Shame On You, COPS

    Margo Note:  This is an old draft that I’m publishing while I try to finish more recent work.  I wrote this late last Fall.

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 I was watching an episode of COPS.  I don’t watch much television, but when I feel like it and COPS is on, I almost always watch it.  I watch it for impure reasons, I admit–rank voyeurism.  I watch it for the spectacle and the drama.  I am consistently amazed at the trouble so many of the subjects manage to get themselves into, and all of the spectacularly poor examples of decision-making. One of my all-time favorite episodes involved a guy pulled over for speeding 90 MPH down the freeway in an unregistered vehicle–the tags on the plate were expired.  The cop asked for his license, and it turned out to be revoked.  When the police searched the car, they found two huge duffel bags of marijuana in the trunk.

       I almost fell out of my chair.  Because you know, if I was on parole, I’d decide to transport hay-sized bricks of pot, and I’d transport them in an unregistered auto, and I’d also drive 30 MPH over the speed limit.   MAKES SENSE.

       But I digress.

       I was watching a COPS episode.  Parrot was sitting on my lap and I was feeding her microwave popcorn.  The COPS episode was set in Kansas City.  I’ve never been to Kansas City, so I’m not sure what neighborhood it was filmed in…it looked quasi-urban; run-down small brick houses and bright green overrun lawns with lots of crabgrass.  Weeds sprang up from the cracks in the sidewalks. Strip shopping centers with gas stations, liquor stores, and payday loan centers.  I could hear the hum of insects, cicadas and locusts, in the background.  It looked hot and humid. 

     The police were doing a vice sting on street-based prostitutes.  The footage showed undercover cops driving up to the women, negotiating with them, and then inviting them to hop into their cars, where they were driven a few blocks away and arrested by the waiting police force. 

      It was really fucking depressing.  I felt ambivalent about what I was watching–I hated seeing the women get popped when they weren’t really hurting anyone.  The police, I felt, could be better used elsewhere, but they were still only doing their jobs and enforcing the law.   And I hate to see ANY sex workers get arrested merely for working or trying to work…but if I lived in that neighborhood and they were trying to work in front of my front lawn, well, that would make me uncomfortable, what with all the men coming and going.

       The women did not look good and they did not look happy.  It was 11 AM and most of them were wearing sweat pants or jeans and flip-flops or sneakers.  No makeup.  No manicure.  Hair not done.  They looked like what they were: desperate drug addicts.  

      This is The Awful Truth: in this day and age, the only sex workers who work on the street are among the most marginalized people in society.  These women had nothing.  It was terrible to see.  I cried a little bit watching it.  When the undercover cop pulled up in front of his buddies and flashed his badge, the women either swore and then endured the arrest stoically, or burst into tears.  None of them fought or became abusive.  A lot of them said that their kids were waiting for them back at the apartment or hotel room.  A few of them begged to be let go.

      A sad, sad show.  A fuckin sad show all around.

      Leave it to some douchebag cops to make it even sadder. 

      On camera, the undercover cops were smoking and talking with each other about what they were saying with the women to get them into the car.  They started talking about prices.  I guess the going rate for a blowjob was $30-$40.

       The cops decided to have a contest and see who could get the women to agree to the least amount of money possible.  It was like a joke to them.  They let the camera film everything.  They weren’t ashamed.  They were laughing. 

      One cop picked up a woman and haggled her down to $20.  It was all caught on tape, even though her face was blurred (thank GOD).  She was angry and uncomfortable and offended and didn’t want to do it, but agreed in the end because she “needed the money.”

       She didn’t fight when they put the cuffs on her, but she did turn to the cop and hiss, “You’re not a good person.”  The hatred in her voice was memorable. 

       I hated those undercover cops, too.  I wish I could ask them: what was the point of humiliating those women like that…?  Why did you have to be so needlessly cruel?  The entire situation is sad enough and you know you’re about to unload a shitstorm of legal and financial consequences on their heads.  You don’t need to fucking have fun with them at their expense on top of it all, you smug assholes.  

