hair is that, as is true with so many sexualized activities, those activities are actually aimed at women.  (Think:  fashion magazines.)  Prostitution, however, creates a direct dynamic between male and female that we, as a moral, Judeo-Christian culture, wish to avoid.  That we are frequently unsuccessful in that effort doesn’t mean we should give up trying.  This is a line — a moral, ethical and social line — that we draw to define who we are and what we value.  It sends a message to the people within our culture.  Those who argue that legalizing prostitution actually protects the prostitutes miss the point:  the whole institution is corrupt.  Legalizing it is a band-aid over a festering wound.  Certainly the British Muslims who turn British women into their sex slaves understand the real dynamic at work.  (Porn, by the way, isn’t much better.)

I can make much the same argument for doing away with the laws governing illegal immigration, all of which focus on the ills resulting from the immigration laws themselves:  (1) Mexicans are nice people; (2) children are the innocent victims of their parents’ illegal acts; (3) we need the labor and its wrong to turn workers into criminals; etc.  Those are all the details.  The bigger principle, however, is that a nation needs to protect its sovereignty, and that includes making decisions about who crosses its borders.  Defending borders is a use-it-or-lose it proposition.  Either you are a nation, or you are a patch of land over which people fight.  I’d prefer the former, as opposed to the anarchy of the latter.  With that overarching principle in mind, I’m willing to accept the challenges of enforcement, and the tragedy of divided families (a tragedy that wouldn’t happen, of course, if the parents hadn’t decided to gamble with their children’s lives).

I’m sorry if this is a bit of a wondering post, but my chaotic day has meant that I’ve been writing these six paragraphs over the last six hours.  I admit that I’m weaving in some random thoughts as they come along, but I’m hoping that y’all get my point — one with which you can agree or disagree.  I just feel relieved that I finally was able to sit down and wrap this thing up!

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  • jj

    Prostitution’s a tough one, because when you get right down to it nobody really knows where that line is, do they?  When you were young and dating, you mostly aimed for and went with the guys who had the nicer cars, dressed well, and could afford to give you a good dinner and an evening at the theater, (I’m from New York, we had Broadway) – not Burger King and a movie, right?  Do we define this as something other than prostitution?
    How about: “Harry may not be handsome but he’ll be a good provider” – and so Mary-Lou walks down the aisle a martyr to money.  (Which is, incidentally, probably the basis for about half the marriages of my generation.)  Is this something other than glacially-paced prostitution?
    I think the same argument applies to the fact that criminals run it as apply to the fact that criminals run drugs.  Legalize both, take the criminals out of it.
    Roughly eighty percent of police work in this country has to do with the regulation of our private morals – by which I mean, controlling what we drink, eat, smoke, snort, or put into our veins; not to mention trying to regulate with whom and how we have sex, and with whom and how we gamble.  A result of this of course is that our cops are among the most corrupt on the planet.  Not only are they on the take from gamblers, drug pushers, pimps, and the mob that controls the gambling, drugs and prostitutes, but they also seem to find it pretty thrilling to arrest prostitutes or anyone (up until a very few years ago – remember, gay folks?) whose sexual activities were proscribed by a series of state legal codes that in what we like to pretend is a free society ought to be a scandal.  The codes are very old, of course- the laws against sodomy date back 1400 years to the time of the emperor Justinian, who felt that there should be such a law because of course – as everyone knew – sodomy is a principle cause of earthquakes.
    Cynically, one might allow the cops their kinky pleasures busting boys and girls who attract them, not to mention their large incomes from the mafia and other criminal types, if they showed the slightest interest in the protection of persons and property – which is why we hired them.  Unhappily, the American police have very little interest in your actual crime.
    Therefore, let us remove all the laws that have to do with private morals.  Private ones.  Private.  What are called “victimless crimes.”  If a man or woman wants to be a prostitute, that is his or her affair – it is no business of the state what we do with our bodies sexually.  (Obviously, laws remain for the protection of children and the prevention of rape.)  It is vice to go to bed with someone you’re not married to, or (until recently) someone of your own sex, or for money – but why?  Go back to the example in the first paragraph and remember: the kids in high school who didn’t have cars and couldn’t afford a nice dinner didn’t score nearly as well – or as often – as the ones who did.  By the strict definition, all those girls were prostitutes, weren’t they.
    It makes no sense.  “If I buy her a diamond ring, I’ll get some.  If I just give her the money and let her go buy her own ring – I go to jail.”  Where the hell is the sense in that?
    I don’t think there is any.

