The Brits, of course, are famous for their humor—or, as they say, “humour” (snobs)—so perhaps it’s no surprise that this fucking cracked me up. I saw that one Freakonomics dude on The Daily Show a few weeks ago, and I was actually considering checking out his work, seeing how Aunty Christ loves a book wherein a technical subject usually inaccessible to laymen is dumbed down enough for her stupid head to understand. See also: Brian Greene’s books on string theory, Robert Glennon’s scary works on aquifers, anything by Stephen Jay Gould. But the Guardian’s Sady Doyle causes me to reconsider.
Freakonomics, of course, is the science of choosing an appropriately wacky or controversial subject (sumo wrestlers, abortion), applying a little economic analysis to it and coming up with a shocking conclusion that will make people blog about you. In that respect, the how-to-charge-for-sex piece was a no-brainer. Expressing any opinion about prostitution will bring on outrage (and attention) from one corner or another, no matter what your opinion turns out to be. Of course, if you are aiming for maximum impact, it helps to be—as [Steven] Levitt and [Stephen] Dubner are—really, stunningly, remarkably wrong.
Apparently, what the two authors are nice enough to do in their new book (titled, of all things, Superfreakonomics) is compare and contrast two prostitutes: one who is, by all markings, a success, and one who is not. One makes between $350 and $500 an hour, and one makes that much per week. One loves men and the general work of prostitutin’, and the other hates them, and it. Doyle says, of the lesser prostitute:
Hey, here's an interesting thought: Maybe LaSheena doesn't like men because she's trapped in a cycle of poverty, and one of the only ways for her to stay alive is to have sex with men, whether or not she really wants to. Maybe that's enough to make LaSheena dislike men. We'll never know, however, because Dubner and Levitt don't ask. They don't care to humanise her.
Better to be a prostitute like Allie, the book’s authors conclude, who is not only rich and white (we assume, since the book, again, doesn’t actually treat its characters like actual people, you know, with actual backgrounds and traits and stuff), but, if she doesn’t actually like her chosen path, at least knows how to play the game:
Boy, oh, boy, does Allie ever love being a prostitute! Why, do you know that she just went ahead and did it on a whim, as a sexy adventure, and not because of any nasty old compelling factors like poverty or addiction or a man literally arranging for her to be raped over and over again and taking money from her rapists or anything like that? Well, it's true. The Freakonomics gentlemen said so!
Oh ho ho, that makes me laugh. LaSheena, if sucking cock for $20 a pop doesn’t make you recognize your clients as the generous, lovable people they clearly are (not to mention: strong, handsome), perhaps you are in the wrong business! Please stop being so not-rich and not-white and with-few-options and bitter.
Sady Doyle, thank you for saving me a couple bucks. Also: I love you.
This story is a few years old, but for some reason never hit my radar at the time, despite its obvious universal appeal. Pony is an orangutan in
Did the clients realize that they were in fact getting an orangutan?
Oh yeah, they would come in especially for it. You could choose a human if you preferred, but it was a novelty for many of the men to have sex with an orangutan. They shaved her every other day, which meant that her skin had all these pimples and was very irritated. The mosquitoes would get to her very badly and the bites would become septic and be very infected, as she would scratch them constantly. They would put rings and necklaces on her. She was absolutely hideous to look at.
I want to say that this falls under the category of “Those brown people and they kinky perversions*,” along with, say, Tijuana donkey shows, any number of popular myths surrounding African Americans (or, for that matter, Africans), and the entire country of Thailand. But since this wasn’t a huge news story in the States, maybe not. Maybe it’s just one of those examples of people being totally fucked up. And I guess that’s perhaps what one should expect when one googles “shaved orangutan.” Total fuckedupedness.
Moving away from prostitution for a sec, what else do we have here? Well, apparently, Rachael Ray doesn’t think unemployed Ohioans have it hard enough: She is going to cook them dinner. I suppose as long as they don’t have to talk to her, or serve her a meal in a restaurant, it can’t be that bad. Right? Right?
At least that gives me something for my gratitude journal today. At least I don’t live in Wilmington, Ohio. Thank goodness.
*By which I mean white Americans’ fascination with the idea that those of other races are more prone to nonstandard sexual practice, and not an actual something that is based in any kind of reality outside of someone’s mind.