Sunday, November 9, 2008

Say what?

By Ashley Carson

"I’ll buy you presents. I’ll buy you lingerie."

I heard this from a guy when, on our first date, he was trying to convince me to hook up with him. Comments?


6 Comments:

At November 9, 2008 at 7:08 PM , Blogger PeterW said...

Some women demand presents as part of the courtship process. Grow a thicker skin, Ms. Carson.

 
At November 9, 2008 at 11:38 PM , Anonymous Christina said...

Grow a thicker skin when a guy assumes that your sexuality can be bought? If a guy tried to convince me to hook up with him by promising to buy me stuff, I'd be forced to believe that he thought I was a prostitute, and I'd be extremely offended, to say the least. Treating women as if their bodies are for sale is not something to be taken lightly.

As for women demanding presents (and, by the way, I think that anyone truly demanding presents is obnoxious): if a woman wants to sell herself, that's her prerogative, but a man shouldn't assume from the start that the woman is for sale.

 
At November 10, 2008 at 1:53 AM , Blogger Roscoe said...

well, there we go, well said christina. Assumptions play a big part in all these -isms. My only concern is that if you say "if a woman wants to sell herself, that's her prerogative, but a man shouldn't assume from the start that the woman is for sale" why can a man not have the prerogative to assume that a woman would sell herself? This question is not meant as a reductio ad absurdum bs or anything, I mean it as a sincere question. And if is wrong for him to assume, why? Because it is offensive as you say it is? Are you making a judgment on prostitution or on being misrepresented in the man's mind? And if it is making a judgment on prostitution, which you may not be making but for those that may humor me, is it wrong for people to exchange goods for services if they are all consenting adults? (Here I will say that giving presents and the like in a relationship is drastically different as the reason for the sex is, presumably, not based solely or primarily on the present itself, as much as you may want to say an "I'm sorry" present or otherwise is). And if it is ok, then I ask again, why is it wrong for the guy to assume?

Where in this train of questions do you break and why? Let's get the reasons out there.

 
At November 12, 2008 at 10:04 PM , Anonymous christina said...

I'm going to copy/paste your questions to make sure I address them all...

---"...if you say "if a woman wants to sell herself, that's her prerogative, but a man shouldn't assume from the start that the woman is for sale" why can a man not have the prerogative to assume that a woman would sell herself?"
Well, you don't really just walk up to someone, assume they're selling their car or their house (or whatever), and then offer to buy it, unless that person is advertising their car or their house (or whatever) as for being sale. So unless the woman explicity advertises herself as being for sale (which is not something I would condone), the man should not make the assumption that he can buy her.

---"And if is wrong for him to assume, why? Because it is offensive as you say it is?"
Let's continue the analogy with selling/buying other things. Almost all the things you buy are things (or services, of course, but a service is, I think, close enough to a thing in this context). So, if a man assumes a woman is selling herself, then that man is at least partially thinking of the woman as a thing (or a service), not as a full person. Devaluing anyone's personhood is a bad thing. And, for the record, I think it would be wrong for a woman to assume a man is selling himself just as much as vice versa.

---"Are you making a judgment on prostitution or on being misrepresented in the man's mind?"
On both, actually. Prostitution is the complete objectification of anyone who practices it; it turns that person into a mere body to be used for others' ends. So yes, this is in part a judgment that prostitution is a bad thing.

Being mispresented in someone else's mind has varying degrees of severity, but when that mispresentation includes objectification of a person--any person, man or woman--then it is a bad thing through and through. Objectifying people is a first step towards things like violence, oppression, etc., because it is much easier to harm an entity which you think of as a thing than an entity whom you think of as a person of equal value to yourself.

---"...is it wrong for people to exchange goods for services if they are all consenting adults? "
If they're all consenting adults, they'll do what they want unless convinced otherwise, but that doesn't make the objectification of any one of them less of a problem. Nor does the fact that the consenting adults don't recognize it as a problem negate the problematic nature; an ostrich with its head in the sand only thinks it's safe from harm.

Moreover, in the original situation here, only one of the parties involved was "consenting" to making a business-like transaction out of hooking up.



Basically, the problem with a situation like this is the objectification of a person. To make an assumption that someone can be bought is to objectify that person. Though this objectification may be only partial, any degree of objectification is harmful and should be carefully guarded against.

And, for the record, I'm with you, Roscoe, in that the free exchange of gifts between people, in or out of a relationship, is not at all the same thing as the situation described here. By general definition, a gift is something you give a person freely, without expecting anything in return. So true gift-giving is fine; offering "presents" and lingerie on the condition of hooking up is not.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 2:39 AM , Blogger Roscoe said...

Wow, thank you so very much for your kindness in answering my post. It was a pleasure reading it. And for your record, I'm totally with you on this, I just haven't been able to really put it into words, at least as gracefully as you have. I am so grateful for the time you spent on answering and I look forward to further discussion. Have a great day.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 4:21 PM , Blogger Roscoe said...

Christine,

Thank you again for the comment. I wanted to put down one more thought that relates to the first of my questions, about whether or not it is wrong for a guy to assume. In this case, I see that an easy argument against this is that there ARE women that do, so going up to people even if they aren't advertising may pair up two people of like minds and can actually be very efficient, seeing as that you may actually value whatever it is they have more than they do. Economically speaking, it would actually be better if people assumed things were on sale more often, as then one could have more opportunities to gain from trade (if you can't tell, I'm an economist). So, inherently speaking, I don't think it is bad for a guy to assume.

Where I am going with this is that women should not get so insulted that a guy assumes, rather they should get insulted by the fact that the guy is objectifying women and sex. The distinction is nontrivial. If a woman can realize it, then she can take steps to educate the man in question (or vice versa if it is the case) about why objectification is bad. This kills two birds with one stone as someone who thinks objectification is wrong, is not going to assume a woman's sexuality is up for sale. If one only focuses on telling someone why it is wrong to assume, that someone will only be left to wonder why he isn't acting rationally (rationally being the economic explanation above). Instead, show them why the assumption is fundamentally wrong, not just incidentally. My two cents.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home