  • http://explorations.chasrmartin.com Charlie (Colorado)

    Books, the problem here is that lots and lots of places other than the US have legal prostitution.  Hell, the US had legal prostitution until the Progressives, of all groups, pushed to outlaw it. Nevada has it, and within some odd limits, Rhode Island has it.  The argument that there’s some sort of widespread social revulsion outside of the US in the latter part of the 20th century seems hard to credit.
    What’s more, anyone who cares to google “escort” or read the backpage.com adult section can see it’s not particularly uncommon even here.
    Then there’s Second Life, where it becomes clear that cybersex pseudo-prostitution is very common, and (given that there is literally no way in which someone in Second Life can be forced or enslaved into prostitution) the market is so densely populated that it seems probable there are a pretty substantial population of women who actually find the idea exciting.

  • JKB

    I’m afraid JJ is correct, the only prostitution that is illegal is that which involves an upfront price negotiation.  You may not offer sex for a fixed negotiated fee but it is entirely legal to end up choosing to give sex after receiving a valuable gift.  Oddly, bribery works this same way.  You may not pay a politician for a favor but you can donate to the politician who can then choose to vote the way you want.
    If there was more trust in the prostitution market, the john could take the prostitute to dinner, give her an expensive but returnable gift then they could have sex and nothing illegal happened.  if however, there was a meeting of the minds in the overt contractual sense, the transaction is illegal.

  • Mike Devx

    JJ gives an example among other examples:
    > Mary-Lou walks down the aisle a martyr to money. […] Is this something other than glacially-paced prostitution?

    I was mulling the same question as jj as I read Book’s post.  I came to the opposite conclusion, though.

    Much of what you describe, jj, I’d call low-class or no-class behavior.

    Prostitution, to me, is the repeated selling of your own body for sex, to strangers (or to anyone who can meet the price).  As other commenters above noted, the prior agreement on price is the key.  Your high class hookers are often more selective on the “anyone who can meet the price” part.

    There are  a lot of actions for which I’d tell someone “You’re practically a prostitute.”  A woman who makes it clear to a guy at a singles bar that, if he takes her out for a steak dinner with a bottle of wine the next evening, she’s his for that night…  We don’t call it prostitution because it’s too vague; they’re engaged in a very tawdry version of the dating game.  At least by today’s standards of what could be called “the dating game”, that is.  It certainly is low-class, that’s for sure.

    Marrying a guy because he is “a good provider” probably has many more factors involved than just spreading your legs for a repeated monetary payout (aka, financial security).  But it at least does have the benefit of preserving a supposed monogamy.  And sex is presumably only one part of the picture.   I’d say a woman engaging in that “transaction” – agreeing to marry solely so that she can have access to his money in exchange only for the sex – well, she’d have made her bed, and she’s going to lie in it.  😉   What a miserable marriage that would virtually be guaranteed to be.

    In sum, there are a lot of behaviors that are “practically prostitution”, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it actual prostitution.  Gutter morals, yes.

