Monday, March 19, 2007

Newspeak for the Oldest Profession

The StreetwalkerFor those of a certain political persuasion, the phrase “sex worker” has replaced the word “prostitute”. “Prostitute” itself replaced the word “whore” back in Victorian days. Each substitution arose from the zeitgeist of its era, but the reasons for the successive euphemisms were quite different: Victorian circumlocutions arose to screen distasteful immoral activity from the public discourse, while postmodern ones are used to empower the affected individuals and remove stigma from them. In other words, the former served a communal social purpose, and the latter a narcissistic one.

Similar euphemistic transformations of other words are:

  • From “cripple” to “handicapped” to “disabled”, and recently to the ludicrous “differently abled”.
  • From “idiot” to “imbecile” to “retarded” to “special needs”.
  • From “deaf” to “hard of hearing” (the Victorians seemed to have no need to euphemize this one).
  • From “sodomite” to “homosexual” to “gay”.

When, as is inevitable, the phrase “sex worker” develops its own stigma, will it have to be replaced by yet another euphemism?

My candidate for its successor is “pleasure consultant”.

The original word for the oldest profession has an appropriately ancient pedigree. According to my tattered copy of The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the word whore is derived from the Old English word hōre, which came from the Common Germanic root χōrōn, and has very similar relatives in all the Germanic languages. The Germanic root in turn is derived from an Indo-European base, qār-, and has descendents in many Indo-European languages. Among those that have made their way into modern English are caress and caritas via Latin, and charity via Latin and French.

Somehow the word’s original connotation of affection evolved into one of opprobrium when it was applied to a person whose affections were for sale. This is a deep and natural human response, and presumably speaks to an instinctively ambivalent reaction to prostitution.

But modern political ideology deems these natural sensibilities to be benighted and archaic, and requires that they be overthrown by linguistic engineering.

The Victorian fad for prudish euphemism eventually faded, leaving us with a few incongruous remnants such as “drumstick” and “white meat” for the leg and breast of a chicken. I presume that the current politically correct fads will fade in their turn, to make way for the ascendancy for some new rule of euphemism.

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I bring all this up because of a comment that came in last night on an old post, made by a sex workers’ advocate named “pick”. Pick was reacting to my essay about the Sex Workers’ Art Show, which, as you may remember, was brought to the campus of the College of William and Mary by official student activity funds and your tax dollars.
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Here’s what pick had to say:

Hi Baron,

Couple of things…

Does it bother you at all to hold such a virulent opinion on a show that neither you nor your progeny have ever actually SEEN? Are you really content to let fox news tell you what it was all about, and then make your decisions from there?

How is it at all feminist for you to compare women to turds? You claim to be so opposed to the degradation of women, but you say that sex workers and turds are both distasteful things that need to be kept out of the public eye. How is calling women shit not degrading?

If you don’t think you should have to pay for shows on campus that you disagree with, what about people who don’t care for football, or ballet, or visual arts, or choir concerts? Should those be abolished on campus as well? Clearly your truck is with the actual content of the show, not with the fact that you had to ‘pay’ for it, otherwise you would not support funds for any arts and recreation. The complaint about funding is just a distraction from the fact that you support censorship, which is highly un-American.

By the by, your links are all messed up. You conflate the SWAS with the sex work matters conference, referring to one at the beginning of a sentence and then linking to the bios of the other.

I hope you’ll consider what it is that REALLY threatens you about the idea that sex workers might be able to make decisions for themselves, and might have something worthwhile to say.

Although my first impulse was to ignore her, I decided to answer at length. Below are her words in italics interleaved with my responses:

Pick —

Does it bother you at all to hold such a virulent opinion on a show that neither you nor your progeny have ever actually SEEN? Are you really content to let fox news tell you what it was all about, and then make your decisions from there?

No and yes, respectively. The argument that one can’t judge something that one hasn’t witnessed is fallacious. That logic would prevent me from offering an opinion on the Gettysburg Address or the Holocaust.

If one has sufficient information, it’s possible to offer an opinion on an event without being present. There was a large amount of detailed information on the show available in various news articles.

How is it at all feminist for you to compare women to turds? You claim to be so opposed to the degradation of women, but you say that sex workers and turds are both distasteful things that need to be kept out of the public eye. How is calling women shit not degrading?

I didn’t say that I was a feminist. And I didn’t compare women with turds. I questioned the validity of the unexamined premise that it’s a good idea to air everything in public, no matter how vulgar, inappropriate, or distasteful most people find the material. No one has ever offered a convincing argument to support that premise.

