Is David Futrelle defending child prostitution? You decide…

4 Aug

child prostitute


Possibly NSFW: naked soldiers swimming – butts only 


David Futrelle, who writes at, has a long history of interpreting clearly satirical articles as literal truth, deliberately misrepresenting the writing of those with whom he does not agree and relentlessly hounding Dr. Warren Farrell for a single misquoted remark he made more than 40 years ago. Given this pattern of behavior, and given two articles David published in the 90s that have recently come to my attention, I think it is only fair (or at least consistent) to ask Futrelle to clarify just what he meant when he wrote Abuse Excuses and his review of two Victorian era history books in an article called Victorian Secrets


I will look at Victorian Secrets today, and Abuse Excuses tomorrow. The article has an interesting twist at the end. I’ll give you a paragraph by paragraph tl;dr. He starts off with Patricia Anderson’s When Passion Reigned.


Paragraph 1: The word “Victorian”, like” Puritan”, conjures up images of stuffy prudes set on imposing their worldview on others

Fair enough. Victorians, are of course, alluding to Queen Victoria, one of those powerless women who had no voice until feminism came along.

Paragraph 2: There has been a recent resurgence in admiration of Victorian vales

He quotes Margaret Thatcher, another powerless woman with no voice.

Paragraph 3: For all their proclaimed virtues, Victorian men in particular were rather fond of prostitutes aka “white slaves” and novels and pornography featuring “flagellation, fetishism and incest”. The author of the book appears to elevate women beyond such baseness, preferring ladies who stare at crotches and revel in repression.

I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if this is a fair characterization, but at any rate, it’s the men=bad, women=good trope we are all familiar with.

Paragraph 4: Anderson (the author) prefers the demure lady Victorian and ignores the graphic pornography of the era in favor of a more subtlety described female sexuality.

Not surprising, if true.




Paragraph 5: Victorians were a raunchy bunch, with the ladies exposing heaving bosoms for male admiration and watching men swim nude with “more than purely anatomical interest”.

So nothing has changed much except that men tend not to swim nude in full view of ladies anymore.

Paragraph 6: Futrelle writes that Anderson does not consider what Victorian sexuality meant to ordinary people, and that the absence of explicit talk about sex in public cannot be taken as evidence that “real passion reigned in the privacy of the bedroom”.  He goes on to say that “very little in the history of sexuality suggests that evasiveness and euphemism is the best way to enhance sexual pleasures”.

Can’t disagree, but exactly what expressions of sexual pleasure are we talking about?

Paragraph 7:  Anderson is optimistic that even those left out of the Victorian sexual world would still be okay, writing that “for the unhappily married, the jilted and the lonely, there was leeway for the romantic imagination”, citing the pleasures of small glances or appreciative words from the opposite sex.

What we now think of as harassment?

Paragraph 8: Futrelle finds this a “remarkable statement”, and suggests that those individuals (men) who really craved release could have enjoyed prostitutes or a flagellation novel. “Why should we expect a glance or even a few appreciative words to suffice for anyone”, he writes.

Is it possible these do not suffice for him? Is he part of the jilted and lonely who prefer prostitutes and flagellation?

Paragraph 9: Futrelle moves on the Lucy Bland’s Banishing the Beast, dismissing Anderson as “facile”. He focuses on a group of radical intellectuals who meet to talk openly about sex.

Futrelle has no interest in the more subtle expressions of Victorian sexuality, dismissing them as superficial and simplistic (that’s what facile means) and wants instead to get right into the incest and whippings and hookers nitty-gritty.  Of course that’s the aspect that will capture readers attention, so I am merely noting the enthusiasm and not ascribing any meaning to it.

Paragraph 10: Victorians were conflicted about women’s sexuality – some thought women were more or less asexual, and some thought they were full of ardor, “seldom satisfied with a single sexual act”.

Futrelle gives the impression that male sexuality is not discussed but I don’t know if that’s true. It is certainly not discussed by him.