  • Michael Adams

    The problem is that, where prostitution is legal, the exploitation is  usually greater than where it is illegal.  This may be illogical.  It is, however, experience. I have not been to Holland in a generation, but I keep reading accounts of Polish and Ukranian girls enslaved there.  I assume that they are set up in those store-front windows like the leggy Dutch women I remember seeing in certain parts of Amsterdam. All perfectly nice, clean and legal, and horrible.
    In the minds of many people in the ancient world, and right now, in some parts of today’s world, the basic inequality of prostitution, slavery,  and much of homosexuality is perfectly acceptable. While we in the West have pretty much done away with slavery, for now, the underlying concept of emitters and recipients that dominates pagan thinking about sex is still out there. The nice Lefty phrases about “whom you choose to love,” and “what a woman chooses to do with her own body,” hide the reality of, for example, the prison yard, many of the world’s army camps, forced prostitution, and a great many more victims in so-called victimless crimes.
    I believe that God told us not to treat one another that way. However, if He did not, the revulsion that many people feel for these activities is quite real. It came from somewhere, and is not adequately explained by some allegation of religious bigotry. That brings me to another reality:  The people who ended legal prostitution in much of the West, people like Josephine Butler and William Booth, were not, in any other aspect of their lives, bigots. I an sure that it is possible to be quite nice in most of ones relationships and remain bigoted in just one. Mr. Quick Oats describes his father and grandfather is nice guys, except for their racism. However, having grown up in East Texas, in a time when racism was in full noxious bloom, I can tell you that, while there were some people who believed the outdated science that described the “natural inferiority of African people”, virtually all of the really gut-level haters of their fellow Americans of African ancestry were pretty much equal opportunity angry men and women. Certainly Booth and Butler were kindly and generous to all they met, and their writings on the subject of legalized prostitution show them to have been  nothing like the caricatures of Evangelicals so common in British writing, of now and then.
    Where I am right  now in my thinking is that, as bad as the corruption of vice-squads is, and I am well aware of most of it, the experience of people, especially women, in times and places where prostitution was or is legal, has been, continues to be, much worse.

  • expat

    Your point about there being more involved in the term good provider gets to the heart of things.  The laws and tabus against prostitution are less about a naive ignorance or prudery about sexual desire than society’s attempt to answer the question Is That All There Is? Society has wanted us to say there is and should be much more: there should be some concern about emotional needs, concern about and willingness to sacrifice for offspring, thinking about the future and what is important in life. Even casual dating sex exposes people to other aspects of the partner as they talk over dinner. Prostitution, when sanctioned and not merely tolerated to some extent, tends to destroy the potential of sexuality in its participants to the detriment of society.

  • Danny Lemieux

    It looks like JJ and I are doomed to take opposing positions on drugs and prostitution. I support the legalization of drugs because, in my view, the benefits thereof outweigh the costs. However, an important caveat is that a government agency can set the price at a level that limits the profitability of drugs. The argument is economic.
    However, there is no way that government or any other entity can dictate the price of prostitution, guaranteeing that it will always be inviting to the criminal element.
    I echo Mike Adams’ comments regarding the experience of prostitution in Europe: much of the prostitution involves women who were fooled or coerced into prostitution by criminal gangs. It’s legalization in certain European countries has mainly given cover to those gangs. From what I understand, this is also the case in Latin America and Asia. I disagree when people say that “slavery” has been virtually eliminated in the world: sex slavery is very much alive and well, and supported directly or tangentially by many people that would surprise you…all in the name of “woman’s freedom to choose”.
    I also have to agree with MikeD – when women “marry for money”, it involves a long-term contract that manages expectations and obligations by two people. Seeking economic security through marriage is part of building a life together (for the record, my wife and I got married with about $400 in our joint account, so let’s not go there).

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    The comment that Michael Adams left (#5), triggered a memory of something I read a while ago, which includes numbers showing that, contrary to all expectations, legalizing prostitution does not improve women’s lot.  Marriage, however, does.

    JJ’s right that marriage is a barter system, just as prostitution is.  However, part of the barter includes increased status and protection, not diminished status and the absence of all protections.

