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November 19, 1972 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-11-19

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I wk_

INumber b68

Page Four

Sunday, Novembe. 19, 1972






J .Just take off your clothes and lay down on
your backs ..
-Phil Ochs from Cops of the World
HE RECENT RAIDS aimed at closing down
local massage parlors have stirred a tre-
endous amount of controversy. The Daily's
ensationalizing of the incidents and its com-
licity role of alerting the police to the nature
f the parlors' business have justifiably anger-
d a large and vocal segment of the student
Probably no issue, except for the election,
as precipitated such a flood of letters to the
ditor. Unfortunately, most of these letters
ave reacted only to The Daily's manner of re-
orting the incident and its cooperation with
he local police. Although these issues are im-
ortant, the deluge of furious reactions to
he Daily's role has largely obscured any ana-
ytic discussion of the many issues involved in
he question of prostitution itself. There has
een, no attempt to provide perspective on
hese issues.
Responsible journalism should provide a
ramework within which its readership can
ttempt to understand issues, rather than
erely reacting to them viscerally. I do not
laim to be an expert on prostitution, its his-
ory, sociology, or psychology, nor can I prov-
de a woman's perspective on the issue. I sim-
ly hope to initiate a discussion of the topic.
have no answers, but I have some ideas
hich may shed a glimmer of light on this
ery complcated and confusing issue.
ST OF ALL, what is prostitution? The
word "prostitution" calls to mind a spect-
m of situations ranging from the heroin ad-
Icted, pimp exploited street hustler to the se-
uctive upper class suburban call girl. The one
hing common to the entire gamut of the pro-
ession is that men buy sex from women; fe-
ale sex is the commodity for sale.
Many of the arguments against prostitution
ocus on the demeaned role it forces on the
rostitute herself. She is depicted as the pris-
ner of a bestially greedy pimp who doubles
s her heroin supplier. She hustles in order to
own out on smack and escape from the life
e detests while her pimp lives in grand style
nd drives a big Lincoln. This is clearly an
"To assert that everything in a
capitalist economy can be put up
for sale except sex and knowledge
is plain stupid. Both are on sale all
the time. You don't have to look
farther than the ads for chocolate
vaginal deoderant spray. None of
this con game with a prostitute;
she wants it as bad for the money
as he does for the lay."
ploitative relationship, but is it really that
uch different from the young factory worker
ho gets strung out on smack to escape from
s dehumanizingly tedious job on the Ford
ssembly line while Henry Ford lives in grand
yle and drives a big Lincoln?
The obvious "difference" between the two
that the factory worker, though dehuman-
ed and exploited, is selling his labor, some-
bing "outside" of himself, while the prostitute
Ills a much more fundamental experience.
he sale of sex, with the usual accompanying
lienation from all sex, is somehow more odi-
us to society than the sale of labor.
But, for a moment, consider the job of pro-
assional football players. It is no longer a se-
ret that pro football players shoot up steroid
ompounds on a strict regimen to add weight
nd beef themselves up. The normal side ef-
et of steroids is loss of potency and inability
perform sexually. Aren't they prostituting
aemselves, selling their sex in order to keep
aeir jobs?

Check your guts now: do you react to this
ae way you might to female prostitution? I
on't think so. It seems that there is a differ-
ace between the way society views men and
omen selling their sex,
(OW CONSIDER the high society girl for a
moment, the Bree Daniels of Klute fame,
ad there are lots of them. A decent call girl
in make $100 a night and maybe even grab
steak dinner in the bargain. She may or may
ot be paying a fee to a "matchmaker" but ev-
1 if she is, her earning power is far greater
ian that of the average secretary, sales girl
' clerk, who might take home $80-90 a week
!ter taxes. A call girl can work one day per
eek and make more money than the majority
women who are employed full time. Typi-
lly, women's jobs are demeaning, mindless,
id menial, not to mention the on-the-job
ssles of being the sexual prey of the profes-

AP Photo
TWO MEMBERS of the newly created "Pimp Squad" of the New York City Police Department escort
an alleged prostitute across Broadway in Times Square early in the morning.

