Gender, Race, and Publishing on the Left

zippycat at zippycat at
Mon Jun 15 14:07:35 PDT 1998

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> Wojtek,
> >I object to that interpretation. The intent was to make a disparaging
> >remark about media pundits, NOT prostitutes. I might have carelessly used
> >the "stock phrase" you refer to in this context, but as you may recall, I
> >explictly voiced opinions defending sex workers' rights in several debates
> >on that issue on PEN-L.
> I don't believe that you had an _intent_ to disparage prostitutes. But the
> point is that calling someone (in this case media pundits) 'whore' doesn't
> have any intended rhetorical bite if 'whores' are not seen as degraded. So
> in this sense, regardless of your intent, prostitutes become rhetorical
> casualties here. And considering the fact that difficulties prostitutes
> face are not only legal + economic but also ideological license to
> dehumanize them, it is important for supporters of sex workers' rights
> _not_ to aggravate the ideological conditions.
> Yoshie

Oh come on! Doesn't this strike anyone else as being almost a caricature of left-wing p.c.ism--I had almost convinced myself that these kind of debates were a figment of right-wing propaganda. It's a simple fact that because the nature of prostitution is to receive pay for servicing pleasure, rather than offering pleasure for pleasure's sake, it is a natural metaphor for any act undertaken for purely monetary motives and in that context has entered the dictionary as a secondary definition. Moreover, I really don't think that one is perpetuating the collective dehumanization of prostitutes by disparaging someone as a "media whore". Let me state that I too fully support sex workers' rights. I also believe that as long as prostitution exists (and it may be an immutable part of the human condition) it should be legalized and regulated to prevent exploitation and the spread of s.t.d.s (not always a popular view among sex workers themselves). In my life I have gotten to know several sex workers and even been good friends with a few, both of the poor and desperate kind, and (esp. here in Manhattan) of the "it sure pays the rent and is easier than a day job" variety. I don't pass judgment on them (and to the extent that they do provide aid and comfort to the sexual have-nots of this world, they have and deserve my respect). I also feel truly bad for the genuinely messed up ones, who often have all sorts of emotional and substance-abuse problems. I just sometimes get tired of the eternal romantisization of the industry from all sides--Hollywood, the libertarian right (who can only see them as strong, independent, and honest entrepreneurs) and the left (who, in some cases, can only view them as valiant working-class mothers struggling to put food on the table). The reality may or may not be harsher but it is invariably more complex.

Ingrid Multhopp


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