March 22, 2006


This Space for Rent

...The Internet has once again allowed for freedom of choice, and a few people find that downright offensive.
...The community classifieds Website Craigslist has come under fire for allowing postings of renters who want roommates with a catch. In some instances, men are offering to share their rooms with women in exchange for sex. One man, as an example, offers his Coral Gables condominium for rent at a rate of $1 per month, provided that the female housemate is willing to take care of the dog, cook, and put out at least twice a week. The Miami-Dade police call it prostitution; the renters call it bartering.
...In other instances, some renters want to live with people who are similar to them, making several so-called civil rights attorneys livid. One renter, as an example, was hoping to live with a Christian female. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights calls that “discrimination.” Apparently it’s being mean to atheists, agnostics, and men.
Room & Headboard
...Law enforcement agents are quick to call the rooms-for-sex idea a form of prostitution. The rooms would otherwise be paid for with money, they argue, but instead are substituted with sexual favors. Therefore, they figure, the sexual favors have the monetary value of the room. That turns the exchange into prostitution, or so they say.
...My stance on real prostitution isn’t a popular one as it is, since I think that if a person chooses to rent their body for whatever reason, it’s their choice. I’ve never used the services of a hooker—hell, I don’t even like using public water fountains—but would argue that any person whose job involves agreement by all participants is one that should be allowed. Is hooking detrimental to our society in the long run? Possibly, but if we were to outlaw all things detrimental we’d have to outlaw fast food, television, spending too much time in front of the computer, pornography, violent movies, suggestive music, video games, and even using dirty words. Will those be next?
...If anything, rooms-for-sex is a form of bartering, able to work only if there’s an absence of coercion and hinging upon absolute agreement by all parties involved. If we were to see it otherwise, it would be expanding the definition of “prostitution” to the point where we might have to arrest quite a few girlfriends and wives for what might become known as solicitation. Allow me to offer a personal story as a possibility.
...I know a woman who enjoys collecting Longaberger baskets, but they’re notoriously expensive. If she finds herself craving a new basket, but happens to be low on funds, she and her husband have an agreement whereby she goes above and beyond the call of duty in the bedroom. In return, he’s more than happy to buy her the basket of her choice. (I offer my sincere apologies to the fine people at Longaberger who now know how one of their loyal customers has been able to stay loyal for so long.)
...This must be prostitution, correct? She’s doing sexual favors for something that would otherwise have a monetary value, is she not? I guess that we’ll have to call her a hooker and he a john. We’ll have to lock them up and throw away the key.
...Not to change the subject, but one other notable aspect which cropped up in the rooms-for-sex story is how it has drawn the ire of the modern women’s rights movement (I use the term “modern” because it bears little resemblance to the women’s rights movement of the late-nineteenth century and early-twentieth century). The Miami chapter of Women’s Movement Now says that this is a sign of how women continue to be marginalized and exploited. Of the advertisements, director Sophie Brion says, “They are an indicator of how much work still needs to be done to eradicate institutional inequities and harmful attitudes toward women that persist.”
...Let’s think optimistically, shall we? This creates an opportunity for women to illustrate how strong they can really be. No one is forcing any woman to respond to these rooms-for-sex advertisements. Allow me to be an even bigger optimist and suggest that advertisements such as these permit women to unite and say “no” to a bunch of chauvinist pigs; it also allows women to think for themselves and enter into the agreement if they so choose. Women making their own choices is a good thing, isn’t it, Ms. Brion?
...This is one more situation where the modern women’s rights movement confuses me. On one hand those who are involved in the movement argue that women are strong, liberated, and able to think for themselves. On the other hand they’re quick to suggest that women are easily manipulated and exploited at the whim of a cunning male.
...So which is it? Are women headstrong, confident, and in charge of themselves, or are they fragile little creatures that are easily deceived by manipulative men who are out to use them and toss them aside? If they are fragile, naïve creatures, is their survival dependent upon the “guidance” from organizations such as Women’s Movement Now?
...My personal belief is that women—as well as men—should not be generalized. There are decisive, headstrong women who know what they want and have the gumption to tell you what they think and why (my favorite kind of woman); there are other women who are fragile little creatures who do whatever they’re told by men who manipulate them, and oftentimes exploit them. Why is this? I’m guessing that it’s because people are different. I might even be so bold as to suggest that we’re diverse.
Birds of a Feather
...The diversity issue leads us nicely into the second half of this story, where we have a few people who are against free choice, but play the discrimination card to hide their intentions.
...It might be a shock to some people, but human beings are different. We look different, we smell different, we have different interests, we like different foods, we like different music, we like different books, we have different ideas when it comes to politics. In response, many of us like to group ourselves with other people who have similar interests; conversely, we often tend to avoid people whose differences are so great that we have little common ground.
...A person who enjoys conversations on politics, books, and classical music might have little interest in spending time with a person who likes country music, NASCAR, and raccoon hunting. Is that discrimination? Yes. Is it wrong, especially when it comes to living together? A group of lawyers in Chicago might think so.
...The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit against Craigslist for allowing advertisements which seek roommates of particular persuasions. They say that renters who want to live with specific people are discriminating against others.
...I’m not sure where to begin with this, because it reeks of something. Is it condescension? Stupidity? Political correctness? Social engineering? Indeed, it makes us wonder where it will stop. What are the odds that this is a move—similar to the bartering issue above—to broaden the definition of “discrimination” in an attempt to pave the way for more litigation and more laws to help create a “fair” society, as defined by those who are doing the paving?
...Since we’ve seen absurdities thus far, we must wonder how much more absurd things can become. Do we force a forty-something woman who seeks a similar roommate to live with a twenty-something college boy because allowing her to choose is discriminatory? Do we force a twenty-something college girl to live with a middle-aged man for “fairness”?
...If renters’ advertisements foster discrimination, let’s not be surprised if personal ads are next. If a woman is seeking a man who is tall, dark, and handsome, will it then be perceived as her discriminating against men who are short, pale, and ugly? Moreover, will she be deemed homophobic for not giving other women a chance to be her significant other? If a gay Latino man is in search of a similar person as a mate, does that mean that he’s discriminating against non-Latinos, women, or heterosexuals? Actually, in both cases they are discriminating. It’s their preference, isn’t it?
...Obviously these are extremes (for now), but every day we have a new idea of discrimination and a new group of people who are offended.
...If we’re going to be a nation of free choice and free association we must be willing to admit that those choices aren’t going to be agreed upon by 100 percent of the populace. Absolute agreement is impossible because of our diversity. In turn, we must be willing to admit that diversity isn’t limited to skin color or sex. Diversity also means different likes and dislikes, which can sometimes offend people.
...Then again, maybe this entire post was a waste of time because the cause of our disagreements is what we’re otherwise proud of: Our diversity.
Source: Miami Herald