decrease the spread of VD since -it would be
simple to require weekly VD check-ups for
continued certification as a licensed prosti-
WHAT EMERGES from all this is a very hazy
picture at best. People. say that sex
should not be for sale in a country where
everything is for sale and usually sold with the
aid of advertising calculated to link the pro-
duct with sexual gratification. People say
that prostitution is demeaning and exploitative
to women, but a good case can be made that
it is no more demeaning than housewifery or
shitwork, perhaps less.
And if you object to male pimps living off
the labor of their girls, do you approve of
madams? Furthermore, what's the difference
between prostitution and cutting your hair
or donning a bra and shaving your legs to land
that straight job so you can work two months
(though you told them you'd stay a year) then
split to the good life in Big Sur?
The only perspective which cuts through
these seeming contradictions is the view that
female sexuality is now and has always been
the private property of men. Certainly this is
the case with respect to marriage. The wife
becomes the sexual captive of her husband.
Monogamy has always meant monogamy for
women. This point has been made by countless
anthropologists from Engels in The Origins of
the Family, Private Property and the State,
on down to the present day.
Men have always seen themselves as free to
fuck around while their wives were fitted with
psychological, if not physical, chastity belts
back home. This is where prostitution emerges
as a necessary occupation, invented by men
for their own pleasure. After all, you can't
always do it with some other guy's wife, and
virgins, until relatively recently, have believed
the male initiated myth that they should be
virgins when they married, so men needed a
readily available supply of holes to put it into.
In a culture of sexually imprisoned women,
prostitutes occupy a unique position in that
they do have sexual freedom, and a certain
amount of power. The one thing that Bree
Daniels enjoyed about her profession was the
power it gave her over men. However, the
prostitute must pay a heavy price for her
sexual freedom and smidgen of power over
men, the price of her self-respect, since female
self-respect is defined in male terms.
It is honorable in collective male terms for
a woman to be a housewife, or clerk, but it is
definitely not honorable for her to be free to
regulate her own sexuality. The male attitude
toward prostitutes is an ambivalent one: men
will line up for a "really good piece of ass"
while they hate the prostitute every minute
for her sexual freedom because it threatens
the captivity of their wives. After all, what if
every woman demanded to be paid for sex .,.
what if my wife did ... ?
This is why the law comes down, on the
prostitute rather than on the male consumer
or pimp if there is one. The law is male
developed and dominated, and has institution-
alized male hate for and threat froin pros-
titutes by continual harassment and jail sen-

tences. Prostitution is definitely not a victim-
less crime. The prostitutes themselves are the
victims. In the recent massage parlor raids,
the female employes were booked on felonies
while the consumers got misdemeanors, if
anything. Clearly this is sexist discrimination.
The, act does take two consenting partners....
1,JANY CULTURES, perhaps most, see female
sexuality as the private property of the
men. In many tribal cultures, it was and is
the chief's prerogative and privilege to' de-
flower all virgins. This practice set the chief
up as one better than the rest of the men at
the expenfe of all the women.
In the tyrncal pimp-pro-titute relationship,
we see a microcosm of all capitalist work
relationships. Someone owns the labor of
someone else. It matters little whether the
employe smiles, drops her pants, and spreads
her leis, or if she smiles, crosses her legs, and
says, "Mr. Smith is on the phone right now.
Could you wait a moment?"
There is another contemporary connection
between capitalism and prostitution: it follows
the flags of economic imperialism. In Batista's
Cuba, wealthy vacationing Americans clipped
:oupons on the world sugar market, while
prostitutes were as plentiful as Havana cigars,
and competitively priced. The same was true
for pre-revolutionary Shanghai. And the ladies
of Saigon are legendary. . . . U.S. imperialism
has many nations literally "by the balls," and
prostitution is the female side of the rampag-
ing dollar.
The language itself is very graphic and re-
vealing: imperialism "penetrates" Third World
nations. I am tempted to assert that domestic
prostitution has a class and race base, that
rsch white men fuck poor black women while
white racism fucks them over daily. Malcom X
implies this in his Autobiography. While I am
certain that there is an element of truth to
this, I think the situation is much more com-
plex than this perspective can explain. Just
look for a moment at the burgeoning number
of suburban white call girl rings which are
popping up like shopping centers.
One thing worthy of note is that recent
travelers indicate that prostitution has been
eliminated in both China and Cuba (as has
drug addiction). It would be interesting to
interview former prostitutes in these countries
in order to better understand this transforma-
SO, WHAT ABOUT these massage parlors?
Can anyone honestly tell any of the em-
ployes to quit a $10-20 per hour job and be-
come a Kelley Girl? The point is that this
society provides very few creative outlets for
women's energy while demanding uninter-
rupted consumption to keep them sexually
The situation of the prostitute is symbolic
of the marketplace relationships that define
all social relations under capitalism. An anti-
capitalist alternative may not of itself resolve
all the problems facing women. But I think
it's a good place to start.

