Politicians and Privileged Prostitution

Ain't no party like a politician-prostitute party (image via Sugar Daddy Blog)

In a tabloided media world, few things hit harder than a sex scandal. Mistresses, gay escorts, faux-lesbian bondage clubs and high-class call girls rock and sometimes sink political careers.  Men in power apologize to constituents, often flanked by their dutiful wives, while pundits wag fingers over the increasing moral decay of our prostitute populated nation.

But is moral depravity endemic to cultures accepting prostitution?

Not at all.

Attitudes towards prostitution (like attitudes towards all sexual variations) swing with the changing tides of culture. Sometimes tolerated, sometimes weaved centrally into social fabric, prostitution has always existed in some form.

The forms prostitution takes reflect the social structures of the society in which they exist. In contemporary culture high-priced escorts sit atop the hierarchy relatively untouched by the law, while women working on the streets (particularly women of color) bear an inordinate burden of arrests. Ancient Greeks had their own structure with hetairai (courtesans, much like modern day escorts) and concubines for privileged male citizens. The Roman Empire had a similar structure, though prostitution was less accepted in Roman culture than in Greek.

In our culture that condemns and outlaws prostitution, the level of public ire raised by dalliances between men of power and prostitutes depends on the type of prostitute. White, educated women found through private escort services (such as the women hired by David Vitter through the DC Madame) generate a relatively low level of interest (unless the prostitute involved goes public, as in the case with Eliot Spitzer) while male escorts or women working in the street cause moral outrage and media calamity. (For more on social sexual hierarchies, read Gayle Rubin’s seminal essay “Thinking Sex”).

Social privilege in the sex-for-hire industry mirrors the social structure of privilege. Media glamorizes the heterosexual encounters between white, educated women and men of power while denigrating homosexual affairs and relationships with women on the street. When the public reproaches a politician’s sexual indiscretions, the righteous indignation is just as much over the affair as the type of sex sought.

This post is dedicated to my friend Andy W. for his financial contribution towards running this blog. Thanks Andykins!

58 thoughts on “Politicians and Privileged Prostitution”

  1. I consider they all are same. Politician are even worst. They do it in front of millions people but prostitute do inside locked room. That’s a different.

    1. “I used to say that Politics is the second oldest profession [prostitution being the oldest], but I have come to realize that it bears a gross similarity to the first.” Ronald Reagan

  2. Awesome post!

    My big beef with politicians and people like Tiger Woods isn’t so much about “prostitution” per se. Much more alarming is the fact that they are married and breaking a promise to their spouse. And if they do it secretly, it can be argued they are even risking the lives of their spouses. I think that should be illegal!

    1. I am not really sure how you can make infidelity illegal. There are laws against a lot of the acts that these people participate in, but you can’t make infidelity in itself illegal. I do agree that there is a lot behind this and it’s a topic that gets a lot of attention. My biggest beef, it’s their life, what they do with it is their choice, as long as they are not putting anyone else in harms way.

      Awesome post!

      1. I think it is illegal to cheat on your spouse in South Korea. They can put you to jail for it, but it usually only affects women, because men tend to report their wife’s infidelity, while women usually stay quiet.
        Don’t quote me on this tho, I haven’t done any real research about it.

      2. Actually in Illinois it’s illegal. People don’t know it though. If someone cheats, the spouse can sue the person who is committing the act with the cheating spouse. They do this because marriage papers are legal documents.

        I personally think a person’s personal life has little to do with how they work. If they do a good job, I don’t care. we can’t pin “role model” to everyone we think should be one. Everybody does something they aren’t proud of. As much as we’d like to think people have morals and are people for us to look up to, it’s almost impossible to find.

  3. I lived with a male escort for six years. I didn’t know he was an escort when I first met him, But it made for an interesting life. I wrote a blog with parts of his perspective relating to escorts in February. It’s called ‘How To Choose An Escort’. Let me know your thoughts.

