Assumptions of Perfection in Prostitution


For a recent episode of his Uncut podcast, Matt Allen had an interesting conversation with Bella Robinson, who is (I think it is accurate to say) a prostitute based in Rhode Island.  Matt remarked several times that Ms. Robinson seemed to paint those who do charitable work as well as government agencies tasked with human services as unfailingly bad or misguided, while also seeming to prefer big-government policies.

The flip side of this tendency toward blanket condemnations of adverse institutions is blanket praise for one’s own.  Listening to Robinson, one would think that prostitution is preferable to, and even safer than, just about any other occupation, and certainly to dating and marriage.

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Along those lines, Matt confronted her with the broadly understood reality that a traditional, responsible lifestyle will bring 90% of people out of poverty.  Actually, the progressive Brookings Institute finds that 98% of poor people who finish high school, get full-time jobs, and wait until 21 and married to have children will escape poverty, with 75% making it to the middle class.

Bella Robinson’s response, in essence, was that she tried that strategy, and it didn’t work for her.  Well, yeah, any system that is 98% effective will not work for 2% of people.  That doesn’t mean that we should reorder society in a way that might work for that 2% but fails some much larger percentage.  (One thinks of radical feminism, which tears down standards for relationships that work for large numbers of women and replaces it with one that might not work for anybody except the feminists themselves.)

During the entire podcast, listeners get the impression that Robinson doesn’t believe anything works except the subject of her advocacy: sex work.  Religion, government, relationships, marriage, social work… all of them are entirely flawed because they’re not 100% perfect.  But tossing our “old tired ethics,” which our civilization has honed (yes, with missteps) over thousands of years, that apparently will cure everything.

  • ShannonEntropy

    Prostitution is much much more common than you think… and weirdly enough, this subject dovetails into a recent thread here about political surveys

    There was an infamous survey by sociologists in Australia studying the Urban Legend that many coeds worked their way thru college by hooking. They asked 1,000 random nursing students — as part of a larger survey on health — “Have you ever engaged in prostitution ??” Less the one percent said “Yes”

    A statistics expert asked to review the findings said the results were totally invalid cuz of the “Value Laden” content of the question

    So they did the survey again, with another group of 1,000 random nursing students. This time they used “Value Neutral” language, asking: “Have you ever engaged in sexual activity in exchange for an immediate payment of money or drugs ??”

    This time ELEVEN fricken percent of the gals admitted they had… that’s one in nine !! And these were nursing students
    … a pretty upscale crowd

    Men want sex; women want money… that’s never gonna end as long as there are men & women

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Except for the shock value of an acknowledged prostitute, I am not sure these interviews provide us much. Some years ago, I knew a number of lawyers who did personal bankruptcy. I can recall hearing a few stories about prostitutes, “escorts”, filing. Sometimes as co-debtors with their husbands, sometimes individually. It is not that the “business” wasn’t out there. so much as they were lazy. They would “turn a trick” (archaic?) and pick up $100, then they would hang out around the house “popping bon-bons” until the money ran out. Not the movies, and certainly not nursing students. As Mr. Entropy says, they are “everywhere”. A surprising number of the ‘girls” were suburban. If you have an old Yellow Pages about, look under “Escort Services”. I also know a guy who claims to have been an “escort” for older women in Miami Beach, that was some years ago.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Looking through this morning’s Boston Herald. I found this at the top: “A state senator who’s led the fight against human trafficking wants Northeastern University to “tell the truth” and hold a forum on the Boston Phoenix’s “disgusting business model” now that the school holds the defunct weekly’s archives. ”
    Great! It is a slow day, let’s roust a defunct newspaper. Being “politically incorrect” to go after prostitutes, or “sex workers”, let’s get on the “human trafficking” bandwagon. I was always amazed by the size, and weight, of the sex section in the Providence Phoenix. I wondered how “Little Rhody” could sustain it. I have always wondered about the illegality of prostitution. To quote an old lady “That’s a business? You got it, you sell it, you still got it”.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Nowadays all the adverts for “escorts” are online, Rhett

      Try or
      [ craigslist removed their “escort services” ads a few yrs ago ]

      A surprising number of escorts, streetwalkers and strippers [ they all prostitute if you ask ] are college coeds who make 10-100Xs what they could get waitressing

      The best-looking streetwalker I ever met told me she was a graduate student in microbiology at URI. Somewhat ironic given the nature of how she chose to work her way thru school

      p.s. It’s Dr Entropy … but now that I’m retired from the faculty at Brown you can just call me Shannon

      • Raymond Carter

        Lets look at the complete hypocrisy of the Left. They squeal “If it’s not your body, it’s not your choice!”. But truthfully they only believe in killing babies. Prostitution laws, drug and alcohol prohibition, incest laws, increased age of consent laws, bigamy laws, anti-pornography, etc. were and are all products of the left primarily.