    Just wanted to throw those two ideas into the mix.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    What lets prostitution exploit women is the power gap. Pimps provide the protection on the streets and functions as part of the hierarchy. Prostitutes, however, are only the suppliers, they are not self starter businesses that purchase, based upon contract, their own resources and security.
    This is why prostitutes will often defend their pimps, regardless of how horrible they treat them, from the police or strangers because of Stockholm Syndrome. They cling to their sense of security because they don’t believe, at the end of the day, they can be safe any other way.
    In marriage, the power gap is much smaller. Ideally, it become a partnership where burdens are equally shared but happiness is multiplied many folds over. Wealth is aggregated and stored, so that it may grow for both the couple and the next generation. Business associations and projects are given a better chance of success with the support of a female in the background, handling the social events and remembering all the connections between notable people. Female success are ensured against predation and security dangers through male firepower and strength. A pimp is motivated by money. He won’t give his life for his prostitutes. That is not how the system was designed to work. Marriage, however, was designed to do just that when necessary. Obviously what one pays for a person is characteristic of the worth of that person.
    Prostitutes are paid in money. That is the limit of their worth. On that venue, a crate of high quality cocaine is worth more than a few prostitutes. It’s just money, after all. But a wife is worth more than a crate full of high quality cocaine to her husband because he can only have one wife and what he gets out of her is based upon her entire life’s worth of experiences and motivations. He cannot easily replace her. In fact, he could make enough money to buy a crate of cocaine faster than he could find another good wife. Thus the value placed is different. Money is just money. Those that are slaves to money aren’t fully human. They do what they are told to, because of money.
    If I was in charge of legalizing prostitution, I would take a couple of necessary first steps.
    1. I would limit the number of years a prostitute can be on the streets.
    2. I would have to create a security system for individual prostitutes that was self funding and reliable.
    3. I would have to institute public executions for pimps, drug lords, gang members, and prostitutes that violate the system rules.
    4. I would have to gain control of at least some part of the streets upon which the prostitutes work. A little different for escort services.
    5. I would tax prostitution but not allow the tax dollars to go into anything like social welfare or Democrat pockets. For this simply creates a greater demand by the powerful, for more prostitutes. I would instead tax prostitution and use the taxation dollars to fund security forces for urban cities. Instead of creating a government office that is prone to becoming corrupt the more tax dollars there are, I would put it to the private sector in contract bids. Self defense and martial arts is a multi million dollar, perhaps billion dollar, enterprise. That’s because the money is out there. The demand is out there.
    6. I would not allow a feudal system in which the prostitute pays her pimp and the pimp pays the gang lords and the gang lords pays the mafia lords and somehow the government is supposed to collect taxes from these idiots. Instead, the payment for prostitution taxes must be paid directly, from the bottom level. If pimps and gang lords disagree and wish to corner the market, they must be terminated. This is where public executions become useful.
    Absent those full basic requirements, legalization of prostitution will only serve to make sexual slaves a reality and a bunch of Congress critters happy with their escort services and miniature slave plantations.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I disagree when people say that “slavery” has been virtually eliminated in the world: sex slavery is very much alive and well, and supported directly or tangentially by many people that would surprise you…all in the name of “woman’s freedom to choose”.

    They are also supported by politicians.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there were plenty of European and American politicians that took “overseas” trips specifically to benefit from sexual slavery. And given the pedophilia likes of the Hollywood crowd, that would suit them quite well to be out of the eyes of US law.

    Taken the movie  is a look see for many young ignorant people on the truth of this world. The Left doesn’t really like truth. It’s too inconvenient. But for many of us, we have already seen the true face of things.

  • http://northstarmartialarts.com/blog1 Scott in SF

    Yeah, I see your point about the benefits of banning certain hair styles.  But didn’t the Founding Fathers wear wigs?
    With freedom comes a little chaos.
    In the end it comes down the the question, can we truly make decisions for ourselves?  Can a person decide not to become a drug addict? (I tried something in the hospital, don’t know what it was, but man, it made me truly love everyone with the most awesome compassion ever!) Can a person decide not to have sex with Angelina Jolie?  Or Jonny Depp?  Can a person decide not to cross an arbitrary boarder which is stopping them from making six times more money for more enjoyable work in a safer place where their children get the world’s greatest education?  for free?
    Qing Shi Huangdi the first emporer of China, figured on the advice of his advisor Han Fei, that he ought to make laws very close to what people actually do so that there is little chance of them wanting to break a law.  But to balance that, he made death the main punishment for most violations of the law.  Don’t know if he was right but it seems like we ought to take very seriously the notion of making someone a criminal, and that if we decide to go the route of making our neighbors criminals we ought to do it with swift and perminant violence.
    But there is no excaping that ever looming chaos.

