D.C. Madam commits suicide, pigs sprout wings, and the aliens bring back Elvis

Forgive me for being just a tad suspicious in the wake of this death.

Deborah Palfrey, the famous D.C. madam, probably knew a lot of secrets. Her continued existence was inconvenient and irritating to many people. She could have easily written the sort of bestselling memoir that could make publishers weep at her feet (though she would have had to turn repentant for that, and something tells me she wouldn’t have repented).

Now she’s gone and offed herself. How convenient.

Even if Deborah Palfrey did not have any “help” when it came to ending her life, her death is still a huge indictment of our politicians and our country, a country where “bad boys” are ushered to the bosoms of their communities and allowed to go on with their lives, while women pay the price for indiscretion.

When it comes to shaming, the ladies are just as bad as the men. Self-styled feminists have no problem saying that “scarlet women” are not to be trusted, or that they are complicit in their own harassment. Celebrities who get paid big bucks for their good looks get all huffy when they notice other women showing off their charms, whether for pay or for fun. The people who amuse me most are the chest-beating madonnas who gnaw their manicured nails in terror at the thought of teenage Madison Tyler being exposed to challenging lifestyles and ideas on account of some people’s contention that women (and men) in the flesh business should be treated like human beings. The idea of raising their own damn kids never crosses their minds.

Oh God, deliver me from the stupid and the cruel. And rest the soul of Deborah Palfrey

See Feministe for more.

18 thoughts on “D.C. Madam commits suicide, pigs sprout wings, and the aliens bring back Elvis

  1. Natalia said: “… damn kids …”

    Natalia, I hope you never become a parent, unless you radically change that attitude.

    I’ll tell you why. When you say “damn KIDS,” that implies, at the moment that you use that phrase, that, to a certain degree, you’re hostile to kids themselves when you think that their needs conflict with your preferences. In other words, you see kids as objects — the kids themselves, rather than their parents. You could have said, “Let the damn parents raise their own kids.”
    Instead you said, “… raising their own DAMN KIDS …”.

    That you would say “damn KIDS” instead of “damn PARENTS” is revealing about your own psychology, because “kids” can’t prevent your cultural preferences from being realized. Only parents can do that. That’s because kids don’t have the power to enforce their own rights. Only parents, because they are adults, have the power to enforce the rights of kids.

    But, in your above post, when you contemplated that adults might enforce the rights of kids against your own preferences, you didn’t damn the adults — you damned the kids!

    You’re the only blogger I’ve encountered who has actually damned children (“damn kids”) for having needs that might conflict with your own preferences.

    What that shows, on your part, is either some degree of hostility toward kids, or at least not enough empathy for kids to recognize that kids’ needs necessarily take precedence over adults’ right to entertainment.

    Now to return to your seeing kids as objects. An adult who himself was loved and completely supported as a child, will learn from that, during his own childhood, that he is a subject and not an object — in other words, that his own needs, feelings, thoughts, etc., have at least the same right to respect and consideration as those of other people. To the degree that a child is not supported/loved during childhood, to that degree he will see himself as an object. And unless, later in life, he enters a social environment where his own needs are given consideration at least equal to the needs of others, he will continue to see himself as an object. And in such a case, since his memory of his childhood is his memory of being an object, he will, as an adult, necessarily see other people’s children as objects rather than as subjects, and he’ll have minimal empathy for children in general, no matter what lip service he pays to mainstream morality. That’s why abused children all too often grow up to be child abusers — because they see other people’s children (or their own) as objects for which they have little or no empathy.

    I am not suggesting that you yourself are necessarily destined to become a child abuser, even though you were hideously abused as a child. But in the context of your own personal history, your choice of the phrase “damn KIDS” is in fact revealing. It’s something you need to think about, and I hope you will consider getting the specialized psychotherapy that is designed to help adult survivors of child sexual abuse recover from that trauma and become more aware of how their own history affects their attitudes toward children.