If you don’t think you should have to pay for shows on campus that you disagree with, what about people who don’t care for football, or ballet, or visual arts, or choir concerts? Should those be abolished on campus as well?

If the vast majority of the people who actually pay for them disapprove of them, then, yes, they should be abolished — or, rather, de-funded. Let the interested people who comprise the audience be the ones to pay for them.

Clearly your truck is with the actual content of the show, not with the fact that you had to ‘pay’ for it, otherwise you would not support funds for any arts and recreation.

My “truck” is that people are forced to pay for something that the vast majority don’t approve of. That’s all.

The complaint about funding is just a distraction from the fact that you support censorship, which is highly un-American.

The assertion that a refusal to fund an activity is tantamount to censorship is an old one, but it is not true. Censorship only occurs when expression is forbidden by law.

By the by, your links are all messed up. You conflate the SWAS with the sex work matters conference, referring to one at the beginning of a sentence and then linking to the bios of the other.

I followed links within these groups which clearly indicated that all were associated with one another. They shared a link base, just as Gates of Vienna does with Jihad Watch. I don’t mind if you conflate us with Jihad Watch; it’s appropriate.

I hope you’ll consider what it is that REALLY threatens you about the idea that sex workers might be able to make decisions for themselves, and might have something worthwhile to say.

The vast majority of “sex workers” are exploited drug addicts, many of them underage. A huge trafficking of them goes on, especially in Europe. It is to the eternal shame of the Left and the feminists that they have turned a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence of the immense harm done to young women by sex trafficking. Calling it a “choice” for these underage refugees is an Orwellian use of the language.

What’s interesting in all this is pick’s conceit that I am “threatened” by her ideas. This is a common formulation on the Left — that conservatives are somehow threatened by the ideas of the progressives.

Can you say “projection”?

This topic is also important because it presents four themes which have been drilled in by postmodern theorists for so long that they have become dogma:

1. The fallacy, most commonly seen in the “chicken hawk” argument, that someone who has not participated in nor observed an activity is disqualified from commenting on it.
2. The conceit that turning a private activity into a public one is a self-evident good, even when that activity is, in most cases, considered shameful and degrading by both parties to it.
3. The assertion that the removal of public funds from an activity is the same as censoring it.
4. The notion that the prostitute’s occupation is always a matter of choice, and that she is not being harmed by what she does.

The last one is the most pernicious. Many thousands of women and girls, some as young as thirteen, are abducted, sold, and live in a condition of virtual slavery as prostitutes in Western Europe and the United States. There is copious documentation for the callous and cynical exploitation of these children, yet the bien-pensants avert their collective gaze.

It would be better for them if great millstones were hung around their necks and they were cast into the sea.

18 comments:

HM said...

But we are threatened by the public celebrations of whoring, homosexual behavior, bastard children, and the like. Our culture is "defining deviancy downward", as Pat Moynihan famously said. To do so requires us to suspend all moral judgment and accept the post-post-modern nonsense that passes as discourse these days. And to accept that, you have to be uneducated, a goal of our education system these days, it seems.

So, yes, it is a threat to publicly fund and celebrate concubines and their dildos, and indicative of the pervasiveness of the absurd into our institutions and every-day life.

robert in england said...

I prefer the euphemism that Terry Pratchett uses; Ladies of Negotiable Affection :)

gun-totin-wacko said...

I wonder if she is assuming that "sexual freedom" is the starting point for sex workers. As I think i mentioned on the original post, I have no problem myself with a woman that *chooses* to work in a sex-related field. Many of the current crop of porn stars apparently do, from a mixture of exhibitionism and promiscuity. No problem there.

If the woman opts to work in this field (as some also do) because it's "empowering" to have men drooling over them, that argues for a slight emotional issue, but okay.

However, if she is pushed into it in some way, whether an abusive male figure in her life, or kidnapping, as in E. Europe, then it's completely and utterly repulsive. I suspect that the commentor has dealt with "sex workers" like the ones in the original show, and not so much with the drugged-out rape victims kidnapped and taken to another country.

All that being said, I agree with Robert on the next name.

Also, I **highly** recommend anyone with an interest in human rights to read the book "The Natashas". It almost made me physically ill in parts. If I ever gave my life over to an active type of ministry, I would want to work in that area. But I would also want to solve the problem Rambo style. Sigh.

Alexis said...

Qaron? And all this time, I thought the word "whore" came from the Arabic word "houri"...

Among the politically correct, squatter camps become "informal housing", illegal immigrants become "undocumented workers", illegal immigration becomes "informal migration", and crime becomes "informal employment". And "terrorism" becomes "informal violence".