  • http://home.earthlink.net/~nooriginalthought/ Charles

    “When you were young and dating, you mostly aimed for and went with the guys who had the nicer cars, dressed well, and could afford to give you a good dinner and an evening at the theater, (I’m from New York, we had Broadway) – not Burger King and a movie, right?  Do we define this as something other than prostitution?”

    Wow, I don’t mean to name call; but that is a rather cynical viewpoint, isn’t it?  As Mike D. says, it is low class, to which I would add shallow and superficial.  But, I wouldn’t call it prostitution.

    Folks who “date” that way tend to get what they deserve.  i.e., the guy who flashes his money to get a date ends up marrying the gold-digger who considers her lifestyle “earned.” The girl who only considers dating a “wealthy” guy ends up marrying the husband who cheats on her and considers her “his property.” Afterall, he “bought” her, no? So, what goes around comes around.

    The questions is: Are they hurting society in the same manner that prostitution does?  I would say no.  They might be hurting themselves (and their children); but they are not having a direct impact on society the way prostitution can destroy a neighborhood, or even destroy individual lives the way the sex industry “uses and throws away” sex workers.

    To go one step further – why outlaw multiple marriages; i.e. ploygamy?  Afterall, shouldn’t folks be allowed to marry more than one partner at the same time if all parties agree to it?  In the theoretical, yes, it should be allowed; but just like prostitution (and other currently illegals activities) the theoretical just doesn’t jive with reality.  Polygamy doesn’t just create child brides; but it also throws away young men who are seen as a threat to the alpha male who tends to get all the young women as brides. While the fathers barter away their daughters for some business deal, the sons are thrown to the wind to fend for themselves.  That’s why most societies have done away with “twin relic of the barbarism – slavery and ploygamy.”

    Societies have over time realized that there are certain actions, which some believe that they should be left to the individual to decide for themselves; but in the reality of it have an negative impact on society and are better off left illegal.

    To pull from the recent news of the tragic shooting in AZ.  I would be willing to bet that the killer used illegal drugs at some point in time.  Who wants to bet that the MSM will NOT make that a major part of what happened?  I’m not saying that he was stoned out of his mind when shooting; But, I am willing to state that past drug abuse may have contributed to his mental instability.  But, I guess whatever one wants to do with his/her own body shouldn’t be society’s concern?

  • jj

    Michael Adams (#5) – the problem you address is that it isn’t legal everywhere – but only in some highly recognizable and accessible places.  That makes these places super-profit centers for those sorts of activities, as well as being small, and easily controllable by organized (or, in the case of Holland, really pretty disorganized) crime.  Make it legal everywhere, those profit centers will dry up, people so inclined won’t be compelled to go to those places but could stay home – and the criminals would have little to do.  It’s illegal all over Europe except in the very few places where it’s legal, therefore scarcity artificially inflates the value in those few places, and criminals move in.
    I confess I don’t understand why the plain, simple, blazingly obvious lessons that should have been learned from Prohibition are so difficult to take on board when it comes to drugs, sex, and gambling: make it illegal and watch crime flourish.  Make it legal, the criminals tend to go away.  Is the Mafia involved in the booze business today?  No – they aren’t.  (Except insofar as they control the trucker’s unions who drive the stuff around.)  They can’t mark up and make obscene profits from what anyone can just walk into a store and buy.  Making it illegal makes it scarce, therefore valuable, criminals move in.  Organized crime, y’know, is basically nothing more than a reaction to market conditions.
    Mike (#4) – depends how you define the elusive notion of “class,” I guess. Royalty routinely sold their daughters to the highest bidders, or if not the absolute highest then the one with some valuable commodity King Daddy needed for whatever purpose it might have been.  The Princess may have been a Princess, but she was certainly also prostituted, though whether or not that renders her, in her position at the pinnacle of the society “low class,” well, up to you.  All over Europe the aristocracy did the same thing, to keep family fortunes going, or even augment them.  The DAR has always engaged in the same practice in this country, and the pages of the Social Register are filled with people who married to augment either bank accounts or bloodlines.  (Either way, there was a reward involved.)
    I think you have to define your terms.  Seems to me it’s historically been mostly the blue-bloods who in effect sell their daughters, whether to bolster failing finances, support a bloodline, maintain a level of education/manners/style/nous – whatever it may be.  As I said, it was the basis of half the marriages of my generation.  I don’t think I’m kidding.  But, if you like, change that: it was the basis of half or more of the marriages of my mother’s generation – for sure!  Difficult to see them all as lacking class.

