Despite being crazy busy with work and meshugass the last couple of weeks, I've stumbled into a few reports about this tiresome Eliot Spitzer sex scandal thing. It's evidently everywhere. Blah blah blah, famed breaker of prostitution rings spends thousands on call girls, blah blah blah. I didn't care until I saw this comment from Dragon Lady Flame.
2) Do I think Spitzer was a hypocrite? Maybe. I've thought over and over about what was going through his head. Did his urge to punish johns come from a deep-seated guilt? Did his dogged work against prostitution rings also arise partly from that deep-seated guilt?
2a) I doubt it. Why? Because, as was best summed up by my friend Zach (who once interned with Spitzer), "the hooker rings he busted as an AG were more of the human trafficking variety than the $5000/hr variety." In other words, the prostitution that Spitzer cracked down on was closer to rape / abuse / sex slavery than it was to a white, educated, English-speaking American citizen freely consenting to have sex for money. And, of course, the johns he thought deserved punishment were doing something a lot more analogous to paying for rape than paying for consensual sex.
I don't have to get my feminism on and rant about how consent is not that %&*@!! difficult a #*&@!! concept because she's done it for me.
The papers, TV, etc. are treating this case as if it's all about insane hypocrisy — he brought down prostitution and yet patronized prostitutes! gasp! — when a minimum of reflection will show that Eliot Spitzer was not patronizing the kind of prostitutes whose activities he aimed to take down. There's a huge difference between (a) an illiterate downtrodden woman whose pimp beats her, rapes her and takes all her money ... and (b) Ashley Alexandra Dupré. There's a world of difference. Eliot Spitzer was patronizing the second, not the first — and it really says something about how fucked up Americans are, that everyone seems to think that patronizing the second is practically the same as the first.
The distinction is more than just important. It's crucial. Apparently, most Americans consider Ashley Alexandra Dupré to be just as victimized as your average street whore — or, conversely, they consider your average street whore to be just as empowered as Ashley Alexandra Dupré. The failure to grasp the difference is at the heart of much current commentary on this issue.
And while we're on the subject, I may as well offer a long reflection by a former escorts' booking agent which makes some sense of Mr Spitzer ... and offers a pretty bleak view of the human condition.