Yet, I have my doubts that those same people would use such euphemisms for causes they dislike. In demonstrations, they condemn "war", not "formal violence". They condemn "mercenaries", not "violence workers". They condemn "torture", not "informal detention". They condemn "murder", not "arbitrary lethality".

This isn't the world of 1984. It's 2007.

Alexis said...

rie: "Negotiable Affection"? One hundred fifty years ago, the word was “Cyprian”. The last I checked, the rates of first world Cyprians were non-negotiable and they get rather offended by customers who try to haggle. On the other hand, Moroccan Cyprians are known to haggle.

Dymphna said...

Robert--

If you changed the words around a bit you could create an acronym for woman who LOAN themselves...

BTW, doesn't "sex worker" strike you as an oxymoron? Truly intimate sexual behavior is enmeshed in a gestalt of attempting to know the Other deeply, and over a long period of time. That's why most cultures set the sex as the last part of the relationship to be accessed by the couple.

When sex is work it ain't play. That's why sex workers can't do it for free.

Their code is creepy; their actions are (in the long term)high risk for themselves; and their attempts to legitimate something the rest of the world looks down on are sad.

Anais Nin, victim of an incestuous relationship with her father (and some of her therapists) is a pitiful icon for many of them. So-called feminists who want to reduce the whole struggle for liberty as the freedom to be hard-wired neurologically in the same way men are, so that sexual intercourse assumes a masculine meaning for everyone, have not only missed the boat, most of them are drowned and soul-dead.

It is inutterably sad.

Wally Ballou said...

Another interesting etymology (from www.etymonline.com):


Pornography
1857, "description of prostitutes," from Fr. pornographie, from Gk. pornographos "(one) writing of prostitutes," from porne "prostitute," originally "bought, purchased" (with an original notion, probably of "female slave sold for prostitution;" related to pernanai "to sell," from PIE root per- "to traffic in, to sell," cf. L. pretium "price") + graphein "to write." Originally used of classical art and writing; application to modern examples began 1880s. Main modern meaning "salacious writing or pictures" represents a slight shift from the etymology, though classical depictions of prostitution usually had this quality. Pornographer is earliest form of the word, attested from 1850. Pornocracy (1860) is "the dominating influence of harlots," used specifically of the government of Rome during the first half of the 10th century by Theodora and her daughters.

Alexis said...

Dymphna:

The reason why prostitution exists is because men pay for sex. Without men who pay for sex, there would not be a market. One question that ought to be asked is why so many men pay for sex and conversely, why so few women won’t. (Is it environmental or physiological? If it’s physiological, does this suggest that the sexual equality demanded by feminists could be accomplished by dosing women with sufficient levels of testosterone to make them desire sex more often?)

One aspect of the oldest commerce that is scary to me is how prostitution (whether religious or commercial) presupposes that sex is a service by a woman for a man. Axiomatically, women are assumed to have positive sexuality that is worthy of hire, while men are assumed to be so ugly, disgusting, and lacking in intrinsic sexiness that it would require significant financial compensation for a woman (or a man!) to consider engaging in sexual intercourse with him.

Dymphna said...

alexis--

men -- some men-- pay for sex work because they're hard-wired to engage frequently in an act that will ensure the survival of the species.

Women are oppositely wired for the same reason: survival of the fittest means being choosy about who it is you pick to father your children.

Women don't "pay" for the same reason they often don't pay for other things that are connected, however peripherally, to intimate relations.

BTW, as an afterthought, do you notice that the word "foreplay" must be translated to "forework" when it comes to professional services? At least if one wants to be accurate.

These women are victims of the lie invented when feminism took a wrong turn and began to invent themselves as mirrors of men, rather than to create a truly original philosophy of the female. That's why they sound so...so bizarre. It's like listening to a musical instrument that's been tuned incorrectly.

The whole thing is intuitively *wrong* but the instinctive level does not easily lend itself to words, so it's easy for charlatans to get away with their verbal legerdemain.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Dymphna et al,

Regarding the fact that men pay for sex and women don't, isn't that just a function of availability? Not to put it too crassly, but if a woman "wants it", she can pretty much walk out her door and get it. For a man, it's a little tougher.

That being said, I do think that women who "voluntarily" become workers (not counting the ones I've talked about before) are certainly looking for something- love, affection, trust, whatever- that they can't get in a normal relationship.

Or at least they don't think they can get it. Which is the truly sad part. I don't really know any sex workers, but I have known a lot of women that were/are "easy", and they seem to feel that sex=love and acceptance. Which always made me uninterested in those particular women.

Sad really.

Subvet said...