making the bed and lying in it. For men, the
marriage bed represents free sexual gratifica-
tion on demand. The woman, who has few if
any skills, who would be unlikely, if not com-
pletely unable, to survive economically on her
own, is basically a prisoner of her husband
and his sexual appetites.
So who is in the more demeaned position:
the housewife whose services are free on de-
mand, or the prostitute who maintains a reg-
ular income from her sex which she can sell as
she pleases? In this light, prostitution appears
as a liberating alternative to the forcible rape
called marriage. The fact that not all marri-
ages are forcible rape relationships in no way
nullifies this prostitution. Prostitution may
very well be a form of sexual self-determina-
tion for some women.
THERE ARE a number of "sensitivity" argu-
ments against prostitution which deserve
examination. The one most frequently heard is
that sexual experiences can only be "meaning-
ful" in the context of a love relationship. What
this argument objects to is the commodifica-
tion of sex. Sex should not be for sale to all
comers, as it were, it should be the physical
dimension to a multi-dimensional relationship.
Sex is somehow sacred and must be reserv-
ed for love relationships which cannot be
bought. Love must e worked on for it to be
"real."Interestingly enough, this same general
argument is used against term paper firms.
The professorial contention is that knowledge
is only "real" when it is struggled for. It can-
not be bought. The obvious flaw in this argu-
ment is that in a capitalist society literally ev-
erything is for sale; everything is commodified
including sex and knowledge. The assumption
that one can buy happiness, for instance, lies
at the heart of all advertising. Consuming
equals happiness. Happiness is unlimited if
you have the money to purchase everything
your heart desires. Advertising is blatantly
sexual too.
Personally, I feel that discreet prostitution
is a constructive alternative to the out and out
pandering that we see daily on television and
in magazines. Can't you just see svelte Suzie
Sexobject in her pert GL-70 smile, Maybelline
mascara, and Revlon lipstick purring "Fly
me!" Is that obscene or isn't it? To assert that
everything in a capitalist economy can be put
up for sale except sex and knowledge is plain
stupid. Both are on sale all the time. You don't
have to look farther than the ads for chocolate
vaginal deodorant spray to see sex for sale.
And as for knowledge, is there any real dif-
ference between a professor publishing a com-
pilation of his/her grad students' research in
exchange for fellowships and good recommen-
dations, and that same prof's student buying a
paper from Write-On? I don't think so. And if
prostitution is the purchase of sexual favors,
isn't courtship a form of it? The male of the
species courts the female by wining and dining
her-with the emphasis more than likely on
the wine than the dine. Is spending money to
initiate a relationship any different from
spending money to consummate one?
In one sense, courtship is more insidious
than prostitution since courting implies at
least some seduction or coaxing of a presum-
ably less than enthusiastic partner. None of
this con game with a nrnstitute- she wants it

ness as one's frame of reference, this kind of
relationship is not a healthy one. But should
it be illegal? With the divorce rate approach-
ing 40 per cent, and almost everyone I know
really hating his/her landlord, the phone com-
pany, and Nixon-hate relationships are an
ongoing, thriving part of everyday life.
Taking this point further, do all prostitutes
even hate their Johns and feel demeaned by
their work? Of course, many, perhaps even a
majority do, but it is possible for a prostitute
to enjoy her work, be sexually satisfied, take a
craftsperson's pride in satisfying her custom-
ers, and be pleased to report that most of her
customers are a regular clientele. The fact is
that faced with the limited options open to
her, sex, a woman may, in good conscience and
in full possession of her faculties, choose to
earn her living by prostitution. If you don't-
believe it, check out what one artist of the
night spray painted on the wall of The Daily's
building right next to "Massage forever." It
reads: "If I want 2 B a prost then I should B
free 2 choose." (sic)
Another argument often voiced against pro-
stitution is that it is a health hazard, that it
contributes to the spread of venereal disease.
While this certainly contains a germ of truth,
prostitution cannot be blamed for the present
epidemic proportions of venereal disease. The
pitiful lack of availability of courteous, non-
moralizing diagnosis and treatment, and the
hush-hush, anti-educational attitudes preva-
lent in public schools are much more to blame.
In fact, legalizing prostitution would probably


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