Paragraph 11: Women’s lack of sexual desire was seen as giving them moral authority over others.

Which others?

Paragraph 12: Working class women, especially prostitutes, who curiously felt that they had a right to determine their own lives.

Prissy middle class women deciding what other women get to do with their lives. Same old, same old. But note the use of the word women.

Paragraph 13: Futrelle reaches the exact same conclusion, drawing parallels with contemporary anti-feminist pornography.

He doesn’t specify which, if any, genre of pornography draws the ire of feminists.

Paragraph 14: Feminist Victorians can be overzealous in their moral crusades and often found themselves “falling back on coercive strategies to control the sexual behaviour of young girls” – Futrelle’s words.

This is the part I find interesting. Throughout the article, Futrelle specifies that he is talking about women, and that Victorian purity campaigns target prostitutes specifically. But when it comes to overzealousness, he identifies not only girls rather than women, but young girls. Let’s assume that a woman for Futrelle is a female who has reached the age of modern consent – somewhere around 17-18 years of age. Girls would be what? 12 – 16? Just how young are these young girls whose sexual behaviors must not be coercively controlled? And note he did not say sexual feelings – this is not about a budding awareness of sexuality – but he very specifically says behaviors.

Perhaps I am reading far too much into this. It’s possible.  Let’s finish this last paragraph.


Paragraph 15: If we can’t talk openly about sex, we are bound to obsess over it. Erotic exposure and political liberation should not be conflated. “It is dangerous to elevate sexual unease to a kind of virtue”, because those who do not share our tastes will attempt to impose their values on the rest of us.

Given the preceding paragraph in which the sexual behavior of young girls is described as being coercively controlled, just what kind of sexual unease is Futrelle talking about? And if exposure is not enough, what is? Are inclinations and proclivities that lead to “sexual unease” to result in behavior lest the bearer of such desires become obsessed?

Perhaps my personal feelings are coloring my interpretation here, and it’s more than possible that they are, but I find it hard to understand how young girls and coercive control of sexual behavior can be put together without raising some doubts about the author’s meaning. I myself have written about the sexual behaviors of girls (meaning at least age 13), and I have endorsed on my blog that the age of sexual consent be lowered to 13 with two really important caveats:

  1. Age difference – two 13 year olds engaging in experimental sexual behavior should not end up on a sex offender registry, in my opinion. I would be comfortable with a two year age difference between individuals, protecting them from statutory rape charges. 13 and 15 in my mind is fine. 13 and 19 is a whole different ballgame.
  2. Mistaken identity clause – if a 15 year old is in a bar with fake ID and has consensual sex with someone more than two years older than herself or himself, statutory rape has not occurred because it is reasonable to assume people are presenting genuine ID when asked, by either their sexual partner or the age-restricted establishment in question.


So it is not the idea of young girls (or boys) engaging in experimental sexual behavior with peers that bothers me. Futrelle seems to imply that young girls should be free to participate in prostitution with presumably grown men, and with that, I most certainly do have a problem. Teenage girls can be predatory (some of them seem to think it’s a sport) and they are far from blushing innocents but in my mind some coercive strategies (like statutory rape laws) are most certainly called for.


I will be interested to hear your thoughts on how I have interpreted this article. Am I being as overzealous as the most ardent Victorian?


Or did David Futrelle just offer a defense of child prostitution and paedophilia?


Let me know what you think.


Lots of love,







19 Responses to “Is David Futrelle defending child prostitution? You decide…”

  1. Donald L Denis August 4, 2014 at 15:10 #

    Nothing motivates manginaism like self loathing. You may have happened onto its source: a geyser of shame spraying up from depths of lecherous ephebephilia, scalding those at whom he projects it. A fine bit of sleuthing on your part.