  4. There is something, in prostitution, connected to social issues raised far before the modern state legislation, as you’ve correctly underlined, something that no law will ever eradicate. Though I have my opinion on prostitutes, of any category, I recognize that are opinion, and comprehend that the fact itself is not illegal. Somebody earn cutting people hairs, somebody else making you will well by massaging you, so why can’t somebody prostitute? Children and women exploitation are illegal.
    But we need coherency, politicians are not still proved to be of another specie and there should be a clear and unity of intent in fighting what’s wrong with this issue

  5. Politicians have been screwing us for years – they only difference is that we pay politicians to do it to us – whereas prostitutes get paid to have it done to them.

  6. Personally, as a Libertarian, I think prostitution SHOULD BE legal and SHOULD BE taxed, just as most other business transactions are. What two consenting adults do, in private, is no concern of mine or the goverments, at least it shouldn’t be, unless monies or gifts change hands, then we have a business transaction that can be taxed. For too long in this country we have allowed the nose of the goverment to stick itself under our tents and delve into every aspect of our personal lives. WE, THE PEOPLE, need to take back our personal rights as citizens and tell the goverment enough is enough. For more of my thoughts on goverment and personal freedom visit my blog here listed as Lucifers Hammer. Please let me know your thoughts with a reply. Thanks, Bob.

    1. “For too long in this country we have allowed the nose of the goverment to stick itself under our tents and delve into every aspect of our personal lives. WE, THE PEOPLE, need to take back our personal rights as citizens and tell the goverment enough is enough.”

      How does allowing government to tax the transaction take back our personal rights as citizens? They are still sticking their nose in my business, just from a different angle.

    2. Hmm…Would you tax marriage then? Since marriage is a business transaction between two individuals who agree to exchange sex for financial compensation between themselves exclusively…

  7. my issue isn’t prostitution – it’s the use of institutional funds and the violation of trust of the family. If a politician is single and paying out of pocket, I could care less

  8. Nice post; one of the best reasons to read history is to understand how our society’s view of things isn’t the only (or best) way to see them. I’m sorry to be “that prof” (or that ex prof) but I gotta tell ya the Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World is way off on this one. The Romans were totally fine with prostitution. Their stringent legal classifications were just the result of them being a rather anal retentive (no pun intended) culture when it came to rules and regulations.

    1. Thanks for the heads up! Any recommendations on books discussing Ancient Roman sexuality? (Especially anything that compares Roman and Greek cultures.)

      1. Roman sexuality…depends which aspect. Re: the general notion, Holt Parker’s chapter in Roman Sexualities is one of my favorites. Not sure how readily available the book is; I’ll email you pdf if you’d like. One caveat: don’t believe him when he says women can’t “fuck.” Parker’s an excellent scholar but he’s masterful at ignoring bits of evidence which foil his perfectly-constructed categories. Re: Roman prostitution, Thomas McGinn has written several good books.

        There aren’t many comparisons, though; in this regard, I’d say the ancient Greeks and Romans are more similar than different, especially when compared with our modern standards.

        Regarding your topic, for example, the ancient view is consistent: erotic satisfaction isn’t something you expect from marriage (its purpose is children/kinship) so it’s OK for men to have extra-marital sex; prostitution is a socially acceptable outlet for that and visiting prostitutes is neither morally reprehensible nor illegal; it’s only a problem if you spend too much money/time partying, because this shows lack of self-control — although, interestingly, many of the male-authored sources blame the prostitutes for being greedy and/or enticing. Predictable.

        Anyway, both Greeks and Romans acknowledged that while lust could make you do stupid stuff, it wasn’t a *sin* for men to indulge it in moderation. Pre-Christian and all.

        Hope that helps. Sorry for the long answer, but I taught the “sexuality/gender in antiquity” course for 5 years, and I also write/teach on how antiquity is used in the modern world. Old habits die hard…

  9. Check out Karen Abbott’s _Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministries, Playboys and the Battle for America’s Soul_. A real good look into Chicago’s prostitution “problem” around the turn of the century; i.e. how the high rollers decided to deal with it.

