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“Now, gods, stand up for bastards!”

“Those French bastards. Will they never learn?”, asks Joan Smith in the Independent. And answers. By the grace of the State and in the Most Holy Name of Equality, yes! Those bastards will learn. They will be taught a lesson.

There is a bunch of well-known “bastards” in France who are keen on having sex with prostituted women. Don’t take my word for it: that’s how they describe themselves in a declaration insisting on their right to buy sex. The “bastards” (salauds in French) are so cross about a proposed law which would impose fines on men who pay for sex that they’ve decided to out themselves in a monthly magazine. The “manifesto of 343 bastards” has been signed by writers, actors, and commentators who say they have used, or are likely to use, “the services of prostitutes” – and aren’t ashamed of it.

The question of whether anyone (although it’s mostly men) should be able to buy sex is shaping up to become one of the great battles of the 21st century. France’s socialist government intends to follow the example of some Scandinavian countries, which have criminalised “punters”.

If you believe in equality, it’s hard to see why men should be allowed to pay to use women’s bodies, especially against a background of alarming levels of domestic and sexual violence.

To my astonishment the most logical riposte from among the Independent comments to Ms Smith’s last quoted non-sequitur comes from a man blogging from the bottom corner of the political diamond, conservative-socialist authoritarian David A.S. Lindsay. Mr Lindsay says,

Alike in Britain and in France, by all means let it be made a criminal offence for anyone above the age of consent, raised to 18, to buy sex. And, with exactly equal sentencing, for anyone above the age of consent, raised to 18, to sell sex. Are women morally and intellectually equal to men, or not?

So far as I can tell this is not sarcasm; he wants both buyers and sellers of sex criminalised. I differ, but one cannot fault his logic on the “both or neither” point.

Edmund from King Lear gave me the title of this post. It is mostly there because I am incapable of passing up a nifty lit ref. However it does occur to me that there is a way it might be made relevant. Many people will particularly want to cheer the way the salauds proudly snap their nicotine-stained fingers in the faces of their would-be oppressors:

Nous aimons la liberté, la littérature et l’intimité. Et quand l’Etat s’occupe de nos fesses, elles sont toutes les trois en danger.

Aujourd’hui la prostitution, demain la pornographie : qu’interdira-t-on après-demain ?

Hell, I cheered that, and I’ll be in church tomorrow and I had to look up “les fesses” in a French dictionary. (By the way, does “quand l’Etat s’occupe de nos fesses” have the double meaning I think it might have?) But it would really be nice, and principled, and a bloody good strategy for those who do not cheer, for those godly folk and their secular equivalents whose skin crawls at the thought of prostitution, to also stand up for the bastards. Because as the bastards say, “Today prostitution, tomorrow pornography: what will they forbid the day after next?”

38 comments to “Now, gods, stand up for bastards!”

  • patriarchal landmine

    I don’t suppose Joan has a husband who has purchased an engagement ring. or even a boyfriend who has paid for her dinner and movie.

    one way or another, every man pays for sex.

  • Everybody here knows it, but you can’t have a buyer without a seller. And the prostitute women have the right to sell their sexual services. The reason, of course, being because they own their bodies.

    People like Joan Smith ultimately believe that no, you don’t own your own body. They need to have it pointed out to them at every turn that the idea of somebody else owning your body is uspeakably wicked. Well, more seriously, it needs to be pointed out for the people reading the conversation; the Joan Smiths of the world will never get it.

    And yes, I really do mean using words like “wicked” or “evil”. Somebody has to be the extremist making Natalie’s views look moderate by comparison.

  • Kevin B

    For those like me whose O-level French, (failed), was fifty years ago here’s what google translate makes of Natalie’s quote:

    We love freedom, literature and privacy. And when the state takes care of our butts, they are all three in danger.

    Today prostitution, pornography tomorrow: qu’interdira does one tomorrow?

    And I assume the last phrase means what do they take the next day.

    It is perfectly logical for a leftist to imprison punters while leaving prostitutes alone. After all, despite being equal to them, women, (and blacks and gays), have no agency and are helplessly in thrall to evil white men.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    “Somebody has to be the extremist making Natalie’s views look moderate by comparison”

    Er, Ted, I would like to make clear that my views on this issue are the same as yours: people own their own bodies and have the right to sell or buy sex. True, I may disapprove of fornication in the same way I disapprove of adultery (but much more mildly since fornication does not involve a breach of trust) but I agree with you 100% that the attempt to use force to stop people doing what they wish with their own bodies is wicked and evil.

    Apologies if I am spelling out what you knew already but I am sensitive to even the slightest implication that I would ever support compulsion in these matters, since the use of state violence to enforce sexual morality has been one of the most disgraceful and unfortunately popular perversions of the Christian faith since about the time of the Emperor Constantine. Kind of a shame that once the Christians largely stopped doing it, the feminists took over the job.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Kevin B, addressing you from the dizzy heights of linguistic superiority attained by one whose French O-Level was thirty-six years ago rather than fifty, yes. Perhaps I should have made clearer that the words in the last line of the post were the translation. The only bit Google fails on was qu’interdira-t-on which means “what will one forbid”.

