Author Topic: Prostitution in PC014 and EA  (Read 25907 times)

Ragtime

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Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« on: July 02, 2008, 01:13:28 PM »
This story was a lot of fun.  My only complaint is how frickin many Escape Artist stories are there that involve prostitutes?  I mean seriously, it seems like half.  I mean no disrespect to prostitutes, but do so many stories really need to have one?

I agree with this too.  Within in the last week or two, Escape Pod had "The Right Kind of Town" about a prostitute and "Gd Juice," which included one, and Pseudopod had "The Cutting Room" about . . . well, I don't know what it was about.  A fetishist corpse prostitute or something?

Anyway, that's not a criticism of The Grand Cheat, which was far superior to the other ones, and wasn't "about" a prostitute as much as it included one.  Just a suggestion that you either (a) spread out the prostitute tales more; (b) declare "Hooker Week" and make an event of it, or (c) re-examine the members of your acquisitions department's particular hang-ups, as they appear to be buying the good prostitute stories along with the bad ones.

Ragtime

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Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2008, 03:40:23 PM »
I agree with everyone about Rajan Khanna. Actually, I do have another piece in mind for him to read, and it's not Indian-themed. (Our readers do sometimes decline projects, though, of course, so I can't guarantee anything...)

Just to let you know, Ragtime, Escape Artists doesn't have an acquisitions department. The podcasts buy and schedule stories separately. We don't even talk about what stories we're running with each other in advance, so the preponderance of prostitutes in the last couple weeks is just one of those flukes that happens sometimes when you collect a bunch of stuff in a random order. Sometimes, they just happen to coincide.

Jackie Mason once objected to the sex scene in a movie and was told, "But Jackie, sex is very important. Everyone does it", to which he replied, "Everyone drinks soup. Where's the soup scene?"

Four podcasts in 3 weeks about Soup might be a coincidence.  Four about prostitutes (Maybe there were more in Escape Pod and Pseudopod -- I only listen to all of the Podcastles religiously) is a sign of something else.

Perhaps you don't read comic book, but among we small group of individuals who think of ourselves (at least in part) as "Feminist Comic Book Fans," we keep a lists of female superheroes whose back story ("Secret Origins!") include either rape (Black Canary, Hawkgirl . . .) or prostitution (Catwoman, Speedy . . .).  Actually, we keep a list of female superheroes whose back story does NOT include either rape or prostitution, because that list is much, much shorter.  It is basically "only Wonder Woman."  No prominent male superheroes, on the other hand, have a back story that includes either rape or prostitution.

So, when we hear a story with only one female character, and that one character either (a) is raped, or (b) is a prostitute, we immediately notice (and then check to see if Frank Miller wrote the story).  We would never consider that three stories involving prostitutes in the same month would be "just a coincidence."

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Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2008, 03:57:41 PM »
This story was a lot of fun.  My only complaint is how frickin many Escape Artist stories are there that involve prostitutes?  I mean seriously, it seems like half.  I mean no disrespect to prostitutes, but do so many stories really need to have one?

I agree with this too.  Within in the last week or two, Escape Pod had "The Right Kind of Town" about a prostitute and "Gd Juice," which included one, and Pseudopod had "The Cutting Room" about . . . well, I don't know what it was about.  A fetishist corpse prostitute or something?

Was there a prostitute in PP's The Cutting Floor?  I don't remember that.  And what do you mean when you say:
We would never consider that three stories involving prostitutes in the same month would be "just a coincidence."

If it's not a coincidence as Rachel says, what is it?

I mean, only one of the story's you've mentioned is here on PC, the other two are on EP.  The three podcasts are only linked because they're Escape Artists productions, they all have different editors.  Maybe you should post the complaint over at the EP section?

Opabinia

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Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2008, 04:31:20 PM »
And considering that editors buy stories a significant amount of time before running them, and at least PodCastle has had a set story arc which was planned far, far in advance, how could the three podcasts even collude to this?

Is the idea that these four stories which have prostitutes in them were bought at the same time because of something on the news?

hautdesert

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Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2008, 06:53:16 PM »
[
We would never consider that three stories involving prostitutes in the same month would be "just a coincidence."

If it's not a coincidence as Rachel says, what is it?

I mean, only one of the story's you've mentioned is here on PC, the other two are on EP.  The three podcasts are only linked because they're Escape Artists productions, they all have different editors.  Maybe you should post the complaint over at the EP section?

I think it's the idea that the concept of women-as-prostitutes is pretty pervasive in certain areas of genre fiction, so the frequent occurrence isn't a "coincidence" in the sense of "gosh, I just threw heads a hundred times in a row, what are the chances of that?"  It's something that happens too often in general, not the rare occurrence it should be.

And I totally sympathize with Ragtime--even though I'm not a comics fan, I know of the trope she mentions, and I totally understand her reaction.

That said, really and truly, the editors don't discuss their lineups between podcasts, and Rachel doesn't know what EP or PP are running any given week.  I haven't even caught up to EP, and don't listen to PP, since horror just isn't my thing.  Maybe the best thing to do is mention the problem to the other editors.  I've found both Steve and Ben to be very willing to participate in that sort of discussion.

Cerebrilith

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Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2008, 07:40:44 PM »
  Finally, what's wrong with prostitutes? Really?

It's not that there's anything wrong with prostitutes in and of themselves.  They exist and I don't think anyone is saying the fiction here or anywhere else should deny that.  My problem is their overuse.

In my listening of it, nothing made me think the character in the Psuedopod story "The Cutting Room" was a prostitute, though prostitutes have appeared in other stories there.

Ragtime

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2008, 10:02:33 PM »

Was there a prostitute in PP's The Cutting Floor?  I don't remember that. 

It's completely possible that I missed what was going on in The Cutting Floor.  I've only listened to a few Pseudopods, and to be honest it is a solid Third Place in my personal rankings.  My interpretation was that the two guys who were watching through the little window were fetishists who were paying the corpse to get autopsied.  She was an "autopsy hooker" who would get autopsied for a fee for people who get off on that.

But, like I said, I don't really know all the horror tropes, so it's completely possible that there was a better explanation for the girl getting autopsied while two guys watched her.



If it's not a coincidence as Rachel says, what is it?


Like I said, it's a coincidence if three stories are about Soup.  When three stories are about prostitutes, it's  a tired and overused genre trope.  There's nothing "wrong" with prostitutes, but when you compare the percentage of women who are prostitutes to the percentage of women in SF/F stories that are prostitutes, there's something of an imbalance, which makes "coincidences" like this more likely.

If more people thought of it as a "tired trope," rather than an "edgy feature," then we'd only have prostitutes in good stories like this one, and not what has seemed like half of them.

Rachel Swirsky

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2008, 10:09:36 PM »
There's nothing "wrong" with prostitutes, but when you compare the percentage of women who are prostitutes to the percentage of women in SF/F stories that are prostitutes, there's something of an imbalance, which makes "coincidences" like this more likely.

If more people thought of it as a "tired trope," rather than an "edgy feature," then we'd only have prostitutes in good stories like this one, and not what has seemed like half of them.


For the record, I totally agree with this.

I just wanted to let you know that all the prostitute stories showing up in teh same time frame wasn't planned because the editorial departments for the three magazines are effectively separate (although this story was bought by Steve, and not me, before PodCastle was a gleam in his eye, I can say that I would definitely have purchased it).

I agree with you, though, that rape and prostitution are often used in short stories as shorthands toward creating certain emotional reactions, rather than used effectively and thoughtfully. (I can't comment on how the prostitution was used in the other EA stories because I haven't heard them -- though if one of them is "God Juice," which I heard part of at a reading last month, at least there was a little bit of playing with the prostitution trope?)

ChiliFan

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2008, 09:22:19 AM »
I've only been listening to Escape Pod, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about prostitutes in Escape Pod alone! I think this should stop, but before this happens, to even things up, there should be some stories about male escorts, prostitutes and conmen who extort lots of money out of women, who find them impossible to resist.

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2008, 09:36:42 AM »
I've only been listening to Escape Pod, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about prostitutes in Escape Pod alone! I think this should stop, but before this happens, to even things up, there should be some stories about male escorts, prostitutes and conmen who extort lots of money out of women, who find them impossible to resist.

EP150: This, My Body for one.
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cuddlebug

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2008, 09:39:50 AM »
I've only been listening to Escape Pod, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about prostitutes in Escape Pod alone! I think this should stop, but before this happens, to even things up, there should be some stories about male escorts, prostitutes and conmen who extort lots of money out of women, who find them impossible to resist.

Totally agree with you there, Chilifan, I am pretty sick of stories that feature prostitutes. What is it with prostitutes in this genre? Assuming that writers not only write what they themselves find fascinating but they also cater to the audience to a certain degree, then by that logic there must be something about prostitutes that the fandom finds incredibly appealing. Wonder why. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed (most of) the stories, but it can get a bit much.

Anyway, when you requested stories that feature male escorts, I thought of EP 150: This my Body, which seems to fall into that category.

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2008, 09:42:56 AM »
EP010: The Girlfriends of Dorian Gray might also count, at a stretch.
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Cerebrilith

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2008, 10:18:12 AM »
In respect to the request for male prostitutes, the already mentioned episode of Escape Pod "God Juice" included two prostitutes.  The male one that the main character used the fancy device on and the one who got her underarm licked in the hotel room.

Rachel Swirsky

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2008, 10:27:16 AM »
Not that this has anything in particular to do with EA, but Samuel Delany's novel Trouble on Triton features a male character who is an ex-prostitute, and does so in an IMO sophisticated and interesting way.

Are prostitutes-as-overused-trope just a genre thing? I feel like I see them in lit stories, too, or at least the kinds of lit stories that show up in undergrad classrooms. Then you get something like Law & Order, or SVU... or moving more broadly into the kinds of attentions that prostitute-killings get in the media... Feels like it's ubiquitous, to me.

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2008, 10:32:21 AM »
Checking through our stock (PodCastle buys more in advance than the other podcasts, at least that I'm aware of), it looks like we've got one more story that involves prostitution in stock. Not sure when it will be airing, but when it does, this conversation could be good grist for the intro.

Cerebrilith

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2008, 10:38:27 AM »
Are prostitutes-as-overused-trope just a genre thing?  Feels like it's ubiquitous, to me.

I think you're right.  They appear in all sorts of fiction far out of proportion to the number of them that could possibly exist in the world.  One website I found estimates that about 1% of American women have worked as prostitutes (http://www.bayswan.org/stats.html) and they do seem to make up a fair bit more then 1% of the women to be found in fiction.

Wikipedia seems to think there's even less of them.  Here's a paragraph listed from their "prostitution" entry

"According to the paper "Estimating the prevalence and career longevity of prostitute women" (Potterat et al., 1990), the number of full-time equivalent prostitutes in a typical area in the United States (Colorado Springs, CO, during 1970–1988) is estimated at 23 per 100,000 population (0.023%), of which fraction some 4% were under 18. The length of these prostitutes' working careers was estimated at a mean of 5 years. A follow-up paper entitled "Prostitution and the sex discrepancy in reported number of sexual partners" (Brewer et al., 2000) goes on to estimate a mean number of 868 male sexual partners per prostitute per year of active sex work, and offers the conclusion that men's self-reporting of prostitutes as sexual partners is seriously under-reported." -- Wikipedia
« Last Edit: July 03, 2008, 10:41:58 AM by Cerebrilith »

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2008, 10:44:48 AM »
Are prostitutes-as-overused-trope just a genre thing?  Feels like it's ubiquitous, to me.

I think you're right.  They appear in all sorts of fiction far out of proportion to the number of them that could possibly exist in the world.  One website I found estimates that about 1% of American women have worked as prostitutes (http://www.bayswan.org/stats.html) and they do seem to make up a fair bit more then 1% of the women to be found in fiction.
Even that 1% statistic is a little shocking.  One out of one hundred women has been a prostitute?  Does that include a destitute college student trading favors with an acquaintance for money to buy books once in their junior year, or is that only those women waiting on the conrer to pick up whatever john may drive up (that was a really bad run-on sentence, sorry).  I might believe the 1% statistic if we include the former, but including the latter is a little concerning.
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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2008, 10:48:08 AM »

Was there a prostitute in PP's The Cutting Floor?  I don't remember that. 