    I want to tell you something else. Renegade Evolution, who on her own blog is explicit about her status as a sex worker and defends the rights and dignity of sex workers, would never advocate the rights of sex workers to the point where such rights might compromise safe childrearing practices. That’s why, I think, Ren insists that pornography should not be used for sex education. She knows that children are subjects rather than objects, and that children are a particular kind of subject who are radically different from adults and have needs radically different from the needs of adults, including the needs of adult entertainers. Ren might conceivably say “damn parents,” but I don’t think she’d ever say “damn kids,” because Ren has already said that she was loved as a kid, and my guess is that she loves kids, too.

    Finally, I want to refer you to the works of John N. Briere, who I think is a sociologist and child psychologist. His two books, entitled “Child Abuse Trauma” and “Principles of Trauma Therapy,” could be useful to you in learning how your own childhood trauma has affected your attitudes toward your own sexuality and also your attitude toward social life generally. And I hope you will think seriously about getting the specialized kind of psychotherapy designed to help child abuse survivors recover from their trauma.

    One further point: For a woman of your age (23 going on 24), it’s highly, highly unusual to show such a lack of empathy for the needs of kids. Remember Hillary Clinton’s slogan, “It takes a village to raise a child”? In your above post, you’re making it clear that you don’t want to be part of that village. At your age, that’s unusual. In fact, it’s something Dick Cheney might say about the kids of Iraq. You need to think about that. That’s all I have to say.

  2. Two corrections to my first comment:

    Sixth paragraph, second line: The smiley face after “damn kids” should be deleted and replaced with a right-parenthesis. I don’t know how a smiley face got in there.

    Final paragraph, fifth line: “… IT’S something Dick Cheney might say” should be changed to:

    “… your phrase ‘damn kids’ is something Dick Cheney might say …”

  3. As a (new! 😀 ) parent, you find out something new every day. Now I know that I’m not fit to be a parent having used the phrase “damn kids” about a million times.

    James, does it occur to you that not all people use the word “damn” to actually damn someone? Or that suggesting psychotherpay to someone you don’t even know is rude? Or that you should check the verbal diarrhea?

    Sorry, Nat, if all of that was unhelpful.

    To get back to your point about the D.C. Madam, I doubt it was murder. I think the public scorn and hate was too much for that woman to handle. People kill themselves over less than that.

  4. Natalia said: “I suggest deep breaths.”

    You’re probably right. I probably overreacted. But I want to tell you something. Although I’ve never been a parent myself, I’ve been a teacher and an uncle, and as such have played a role in raising kids, and I know that parents become extremely uneasy when they hear the phrase “raise your own damn kids.” Parents quite rightly dislike the idea of raising their kids in a moral foxhole. In Atlanta, where I live, the only people I’ve encountered who would say “raise your own damn kids” are not self-described progressives but ultralibertarian Republicans who see other people’s children as an obstacle to their own goal of a Hobbesian society. In Atlanta, “raise your own damn kids” is a typical ultralibertarian response to Hillary’s “village.”

    If I overreacted, it’s because you’re the first self-described progressive/sex-worker-advocate who has even obliquely suggested that parenting and prostitution would somehow conflict, and that if they do conflict, then parents should lose. That might not be the meaning you intended, but that’s sure how it came out.

    In societies that have a healthy future, parenting is supposed to be protected from activities that could realistically threaten it. Ultralibertarians dislike the constraints of social life to begin with, and they particularly dislike the irrefutable argument that even ultralibertarians have an interest in protecting the parenting of “other people’s children.”

    Your better argument would have been that destigmatized prostitution does not realistically threaten parenting. The only way prostitution could threaten parenting is by threatening the stability of formal marriages, and Octogalore has argued on Renegade Evolution’s blog that prostitution by itself does not threaten fidelity in marriage. Since Octogalore is better informed about these issues than I am, I’ll leave it at that.

    I would also add that a society that drives someone like Deborah Palfrey to suicide but lets her male clients escape quietly is a society that needs to change radically.