  • suek

    Interesting perspective, jj.
    All mammals have pre-mating rituals, with males courting females, and females accepting or rejecting the male.  No doubt there’s some criteria – some of which we think we can observe, some of which follow some instinct entirely unknown to us.  But there _is_ a courting process and a selection.  I have to assume that we humans have the same instinct … males court females, females choose a suitor.  What is the criteria for choice?
    Since reproduction is the primary intent of the sexual pairing, it probably has something to do with providing a “nest” that is – so to speak – well-feathered, ensuring the secure situation in which to raise offspring.  The successful hunter, the successful businessman – these are the “secure situations” that define the fittest as in the survival of the fittest.  It’s just that in different societies, the definition changes slightly depending on what is considered successful in that particular society.
    Somehow your version makes it a lot like those feminists who attest that all sexual intercourse is rape.  Both your statement and theirs are wrong and extreme.
    What criteria would you have females base their choice upon?  And I suspect it would be easy to be equally caustic and pessimistic about the basis for the male’s choice of females _they_ choose to date.  Do you really want to get into that one?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    What makes a person free to make choices is that they aren’t dependent on somebody else for shelter, food, water, or economic sustainment.
    Thus women didn’t get the vote because they weren’t considered fully independent, given their reliance on property owners or their husbands.
    Prostitutes are dependents, not independents. When any says that a prostitute has the freedom to make a choice, it’s a fabricated claim. It’s not backed up by any real structure and basis. If the government wants to get involved and tax their product, it has to be the case of assuming guardianship over the individuals in question. Anything else is not going to work for the betterment of society or the individuals in question.
    God gave humans free will simply by creating a situation where any human can learn to take care of himself or herself, and not be reliant on anyone else. A person can even exercise the choice of whether they wish to be free or wish to be a slave. The former is harder than the latter. Can doesn’t mean will. As a human grows, they are able to make more choices for themselves by becoming stronger and more independent, less reliant on others. But in the beginning, the will to move a finger one way as opposed to another, is present. So long as there is life, there is hope for free will. With death, you don’t have to worry about making choices afterwards.
    All over Europe the aristocracy did the same thing, to keep family fortunes going, or even augment them.

    So basically what it means is that European aristocracy had a system that worked through arranged marriages, and you’re trying to claim that it works the same way as prostitution thus is the same as prostitution.  A little minor issue you have here, JJ, is that prostitution is a failure. It fails to benefit anyone. Not the individual and certainly not the society at large. Aristocracy, however, was a proven a system, for its time.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    So it’s like saying Athenian democracy is basically the same as American republican values, because we have votes and they had votes.
    There’s a lot more differences in human social affairs than meets the eye. You won’t be able to lump them all up and call them by one name while ignoring the differences. It doesn’t work like that.

  • Mike Devx

    JJ #13,
    > I think you have to define your terms.  Seems to me it’s historically been mostly the blue-bloods who in effect sell their daughters, whether to bolster failing finances, support a bloodline, maintain a level of education/manners/style […] it was the basis of half or more of the marriages of my mother’s generation – for sure!  Difficult to see them all as lacking class.

    I think the discussion *is* about defining the term prostitute…

    In your family’s case, we’re talking about marriage in a particular manner:
    – The family is making a decision, not just the woman
    – That decision is based on factors related to both finances and status.  Bloodline = status.  I’m sure that most of the time it’s not merely financial, among that crowd.  The family status within “the community” on both sides is definitely seriously considered.

