Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eliot Spitzer had sex which he paid for

I am not surprised by the press's treatment of Eliot Spitzer. US and to a less extent Australian popular culture is an uneasy mix of puritanism and excessive sexualisation of the ordinary. Bill Clinton was a good US President but came close to being toppled because of he took advantage of a sexual opportunity that most men would accept with glee.

Natalie Angier in the NYT however gets it right:
'You can accuse the disgraced ex-governor Eliot Spitzer of many things in his decision to flout the law by soliciting the services of a pricey prostitute: hypocrisy, egomania, sophomoric impulsiveness and self-indulgence, delusional ineptitude and boneheadedness. But one trait decidedly not on display in Mr. Spitzer’s splashy act of whole-life catabolism was originality'.
In most animal species faithfulness is a fantasy. Apart from a flatworm, where male and females species are immutably fused together from adolescence, virtually no animal species displays 100% faithfulness. Moreover, prostitution is widespread throughout the animal kingdom with those seeking a mate paying more for more attractive selections that are made when the competition is keen.

Like humans, however, while other animals commit adultery widely they never seem to approve of it:
'Commonplace though adultery may be, and as avidly as animals engage in it when given the opportunity, nobody seems to approve of it in others, and humans are hardly the only species that will rise up in outrage against wantonness real or perceived. Most female baboons have lost half an ear here, a swatch of pelt there, to the jealous fury of their much larger and toothier mates'.


Jan said...

I disagree Harry, and reverting to comparisons to animals does not help here. They do not really have a CHOICE of behaving in a morally mature way - we do (at least this is one of the main commonly accepted differences between the two groups). But I would not impose my beliefs (that are not grounded in religion or any ideology) on anyone – it is an individual choice.

hc said...

Jan, Its not clear to me what you are disagreeing with.

Mark said...

I think that disgracing a politician because he/she chooses to be involved in prostitution is unreasonable. However the excuse cited by the media in this case is that Spitzer was a crusader against prostitution.

In more enlightened countries, prostitution is legal.

Jan said...

What I disagree with is your implicit conjecture that because it is so widespread (among both humans and animals), unfaithfulness is 'fine' (at least such was my interpretation of your post).

Having said that I would not judge any one (not even a politician) based on such behaviour - it is the associated lying that is the problem as it shows lack of integrity etc.

Anonymous said...

Harry, here's an economics puzzle for you. How do these women manage to gwt the clients to pay $5000 per hour? It seems unlikely to me that the quality of the services they provide is 50 times better than your garden variety $100 per hour hookers.

I'm not saying they are not good at what they do; they may be the Roger Federers of prostitution for all I know, but 50 times?


Yobbo said...

"I'm not saying they are not good at what they do; they may be the Roger Federers of prostitution for all I know, but 50 times?"

Why do some people pay $200,000 for a car when a $2000 car can get you from A to B just as well?

hc said...

Spiros, I agree. Maybe:

(i) judging quality by price, or (ii) an ego boost - I am an important enough man that I can afford $5000 for sex, or
(iii) the cost is being borne by someone else (likely here).

But I agree with Yobbo. The cocaine set and those who pay several thousand dollars for a bottle of Romanee Conti rather than a $10 Koonunga Hill are doing the same thing as Spitzer.

The hooker must have been good at her job - she wasn't much to look at.