        • Rhett Hardwick

          I believe it universal that incest is recognized as a biological evil, and virginity is prized. I would be curious as to how ancient, or non-western, cultures view the matters you mention. I doubt the Bedou have streetwalkers.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            I did some “wiki” research. Prostitution wasn’t actually criminalized in the English speaking world until about 1850. Attitudes are thought to derive from the Old Testament, heavily influenced by ancient Jewish thought before being adopted by Christians and Muslims. Notice that our “creation myth” has Adam and Eve tossed out of the Garden for engaging in sex. The birth of Christ requires an “immaculate conception”.

            Without doubt, “legal” factors were added to the religious. Inheritance rights, who’s to support the child, etc.

          • ShannonEntropy

            Inner-restingly enough, Jesus himself was descended from a prostitute

            The hole story — pardon the pun — along with many other graphic Biblical tales are in a book I read ~ 20 yrs ago:


          • Justin Katz

            I can’t say I agree with that interpretation of the Old Testament.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            I never gave it any thought, or made any connection, until reading the Wikipedia article. In my reading of the Old Testament, I did notice a lot of deviant sex. One that has always stuck was, after their mother was turned to a pillar of salt, Lot’s daughters took him to a cave, got him drunk and raped him. “Ham’s curse” for seeing is father naked, etc. Although it was only a casual read, rather than a “study”, I do not presently recall any pleasant results from sexual activity in the Old Testament. Maybe it was a case of “you had to be there”. Both the “Mark of Cain” and the “Curse of Ham” were used to justify black slavery. What modern reader would think that?

          • ShannonEntropy

            Adam & Eve were not “tossed out of the Garden for engaging in sex”

            They were expelled “East of Eden” for eating from the “Tree of Life”

            See: Genesis 3

            And to prove that the Bible can be twisted to serve any political philosophy, check out Genesis 2:7

            Here, God says Life begins with the the first breath, meaning any unborn being isn’t “alive” yet. By extension, abortion is perfectly okay with the OT version of God

            Genesis 2 & 3 also say that vegetarianism is a bunch of carp; and expressly allows fur to be worn as clothing

            I won’t quote each of those verses; go read them for yerselves

          • Joe Smith

            Is cellular respiration considered ‘breathing”

        • ShannonEntropy

          The phrase “Liberal Hypocrite” is redundant

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Shannon, I haven’t “met” a streetwalker since my suburban mother came to visit me in “the City”. She had me walk ahead of her down 48th St. so she could see me being propositioned.

        • ShannonEntropy

          You got it, you sell it, you still got it

          Hertz or Avis Rent-a-Car is a more accurate business model for prostitutes than say Tarbox Hyundai is

          A joke for ya, Rhett:

          A psychiatrist & his wife are walking down the street and an obvious hooker is walking towards him

          She says, “Hi, Doc !!”. He nods

          After she passes his wife goes “You know that woman ??”

          He says, “Yes… but only in a professional way”

          The wife says, “Yours or hers ??”

        • ShannonEntropy

          She had me walk ahead of her down 48th St….

          Hell’s Kitchen … Ah, Memories !!

          Before I met the current Mrs Entropy, for a few yrs I had a long-distance relationship with a gorgeous red-headed gal who lived on W 48th St and who was in the cast of
          Oh! Calcutta! at the Edison Theater
          on W 47th St

          She lived in a 4th floor walk-up studio apt with a porn / sex shop on the ground level

          I used to go to an annual meeting of a professional society based in NYC which is how I met her

          Mrs Entropy actually got to meet her: she did a role in a production down at that now-defunct theater in South County / Matunuck [forget the name] so we went to a show and had her up for dinner on an off day back when we lived in Edgewood

          She was originally from Seattle and had a minor role in Warren Beatty’s film Nickelodeon

          But I haven’t heard from or spoken to her in decades, and when I just searched her name on the SAG-AFTRA website [ she was a member of both before the two unions merged ] her name came up blank, as did a Google search, so I can only assume the worst i.e. she must have died

          Anyways… thanks for dredging up those old memories for me, Rhett !!