Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Overpaying for Sex

One of the most annoying comments about the Elliot Spitzer prostitute scandal so far has come from Slate's XX Factor blog. Liza Mundy said that Spitzer "overpaid" and Rachael Larimore's comment:

The other factor that sets this apart is the same thing that attracted our attention to so many of the rich-guy criminals who Spitzer busted as A.G.: the dollar signs. Spitzer's alleged that $4,300 night with a prostitute is as outlandish to most of us as Dennis Kozlowski's $6,000 shower curtain.
What grates is the notion that sex with a woman shouldn't be worth *that* much. I'm neither advocating for prostitution nor against it, but if the free market will support $4,300 for a night in the hay, then that is what the job is "worth" to Spitzer, and more importantly, that's what having sex with Spitzer was worth to the women who did it.

This is like arguing who is the most overpaid NBA player, but instead now it's about whether that woman's vagina is really worth all that money -- and if you can't see why that's actually insulting to all women, the point is that womens' vaginas don't have a set value anymore than anyone else's skills.

It's true that many, if not most prostitutes and call girls work for far less than that, but that isn't because the inherant value of sex work is somehow set below $100 or $500 or whatever anyone think Spitzer "should" have paid for sex.

4 comments:

:-jon said...

We can argue about if some one was overpaid. A prostitute is selling a set of skills just the same as a basketball player is. And as such, those skills can have a monetary value to them.

Sometimes certain attributes (7 feet tall, or gigantic breasts) can compensate for lack of skill in the value of services rendered.

I would also add, "Dear Larimore, how do you know that $4,300 is overpaid? Maybe she was worth it. Have you compared the difference between a $4,300 prostitute and a $100 prostitute?"

I think Larimore would respond that the free market does not set the price at $4,300, and as such, Spitzer overpaid.

I don't think Larimore is insulting all women. I don't even think Larimore is putting a monetary set value on vaginas.

spub said...

And I don't think Larimore was saying that he overpaid- Liza Mundy said that. Larimore was just saying that this was an incredibly high-priced luxury. This guy went for the caviar when most of us would have been very happy with the flying fish roe. Maybe caviar is worth the money, and maybe it isn't, but if you buy $3000 of caviar for your child's birthday party, well, that's quite a luxury.

Anonymous said...

NBA players are paid to bring in revenue. No matter what Kobe or LeBron do, they do not earn the money they make. However, they do bring in money, and that is the real reason they are compensated. It is hard to imagine a hooker's hour being worth $4,300, even if she had a tongue like a gecko and screwed like her ass was on fire.

I ask :-jon--I think you must have been referring to the advantage of a basketball player being 7 feet tall. It would make more sense for a protitute to be about three feet tall.

I am reminded of Michael Keaton describing the meaning of the word Prostituion in Nightshift from 1982:

"PROSTITUTION! But what does that mean really? Sometimes it helps to understand a word if you break it down, so let's do that now shall we? Pros... it doesn't mean anything, you can forget about that... Tit, I think we all know what that means, Tu, two tit and TION of course, from the Latin to shun... to say uh-uh no thank you anyway I don't want it, to push away... it doesn't even belong in this word really. "

NewsCat said...

Spub, I guess I can see that. I recognize that maybe I wasn't all that clear with the point I was trying to make, that the idea that "women aren't worth" $4,300 is not one I want to encourage.

I do think the skills one gets in purchasing a $100 prostitute and a $4,000 maybe very euphremal. Having sex with a woman who is a professional but doesn't make you feel sordid may also be part of the deal. Maybe Spitzer wanted a prostitute to be the kind of woman he would have an affair with, without going to the trouble and hassle of seduction/maintaining the relationship.