    I’ll rethink my first response. But you’re the first person I’ve encountered who suggests that if prostitution threatens parenting, then parents should submit quietly — or at least that’s how it sounded. I’ll start my deep breaths now.

  5. Lal said: “… check the verbal diarrhea …”

    Agreed.

    Lal also said: “… suggesting psychotherapy to someone you don’t even know is rude …”

    In her archives for this blog, Natalia has reported an experience in her own childhood that, in the U.S., would call for a specialized kind of psychotherapy. I’ll leave it to Natalia to provide the details of that experience as she sees fit. Otherwise I wouldn’t have suggested psychotherapy. But I’ll be more cautious about recommending psychotherapy in the future.

  6. What makes you think that Nat hasn’t been to therapy or gotten other types of help? And if she really hasn’t, you think she needs your stupid ass to lead the way? You really have a high opinion of yourself don’t you?

    “But you’re the first person I’ve encountered who suggests that if prostitution threatens parenting, then parents should submit quietly — or at least that’s how it sounded.”

    I’m not Nat, but you made a biiiiig effort to jump to that conclusion. “Threatens parenting”? Are you high? What’s being discussed is the radical idea that parents should not expect other people to explain the existence of alternative lifestyles to their kids. Making the whole damn thing illegal and sweeping it under the carpet is not helping anyone, including little Madison Taylors who are growing up clueless and unequipped to deal with the world.

  7. Lal, thanks for responding.

    To answer your questions:

    Natalia doesn’t need my stupid ass for anything. I’ve known that for a long time.

    And no, I actually don’t have a high opinion of myself. I work as a hospital transcriptionist and my work has included transcribing child protection cases. In order to understand what I’ve been transcribing, I’ve been reading up on child abuse and its aftermath. It’s documented that adults who have been abused as children have a higher likelihood of abusing children themselves, or, at the very least, such adults find it difficult to feel empathy for kids since they themselves didn’t experience much empathy. Since I had earlier read Natalia’s reports about her own childhood in her blog archives, I panicked when Natalia wrote, “raising their own damn kids.” In the child protection cases that I’ve transcribed and also in press reports that I’ve read in the Atlanta area, adults who vocally refuse to accommodate the needs of “other people’s kids” often turn out to have been abused or at least severely neglected in their own childhood. I now realize that Natalia wasn’t doing that. But at first, I panicked.

    As to my claim of ‘threatened parenting’: Natalia’s hypothetical case of a parent who thinks that destigmatized prostitution would somehow “expose” the parent’s kid to “challenging lifestyles” and that the kid’s being “exposed” would somehow challenge the parent’s parenting skills (which is why the mother would gnaw her nails), is the first time I’ve heard anyone at all bring parents and kids into the issue of legalizing and destigmatizing prostitution. I had a very conservative upbringing myself and I still live and socialize in a conservative section of Atlanta (and formerly in Cumming, Georgia, also conservative), but until Natalia brought it up, I had never, ever heard anyone suggest that legalized/destigmatized prostitution was a threat to parents or kids. The arguments that I’ve encountered online against legalizing prostitution is that it supposedly encourages infidelity in husbands. When Natalia brought in the case of her hypothetical parent and suggested that the parent should raise her “own damn kids,” that case was completely new to me, and at first I thought Natalia’s response was a little insensitive to parents. At any rate, middle-class kids these days in Atlanta are “exposed to challenging lifestyles” 24/7 on the Internet, and some kids do know how to get around parental filters or how to access an unfiltered computer. So, whether prostitution is destigmatized or not, the little Madison Tylers of Atlanta are probably not clueless to begin with, no matter what nervous parents think. Even in evangelical/fundamentalist circles in north Georgia, where I lived for 15 years, once kids get out of range of their parents, kids do have the means of learning more details from clues they read about on the Internet. And “conservative” kids are nothing if not curious, as long as their parents don’t know. So if Madison Tyler is a Southern Baptist in Cumming, Georgia, she and her friends can learn all they think they need to know about “alternative lifestyles,” if they’re so inclined. The worst thing conservative parents can do is keep themselves ignorant about “alternative lifestyles,” develop fear from that ignorance, and transmit that fear to their kids. It’s that ignorance-based fear, as well as classism, that drives stigmatization of prostitutes in Georgia.

