Soon: Chapters 22-23: Paul and the Whores

Inara: Ambassador is Mal’s way of saying…

Mal: She’s a whore, Shepherd.

Kaylee: The term is “Companion.”

Mal: I always get those mixed up.  How’s business?

Inara: None of yours.

Firefly, “Serenity”

Time for Paul to interrogate some prostitutes!

And it’s time to see how Jenkins portrays the lives of prostitutes when their work is no longer illegal.

It’s not like he doesn’t have any sources from which he can draw ideas.  After all, prostitution has been legal in various locations and at various times throughout human history.  Hell, prostitution is legal right now in some U.S.(S.A.) counties, including ones right outside of Las Vegas, so I’m a bit confused by the fact that Jenkins’ conclusion about what legal prostitution would be like boils down to: just like illegal prostitution right now, but the women say “employer” instead of “pimp.”

I also admit to some confusion about legal and illegal acts in Atheistopia, to wit: prostitution is legal, but drugs are not.  Given the widespread support for legalizing drugs like marijuana right now in the States (poll from Gallup), it surprises me that Jenkins imagines that drugs would still be illegal in an atheist-run world, but that prostitution would be quickly legalized.  As you can see from these polls gathered at, support for prostitution is generally quite low these days.

But before he can ponder the sad realities of legal prostitution in Atheistopia, Paul has to spend a moment in smug religious self-righteousness:

Paul had zero interest in even attractive, alluring women who made sex their business.

Yeah, he prefers them either drunk and confused, or single and unaware of his married state.

He felt a strange emotion, however, as he made the public rounds.  As he talked to various women, finding it easier one-on-one than with a pair or three, he actually felt compassion for them.  Paul ran that through his mental grid.  If God loved everyone and cared for every soul, and if He, as Straight had quoted to him over and over, “does not want anyone to perish,” He must love these women too.  Living in out-and-out sin, selling their bodies, and yet worthy of love and compassion and forgiveness.

Does it ever cross Paul’s mind, even for a second (excuse me, does he run it through his mental grid) that the Bible is forbidden in Atheistopia and these women do not know what “sin” is?  Or that even if they did know, they might not care what sin is?  Seeing as they’re, yanno, atheists?

I think Paul has gridlock in his mental grid.

And speaking of lovely ladies, Paul is certain he saw Angela Barger wandering around the casinos.  This, of course, immediately takes precedence over his INVESTIGATION OF THE MURDEROUS CULT, so he starts asking the prostitutes (who are, inexplicably, streetwalkers instead of employees of brothels) about Angela.  Because grabbing some alone time with her is waaaay more important than catching Morty Bag-of-Donuts and stopping him from killing prostitutes.

Paul even prays, and of all the possible things to pray about at this juncture: preventing Morty from killing more women, getting his wife and kids back, staying safe from the Atheistapo…Paul prays to find Angela.

Since the investigation has come to a complete and utter halt while Paul seeks out his next would-be conquest, it’s a good thing that he tracks her down almost instantly.  He finds a prostitute who is hopeless and drug-addicted, because there is no way that legalizing prostitution would make it a job like any other, and she has seen Angela!

“I’m looking for a dramatically pretty blonde, about thirty, who may have come around talking to working girls.”

This is Paul’s opening.  I’m kinda surprised that his opening isn’t, “I’m looking for a creep who calls himself Jonah and is trying to lure prostitutes away from their legitimate employment and into his death cult,” but that’s just me, I guess.

Turns out that Angela has been wandering around Vegas, randomly talking to whores about Jesus.  Jenkins tries to make a point about how awful Atheistopia is:

“You gonna get her in trouble?  What she’s doing is dangerous–and illegal.”

Paul contemplated the irony of that, considering the source.

Okay, as we have touched on again and again, it is not cool that religion is illegal.  NOT COOL.  But you know what else is not cool?  That in our world, illegal prostitution is dangerous.  That women are hurt because (in part) they do not have the protections that those of us with legal employment enjoy.  In Atheistopia, where prostitutes are legal and licensed, it is natural to assume that they would live lives not dissimilar from legal prostitutes in the U.S. today, but Jenkins just portrays them as hopeless, uneducated, drug-addicted losers, walking the streets in sin and wretchedness, and not really engaged in legitimate business.  The fact that prostitution is legal changes nothing about the lives of prostitutes in Atheistopia.

Imagination fail.  Research fail.


Posted on November 15, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Firefly! 😀

    Seriously, Firefly’s portrayal of the balance of power that comes with legal prostitution suggests that Jenkins hasn’t even done any of his research and is counting on just saying “Well, Paul is good now!” while waving his hands frantically.

    ‘Cause he thinks that will fool his audience.

    If he’s the Big Bad of the Atheistapo, no wonder there’s so many underground Christians running around. He’s too busy being the most incompetent investigator ever! Unless you count investigating how many sexual positions he can be in.

    I mean shit, John Gallagher from Edge of Apocalypse could do a better job of being an actual honest to God* cop in this here novel series.

    * pun semi-intended.

    • Clarification: Jenkins, had he done any research, would have realized that concepts such as the “guild” that Inara is part of are possible when prostitution is legalized and regularized, and even to some extent ritualized.

      In short he has a total failure of imagination, in not thinking about fundamental shifts in power relations between people in this Atheistopia due to laws reflecting changes in social assumptions about how certain groups ought to be treated.

      • Hell, if he’s trying to draw parallels with Babylon and other sinful ancient cultures he could make references to temple prostitution. Make the whole affair scintillatingly glamorous, turn ‘Vegas prostitute’ into a position one applies for rather than falls into. Give it ludicrous pay and have the sexual services come with room service and other luxuries to attract the wealthy.