    About age thresholds: doesn’t it all just seem so arbitrary? 13, 16, 18, 21, pick a number already. How disastrous would it be to designate one birthday when you are suddenly legally a full citizen. You have the maturity to hold a job, to operate a motor vehicle safely, to vote responsibly, to be trusted with alcohol, and to choose your own sex partners without sending anyone to prison. Happy birthday to you. All of my personal research indicates that this one blessed birthday should occur at about 70 years of age.


  2. hollychism August 4, 2014 at 15:28 #

    In the infamous (for the times) Victorian pornography journal The Pearl, there were a lot of stories about girls becoming promiscuous and predatory starting at twelve or thirteen. There were also a lot of stories about men in their twenties to forties debauching girls (and boys) who were pre- or barely-pubescent. There were stories with incest, stories where consent is coerced, tricked, or implied, or absent altogether. Stories of open marriages, of faithful spouses with an active sex life, and of unfaithful spouses of both sexes.

    I’ve run across modern pornographic literature that was almost exactly the same in plot and descriptions. The only differences were that it wasn’t printed over the course of several months in serial.

    Humans remain humans, with all the fascination with the immoral and taboo, from one era to the next. The main differences are what is taboo, and how open the secret fascination happens to be.


  3. Jason Wexler August 4, 2014 at 16:40 #

    Again another tangential reply, what should the absolute unrestricted age of consent be? America has an average age of consent much higher than our peer nations and doesn’talways have close in age exemptions, if a 16 year-old isn’t mature enough to consent to a 60 year-old, why is an 18 or 20 year-old, and why can the 16 year-old consent to that 18 year old? Age of consent sounds good, but it ignores human biology and psychology, sex is good for us and there is no reason to wait once puberty gives a person sexual desire; abstinence isn’t going to create wisdom, experience is and so mistakes will be made, and I suspect your willingness to accept age of consent at 13/puberty with close in age tells me you agree with most of that, but why the close in age rule?

    More on topic if teen sexuality is o.k., and if as I believe you’ve previously indicated prostitution is acceptable (if I’m confusing you with Karen Straughn I’m sorry), what’s the problem with “underage” prostitution, so long as it is consensual and not forced or “slavery”?


  4. caprizchka August 4, 2014 at 17:11 #

    “He doesn’t specify which, if any, genre of pornography draws the ire of feminists.”

    Well now. Let us assume that Futrelle’s own taste in pornography does *not* draw the ire of feminists:

    “Wait, is that one of Mr. [Francis] Roy’s memes, or did I just accidentally post a pic from my extensive collection of FemDom porn?”

    “By which I mean, yes that was one of his memes and forget what I said about that other stuff.”


    Therefore, I conclude that the sort of porn taking residence on my own hard drive (notice I said, “hard”?) is probably the *bad* kind of porn.

    Of course, underage little “empowered” professional dominatrices is all just good clean fun. Here comes the Godwin: That was Hitler’s genre.

    My own illustrious past is no big secret. I’m 52 so I can safely assume that the statute of limitations is exceeded and/or the “perpetrators” are too old at this point to care. Love me or hate me–my identity is one of the possible grown-up outcomes. Whether that is an endorsement or condemnation is in the mind of the beholder.

    There are very good reasons why I don’t disclose my true name online.


  5. anon August 4, 2014 at 20:58 #

    I think you make a reasonable argument. I’d say, being as objective as I can be, it’s persuasive. That is, I think your deconstruction (if I use the term correctly) is as accurate and reasonable as any deconstruction I’ve read. But I imagine if we were to ask Futrelle then or now and he would deny that was his intention.

    So I think the weakest part of your argument, is the age of the women or girls.

    I am certainly not an expert in either prostitution or Victorian prostitution, but um, I’d be shocked to find out that girls who we today consider to be underage and way too young were not prostitutes, nor that their customers were men of all ages.

    I would say that your deconstruction is reasonable, and surely just as fair if not more so (or far more so) than David Futrelle’s analysis of Warren Farrell’s one quote.

    If David things his analysis of Farrell’s quote is reasonable, and reasonable to harangue repeatedly 40 years later, then sure this analysis of yours is also reasonable.


