Friday, January 13, 2012

By their clothes ye shall know them not

The lawyer of that sex- and power-crazed old goat Dominque Strauss-Kahn is quoted in today's Dominion Post as declaring that his client couldn't have known he was "sleeping with" prostitutes at his swinger parties since "the women were all naked at the time". This, apparently, amounts to a defence.
Here is a picture of the man who only just missed his shot at the French presidency:

Generally speaking women (and maybe men too, for all I know) have only two reasons for having sex. One is fun; the other, gain ... of some kind or other. 
Do Strauss-Kahn and his lawyer seriously expect us to believe that any woman would have anonymous sex with him for the first reason? 
Another, more intesting question, though, lies behind this quote - one that pertains to style. Would Strauss-Kahn - or anyone else - have been be able to accurately identify the women as sex workers if they had been fully dressed?  
Once upon a time - which is to say, when I was in my teens and twenties - quite possibly yes. Women and girls took great care not to look look "cheap". Or worse, perhaps, expensive.
Social pressure, mediated by mothers, grannies, peers, movies and magazines - not to mention men - ensured most of us kept our skirt-hems down and our necklines up, spurned "too much" make-up, too much flash and sparkle. The implication was that if we didn't, we deserved what we got. Just as we did if we stood around "too long" in a public place.
It's some time since all that changed, at least, in countries other than France and possibly Iran.
Is this woman, for instance, a sex worker?

Or this one?

Or this one?

A young woman going out in public in the dress shown in the first picture would once have been labelled - in fact, condemned as - a whore. This one is a model who appears in the online catalogue of Supre, a clothing store that targets teenagers and pre-teens. The dress is available in size XXXS. This supposes a woman whose bust measures 31.5 inches/80cms, her waist 23 inches/58.4cms, and her hips 33.5 inches/85.1cms. In other words a little girl.
The young woman in the second picture is Californian women's studies graduate Natalie Dylan. To pay for her masters degree, she auctioned off her virginity to the highest bidder. The Huffington Post reported that she - or should that be, it - went for several million. Is she a prostitute, and does that cute frock tell us all we need to know?
Meanwhile, back in the antipodes, a young unnamed Northland student has (according to today's UK Daily Telegraph) adopted Natalie's brand of market enthusiasm by hocking herself off to the highest bidder. 
The paper says she's posted the following message on the auction site: "I have accepted an offer in excess of $NZ45,000, which is way beyond what I dreamed." She said more than 30,000 people had looked at her ad, and 1200 submitted offers.
The story also quotes Catherine Healey of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. She urges the 19-year-old to contact the organisation for "practical information" on the realities of sex work.
I don't know if Catherine Healey is still a sex worker, but she was once. That's her in the third picture. Did you know how she earned her living as soon as you saw that black jersey?

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