    And I strongly suspect that Ms Smith and her ilk will find a justification for imprisoning the prostitutes about five minutes after they imprison the punters!

    ADDED LATER: I am going to add a link to Google Translate at the appropriate point in the post.

  • Tedd


    People like Joan Smith ultimately believe that no, you don’t own your own body.

    I suspect that most people who oppose prostitution would say that they do believe you own your own body, but that they don’t believe “ownership” implies an unlimited right to sell or trade. (Not just your body, but anything.) You and I might see it as a contradiction, but for many people ownership is always conditional, usually on “society’s” approval.

  • It has already been hinted at in a previous comment, but I want to suggest a further implication of this: Why does the illegality stop at economically motivated sex between unmarried couples? Surely there are women who seek out and marry men richer than they are. Why should the marriage ceremony provide a cover for this? If johns are to be punished, let’s be consistent, and treat any man who marries a woman poorer than himself as a criminal.

  • RAB

    As Zsa Zsa Gabor said…

    “I’m a great housekeeper. Every time I divorce, I always keep the house.”

  • Gordon Walker

    This was touched upon a year or so here in France, when someone said that the idea that women were free to rent or otherwise dispose of their bodies as they wished, but that every time they did so they were being exploited, had all the self consistency of “le poisson soluble”.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    All men pay for all sex. Some of these arrangements are simply more honest then others.

  • DocMartyn

    it is also an allusion to the 1971 ‘The Manifesto of the 343’ a declaration that was signed by 343 women admitting to having had an abortion, thereby exposing themselves to criminal prosecution.
    It was better known as the “Manifesto of the 343 Bitches” (“le manifeste des 343 salopes”).


  • Snorri Godhi

    Tedd: you might surprised to find out that even JS Mill did not believe that ownership implies an unlimited right to sell or trade. From the inappropriately titled On Liberty, chapter 5 (2nd page in my edition)

    “Whoever undertakes to sell any description of goods to the public does what affects the interest of other persons, and of society in general; and thus his conduct, in principle, comes within the jurisdiction of society”

    Mill comes in favor of free trade anyway, in the same paragraph; but only on utilitarian grounds: the State remains morally entitled to regulate trade.

    Obviously, sex also affects the interest of other persons, so if he had been consistent, Mill would have asserted the right of the State to enforce mass sterilization as well.
    Also, I don’t understand how the above principle is compatible with chapter 2.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT criminalization of buying sex, I suspect the reason was that the Social Democrats in Sweden (and Norway?) had become unable to further expand the welfare state, so they needed some other cause to legitimize themselves. (Not my original idea.) The Danes seem to have more commonsense.

    As you might expect, Swedish prostitutes have discovered the law of unintended consequences: when buying sex is criminal, only criminals buy sex.

  • lukas

    (By the way, does “quand l’Etat s’occupe de nos fesses” have the double meaning I think it might have?)

    Double is a very low estimate on that one.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    There are, however, good reasons for regulating prostitution: public health (which, admittedly, is really a problem of indiscriminate sex rather than commercial sex, but still) and what used to be quaintly referred to as “white slavery” – some prostitutes are coerced, and some are effectively coerced by drug dependency.

    By all means, women should be free to sell their bodies: but they should also be free not to. Regulation of the trade should help both ends, while also holding STDs down.

  • Natalie:

    I didn’t mean to imply that we disagree strongly.

    My point was more that much of the BBC/Guardian/quangocrat class are liable to have an apoplectic fit over even a mild formulation of the views such as you’ve given in the main post. We need people who are willing to look a bit loony so that more reasonable presentations such as yours can be seen as sensible.

  • Laird

    Snorri, nothing JS Mill said surprises me. He certainly was no libertarian.

    PfP, there are no “good” reasons for regulating prostitution. The coercion or “slavery” element disappears if the trade isn’t criminalized, and the public health aspect takes care of itself, too. Sensible prostitutes (of both sexes) would establish guilds or other means of certifying the absence of disease, and would require some similar guarantee from their clients. Society is largely self-regulating if you permit it to be.

  • CaptDMO

    “If you believe in equality, it’s hard to see why men should be allowed to pay to use women’s bodies, especially against a background of alarming levels of domestic and sexual violence.

    Methinks SOMEBODY has it a bit bass ackwards.

    I’m all for “illegality” of prostitution for the purpose of keeping it out of the “public” arena,
    I’d also be interested in the “outing” of whores that provide State recognized “companionship”, culminating in astonishing alimony/palimony settlements, in exchange for short term “investments” of “sacrifice”.

  • Prostitution is one of those odd crimes where all the constituent parts are legal … two people meet, they talk, they have sex, they exchange money. Where is the crime?

