January 2010 Archives

buying sex entitles them to do anything they want

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Here's are two jolly little reads I came across this morning: a newspaper article and a scholarly study of why men use prostitutes. "Use," I think, is the operative word: many of the men interviewed for the study felt that prostitutes had few or no rights in the transaction, besides getting paid... And this even though most of the men are also aware of the violence, both physical and mental, used to coerce women into prostitution: "Of the men interviewed, 55% believed that a majority of women in prostitution were lured, tricked or trafficked."

Here's a paragraph in the study that really stood out for me:

Possibly to counter these feelings, men who buy sex are often committed to the idea that prostitution is an equal exchange of sex for money or goods. If, as many prostituted women have reported, prostitution is paid rape (Farley, Lynne and Cotton, 2005) then the payment itself (whether cash, food, housing, drugs) functions as the means of coercion to the sex in prostitution (MacKinnon, 2001, 2009). Against much empirical evidence a number of buyers insist that prostitutes truly enjoy the sex of prostitution. This highlights a major contradiction. While the buyer is often aware that it is his money and his purchase of her for sex that gives him the control while removing her autonomy and her dignity, he still seeks to convince himself that she both likes him and is sexually aroused by him. Perhaps this conviction is an attempt to reduce the cognitive dissonance of his sexual use of her under conditions he accurately perceives are not free or equal. Plumridge and colleagues (1997) pointed out buyers' firmly held but contradictory beliefs that on the one hand commercial sex is a mutually pleasurable exchange, and on the other hand that payment of money serves to remove his social and ethical obligations. Most interviewees said they assumed that to a greater or lesser extent, women in prostitution are sexually satisfied by the sex acts purchased by buyers. The interviewees believed that women in prostitution were satisfied by the sex of prostitution 46% of the time. One man argued that women who were "professional prostitutes" all like sex. Another said, "A normal woman is never as highly sexed as a prostitute. It would be wrong." Generally, the literature indicates that women are not sexually aroused by prostitution, and that after extended periods of time servicing hundreds of men, prostitution damages or destroys much of their own sexuality (Barry, 1995; Funari, 1997; Giobbe, 1991; Hoigard and Finstad, 1986; Raymond et al., 2002).

Love and Hate in the King James Bible


This is another one of those entries I wrote years ago and have never gotten around to posting. Actually I wrote this in the mid 1990s and tried to get someone to publish it, but every editor I offered it to declined. I think it's interesting, but no one else did at the time.

One day about in the mid 1990s in grad school I decided to do a search on "love" and "hate" in the scriptures. In the LDS standard works, the word love appears 412 times; loved shows up 116 times. Hate appears 104 times, hated appears 70 times, and hatred appears 37. Approximately three fourths of the references to each are in the Bible. Hate appears before any mention of love; it is first used in Genesis 24:60:

And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

The first time love is used in the Bible, it is in the past tense, and seems to be the romantic variety of love: in 24:67 we read that "Isaac brought her [Rebekah] unto his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death."

Love's second and third appearances involve strikingly carnal attitudes: in Genesis 25:28, we read, "And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob." In Genesis 27:4, an aged Isaac tells Esau to "make me some savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat, that my soul may bless thee before I die."

Love is mentioned only once in the ten commandments, not as a commandment in and of itself, but as an aside in the second commandment. First we are instructed that "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Then comes

Porn Works


Last night I went to a free screening of Orgasm Inc, part of the Westminster College Documentary Film Series. (I would provide a link to the film series if I could find a link to the current season, on either Westminster's site or the site of the SLC Film Society, the series' cosponsor. But I can't. The SLC Film Society's page is especially crappy. This is disappointing, because I would like to know what else is showing in this year's series, which focuses on gender and sexuality.)

It was a pretty remarkable movie, about the pharmaceutical industry's effort to make "female sexual dysfunction" into a medical disease treatable with pharmaceuticals. This involves pathologizing female sexuality in new ways, beyond all the many ways it has already been pathologized, all in an effort to make money off people who worry that they're not "normal."