  10. who cares about prostitution? Every man goes to prostitutes at some point in his life, and some people have even more bizarre sexual habits.than paying for sex. Socioeconomics plays a large role in feelings towards different prostitutes. Streetwalkers are poor and ethnic, so they are hated, while strippers are not seen as vile or repulsive, even though they are essentially the same thing. Politicians go to high class call girls and poor men go to street hookers. Let’s end the hypocrisy and just say prostitution is here to stay. It might as well be legal. And dont blame powerful men for going to the whores. They’re just richer johns and the girls are richer whores.

    1. I really don’t think it’s safe to say that every man goes to a prostitute at some point in his life. Maybe some men, maybe more than we’d like to think. However, to generalize it to every or even most doesn’t sound accurate.

  11. An interesting post, but I have to disagree with one point:
    Politicians, especially those who espouse “family values” platforms, have been brought down, or at least wounded, by association with prostitutes, whether they be street-walkers or high-end escorts. For myself, in those cases, I think the condemnation that rains down on said politicians is justice served for their double-standard lives.
    As far as whether prostitution itself should be legal, I think it should, but know that in a nation such as this, which prides itself on being a “moral beacon” to the rest of the world, it will never happen.

  12. I’d hope a highly educated legislator would set a standard while creating standards for me to live by. The fact lists with blackmail material exist is equal to the influence of thologic power of suggestion. Oddly, when they get caught it’s a scandle. More odd is when they seek salvation and recieved a blessing those criticizing the transgression become the villans. The control factor of sex and guilt is a racket as is the Moral Majority story.

    I’ve never had a high class dating service beckon to my desires. I tried strip clubs and seedy places only to find issues. I found it safer to explore my world practicing outer-course. As it is safe, it just might be the idea for legislators too. It’s a metaphor for us. They stroke public perceptions with confidence and when our hopes are betrayed they practice a form of serial monogomy with the pius delusion of ‘marrying up’ to public applause following redemption. That’s anmesty isn’t it?

    The real depravity is knowing sex is an industry enforced under silent ‘by laws’ for the elite while ‘kept nots’ are exposed to economic oppression and conditions driving poverty where selling bodies and children to some violent abuser who hides extorted money off shore while the high priced date ignors the fact her legilator date could perfect the world with a more appreciate market offering insurace, investment planning and intelligent suiting services making pleasure and adventure fun and monumental.

    My question is this, at $5000 does my date have a g-spot? Fake orgasms are party favors for the wax museum. I’d hope 4 or 5 orgasms ending in the early morning hours with both of us in euphoric awe after hours of endorphin flowing excercize.

    Of profiles, is the date an intrepid, a lush or a read and fill in the blanks natural? Can she speak with a sexy accent? Let the legislator speak from experience on this. Inform me please while I continue my political chat with my mutual masturbation partner on my web cam while big brother looks on.

  13. This is true, and is a prime example that we live in a classist society, no matter how much one tries to deny it. Those with money are allowed to live “above the law” and when doing the same things as people on the street, there is a double standard. As far as prostitution goes, I believe it is similar to marijuana, in where it would be a lot less troublesome were it legal. The “dirty” part of it would be eliminated and it would become a legitimate business.

  14. It’s sad more people aren’t sexual deviants. At the end of the day, everyone likes sex, right? Even politicians. Why not let prostitution be legal? We have 1.4 million jobless as it is. Legalize it. Tax it. Educate people about it. I’m so liberal it hurts – Hell, as we speak I live in the old Storyville neighborhood of New Orleans. Just like marijuana, we know people are going to do it anyway.

  15. What I cannot stand is the hypocracy. All the Tiger Woods and politicians in this world… with their perfect families and family values. All it does is show that you cannot live a lie.

