The Secret Serviceman and the Prostitute – what’s the real scandal?

Posted: April 22, 2012 in Political musings, Popular Culture et al
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Does anyone else think the ” scandal” of numerous members of President Obama’s Secret Service detail employing prostitutes while on an away trip to Colombia is really rather silly, and painfully revealing of the double standards in Western society?

After all, in many countries prostitution has now been de-criminalised at least, and often made entirely legal, regulated (so that hopefully, for example, its participants can be cared for by the health services, counselled, and protected from both sex slavery and violence), not to mention taxed, including parts of the US and many Western countries.

Why should using a prostitute’s services be more reprehensible than a quick hour or so in the hotel gym or a brisk walk round the lake?

Was their real crime that they deviated from single-mindedly worrying about the President’s up-coming arrival, (in which case do these people not get any down time during their working lives, with which they can presumably do whatever they like?, or was it really that they revealed what millions of men (and a smaller but significant number of women) know full well – that people on business trips, especially young, fit, hardy and horny people, often employ sex workers to fill in their time.

This runs everything from the notorious “Happy Ending” at the culmination of a massage in many Asian countries – allowing the participant to declare, presumably, “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss LotusBlossom Wu”, through to full-blown sexual escapades followed by a discrete cheerio at the hotel door before a rushed shower and breakfast with one’s colleagues, smiling innocently or sharing the gory details, depending on one’s personal disposition. (I have witnessed both.)

The faux-shock that has greeted this story becomes especially puerile when it is revealed that the scandal only broke when the very attractive young lady at the heart of the matter complained vociferously that she had been dudded by one of the security detail, who refused to pay her pre-agreed fee of some $800, promoting some organs of the American media (ahem) to publish swimsuited photos of her with the headline “C’mon! She’s worth $800”

April 20th, the "scandal" breaks, much to the relief of newspaper owners the world over, no doubt

Around the world, newspapers of all colours, and not just the tabloids, fell over themselves to publish photos. Presumably this reflects their certainty that sales will go up when polite, well-spoken people can secretly snigger at what a real prostitute looks like … “Ooh look, dear, she’s quite pretty, but honestly, what a minx! And she’s got a nine year old son. Lawks a mercy, what is the world coming to?” as they chow down on their Weetbix and gargle their instant coffee. It reminds me of when, back in a different era, a very good friend who worked for Gay Liberation used to get plenty of people along to his fund-raising discos by sticking up posters announcing “Come and see a real live Queer!”

Anyhow: how it is possible to maintain one’s view that the mens’ behaviour was reprehensible while simultaneously laughing behind one’s hand over the details of the stormy teacup is an especially perfect demonstration of the hypocrisy of much of the western middle class, and America especially. This is the society that tunes in its millions to Jersey Shore, remember, the entire content of which appears to be based on someone’s efforts to get shagged by someone else, let alone everyone acknowledging that it is also the society that produces the majority of the world’s pornography, an industry which now ranks as the largest in turnover in the whole country.

It’s easy to make sweeping statements about the sex trade. What we know is that some of its participants are enthusiastic about what they do, earning good money and enjoying the way they earn it. Some – perhaps most – end up in it because they are poor, marginalised, addicted or desperate.

Transvestite/transgender street prostitutes in Colombia, photo Niels Van Iperen

That virtually none of the coverage of this matter – except in Colombia itself – has focused on why so many people in that country are available for hire, or on the danger of people (mainly men) returning to their more normal sex lives carrying diseases picked up through casual sexual encounters, is, however, the true scandal in this story.

Sadly, Dear Reader, neither topic sells newspapers.

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Comments
  1. I suspect there are a couple of things at issue really.

    1. They took prostitutes to a hotel room where potentially things pertaining to the safety and security of the President of the United States were available. This is not only a breach of the confidence placed in them, it is disrespectful.

    2. They were on-duty, preparing for the arrival of the President. This is not their ‘down time’.

    3. They tried to short pay, completely unethical by any standard.

    I am likely not the normal American woman, I have said for many years Prostitution should be legal and controlled, for the very reasons you stated in your blog. The issue of the Secret Service and Military personnel in this story though is entirely different, yes they do get downtime and yes how they choose to spend it is their business. Nevertheless, they are sworn to a duty and like others sworn to a duty and holding public sector jobs, they are held to a standard even in their private lives. Those tasked with protecting the US President, even more so as they are privy to state secrets.

    This was scandalous on many levels but perhaps for me, because this President more than any in recent history has been so very disrespected. The disrespect permeates the halls of Congress, our Military and now even those tasked with Guarding his life. It is to me at least horrifying, not because it is men behaving badly but because it is simply another sign of how low we have sunk in our respect for the office of President and in the man occupying it.

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