Blogger Legally Insane said...


if one were to look at the legal impetus for having the institution of common law marriages, one would find that the main concern was over the prevention of moral turpitude. should an unmarried man and women be living together, the assumption is that they are having sex.

to prevent such people from fornicating with each other, common law marriages were instituted so that if an unmarried man and woman lived together for a certain amount of time then the law would save them them expense of having a wedding and just declare them married under the common law.

however, the classifieds does bring up some interesting twist. if it is illegal to enter a room and board agreement for sexual favors, what of an ex post facto arangement. for example, you and your girlfriend decide to save money and shack up together. thereafter, your girlfriend decides to stop paying her share of the rent, but you don't mind because she is an expert at the reverse cowgirl.

so would law enforcement in that situation be able to arrest and prosecute you or your girlfriend for solicitation or prostitution or even conspiracy?

the other worry is a simple date on a friday night. after watching "super size me," you and your girlfriend decide to head to mickey d's where you buy her some grub. after sucking down a milkshake, she gets to feeling a bit amorous and suddenly, as you had intended, the two of you are having sex. under the rationale of the miami-dade police, did your girlfriend just commit an act of prostitution in exchange for the monetary value of a quarter pounder with cheese?

one wonders...

as to your confusion over women's stance over this issue, my main concern over such classified ads would be that they would be targeted at the most vulnerable women in society: girls running away from abusive parents.

to some homeless runaways and drug addicts, such a proposition to have a roof over their heads for sex might be a situation where the unequal bargaining positions of the parties should be of concern.

speaking about diversity, what about the legal decision to de-segragate the inmate population of californian prisons?

March 22, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

DL, now I know that if my girlfriend and I ever travel to Miami we can go out to dinner and then get hot and heavy with a feeling of badness because we’re breaking the law there. This can be a new role-playing theme.

As to the prison segregation, I could be wrong, but wasn’t it the ACLU who took inmate segregation to the Supreme Court and won? Who would have thought that the ACLU would end up indirectly helping the Aryan Brotherhood kill black inmates?

The thing that becomes frustrating is how opponents to the segregation want it their way on all sides. In early February, Ramona Ripston from the ACLU gave an interview on NPR in which she sounded as if they didn’t want segregation, but they didn’t want violence between the different groups, either. That’s nice; I’d like to gorge myself with pizza, cheesesteaks, Chinese food, and lasagna and not gain any weight, but I can’t have it both ways. Likewise, if we lived in Utopia we might be able to have prisoners come together and love each other (but then again, Utopia wouldn’t need prisons, would it?), but in the real world we have warring factions behind bars who are just waiting to use their homemade knives in the showers.

If you were to ask me for my opinion on what to do about it, I would have to say that I’d lean toward segregation to prevent riots and other violence. I have no compassion for thugs behind bars—no matter their skin color—and don’t think that society is worse because a few are going out in pine boxes. I’d sooner be concerned for the safety of the prison guards, however, so I’d be inclined to support separating the prisoners who might start something if given the chance.

March 23, 2006  
Blogger Legally Insane said...

funny... you'd think that some liberal would be advocating mandatory multicultural awareness classes for inmates in prison.

i guess my biggest concern would be when the inmates are released from prison and become community leaders or politicians and bring with them their segregationist attitudes.

March 23, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

Good point. I forgot about the possibility of these guys being elected to office.

March 24, 2006  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

When I was an undergrad, I had to get a new rommie after my first one moved into a fraternity. My new roomie and I happened to run into each other and talked a bit. Neither of us smoked, we both go to bed about midnight, neither of us have large parties, we both liked a lot of the same TV shows. We were roomies for three years in the dorms, and another six months in an apartment, as I began grad school and he finished getting his bachelor's. Then his fiance became my roomie, because we'd been around each other enough to know we could get along.

But I'm deeply ashamed to find that I've been an evil discriminating bastard this whole time, for not accepting some complete stranger drug addict as my roomie in the interests of diversity. I'd like to apologize. I'm not going to, but I'd liked to.

March 25, 2006  

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