13 March, 2008

How are we to respond to the whole Spitzer thing?

A New York Times Op-Ed offered their thoughts:


Some reactions:

Re “The Myth of the Victimless Crime,” by Melissa Farley and Victor Malarek (Op-Ed, March 12):

In the various political roundtables this week, everyone seemed to agree, at least, on the “victimless crime” argument. I am shocked that the thoughtful, intelligent people (mostly men) on these shows are so comfortable with the idea that a woman would choose to have sex for money.

Do these people know any women? Can they really believe that this is a choice?

We have programs in place to reach out to people who “choose” to use drugs or “choose” to live on the streets, so why do we view prostitution, high-priced though it may be, as just another comfortable, middle-class career choice?

Yes, Eliot Spitzer’s prostitute probably drank fine wine. That doesn’t change the fact that she engaged in a psychologically damaging transaction every day.

I applaud Melissa Farley and Victor Malarek for calling our attention to the one neglected and yet terribly important issue of the Spitzer scandal.

Kathleen Reeves

New York, March 12, 2008

To the Editor:

Melissa Farley and Victor Malarek are correct. I would like to add that seeing Silda Wall Spitzer’s stricken face on TV — not to mention pondering what the Spitzer daughters must be going through — shows prostitution to be far from “victimless.”

Patty Quinn
Elkins Park, Pa., March 12, 2008

Jonathon Imbody gives us his thoughts:

“The indictment of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer on charges stemming from his alleged involvement with a prostitution ring provides an opportunity to focus on how to address the plight of women enticed and coerced into prostitution.

“Too many Americans, including policy makers, have bought into the "Pretty Woman" notion of prostitution as a harmless, even glamorous lifestyle. Media portrayals of the high-priced "escorts" linked to Gov. Spitzer will likely use this template, not bothering to delve into the dark abuses and pathologies that often open the door to prostitution.

“Some children and women are virtually trafficked into the trade by pimps who exploit vulnerabilities related to childhood sexual abuse, addictions and family conflicts. Others are literally trafficked into prostitution by thugs with organized crime connections, through outright force, fraud or coercion. Human trafficking for sexual slavery entraps thousands in this country and millions worldwide.

“Current law enforcement practices focus on apprehending and prosecuting prostituted women while the "johns" who use and abuse them often go scot free. Curbing the blight of literal and virtual sexual slavery, however, will require a new focus on the demand side of prostitution transactions. By publicly exposing what Gov. Spitzer absurdly tried to couch as a "private matter," perhaps appropriate attention will now be directed to the real sources of the tragedy of prostitution.”

It’s tragic that in the waking hours of this catastrophe the airwaves are being filled by people who blatantly think we should legalize prostitution, or that the prostitute “loved” or “wanted” her life. What of the morality of what Spitzer did? What about the heart break this is bringing to his wife and teenage daughters?

There are victims here. The victims are his family – traumatized and betrayed. The victim is the prostitute – forced into a life no one could want (regardless of what her myspace page claims!). The victims are the other women whose case just got a little harder to prove because a man who outwardly was doing so much to protect them was actually paying their bills.

And for the record, no one’s life is Pretty Woman or Moulin Rouge or any of the other unrealistic images that have been placed before us to glamorize prostitution and make it okay. This is not so single mother wanting to make some extra cash, spending quality time with a john, being taken to a high-class party and then being necked in the car on the way home by someone who might “love” her. There is no love here; there is no compassion or affection. It’s not a girl looking for a good time. It is a dirty secret, hidden in the dark, in the backseat of cars and dirty hotel rooms. A john is one of the dozens a girl will see in a day. She is used and thrown back, half of her money taken away by the pimp who exploits her. There is abuse – severe mental, physical, psychological abuse. These women are betrayed daily, are beaten daily, are debased daily. There is alcoholism, drug addiction, families torn apart; it’s a struggle for survival. It’s rape with a price tag. These women are being ordered like objects, blocked off like commodities, and discarded like a forgotten pastime. This is not a glamorous thing! It’s time our culture makes this unacceptable. It’s time that men like Spitzer are fully prosecuted, and the laws changed to make those who purchase a prostitute, and those who traffick women into the states as severe as they should be! It’s time for us to say enough to all of this…

And what about his wife and daughter? What of them? They are the silent victims, standing beside their busted husband as he gives some BS apology – not sorry for his actions, but sorry he got caught. There was no true remorse there – it was an act to save public face. ‘Clinton got away with adultery – why shouldn’t he?’ One news stations quipped. What message does that send to his daughters not only about marriage (another topic for another day), but about their worth as a woman?

It's time we change the conversation of a woman's worth - and what defines it - and make it unacceptable when someone neglects or abuses it.

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© Amanda Lunday