I've known several former "sex workers". All fit under the heading of "damaged goods" and though they voluntarily entered the life it was with such an abysmal level of self respect that it could make a statue cry. Every one of them was a walking train wreck of a human being that had been victimized and abused to the point they felt it perfectly natural to be nothing more than a momentary plaything for another human being. Truly pathetic.

Reading of "Sex Worker Art Shows" and the like makes me want to vomit. The casual, unthinking objectification and denigration of any human being to this level is always heinous. As a society we turn a blind eye to this, witness the popularity of movies such as "Pretty Woman". We celebrate the destruction of a soul by glorifying the methods used. When we should be outraged we're apathetic. Where are the true feminists?

If you want a good idea of what this "profession" is all about check out the suicide statistics for porn stars. It put the lie to any attempt at glamorizing the life.

Sorry if I've rambled on.

Papa Ray said...

"but I have known a lot of women that were/are "easy", and they seem to feel that sex=love and acceptance. Which always made me uninterested in those particular women."

In my life, which I am happy to say, has included dozens of women if not over a hundred, that I have had varying degrees of commerce with.

I have only "loved" two of them, if you don't count my wonderful Mama. She of course was my first love and taught me the first things about women and also taught me what kind of women to stay away from.

She mentioned to me as I was in my teens that women that are "needy" are to be avoided at all costs. "Run Away", is what she said. She did explain the reasons for this, which I won't go into here.

She also taught me my first lesson about "easy" women, women who she said could and would entrap you in this manner if you were not "careful".

She also (when I joined the Army) sit me down and explained to me the transactions of paying for sex. How she knew if I had the chance and the money, I most likely would try it.

She explained that "girls for hire" were not to be trusted and to keep my money safe, to not go into places where I could be overpowered and if at all possible to have friends close by. She told me that most girls for hire did the work not because they wanted to but because of money problems or other pressures on them. She told me that personally she thought that some of them were just lazy and making a living on their back was the only work that they would do.

I started with her advice and over sixty years of trial and error with much practice, I find not much fault with her teachings.

She did tell me more truths, such as, that I would know within a very short time when I really loved a girl and was not just in lust over her.

Like I said, I found that only twice and I was looking very hard both times.

Women have the short stick, and the more uphill climb, it has always been that way, and I think it might be that way for a long time to come.

But they don't like it, never did and never will, and I don't blame them.

I've always said that a girl that just gives it away is not a whore, but is just plain stupid. A whore will demand payment up front and won't try to fool you into thinking you are something special.

A high class hooker or callgirl (which I have known three of) puts a little more show and acting into her job, as she should because she charges accordingly.

They are more often the most educated, but like my Mama said, all three that I knew were just lazy as they could have held good jobs at any time they wanted. Of course they would have had to take an immediate cut in pay for some time.

Children should not be forced to do anything that is against God or Nature, or that hurts them on purpose.

I believe in my heart that men and women are children until they are almost thirty. That applies to people now, not when life was rough and tough in general and times were more difficult in the past.

I saw a video somewhere the other day, where a fifteen year old was ranting and raving against her mother saying: " I want a baby, I'm going to have a baby" and on and on.
I felt so sad for that child, as she most likely won't ever be mature enough to care for a child.

I see it every day, girls that should be in school, dragging two kids, carrying one in their womb.
No they are not whores, or are they, or are they just stupid.....?

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

Alexis said...

BTW, as an afterthought, do you notice that the word "foreplay" must be translated to "forework" when it comes to professional services? At least if one wants to be accurate.

Actually, one of the major changes within the world of prostitution in the past fifteen years is the evolution of the "girlfriend experience". The definition used by Jason Itzler, New York’s most notorious pimp, was “Passionate kissing, hugging, love, affection, you are the center of the girls universe the entire time you are together.” In the old days, prostitutes would refuse to kiss clients, as they had shifted their zone of privacy from their genitals to their lips. But nowadays, clients expect “GFE” and review prostitutes on various websites called review boards to rate them on their performance.

Just as proles shunned the blue overalls of Party members in 1984, few prostitutes will ever call themselves “sex workers”. (The polite word for such a woman nowadays is “provider”.) A “Sex worker” is an aristocrat in the world of prostitution, the kind of woman who gets her Master’s degree in Marxist theories on class, race, and gender, and then winds up selling sex as her principal means to afford the college tuition. These prostitutes are attempting to use the Marxist analysis they learn in school to justify all the money they spend paying for their indoctrination.