  16. This was really interesting to read. Personally I think prostitution should be legal. Although I can understand the argument against it I feel that it’s a fairly weak one. If it was legal there could be a firmer structure in place to protect the prostitutes to make it a safer profession.

    1. You said pretty much what I was going to post; thank you. Above all, I am concerned for the safety of prostitutes, both male and female, and for the health of the population in general. Legalizing prostitution as in several other countries, would allow for regular STD testing and curb prostitution of minors and coercion/sex slavery.

  17. I am operating under the assumption that the first person to introduce an element of levity to this blogspace loses, so I shall do my best to refrain from indulging my puerile male tendencies.

    My view of the matter as a former military policeman who worked the beat known as “Creep Street” when overseas in sunny Southeast Asia is that:

    A. There would be no CIA, FSB, nor any other form of intelligence organization without the world’s oldest profession;
    B. If it were legalized, there would be no victory at the polls by pretty people anymore, everyone would see it for what it was, a source of income when one has no marketable skills, and thus electoral victories would be won only by the competent;
    C. Legalizing it would have a similar impact on the work place, and make of HR work a much less tricky and litigious profession;
    D. If legalized, a new currency ought to be introduced apart from the standard currency, specifically to separate the economic impact of such non-value added activity from undermining the value of currencies overall–which is really why it is illegal, okay? It doesn’t take a genius to sort it out, it has nothing to do with sexual practices at all, it is illegal for the same reason begging is, on a de facto basis. Based on the current debt load globally, ALL service industries ought to be firewalled from value-adding economic activity, such as the Big Five of manufacturing, mining and energy, distribution and transportation, construction, and agriculture. It is not that it cannot provide taxes. It is that it does not provide quantifiable value, just like all other services. When I do a cost estimate for construction, the management allowance for costs is designated as “non-productive labor,” which is exactly what prostitution is. Like begging and other not-for-profit activities providing no added value, prostitution renders economies bankrupt with an ease and rapidity equaled only by dope sales and gambling.
    E. If legalized, marriage would be based on genuine shared altruistic economic and social goals rather than the usual trading of hostages at gunpoint at the Checkpoint Charlie called the human heart.

    As with all vices, they seem to be a sort of theologically sponsored enterprise to drive people into the cathedral or mosque or place of worship when it happens those institutions experience budget shortfalls, as well as a sort of conspiracy to undermine the reproductive capacity and activity of the non-theologically oriented. The irony is not lost on me that the cover-up people of all persuasions seem to have ten times the reproductive rate of those who pursue activities for making new human beings on an entertainment-only basis, which is to my mind yet another form of Puritanism, an expression of the desire for a pure relationship entirely free from the demanding, feral, and animalic complexity of Nature’s intercession into human affairs caused by two people creating a new human life, taking responsibility for its upbringing and, most frightening of all, caring for that new person.

    The real question is why an entire civilization has made caring illegal or worse, the sole preserve of the stone-faced and anonymous State.

    I bought a trick’s service exactly once in my life. We were rotated via C-117 under Marine Corp orders if we were good little snuffies to Taiwan to the Imperial Hotel, chaperoned by our sergeant major and the CO (who got a financial cut of the action), to avail ourselves of professionals who all carried health cards and licences for the four-day pass outing. Hated the hookup completely, and my choice laughed out loud at me, which she was right to do. I asked her what she would be doing for fun if this were her off-time, and then I paid for her to do that, with me as her escort. We went to the Imperial Museum, then to a summer public park dance where hundreds of young couples showed up in semi-formal dress under strings of lights to do things like waltz, foxtrot, and jitterbug (this was the 1960’s, believe it or not), and dine on spit-barbecued beef and pork and cold drinks just like a Mormon church outing except the people were thinner and more fit and probably a lot more intelligent. I got to meet her two kids, found out she outranked me (she was a sergeant in the Taiwanese Army while I was a corporal), then took her to the local air Force base PX and loaded up her refrigerator, clothes closet and liquor cabinet. From the looks of her place, her husband was just tactfully off doing something else for the duration of my visit to her place, which lasted about two hours with no horseplay whatever. I’ve no doubt after 40 years or so she is still married to the same guy.

