What about those of us who just lust in our hearts?

Wendy from "Breaking Bad"

Wendy from “Breaking Bad” — glamorous and empowering, right?

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. As much as I fondly regard Jimmy Carter, the setup proved irresistible:

To curb prostitution, punish those who buy sex rather than those who sell it

May 31

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, is founder of the nonprofit Carter Center.

It is disturbing that some human rights and public health organizations are advocating the full legalization of the sex trade, including its most abusive aspects. I agree with Amnesty International, UNAIDS and other groups that say that those who sell sex acts should not be arrested or prosecuted, but I cannot support proposals to decriminalize buyers and pimps.

Some assert that this “profession” can be empowering and that legalizing and regulating all aspects of prostitution will mitigate the harm that accompanies it. But I cannot accept a policy prescription that codifies such a pernicious form of violence against women. Normalizing the act of buying sex also debases men by assuming that they are entitled to access women’s bodies for sexual gratification. If paying for sex is normalized, then every young boy will learn that women and girls are commodities to be bought and sold….

Makes sense to me, although I think human behavior is a bit more complicated than that. “John and pimp bad; prostitute innocent victim” is a formula that works much of the time, but it’s not always perfect. Still, an approach that gets women out of situations in which they see no alternative to selling their bodies is a good start.

As for the joke in the headline: Jimmy was right. In the licentious ’70s it was fashionable to mock him, but he was right. Rather than turning up his nose at the Playboy interview, he refused to be holier-than-thou, saying we’re all sinners, him included. And what better venue than a publication whose business model was entirely based on its readers looking and lusting?


12 thoughts on “What about those of us who just lust in our hearts?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, that string of mug shots is a convention from the Playboy interviews that I always liked — you know, when I was perusing it for the in-ter-est-ing articles.

    I tried to emulate it on my blog with this series of shots of Kenny Bingham from an interview back in 2006. Seems like a good thing to link to today, with the profile of him upon his departure from the Legislature on the front page

    Kenny Playboy series

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I didn’t repeat that gimmick after that because it was kind of tricky, given my then-rudimentary PhotoShop skills.

      It doesn’t look too great now when you go back to that post because the artwork was sized for a narrower column, on my old blog. But at least I can still find it, unlike some photos from back then…

      Also, the images were sort of low-res — I blew them up a little above, which emphasizes the low original quality…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I liked shooting people at that angle, with that background.

        That was our informal conference room, back when the editorial department was still intact and we had our own spacious suite of offices — before the zombie-less apocalypse.

        That’s where we had our every-morning meetings, and we kept the past week’s pages on the wall so we could look at them and critique what we’d done.

        We also conducted a lot of our smaller interviews (that is, those involving smaller groups of people) there. This was one of oh-so-many…

  2. Karen Pearson

    One of the problems with prostitution is that it almost always ends up with men selling women, with the women being ultimately trapped, be it by physical threat, economic forces, or emotional intimidation. Once in the “profession” very few women can free themselves. Our culture encourages men to view women as objects, and too often encourages women to value themselves only in those terms.

  3. Karen Pearson

    Have you ever wondered how to stop participating in that objectification? I have, and have come to the conclusion that it’s darn nigh well impossible to do in this culture. One would have to go find a hermitage somewhere.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s tough. Especially with the way evolution has wired us.

      I blame Darwin.

      But seriously, it’s tough.

      And the conventions that encourage it are so entrenched.

      Take women’s fashions. Choose a young woman who is an empowered business executive, a feminist ideal, and what is she wearing? For starters, a dress. Why do women, and not men, wear dresses? I’ve always assumed (and I’m sure someone will correct me) that the practice started because men liked it. Why do they like it? Because it makes women more sexually accessible, or at least makes them appear to be.

      Then check her high heels. What’s up with that form of torture? Well, they position women’s legs so that they’re in a state of muscular tension that is highly suggestive of sex. And other stuff, such as exaggerating the aspects of the female gait that differs from that of males.

      But if that same woman dresses in sensible shoes and pants, people will call her “frumpy” or accuse her of being afraid of her sexuality or insufficiently feminine or whatever…

  4. Karen Pearson

    And what would your wife, daughters say if you suggested they dress in “sensible shoes and pants”? My guess it that they’d tell you rather quickly that such is not socially acceptable. If you were to try to avoid or look away from pictures of scantily clad women, I suspect that your masculine friends would begin to wonder about you.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Being a self-controlled heterosexual man in such a world is like being Ulysses hearing the sirens while tied to the mast.

      Which may be one reason why that’s my favorite Cream song…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      One more pop culture reference.

      I’ve always thought the moral obligation of a man to “avoid or look away from pictures of scantily clad women” was what the Rolling Stones (the last guys in the world I would expect to concern themselves over such a thing) were referring to with this lyric:

      I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes.
      I have to turn my head until my darkness goes.

      Or maybe it’s something darker than that. Maybe the narrator of the song is a serial killer or something…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *