Jessica has a post about a woman who sent a letter to Dear Prudie of Slate, asking whether she should stay with her boyfriend, who slept with a prostitute on a business trip. Now, sending a letter to a stranger, syndicated columnist or not, and asking her for relationship advice sounds like a very sheepish thing to do, but as usual, I’m going to ignore this and focus on the larger issue. Jessica says,
Ok, I have mixed feelings on people who have cheated–I think if you’re building a life together, forgiving someone for cheating is understandable. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The big question isn’t whether he’s remorseful about betraying her trust. To me, it’s about whether or not you really want to be with someone who is fine and dandy about buying sex and commodifying women. Personally, there ain’t no fucking way I would stay with someone who bought sex.
There’s nothing special about sex. The idea that when you’re with someone you’re not supposed to have sex with anyone else isn’t normative; it’s a not particularly bright social convention. If that’s what a couple agrees on, it’s their choice, just like it’s their choice if they decide to put chastity belts on one another whenever they’re not in the same room. But I’ve yet to understand why anyone would care if his/her SO slept with someone else.
As for Jessica’s point about prostitution, her commenters have analogized it to Wal-Mart. It’s possible to support Wal-Mart workers’ rights without shopping at Wal-Mart, and similarly, it’s possible to support sex workers’ rights without buying sex. But I submit that someone who’d leave a partner who shops at Wal-Mart is an intolerable fanatic. Plus, if you don’t shop at Wal-Mart, you shop at other places, which usually employ more people relative to their size and pay them better; hence, if your actions contribute to Wal-Mart’s going bankrupt, then at least its workers will immediately get better jobs. You can’t say the same about prostitution.
What it boils down to is that you can’t expect people to live the left’s oppression-based morality any more than you can expect them to live any religious sin-based morality. The fiancé who had sex with a prostitute bought the woman a wedding ring, which probably had a diamond in it. If so, the diamonds were probably harvested from a mine in Africa whose labor practices make Nike sweatshops seem like the dream job. The business trip likely involved staying at hotels with underpaid workers.
So there is hypocrisy here, somewhere. Most likely, the woman who wrote Prudie is a prude who doesn’t give a damn about prostitutes’ rights but does think she owns her boyfriend’s penis. Less likely, she does in fact adhere to an oppression-based morality, but prefers concentrating on the obvious, instead of on the things everybody does.