It's hard to quote from a movie you've seen once, for so many reasons: I didn't bring a notebook, didn't take notes, and even if I had, the notes would have been incomplete 'cause you can't rewind a movie in a theater. But I will try to hit some of the high points of this film.

We'll Go to Wal-Mart

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from Boymongoose, for your viewing pleasure

Something to Be Drilled or Hammered


Check out this article from the Guardian, which reports that "Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated," while "Scans of some of the men found that a part of the brain associated with empathy for other people's emotions and wishes shut down after looking at the pictures."

Just to make it clear: the photos in question weren't merely photographs of beautiful women, or even scantily clad beautiful women; they were pictures of scantily clad women with no heads. The lack of anything that would indicate real female personhood is the most significant feature of this image, for instance, not the fact that it was painted by a "master" and is owned by the Louvre.

Also, the study points out that not all of the men "had very little activity in the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions that are involved with understanding another person's feelings and intentions" after seeing the images. The article doesn't elaborate as to why this was, but I'm guessing that explicit education on the fact that women are actually people, can achieve a lot in helping men to retain their empathy when it comes to women.

The Right to Have Plans of Any Significance


I just finished a book that I never would have read--or perhaps even come across--had not a friend given it to me for my birthday: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. It's long and dense, all about a topic I have never before thought much about: what makes for a vibrant, safe, interesting, pleasant city?

The short answer is that great cities are diverse, and diversity is created, Jacobs maintains, through four primary conditions:

The NY Times on the Delight that Is Tucson

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Having written less than a week ago about the glory that is Tucson, I am pleased to find this article from the NY Times' travel section backing me up. If you have never been to Tucson or considered its charms, seriously, read the article. It has cool stuff--not just the geographic and botanical beauty I mentioned in my post a week ago, but an airplane graveyard (which you can drive right through, as a major street runs down the middle of it) and one of the largest photography museums and archives in the world.

Talking Far Too Easily about God

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Here is an interview from Religion Dispatches with Karen Armstrong about her current project, the Charter for Compassion, which she announced in her acceptance speech of the TED prize.

I like several things she says in this interview. She points out the essential cruelty and immorality of a certain branch of Christian thought when she states that

the rapture myth... is a terrifying story--that God so hates the world that he is about to smash it into bits with some terrible catastrophic disaster. The fact that this belief is so widely held in the most rich and powerful nation in the world has profound implications--ones that we ought to be listening very carefully to.

I also like her statement that

We are all talking far too easily today about God and what we say is often facile. We often learn about God as children, at the same time as we learn about Santa Claus. But as we mature, our ideas about Santa Claus change and become more sophisticated, though our ideas about God can get stuck in an infantile mode and become thereby incredible.

This is part of what I was trying to point out in the conversation I mention here.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the interview. I signed the Charter for Compassion, and am trying to think of some ways to include more acts of compassion and generosity in my daily life. Seems about as good a New Year's resolution as any.

Everybody Sing That Last Line

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A friend posted this on Facebook, and I reposted it there, but I have to share it here. It's SUBLIME. It's PERFECT, one of the best things western civilization has ever produced. We should beam it into outerspace along with a statement affirming that this is one of the finest, most complete representations of our culture.

I mean, it's really funny, so funny that I have to start watching "Extras," the show the clip came from. And will you check out Mr. Bowie!?!!! The man will be 63 on January 8, 2010, and look at him! He's still gorgeous! He still has a fantastic voice and what looks like his own hair! I have long believed that he is the coolest person the 20th century managed to produce, and this reconfirms my opinion. He was Ziggy Stardust, and the Thin White Duke, and the freaky guy in Labyrinth, and he provided the voice for a character based on him on Spongebob, and now he does this! Is it any wonder I worship him? I think it must be completely awesome to be him, and to know him.

Anyway. If you haven't already seen it, watch it. Enjoy. I bet you'll watch it twice, and post it to YOUR facebook page too.


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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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