    All I know is how we do things now doesn’t work well. We should lift a page from other cultures, preferably those cultures which have it down right. I still don’t “get” how tricking undermines family structures. If anything, it would put marriages onto a rational basis rather than the usual “I will lust for you forever” bucket of Hollywood garbage basis, which is maybe why prostitution is illegal in the first place. Nothing is a bigger threat to a dictatorship than a stable marriage.

    Amateur Hour STD mongering practitioners are what make tricking a hazard to everyone concerned, though. I do not know how that could be restrained. Seems either way we would end up in the same boat, with unlicenced practitioners driving out the licenced. I know in Canada what is illegal is pimping, not the tricking so much. PImping is the cornerstone of the human trafficking aspect of tricking which to my mind needs another Harpers’ Ferry and Civil War to end. Today’s American shopping malls are filled to capacity with “prosti-tots” of all genders to the extent I hate to go alone as I get hit on at least three times per one-hour visit.

    Sexually transmitted disease is also not going to end unless one has to submit to a mandatory test in order to get a drivers’ licence and renewal, but that is another story.

  18. I think I preferred the old days to some extent when we did not know about everyone’s affairs. I do not want to know about every little affair people have because we all know they are going to have them, but that does not mean I want to know. If they are a good president like Clinton I could care less about their personal lives.

  19. Money, power, corruption exist everywhere, in every country.

    (1) Is it the nature of human beings?
    (2) is it the results of human competition. For example, some people work hard for entering into an upper class. Then they want some rewards, women, food, power, and respect.

    Can someone elaborate this more?

  20. The money, the power, the glory, the success, takes to men and women, to reach other tastes and sensations because in his hands and minds they can control it. The mediatic sexual use is the end of the iceberg of these politicians, sportsmen and artists.

  21. Is there such a thing as consensual prostitution? Perhaps. Films like “Pretty Woman” have put an acceptable veneer on what is anything but. Let’s view prostitution for what it often is: modern day slavery, often involving underage girls.

  22. A blogger quoting Gayle Rubin! Your sexademic credentials are impeccable! Keep up the good work. Oh, and I love your Amazon Wish List donation system–I just might try it myself.

  23. Legalize prostitution (as well as marijuana) and tax the hell out of it. It’s just sex and people in this country are a bit too uptight about it. What’s done between two consenting adults is their own business and if the government truly wants to get involved (and clearly many individuals do and have), then why not do what they do best? Screw the prostitutes right back, regaining some of their ‘hard earned’ money in the process.

  24. What is it that you do not understand about favor and gratification? Every woman is in this world to help a man or men with care and love. But going by the way things are economically anyone of them may decided to sell that favor or help.

    Even a wife is a prostitute of sorts. You do not do with her sweetly without paying for the fun one way or the other. You buy her food, clothes and generally take care of her else you get no fun. If you fail to pay up one way or the other you get denied the show.

    The other way round is when a man decides that his wife is giving him enough attention and fun and so limits his expenses for her. Prostitution is not new as we all know. What is new is the industrialization of prostitution. All dogs eat shit but the one that shit is seen on the corner of its mouth is the disgusting dog.

    Most men will in their life time pay for sex. Women would too were it it not too risk for their status as wives. If one cunt is not enough for a man it is natural that one prick won’t be enough for a woman, too. My advice is that you do your private practice in moderation so that the owner of the job, you should be doing do not get angry with you.

  25. Prostitution goes on whether it’s legal or illegal, whether it’s considered moral or immoral. I think that men and women who want to have a romantic relationship should get married. If someone is unfulfilled with one marriage, plural marriage should be an option. If you want to be with someone, you ought to be responsible enough to declare publicly that you love him or her. Why is it acceptable to have two girlfriends, but not to have two wives? I think having two wives shows that you are willing to take of them both. Even in societies with plural marriage, prostitution occurs. But at least when plural marriage is legal, the person who cannot limit himself/herself to one person has an option within the law.