    For the record, I agree that prostitution should be decriminalized, and at least in the state of Georgia, I think that criminalizing prostitution is actually meant to sweep the issue under the carpet so that neither government nor the general public will have to confront the fact of the high demand for hired sex in Georgia. Conservative Georgians are known for their very vocal denial of reality, and criminalizing prostitution accommodates that denial.

    I’ve produced verbal diarrhea again, but I hope you can deal with it. If you have any more comments, I’ll respond to them.

  8. Hi Lal! James is not an asshole, he just gets carried away at times.

    To be perfectly clear, I do think that prostitution can present a challenge to parenting, but you deal with this challenge like you deal with anything else. Ultimately, children grow up and make their own choices, but responsible parents raise their kids responsibly and give them the tools to navigate this world.

    People’s reasoning goes like this,

    “Legalize prostitution and little Madison Taylor will want to do it too!”

    But one does not logically follow the other and, furthermore, if Madison Taylor grows up to really want to do it, whether or not it’s legal will most likely not stop her either way.

    There are many arguments against personally engaging in prostitution – from religion to risk assessment. What you can’t argue, I don’t think, is that these decisions should be made by the government.

  9. At the risk of sounding like a horrible human being, I’d kind of be relieved if some of the kids I worked with were *only* involved in prostitution. If the 15 year olds who were banging amoral 28 year olds were getting paid for it, they’d be in better shape right there. As much as I don’t want to think about the teens I work with sucking dick in cheap hotel rooms, the truth is I like even less to imagine them shotgunning meth with some guy named “Ocho” in a trailer. I would hate for a kid I worked with to think that hustling in Wheeler park after dark was the only option for him to pay for college, but truthfully it’s still better than if he thinks joining the Marines for the next 8 is the way to go. I have two exes who were in the sex trade at young ages, one who was working as an escort at 16 and one who was working as a nude dancer at 14. Would I say it’s a good thing? No, but they’re now both in their 20s and have successful lives going. The kids I work with generally have no involvement with sex work, and I don’t see them being in as good a place in ten-fifteen years. I don’t want to present this as an either-or equation, but….There’s plenty of things screwing up the next generation, and honestly, prostitution is damn near the bottom of the list.

  10. Hm. As far overall as demographics go, most kids who enter the sex-trade as, you know, KIDS, come out of the other end severely screwed-up or sick, if they don’t just die young, that is. I think in the States, there are less kids in prostitution overall. Looking at places like Thailand or even Ukraine, though…

    You know, we even have a phrase: “blyad-maloletka” – “little whore.” It strikes me as so awful, because it presumes that a child should somehow know better, that the blame is on her (the fact that we don’t have a phrase for the great number of underage boys who also end up prostituted speaks volumes as well – they are simply invisible).

  11. Yea, when I say “kids”, it’s shorthand for “teens”. If what I said comes off as “Child prostitution is awesome”, then I massively screwed it up. I’m just making the point that hypothetical scenarios of massive amounts of younger people (here especially) thinking prostitution sounds great and getting into it are just something I don’t even worry about, because there are so many more immediate traps they’re falling into already.

  12. This isn’t funny, but watch someone Google the exact phrase you just used in quotation marks…

    Stay classy, internet.

    (Based on my search terms, it appears as though a lot of people think that child prostitution is just dandy, but I definitely don’t think you’re one of them)

  13. I get some scary search engine traffic. I use shit or fuck as an expletive/interjection, then in an unrelated paragraph mention something about people of a certain nationality, and BAM I get searches from some totally messed up stuff. I’ve considered doing your parenthetical thing, but I’d feel like I was biting your style.

  14. I can’t believe you are taking so much shit for saying “damn kids.” Okay, I can. But it’s still ludicrous.

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