  6. MC August 4, 2014 at 21:37 #

    A girl I worked with started having sex at the age of 15, and she also worked at a bar in high school as a waitress. You would not guess her to have been 15 at the time. I would not say that the guys above 18 that she had sex with, were committing any sort of rape. In fact, by the time she finished high school, she had more sexual partners than most guys a decade older than her.

    There’s a difference between children having sex, and teenagers. Teenagers having sex with adults has nothing to do with pedophilia. If you can work in a bar, look like an adult, fuck like an adult, really would be considered an adult by most civilizations throughout history, and you have had sex more sex partners than the average person twice your age, treating that person like they are more innocent and “less adult” than a 26 year old virgin?

    I mean it isn’t as black and white as “so and so is 16, and that other person is 21, so rape”. And girls tend to go through puberty as well as teenage brain development sooner than boys do, so a 16 year old girl is about as far along in puberty as an 18-19 year old boy. I haven’t had sex with a teenage girl myself and would absolutely agree that teenage prostitution is wrong, but if some 15-16 year old girl decides to go home with an older guy at a bar, consentually, I don’t see how anyone can suggest the guy should due 25 years in prison for rape, or whatever the sentence is. It’s not rape, it’s not pedophilia.


  7. rickscafe45 August 4, 2014 at 23:51 #

    That seems a bit cynical – I’d say 35


  8. FuzzieWuzzie August 5, 2014 at 00:13 #

    I personally don’t like Davdi Futrelle and have nothing to base it on other than gut instinct. I won’t read his stuff because it won’t inform. Here is tonight’s Intelligence Report from AVfM. Dean Esmay, who can back up his instincts, tears into David Futrelle in the second half. As always, the whole show is worth watching.


  9. Master Beta August 5, 2014 at 13:02 #

    Won’t somebody please think of the children!!!!!

    It’s one of those laws that we made to catch more actual predatory pedophiles/rapists (if you arrest every man who has sex with someone underage then you’ll get all the evil ones), at the expense of the ones who were just engaging in a mutually consensual enjoyable activity together (the horror!).

    Somewhere along the line we decided that to catch pedophiles, and to a lesser extent – sexual predators in general – collateral damage is acceptable. Which is the opposite to the way the rest of the justice system operates.


  10. Alex August 6, 2014 at 02:59 #

    about the time people hit puberty is when they tend to start becoming more independent. before that, there’s still a big connection to parents. would you want to be with anyone like that? i know i wouldn’t, would turn just about every switch off. more pertinent to the question however, is that they aren’t ready, far less so than teens and haven’t gone through enough events to start putting in bullshit meters so they’re more easily preyed upon. young teens are easily preyed on to, don’t get me wrong, but kids are a goddamned cake walk*.

    *not speaking from personal experience


  11. Alex August 6, 2014 at 03:08 #

    this reads as either Futrelle wants to be able to fuck everything under the sun, or that he’s going super mangina by saying girls and women of all ages should be able to do so


  12. Jason Wexler August 6, 2014 at 13:11 #

    I hate that to have this conversation I need to explicitly spell out that I’m not a pedo, I have no interest at all in children or teens; but I have the somewhat, if not unique than unusual experience of hitting puberty and realizing that the much older “kids” in my university classes were more appealing on every level, than the slightly older “kids” in my high school classes, to say nothing of the middle school “kids” who were my own age. Had I been more confident and appealing, and people had expressed an interest in me that made it past my Aspergers based obliviousness, I would have absolutely chosen the ten years older college students for romantic partners, and I still prefer my partners to be about 10 years older.