        I never forgot that episode, and I don’t like to watch COPS so much anymore.

10 thoughts on “Shame On You, COPS”

  1. I almost fell out of my chair. Because you know, if I was on parole, I’d decide to transport hay-sized bricks of pot, and I’d transport them in an unregistered auto, and I’d also drive 30 MPH over the speed limit. MAKES SENSE.

    what started out hysterical, ended on an almost tragic note. i completely agree. what scum those cops were to humiliate and denigrate those women even further.

    1. It was also depressing because I generally like and appreciate cops. They perform a very important role in society and if I had to deal with the bullshit and shitshows and abusive losers they have to contend with every day, I’d probably go postal. The authority thing makes me bristle at times, but, really, when your apartment is burgled or someone threatens you, who you gonna call….?

      I was also offended because the vice cops in this episode completely lost their professionalism when they played the game of “Get the Hooker’s Prices Down.” Police officers wear many “hats” as they perform their duties, but one of those hats is REPRESENTATIVE OF THE STATE, with all the authority and accountability that implies. Their behavior towards the prostitutes was unprofessional and malicious. What message does that send to the citizenry about the police and public servants in general? Not a good one, obviously. For many people, the only personal contact with the government they ever have is from the cops, judicial system, IRS, and maybe Dept. of Health and Human Services. These bureaucracies are important and should be run as professionally as possible.

  2. My guess is that being a cop is a shitty job, dealing with shitty situations, with shitty people at their worst, least controlled and most vulnerable. The worst side of people, day in and day out. Is being a domme like that at times?

    I assume the cops have just become so jaded and walled off that they don’t, can’t, see the human misery around them. And what if they do? They still have to be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next 20 years. And, oh yeah, they might get shot too. I assume they develop a defense mechanism so they can cope. Maybe most dommes do too? I don’t think cops are like normal people; I think they are a different breed. Like pro dommes.

    1. I agree: cops are not like normal people. I have LE in my family, so I know a bit about it.

      My opinion is that there is something a little bit fucked up about someone who goes into a profession where they have the authority and opportunity to violate peoples’ boundaries on a constant basis. That is what cops do (among other things). They also have to possess a willingness to be violent and aggressive, even moreso than soldiers.

      There is also a weird–and, to my mind, almost bizarre–sort of arrogance involved: “Let me take it upon myself to keep everyone else in line and protect people from themselves.”

      They do important work and I appreciate that, but they are a little screwy. Concrete thinkers and risk-takers. No imagination. Look at em, they all look the same.

  3. Instead of focusing all their attention on the supply side of sexual services, the police should start looking at the demand.

    Suppose they were to name and shame those men, many of them ostensibly pillars of society, who were caught in flagrante negociating for such services?

    Thanks to patriarchy, society’s view of sex work is based on the egregious hypocrisy that excoriates and criminalises women for the plying their trade while letting men get off scot-free.

    1. Actually, here in the States, clients’ mug shots are often published in papers and put on billboards when they are arrested.

      But why “name and shame” clients at all…? I get your point that the women are arrested and prosecuted much more often than the men, and I agree that it’s terribly unfair. But even still, I don’t think that men should be arrested for trying to hire any sex worker. As long as he pays and treats her well, I don’t see how he’s hurting anything or anyone, with the possible exception of his personal relationships…and that is not a matter for the state to meddle with. Arresting a guy who tried to hire a hooker, and make him to go court…what does that do, except get him a divorce, humiliate his kids, and possibly ruin his career? There’s no point. It doesn’t benefit or protect anyone.

      The Nordic/Swedish Model decriminalizes selling sexual services, but makes hiring a prostitute a criminal offense. Sex workers in all countries hate this model of legislation.

  4. I have very strong feelings on the issue of sex work. It should be legal. Period. Consensual sex between consenting adults should not be regulated by the state. Period. Providing men a legal outlet for their sexual desires would help society, I think, and help sex providers be safe, healthier, and harm no one…in fact, it would help many. It provides a well paying job for people who want that work. And it is work.

    Anti-sex laws are pure patriarchal b/s trying to control women. If men were the desired sex worker, it would be totally legal. Why men (and it’s mostly a male legislature) pass laws that deny men access to sex is something I’ll never understand…like slut shaming. I don’t get it. Dudes, we want sluts (sorry for the negative term), why shame them and possibly reduce the supply. Men are nuts.

    1. I agree with you completely.

      All of the SWs and SW organizations I know favor decrim over legalization. Unlike legalization, decrim does not have special laws aimed solely at sex workers. I can elaborate or tell you where to read more about the subject if you’re interested.

      A lot of civilian women really, REALLY don’t like sex workers. I don’t get a lot of hate mail, but some of the worst that I’ve gotten is from women who accuse me of being “too lazy to get a real job” (HA!), a traitor to women and feminism, and a home-wrecking whore because most of my clients are married. It hurts to get flack from women, but I understand the animosity: by providing access to sexual services and feminine companionship for a flat fee, sex workers throw a monkey wrench into the centuries-old system in which women trade sexual access for financial security and a family. (But there have always been prostitutes, of course. Prostitutes perform a vital social function. There are many, many men out there who are not having sex with their wives. Why should they be miserable? Hire a call girl, she gets paid, he feels better and stops nagging his wife for sex, and the wife doesn’t have to fuck him if she doesn’t feel like it. EVERYONE’S HAPPY. What’s the problem?).

      Men are nuts to oppose sex work and I think you are right: it’s a control thing, cause otherwise, it makes no sense. And slut-shaming is just misogyny based on fear of women’s sexuality.

      All of the rational, right-thinking men I know think that sex workers and sexually liberated women are awesome.

      s. Unlike legalization, a decriminalized
      system does not have special laws aimed solely
      at sex workers or sex work-related activity.

  5. Home-wrecking? Prostitutes and pro dommes allow men to stay in marriages that they might have otherwise have to leave to find those things. Wives should be loving both, not anti.

    But they fear, what?, that they’ll look bad in comparison? That if they don’t control the penis they don’t control the husband? If he can get it elsewhere, what does he need me for? How about, for things like love, and companionship, and shared lives, and best friend…and all the things I love about my wife. How about those things? Wives should have more self-confidence…and should fuck more, their husbands, if possible.

    Ach! The world makes no sense. I tell my wife, you find a guy you want to fuck, do it. I couldn’t care less, just don’t fall in love with him.

    Anyway, we are in agreement 100% on this. Love the blog.

    1. I think some wives resent/fear sex workers because 1) they are, with justification, angry that there is an entire industry with an unlimited variety of women out there to meet males’ sexual needs and fantasies, but there is nothing like that for women. It’s not fair. 2) Yeah, I think for many women (not all, of course), it’s control. Some women get mad when their man even masturbates. If your man has a submissive streak (and many of them do) and you want to control his dick, then you can do that, at least to some extent, but you have to be invested in it and embrace his sexuality. You can’t just snoop on his computer and yell at him for surfing XHamster videos.

      I agree that women ought to fuck more. I am a sex maniac so I’m not representative, but, like I said, there are a LOT of women who are not having sex with their husbands. What confuses me about that is that most men simply are not that demanding, sexually. Even if you’re not in the mood, you can have “okay” sex with a guy, start-to-finish, in 20 minutes. That includes five minutes of making out and backrub. So if you do it three times a week, that is, like, an hour of effort to keep your husband from becoming a sexually frustrated, resentful porn addict. An hour or 90 minutes per week to keep peace in the home and your man appreciative of you is totally reasonable, and besides, when you have sex with someone on a regular basis it makes chemicals in your brain that make you love that person more. So it’s good for the relationship even if it feels like a “chore” at first.

      Well, this comment is rather discursive, but now you know my thoughts on this topic.

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