The Eroticism of Fat Men
Evening Standard 17 July 1996
Few of Westminster’s charades are more sickening in their hypocrisy than the masquerade of whited sepulchres—of which the latest example is The All-Party Prostitution Group, led by Miss Diana Abbott. With a reforming zeal for punishment worthy of Knox and Luther, these self-righteous nabobs of moral argument demand that prostitutes be humiliated by community service orders, and their clients, if they come by car, must be deemed to have committed a driving offence and have their licence endorsed—the stocks and pillory to follow.
The All-Party Prostitution Group was born of prejudice, and is determined to sweep the business from the street, firmly rejecting the proposal that it might be made legal or limited to “toleration zones”. The first thing they should have done is recognise that the persistent, driving sexuality of men is ever-present, and not to be measured by the inconstant sexuality of women. The sexual undercurrents that bedevil a man’s boyhood remain just as constant and at least as near the surface of his conscious mind in adult life, when they are as likely as ever to be triggered into lively speculation in the Underground, the street, and even in the National Gallery. Most men are in some measure constantly aware of their sexuality and as constantly responsive to the peculiar stimuli that arouse them—and neither diminishes with age. Women must recognise that for men the mechanics of congress have little or nothing to do with procreation, and that sexual acts range from loving tenderness to fierce aggression and the catharsis of almost lavatorial purging; in this last particular, and in fetish variations on the theme, prostitution comes into its own.
We must not condemn the prostitute. She is the resource that with diverse skills and her tolerance of demands and practices divergent from the missionary’s narrow norm, her willingness to play the fantasy and fetish, has saved many a marriage fallen into dull habit or sexual desuetude, and many an unknowing wife and brace of brats owe her a great debt. We place too much weight on sexual fidelity, blindly mistaking it for emotional fidelity. The prostitute has saved the sanity of many a man unmarriageable for wretched looks, birthmark, deformity or wound, many a man too old, too worn, too weary, too uncertain of himself to form a permanent relationship of which society might approve, many a man whose wife has altogether lost her appetite for him (or any other). She has, with her availability and the ease of the transaction, unwittingly prevented the aggression of the rape, and the grudging compliance to force that is the half-way stage to it.
Miss Abbott and her All-Party Song and Dance Troupe, sired by Outrage out of Mrs Grundy, must be damned for their stale and illiberal political correctitude. We cannot and should not continue the pretence that prostitution will disappear if we waste even more police and court resources making it more difficult. We must acknowledge that it is as old as civilised society and an essential part of it, the lubricious oiling of its hidden wheels; once that is done, we can work to make it clean and safe, even respectable. The greedy pimp, the lifted skirt in the dark alley, the kerb-crawler, guilt and the knotted condom in the doorway, are all parts of a hole-and-corner monument to Diane Abbott’s folly. Let us instead have red-light quarters, licensed brothels, warm, comfortable and healthy prostitutes, and, above all, a humorous and understanding attitude to jolly sex.