What can I say...

Elizabeth's picture

Last night as we were standing at the baggage carousel at midnight waiting in vain for my bag to arrive from Austin Will turned to me and said, "Oh, did you hear the news today?" Somehow I had spent most of an entire day in the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and had not heard a thing. So Will preceded to tell me about the Eliot Spitzer/Emperor's Club investigation.

I was stunned, not so much because I thought Eliot Spitzer was such a straight arrow who would never break the law, but because Spitzer has made such clear statements about his disdain for prostution. I hadn't imagined it was one of his own habits. I should have, perhaps. It's not like he's the first politician to publicly advocate positions or laws that he knows he doesn't follow. In my cynical mind I'm actually pretty sure that politicians are most vocal about passing laws against the activities that represent their onw "vices" as a kind of misdirection. "See? I'm certainly not the kind of person who would do ____."

Today I've been trying to catch up on all the work I hadn't done while at South By Southwest, but really I was preoccupied with the question "what do I have to say about Spitzer."

In general I've liked Spitzer. I've not been thrilled with his public position on sex work but I was very happy with his tenacity at prosecuting white collar crime and I was thrilled with his executive order mandating that all employers who participate in the NY State Health Insurance Program extend benefits to same-gender couples who were married in places where doing so is legal.

So of course I'm disappointed. Not because I think paying for sex is wrong, mind you. I'm disappointed because the work I wanted him to finish won't get finished, and because he took public positions and supported legislation he knew he himself would violate.

I'm also angry that it seems that, yet again, it will be the sex worker or sex work agency that will bear the brunt of the punishment and that Spitzer will not be charged. I don't especially want anyone charged in this case, but if the sex workers or the representatives of the agency are going to be prosecuted then the customers should be also.

Mostly I'm frustrated that as a sciety we're still so busy prosecuting prostitutes, their agencies and occasionally their customers. I'd rather we spent our time making the kinds of policies that would make sex workers safer, and that would reduce rather than inflame the sex panic.

One bright note: Sex workers and sex worker advocates are all over this story and their voices are being heard. Here are some links to some sex-worker-advocate coverage on the story: