Saturday, March 05, 2011

Noted: D.A. Clarke

From "Prostitution for everyone: Feminism, globalisation and the 'sex' industry", also collected in Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography (the always excellent Clarke, by the way, is co-blogger/moderator with Stan Goff at Feral Scholar; it was, by the way, Stan's very good book Sex & War that led me to the Not For Sale collection; many thanks to him, as always):
The way we use metaphors of pimping and whoring reveal a profound mistrust, a perception (valid, in my view) that the intrusion of 'market values' into community life or intimate life is not a healthy thing. Yet we persist simultaneously in the fantasy that the relationships of literal prostitution, the trade itself, the original from which our metaphorical distaste is drawn, are somehow harmless. The disconnect is remarkable; it is as if we could thoughtlessly describe something wicked or corrupt as 'as bad as racism', and in the next breath accept last week's lynching or cross-burning as a commonplace—or even a healthy expression of free speech and democracy. Despite our loose usage of 'metawhores' in common speech and thought, we do not often consider far deeper correspondences between prostitution and the daily life and culture which is (for most of us) largely defined and shaped by corporate capitalism.


In our 'marketised' society, we must expect these analogies with prostitution to abound, and to expand and multiply. Since the working definition of a prostitute is 'someone who will do anything for money', and a monetist society is one in which money is the only thing worth doing anything for, a gradual convergence is inevitable: the 'rational actor' of neoliberal economic theory would never refuse good money for the sake of a mere point of principle. Second only to outright slavery, prostitution has to be the ultimate expression of loyal adherence to 'market values'. What interests me is that the analogies, as in the Albert Gore example [in which, during the 2000 election campaign, Gore was attacked from the left as a 'corporate whore'] seem to arouse more outrage and distress than real prostitution itself.

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