How many people would admit to errors in judgment? If a woman obtains a college degree in an academic field that is nearly worthless on the job market after financing it by renting out her body, she faces a choice. She can either admit that she got screwed by Marxist ideology or she can live in a fantasy land where sleaze becomes empowerment, her profession becomes avante garde, and her problems get blamed on ignorant and fanatical Christians. Becoming a “sex worker activist” gives her the sacred illusion that she is right and the rest of humanity is wrong.

PapaBear said...

The way I try to phrase it to my daughters, is that there's three things that women need to know about men:

1) Most men do fall in love with women

2) Most men do enjoy having sex with women

3) For many if not most men, it is not generally necessary to be in love with a woman (or even particularly like her) in order to have an enjoyable sexual relationship with her

Women tend to dislike being told this

Dymphna said...

subvet--

You're not "rambling on..." I'd call what you wrote a rumination on a complicated transaction. And you're spot on about the abysmal level of self-respect. Were you young when you first made that observation? If so, you were wiser than most.

A boy I know referred to a particular girl as a "slut." I asked him what he meant and he said "she'll go with anyone who will have her." (What Papa Ray would call "needy"?). I took him to task for his name-calling and requested that he have some compassion for a girl who was obviously going against her own instincts to get what she felt wouldn't come to her in any other way. I also asked if he'd ever talked to her. He said he hadn't, that she seemed too depressed to talk to. His answer made my poiont...and yours.

Mother Nature is tough. The stats for suicide, cancer of the reproductive organs, and clinical depression is very high for women who have many sexual partners.

________

alexis--

So that is what "GFE" means. I've seen it before and couldn't puzzle it out.

But what else could evolve from the "education" of women you describe, combined with boys who spend many years playing in virtual reality.

Gag me with a spoon...

______________

Papa Ray said--

I believe in my heart that men and women are children until they are almost thirty. That applies to people now, not when life was rough and tough in general and times were more difficult in the past.

You obviously have been observing closely. I once talked to a forensic psychiatrist (in his thirties at the time) about this. It was a phenomenon he'd noticed but couldn't figure out. In the case of med students and residents, he said, it was like you lived in limbo till you were 28-30; you were under the thumb of academia for too long and then you slogged to pay back enormous educational loans. But he noticed that his friends from childhood were also emotionally arrested, too. We never did settle on an answer, but thought perhaps, as you do, that cultural affluence was part of it.

For whatever reason, "callow youth" seems to be the general rule. Though I sure don't want the universal draft to be re-instated, its abolition meant that boys on the cusp had a cultural rite of passage to get through. Now they no longer have to cope with being thrown into the deep end. Nothing has replaced that necessary burden so now boys can remain boys that much longer.

As for girls...the twisted and bizarre philosophy of feminism has not done well by them. Their expectations are narcissistic. Funny how the phrase "mean girls" has come into prominence, along with t-shirts that proclaim "Girls Rule."

I swan...if anyone else went on at this length, I'd suggest they get their own blog...guess I'll go over to Neighborhood of God where this looong meander more properly belongs.

gun-totin-wacko said...

PapaBear,

You are right on the money. One of the women that I referred to earlier that equated love and sex was always talking about her skills in sex. When her boyfriend dumped her (I think he might have even told her "I like you but don't love you, and don't have any interest in marrying you", but I don't recall for sure. It certainly would have been in character for him to say something so hurtful), she was devastated. She actually asked me the rhetorical question "How can you have sex for someone for 3 years if you don't love them?"

TOugh one to answer. I hope it was rhetorical, cuz I didn't actually want to explain it to her. In the end, I heard later that she had attempted suicide, and a short time later was married and pregnant, I *assume* in that order.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Dymphna, I actually sorta blogged on this a couple weeks ago, within the context of Britney Spears. I hold her up as a woman that was told she could have it all, and found out she wasn't ready.

http://gun-totin-wacko.blogspot.com/2007/02/hooray-for-feminism.html

All are welcome to read and comment, if interested.

Nilknarf said...

Dymphna, regarding the boy calling the girl a slut and your response, I had near the exact same experience with a friend of mine.

Her son (A) was 12 or 13 at the time, and told his mum (J) all about this girl from school (S).

It appeared that S had lots of boyfriends, because she had a habit of doing anything they wanted.

J's response was to tell A he was to stay away from S because she was bad news and she'd get him into trouble.

When J related that to me, I gave her a serve.

I asked her how on earth she could blame the child for her actions when she really had no idea of the longterm consequences, and what sort of a life must S have that she feels she's only fit for sex with boys.

What a terrible way to live at such a young age. So little self-worth or even knowledge of worth.

Needless to say, A soon became S's next boyfriend, which just made me more sad.

About the only decent thing that came out of this sorry situation was that J found another way to look at young girls behaving promiscuously.