  26. Wow! This perspective is certainly on point from sometime in our past society. Today there are no priviledged nor ridiculed whores nor jons (pardon my candidness for using laymen turms here). Both upper echelons and dregs of society; jons and servers, alike, are engaged in sexual escapades candidly with no real repercussions. These acts has become of very little interest to society at all. That’s unless, of course, the publicity of it serves as political gain or public interests (I call this latter the soap opera effect or the ratings race). Long term affairs and sexual dalliance of any nature, and between any race or social classes, are about as common and candid as long term marriages … and ignored, if not accepted.
    Unfortunately, there is no coillision for social and moral order. At least none that we recognize.

    Larry S.

  27. The problem with our society is this: we take interest in rubbish like this, and ignore what matters.

    Personal life is just that: personal. Sure, it’s not right to have affairs, sleep around, or what have you, but that’s life. We need not make a big deal about it, but rather think about what matters. Who cares if some societies look down upon prostitution, affairs, etc., and some don’t. It just testifies to the fact that we live in a dynamic and diverse world.

    I’m not saying I condone prostitution and adultery, I don’t. I do; however, CONDEMN the route society (led by media) has taken us to a point where are brains are wired to visit tmz.com before newsweek or bbc.

    And even then, many of our supposed “news” sites are half rubbish, half fiction and 100% B.S.

    Sorry for the tangent/vent. I needed to.


    Rohan d.

  28. Politicians answer not only to their rightful spouses and their children, but also to the general public. They should exhort themselves to be at least discreet because the media doesn’t care who gets scandalized, as long as they report the news. The youth gets the brunt of that exposure and probably could not avoid to ask, “If they could get away with it, can I too? What kind of society do we have right now? Is this the government that is supposed to keep society civilized and moral? Trust in civilized government erodes and we get a bunch of young radicals spouting anarchy or acting anarchically. I think government officials need to be scrutinized and monitored for their immoral behavior by the same people who spy in the name of God and Country, so that the taxpayer would get their money’s worth, and least are assured that those enjoying those government perks are leaders with integrity and not just a bunch of hedonists in suits. If they want to lead a hedonistic life, by all means let them resign.

  29. Personal life is just that: personal. Sure, it’s not right to have affairs, sleep around, or what have you, but that’s life. We need not make a big deal about it, but rather think about what matters. Who cares if some societies look down upon prostitution, affairs, etc., and some don’t. It just testifies to the fact that we live in a dynamic and diverse world

  30. I like your well-written post. Cute little irony in the note at the end.
    There really is some truth to the old adage that prostitution is the oldest profession. If patriarchy begins with the exploitation of women’s reproductive capacities for the good of the tribe, as Gerda Lerner argues in The Creation of Patriarchy, then prostitution is the transformation of that exploitation into a profit-bearing business.

    Christian zealots, like their ancient Hebrew predecessors, have been trying to convince us that prostitution is the badge of the devil since they first figured out that this would be a good way to get people to choose their monotheism over the polytheism of the Mesopotamians. I’ve written about this in my own blog, here:http://lefthandofeminism.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/rough-day-with-margaret-leads-to-ephesus-and-the-myth-of-temple-prostitution-and-the-anxiety-of-some-really-scary-christian-men-and-women/

  31. I have to say I do agree with much of what you say. It is ludicrous that people operate a sliding scale of morality according to the nature of the dalliance. Prostitution itself is a difficult topic to discuss, I cannot say I have any great input to discussion sof it as I am in no way qualified to make such comments, however I can comment on the way they are reported, the way that certain groups are denigrated in the media and how absurd it is. As far as I am concerned, so long as a politician doesn’t spend public money on prostitutes or give them confidential information, there is little reason to complain. People unfortunately like scandal.

    A good article.

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