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Was Caro right to equate housewives with prostitutes?

by Vee (follow)
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Social commentator, Jane Caro has argued that housewives and prostitutes are alike in that they trade or sell sexual favours in return for material stability. As a result, she has angered many women – housewives and prostitutes alike.

Was Caro right to compare housewives and prostitutes? In today’s world, where we are told that sexiness is power, are sexual favours still women’s “major currency” and what does this mean for girls and women today?


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#Festival of Dangerous Ideas
#Q&A
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Wow. No, I think that's an apalling comment. I'm a housewife myself, and my relationship with my husband isn't trading sexual favours for security. It's a partnership. Currently he supports me financially, there have been times when I have supported him financially, not to mention the emotional support which is mutual. Sex is something that only happens if we BOTH want it. It's not a service I provide in exchange for money or security. That assumes that housewives (and maybe women in general) don't want sex themselves for its own sake, which is rubbish.

Re. the idea that sexiness is power, there's a really great article on the Whole Woman hub on that topic. If sexiness was power, why don't men use it more?
Very well said!
I'm a little older, and have seen a great deal, and lived a lot before going into my life I have now.Sex is a powerful tool, even with the men in our lives.
Men have needs that women don't seem to have in the same way....my generation knew this, and our Mothers told us, as shocking as it may sound...it is a good bargaining tool.I have used it, and I felt I had some power.I'm not ashamed, as I was married....It's thousands of years old, and
it will continue until the Earth stops.
by jonaj
Wowzers, I think you'd only ever say something like that if you wanted a lot of attention to rain down on you. It's going to be interpreted as pretty insulting.

It sounds like the sort of remark an extreme radfem would make because some of them hold the belief that all sex between women and men is rape. They argue this on the grounds that women struggle to say no, or are coerced into sex by their husbands.

I read the link you provided and I see that my interpretation of her comment is correct, however she is claiming that housework is exchanged for sex. I disagree with the way she expresses the sentiment because to suggest that prostitutes can CHOOSE it as a career is beyond naive! Prostitutes are more often than not, victims of human trafficking - because once a pimp becomes involved, it comes under the banner of trafficking, they are not free agents, they belong to the pimp. So ….. really REALLY poor form on that front.

Furthermore to liken housewives to prostitutes is bizarre. If she had said that women are the largest unpaid workforce in the world and the most unappreciated as well, she'd have been spot on. Likening home duties to prostitution can only be taken one way, firstly is highlights her opinion of prostitutes as lesser value humans, secondly it assumes that men are making some kind of exchange for sex when I know FAR too many women (the ones who are genuinely pressured into sex using guilt and coercion) whose husbands take no notice of the housework their wives do, they don't appreciate it, they demand more, and often those women are WORKING OUTSIDE OF THE HOME AS WELL.

With remarks like this you have to consider your audience. I think she put very little consideration into the way her audience would receive this comment, and she didn't have enough feminist knowledge to explain what she meant anyway.
Although it was a festival of dangerous ideas, there just isn't going to be enough time to defend and thoroughly explore / explain that remark against the outrage it will stir up in an hour long show. It's a shame she chose to express herself using such a poorly thought out analogy, because I suspect that the IDEA behind it is actually not too far off the money.

I deem her a GOOSE!
Some good points raised there. :)
by Vee
Are rad/fems the sort of women who, on becoming pregnant, make statements like "he should be at the birth, then he can understand what a trauma it is to have a baby". Like because women are so stupid they just "let it happen to themselves" because they had no knowledge of what it was like to have a baby, like the pregnancy was really a result of rape".
by fran.
When did anybody say anything like that, Fran? I can't even follow the last couple of sentences there.

A lot of women like to have their husbands there when they give birth to provide support, or to share in seeing their child come into the world. I've never heard anybody say they wanted them there to "understand the trauma". And no, that's not a radfem idea.
What she said about the past is correct.

I 60, I know the past...I know my mothers life and the many aunt's I had.
If I look at it all(as I have) and remember how life was back then.
Then yes she is correct.
But!
Maybe the wrong time and place, to say that...because it will open a huge can of worms....with limited time to discuss.

Women of today....No!
It's not correct, as far as married women.

Sex as a 'trading tool'...well that's been going on for years and years, and today may not happen as much, but my mother did it!

After the war, lots of women did it to feed their children.
I'm not saying it is right, far far from it....but it will always be used.

I know my gran was in a similar situation. And to think that was the reality for some is appalling.
by Vee
It is Vee, but war is hell as they say and you do what you have too,
if it means your children will eat at least once a day.
If I had to feed my children, and there was no other way....I would do it.
by jonaj
I do not wish to defend anyone, but I saw the program where Caro stated this comment. Let me clarify that this was said in a certain context, and the context was "Festival of Dangerous Ideas". She definitely did raise a dangerous idea, no doubt.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Although I don't agree with her, I am not particularly offended. I am a housewife, and I don't feel like a prostitute, because marriage with my husband provides me with way more than just material stability.
I should've mentioned that, but to be fair it's in the 'Categories', lol. I do enjoy watching the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Last year's presentation, 'If you want fidelity, get a dog' was particularly interesting.
by Vee
Yes, I noticed that, but it's here to be debated, so we're debating it.
Whoa, reading that over it didn't come across the way I meant it to at all. Apologies Vee. Just meant that I get that it's here for the controversy.
No offence taken, Jennifer. I understood what you meant. ;-)
by Vee
Don't know if I liken it to prostitution but there wouldn't be many housekeepers" who haven't rolled over and "thought of mother England" for a few minutes in order to get some co-operation on a new project or a purchase or throwing a birthday party or to avoid an argument or to make up for some misdemeanor.
Maybe more opportunist than prostitute.
Good point. :)
by jonaj
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