    I get and share your ick factor when it comes to being disgusted by the idea of being with a “kid”, heck I feel it for people as old as 25 now; but that doesn’t change the fact that if one accepts as I and apparently Janet does, that pubescent sexuality exists and can or should be expressed that there is no logical defense for age range exemptions. You mentioned that “they aren’t ready (for sex at that age)”, but had that argument been adopted at any point in our history up to as recently as 150-200 years ago, we would have gone extinct. We may dislike and resent this fact, but we are still animals, driven by evolution, and the number one thing that natural selection drives us to do is making more of us, as soon as we can. You also say that “bullshit” meters arent fully funtional yet, well how are they supposed to get better at detecting bullshit without experience of bullshit? Do you think bullshit from same age peers is going to be less painful then that of older people? Plus, can you really say that mixed age relationships are inherently predatory? I had more in common with the older college kids I was hanging out with at 13, which is why I liked them more, similarly I think the skeezy teen seeking the skeezy sugar daddy, may have more in common with each other, than they do with “nice” age peers.


  13. Alex August 6, 2014 at 20:24 #

    wasn’t meaning to call you a pedo, just trying to draw some parallels. sorry if it came across like that. to address your points (as best as i can, anyways) i would have to delve into “different times” territory, which is never a good way to begin anything. suffice to say i see a more precise danger the bigger the age gap (as far as physical development), and that it seems better to test out the bullshit meters in close age groupings where the damage is a little more limited to self-esteem and body image. damaging stuff no matter what, but the latter is a little more easily repaired than the former


  14. Donald L Denis August 7, 2014 at 03:05 #

    Kinda cryptic. Are you saying you screwed older partners when it was illegal (for them) for you to do so? That’s what it sounds like. Or maybe you are into partners who are (for you) illegal? I can’t make out what your point is.


  15. Donald L Denis August 7, 2014 at 03:30 #

    Your comment speaks to my concern: at what age does a person graduate from not knowing what they’re doing to knowing what they’re doing? Obviously, there is no one age applicable to all persons, but the law has to be the law. That’s kinda how the law is. Should it be flexible? Should the opinion of the “victim” be part of the equation? Brace yourself for a barrage of feminist “patriarchal brainwashing” arguments. (and their inevitable “He said he consented” arguments) Apparently, very young women are not able to decide when they are ready: they remain poison until whatever magical birthday it is that society has decided beyond that date it can no longer afford to insulate them. It is a perplexing question. On the one hand, of course the individual should be able to decide when they are ready; on the other, who the hell believes an eight-year-old’s testimony that sure, since they thought it was okay, it was okay? Rightful age of consent is an insoluble debate. It will never be settled.


  16. Donald L Denis August 7, 2014 at 03:37 #

    but if you want to get historical about it, the Hebrews had this shit figured out millennia ago:
    At 13 a boy becomes a man; at 12, a girl becomes a woman. Life was shorter then.


  17. MC August 9, 2014 at 08:03 #

    Well I definitely think that an 8 year old, who has not even started puberty yet, could not consent. That would just be wrong for someone to get with a child. Early teenagers as well, I think are too young, like 13-14, where it is very doubtful they would be far enough in sexual development.

    However, 15-16 year olds have usually gone through significant puberty. Especially girls who start puberty a couple years earlier than boys as is, and develop before them. This isn’t always the case, but like I said, I’ve worked with a girl that when she was 15 you would easily have thought she was 22-26, working in a bar, and having sex with more men than girls twice her age. She was by no means being taken advantage of by anyone, or being raped.

    She had sex with guys around her own age, but also some older. It wouldn’t make any sense to say her getting fucked by a 17 year old is okay, but hey, that 24 year old is a rapist for doing the exact same thing to her.

    She herself, now 43, even said that one of the guys she got with who was in his late twenties, was up there with the best sex she has ever had. She said it was “like movie sex.”

    Now that does not sound to me like the words of someone who was raped. It sounded to me, like someone who was more of an adult at 15, than most college students. Someone who was capable of consent. Who would probably think you’d be out of your mind to convict the guy she had sex with as a rapist.



  1. Is David Futrelle defending child prostitution? You decide… | - August 4, 2014

    […] Is David Futrelle defending child prostitution? You decide… […]


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