It's completely possible that I missed what was going on in The Cutting Floor.  I've only listened to a few Pseudopods, and to be honest it is a solid Third Place in my personal rankings.  My interpretation was that the two guys who were watching through the little window were fetishists who were paying the corpse to get autopsied.  She was an "autopsy hooker" who would get autopsied for a fee for people who get off on that.

Yeah, you pretty much missed the whole story.  It was about two M.E.s that begin an autopsy of a strange corpse which then comes 'alive' and gains sexual pleasure from being autopsied.  I figure she was a vampire or other sort of undead.  Creepy story and well read.

Quote
Like I said, it's a coincidence if three stories are about Soup.  When three stories are about prostitutes, it's  a tired and overused genre trope.  There's nothing "wrong" with prostitutes, but when you compare the percentage of women who are prostitutes to the percentage of women in SF/F stories that are prostitutes, there's something of an imbalance, which makes "coincidences" like this more likely.

There is another saying which goes something like "Never ascribe to maliciousness that which can be ascribed to incompetance".  I am not saying that the editors are incompetent, mind you, just that you might be seeing patterns where none exist.  I find it difficult to believe that there is some kind of sexist, misogynist, prostitute fetish conspiracy at Escape Artists.  Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence, to paraphrase Freud.

Quote
If more people thought of it as a "tired trope," rather than an "edgy feature," then we'd only have prostitutes in good stories like this one, and not what has seemed like half of them.

This is a fair argument, but has nothing to do with Escape Artists editorial decisions.  The overuse of the prostitute trope is solely the problem of the writers at large, not the people who buy the stories we hear on EA.  It is entirely possible that "The Right Kind of Town" was simply the best story that came in that month.  I don't know; I am not one of their editors.  Is the trope of the prostitute overused and rarely used well (or interestingly)?  Sure.  Just make sure that you have the right target for your stones.  In this case it is not Escape Artists.
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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2008, 10:57:28 AM »
Quote
Like I said, it's a coincidence if three stories are about Soup.  When three stories are about prostitutes, it's  a tired and overused genre trope.  There's nothing "wrong" with prostitutes, but when you compare the percentage of women who are prostitutes to the percentage of women in SF/F stories that are prostitutes, there's something of an imbalance, which makes "coincidences" like this more likely.

There is another saying which goes something like "Never ascribe to maliciousness that which can be ascribed to incompetance".  I am not saying that the editors are incompetent, mind you, just that you might be seeing patterns where none exist.  I find it difficult to believe that there is some kind of sexist, misogynist, prostitute fetish conspiracy at Escape Artists.  Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence, to paraphrase Freud.

Especially when there's a decently long discussion about if PC is sexist against men.
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hautdesert

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Re: Prostitution in PC014 and EA
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2008, 10:57:46 AM »


There is another saying which goes something like "Never ascribe to maliciousness that which can be ascribed to incompetance".  I am not saying that the editors are incompetent, mind you, just that you might be seeing patterns where none exist.  I find it difficult to believe that there is some kind of sexist, misogynist, prostitute fetish conspiracy at Escape Artists.  Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence, to paraphrase Freud.

I don't think anyone is ascribing malice.  But when you throw heads seventy five times out of a hundred every time, that's not a coincidence--the coin is weighted.  

I doubt anyone is suggesting there's a misogynist prostitue fetish conspiracy at EA.  I'd lay real money there isn't, actually, just from having met and spoken to several EA editors.  But I think what happens is, the image, the trope, gets used and internalized, and writers and editors who haven't thought about the issue don't see it as a problem.  They're not doing it out of malice.  But it still could be examined more carefully, and if it were, likely the occurrences of it would be different and less distressing--not because anyone is censoring anything, but because they're more aware of the issue, and able to question why they're reaching for a particular trope and whether they really want that.