    I still wouldn’t call it prostitution.  The fact that you do indicates to me that you may in fact see their entire marriage-decision-making process  as lacking class.  Or maybe I think that you might, because *I* definitely see it as lacking class.  At least the way that you’re describing it.  It all looks so very base, compared to the more typical scenario of a father asking a potential suitor for his daughter’s hand, “So, how are you going to provide for my dear, beloved daughter?”

    The behavior I was calling low-class or no-class, myself, was that behavior where a single, independent woman is making her decision(s) on who she’s going to sleep with, and the *factors* in her decision are what can make her decision high-class vs low-class or no-class.  OR, makes that decision one worthy either of a lady… or of a prostitute.

    An endless series of one-night stands, so long as the guy pays for any manner of a bunch of *stuff*… in other words, if she allows him to proceed, or gives him the withering “get out of my life” stare and spurns him because he hasn’t in a sense compensated her enough, all based on whether or not he’s “earned his way” between the legs… that’s “like a prostitute” in my book.

    And as with all behaviors in this richly varied, dynamic 300-million-plus nation of ours, such women must exist somewhere in the bars in some city or another each and every night…

  • jj

    Mike – I meant define “class,” – not “prostitution.”  But as far as prostitution’s concerned, if you’re going to regard paying for sex as an example thereof – indeed, the quintessential example thereof – then what do you call it when someone’s whole life is devoted to getting something other than just money in exchange for giving themselves?  Maybe the first we could call “pure prostitution,” the second we could call “prostitution by any other name.”  As a teenage boy it’s okay to spend a bunch of money on her and hope to get lucky – but it’s not okay to just say: “look, I’m tired, let’s cut through it all, and I’ll just give you the money.”  That you go to jail for, the first you don’t.
    And I have to admit I love Charlie Sheen’s philosophy.  Asked why him, a rich good -looking move star pays for sex, he answered: “I don’t pay for sex.  I pay them to go away after it’s finished.”
    Sue – my statement is a statement of fact – are you really going to argue that, say, Eleanor of Acquitane wasn’t repeatedly sold in marriage?  Was Diana Spencer something other than a bullet designed from a very young age to be fired at Charlie Mountbatten-Windsor?  (Okay, she was an enthusiastic participant, but still: how many 22 year olds do you – or does anyone else – know who went all the way through their teen years without once being touched by a member of the opposite – or their own -sex, in order to make certain no one would ever have a story to retail anywhere?)  It isn’t about my criteria, or what I would have: I’m simply saying here’s the historical deal.  Isn’t it funny and odd and unusual that – somehow – all those DAR  and SAR great-grand-daughters keep ending up married to great-grandsons of – what a surprise! – other Daughters and Sons!  Amazing!  There’s a coincidence for you!
    Well of course it’s not amazing.  Of course it’s not  a coincidence.  Of course it’s not random.  Nor is it my criteria, I don’t get a vote.  But it is what’s happened.  And continues to happen.  Even though there are over 300 million of us these days, the same 50,000 families continue to manage to find each other and intermarry.  Of course love and affection are generally involved, but the breadth of choice is just reduced a bit.  It won’t include people not in the stud-book.  That’s all.  And I didn’t do it, Sue!

  • suek

    What’s the name for the Jewish woman who arranges for young people to meet and marry?  I don’t remember…but I know they’re out there – even today.
    Of course parents want to influence who their children marry.  Of course they have a preconceived idea of what a “suitable” marriage would be.  Romantic “love” is really only a concept of the 20th century in a relatively classless society.  But the concept of the “right” people to marry is as much a cultural issue as a class issue.  Inter-cultural marriage may be successful, but just as often they aren’t.
    I don’t consider wanting young women to marry well to be “selling” their daughters.
    Do _you_ have daughters?
    I have one.  I’m not thrilled with the husband she has chosen.  I suspect she would not have been thrilled with the husband I would  have chosen for her either.  He’s not a bad guy – just more a guy who needs being taken care of than one who _takes_ care of – which is what I would have chosen.
    Do you consider “love” as the sole criteria for choosing a marriage partner?  Do you consider marriage to be a good and necessary thing for a society?