    Contrast to something like pickpocketing, where the crime occurs the moment you take someone’s property from their pocket without their consent. There is a criminal instant in that crime; other crimes have similar criminal instants (murder, robbery, assault, fraud, etc).

    But, like most consensual crimes, prostitution is composed of a series of non-criminal instants, none of which are actually illegal in themselves. The whole thing is only considered a crime when the series of instants are taken together in a shared context.

  • To all those people saying all men pay for sex one way or another, you are wrong. As the old oilfield saying goes, when you pay a prostitute, you’re not paying her for sex: you’re paying her to leave afterwards.

  • Alisa

    Oh FFS. Does all of this mean that if prostitution was legal and socially acceptable, men wouldn’t want to get married? Ha.

  • Deep Lurker

    As near as I can figure, people like Joan Smith consider it wicked and evil for bodies to be owned at all, specifically including the case of people owning their own bodies.

    The problem is that “unowned” is impossible. If you don’t own your own body, then someone or something else does. And if there’s a legal fiction that no one owns your body, then the State does, with nasty consequences.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    Alimony is the screwing you get for the screwing you got.

  • Surellin

    Re: the gender-based double standard, Instapundit had a link today to a story about a nice lady who went to Jamaica and, er, bought sex from a local stud. Apparently the experience was all empowering and such for her. A man does that and he’s a nasty pervert.

  • Toads

    This is *France*?

    I thought the French had a more mature, realistic view of sexual matters, vs., say, Americans.

    Plus, prostitution is legal in nearby Germany and Holland. In Germany, big brothels are advertised on billboards even. It is quite open.

  • charles austin

    If you don’t own your own body, I shudder to think of the implications of the tragedy of the commons.

  • Lamont Cranston

    Every now and then I read something and am forcibly reminded of how different the world you lot lives in is from us over here on the Western side of the pond.

    Prostitution is illegal in almost all parts of the United States, and has been for at least a century in most locations. I don’t see that it’s done a lot of good, morally or for public health.


  • Charlie

    Sex is legal. Business is legal. Ergo, sex business is legal.

  • Marcopohlo

    Two quibbles.

    1. The canard “all men pay for sex” is simply not true, even if the discussion is confined to heterosexuals. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be seeing cougars at the bar buying the young men drinks.

    2. If this is a feminist issue, what are you going to do about rent boys that are voluntarily in the trade? Do young men of legal age, selling sex, hurt women?

  • John A. Fleming

    Ted: People like Joan Smith ultimately believe that no, you don’t own your own body.

    Well, duh. We are told often by the courts that rights are not absolute, and property rights especially don’t deserve the same level of protection as LLPoH. And you inhabit a property, a piece of mobile real estate, nominally yours (but only for lack of suitable technology). So you are you, but your *** belongs to l’Etat, who lets you use it at their sufferance.

    See what happens when you accept the self-serving proposition that rights are not absolute?

  • LS

    I remember a question from years ago:

    How come you can buy it, but you can’t rent it?

  • I R A Darth Aggie

    It is quite simple. These progressives are the New Puritans: some one, some where is having fun of a sort we do not approve! This person must be found. And punished. Cut from the same cloth as the prohibitionists.

  • Errantvandal

    Charles Austin: Two words, “Obesity epidemic”

  • willis

    Guys goes into a bar and asks the lady tending the bar, “would you have sex with me for $10,000?” The startled lady replied that she is very flattered and would be pleased to do so. They get back to his hotel and he pulls out a $10 bill. Stunned, she says “what do you take me for?!” I thought we settled that he answered, now we’re haggling over the price.

    And so it seems is the French government. No sane woman, especially in France, has ever sought out men solely to have sex without even the expectation of a thank you. Apparently, a single cash payment is deemed inadequate for the French government, expecting an annuity consisting of a life-time of marital support or alimony as the appropriate reimbursement for feminine favor.

  • Shall we extend the idea to drug sellers and buyers? Oh wait…

  • Shall we extend the idea to drug sellers and buyers? Oh wait…

    Yes, lets.

  • The fun part about criminalizing the buying of sex is that you have to criminalize the selling thereof.

    To get a serious perspective, and to avoid the tropes of mistresses or hookers with the heart of gold, it is always wise to switch to rent boys. Much less romantic, far more mechanical.

    A boy wants to make some money. He decides to offer his services – being male there is, of course, no coercion possible in the liberal world – he is taken up on the offer by some old poof. A blow job later the morals squad comes in and arrests……

    There are plenty of gay writers – Christopher Isherwood, Gore Vidal, Stan Persky who make that exchange legitimate, or transgressive or necessary. Money is the tribute that age pays to beauty,

    We can, of course, criminalize sex. Without consent it is criminal prima facie; but the moment you put rent boys into the equation the lefty virtuecrats become uneasy. Because this is what their gay friends might well do. And, like gay SM porn or lesbian fist fucking, the gay for pay hookup is sacred territory.

    Not for nothing could Pete Townsend put out “Rough Boys” without a murmur from the sex police.