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« Snappy prose | Main | Too big to fail »

Mar 12, 2008

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David Wharton

What a cool word, médiatique. And also internaute. Let's steal them both. I want to be a médiatique internaut!

Joe Killian

People who argue that everyone in any profession is a certain person have their arguments (and their schema) destroyed when they meet a perfectly well adjusted, intelligent and responsible call girl, stripper or porn star.

I've met all three and while there's every sort of person in every profession I have to tell you - I've met far more cops and journalists with serious emotional/psychological problems than I have people who work in "the sex industry."

Joe Killian

This, from the Farley/Malarek piece, is also an incredibly deceptive sentence:

"But most women in prostitution, including those working for escort services, have been sexually abused as children, studies show."

A college stats class student could take that apart in ten minutes. You (whoever you are, they've declined for some reason to cite their sources) are studying two extremely difficult things to quantify -- sexual assault in children and an illegal, underground profession (or, if you're studying in Nevada a self-selected group of people engaged in the one very specific type of legal prostitution who are not even kind of representative of all sorts of prostitutes everywhere). And then making a broad and dangerous over generalization based on that.

A staggering number of women in every profession have been the victims of sexual assault. According to the Rape, Incest and Abuse National Network almost 20% of all women of all races in America have been the victim of sexual assault (it gets even closer to 20% if you aren't white). Of those nearly half were victims before they were adults. It's shameful and awful -- but it also suggests that a good number of women in professions that have nothing to do with sex were also child sex victims. When there's a good book in studying female doctors and lawyers who were molested as children I suspect we'll see something on this point from Farley.

Ed Cone

I thought there was some sleight of hand in that correlation, too.

In terms of statistics, your comparison of mental health among "sex workers" and other professions obviously is not statistically valid (not that you claim it to be).

I'm sure there are healthy people in these trades, and others who convince themselves that they are.

But without any statistics to back me up, I'm guessing that it is, in general, a pretty sad and unhealthy population.

Joe Killian

I wouldn't disagree with you generally -- but I don't think it's the act or the profession that makes them that way or draws them to it. The illegality and societal stigma have to (largely) take the credit there.

I've known a lot of miserable, unhealthy, and exploited people in a lot of dangerous, low-paying professions. And they didn't even have to worry about being arrested for their profession or being afraid to go to the law if they were in trouble.

Ed Cone

I would guess that the actual practice of prostitution often has a deleterious impact on the mental and physical health of its practitioners, and that the nature of the job makes this ill-health more common in that profession than many others.

Joe Killian

I wouldn't argue that -- but I would question why this is true. It used to be commonly held that homosexuals were more succeptable to depression, drug use and self-destructive behavior because they were homosexuals -- that the nature of their sex lives made it thus. We've since stepped back a bit and looked at how the society reacts to their sex lives, how this impacts their lives and connected this up.

I've never personally known any working-the-corner girls. But I've known a few girls who were highly functioning college girls by day and call-girl escorts by night. None of them felt that the actual act of accepting money for sex made them depressed or at risk for drug use or other risky behaviors. They also (largely) weren't dealing with a lot of the negative things girls on lower rungs of their industry did.

I'm not a psychologist and don't even play one on television. But I do have to wonder if people in the sex industry writ large would be in a better mental health state if they were given safe, legal ways to go about their profession. I notice people aren't getting shot over whiskey as much these days as when you had to do something illegal to get next to the booze.

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