        • The problem with “glamorous prostitute” approach is that it would imply that S-E-X doesn’t have to be dirty, shameful, vile, and meant to be shared ONLY with someone you’ve married in an attempt to make a baby. 😛

          So Jenkins can’t be having any of that, no matter how much sense it might make given his ridiculous premises.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        In short he has a total failure of imagination…

        “Total Failure of Imagination” has been my experience in ALL the Official Christianese attempts at F&SF. The good ones (F&SF written from and echoing a Christian POV) are all found in the mainstream of these genres, NOT repeat NOT from Christian (TM) publishers and distributed to Christian (TM) Bookstores.

        And the word “Christian” to describe these Christianese (TM) books, publishers, and distribution network is misleading. These are the insular, in-house publishing industries of a SPECIFIC TYPE of Christian (i.e. American Fundagelical Uber-Protestant) that has hijacked the name “Christian” without any modifiers to mean Their Type and Their Type Alone. And all the rest of us writing “Fiction by Christians” instead of “Christian (TM) Fiction” gets hit with their stigma.

        • HUG, similar to the way Evanescence has had to say “no, we’re not a Christian Rock Band, we’re a rock band who happen to be Christians”.

  2. Research? Jenkins? But that sounds like work! Or giving a damn about his craft!

  3. Well, unlike some high-profile RTCs, it does at least appear that here as in so many other places Jenkins didn’t do the research.

    And of course Paul has no interest in women who make sex their business. Why, they might not be impressed by the mere fact of his Manliness!

  4. I must admit that legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands hasn’t been an unmitigated success for women rights. There’s still a lot of problems with organized crime having a big influence on the buisness, resulting in a lot of human trafficing, preferably from Eastern Europian countries that are in the Europian Union, and are therefor legally allowed to be here.

    So yeah, it’s lazy writing and hobby horse riding as usual, but I can’t completely blame Jenkins for still assuming prostitues would be badly off after legalization.

    In other news, Paul is still a pompous ass who is so amazed by his new-found slivers of empathy, that he immediately forgets after his moments of clarity based on his behavior later. That is the truely depressing part of this section to me. That apparently Jenkins and much of his audience think that their utter contempt and lack of respect for others is the norm and assume that not only their consequence-free split-second admissions that those filthy, filthy sinners can still be loved by God if only they obey their directives without questions qualifies as ‘love’, but assume that no non-RTC could ever show as much love and kindness as they do.

    It’s like that scene from the last LB book that people over at slacktivist have put in the comments a few times. The Anti Christ’s right hand man is defeated by Jesus and is pleading for his life in exchange for total obedience and devotion to Jesus. Jesus just kills him, throws him into hell for his eternal torment, and the POV-tool (don’t know if it was Buck or Rayford) is AMAZED!!! at Jesus’s mercy because…. *drumroll* …Jesus didn’t seem particularly happy doing it and didn’t make a mocking one-liner as he did it. (The name is Christ. Jesus Christ. This wine is my blood, shaken, not stirred.) This is the kind of thing that makes the New Atheists sound attractive. These people think not cracking jokes as you kill and torment a helpless, defeated enemy is a sure sign the murderer is the perfected vessel of ultimate mercy and love. Surely they, fallible humans, can’t be expected to be held to such high standards of kindess to others?

    • I’m curious about the trafficking angle. We’re usually told (in the UK) that the problem is that women can’t go to the police because they’ll be sent back to whatever hellhole they managed to escape from, but presumably that’s not the case if they’re legally in the Netherlands. So what is the hold over them compared with, say, locally-born women? Language? Family members? (Curiosity only, please don’t go to any trouble, but if I’m missing something obvious I’d like to know.)

      • Bear in mind I only know what I know from the news, but my impression is at least partly family (they’re generally ‘recruited’ i.e. lured here by crime organizations active in their home country, which they would go back to), part ignorance of our laws (they don’t speak the language or know where to go to complain, sometimes their passports are taken away. I don’t know if any are simply unaware they wouldn’t be arrested, but probably) and part simple intimidation. Plus, there’s also a fair share of African victims who aren’t allowed to be here.

        This is my impression of the situation, I can’t guarantee it is all correct though (of course, I could say that about everything I ever posted and it’d be equally true)

  5. I love how Paul/Jenkins feel the need to apologize to the reader for portraying sex workers as human, by repeatedly reassuring us that Paul is still much, much better than they are. To Paul/Jenkins, the cupcake of compassion is always topped with the delicious frosting of superiority.

    These guys see “compassion” as the consolation prize you get when you’re not good enough for real respect. I think I’d prefer their scorn — more honest.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      In his continuing snark on Left Behind, Slacktivist described this as Chrsitanese Ego Porn (Paul is so much better and moral than THEM, Just Like You, Dear Reader) for the Church Ladies and Born-Again Bored Housewives that make up most of the Christian Fiction (TM) demographic. And that this is Jenkins’ true ticket to best-sellerdom as a writer — know his niche market and masturbate their egos for them.

      ..repeatedly reassuring us that Paul is still much, much better than they are

      “Just like YOU, Dear Reader…”

      …the cupcake of compassion is always topped with the delicious frosting of superiority.

      “As Moral and Godly and Superior as YOU, Dear Reader…”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      P.S. to the above:

      According to Slacktivist, this ability to stroke the egos of his audience (“Just Like YOU, Dear Reader”) is the secret of Jenkins’ “Christian Best-Seller” success.

      And is the one thing Jenkins does NOT even mention in his $1200-a-pop mail-order course on “How To Write Christian Fiction”.

  6. I wonder what Jenkins would think of John Shelby Spong’s theory that Paul, aka the letter-writer not Jenkins’s protag, was a deeply closeted man. Of course, Jenkins probably doesn’t care for Spong’s ilk: he’s one of those scholarly types who :gasp: researches the time and context in which the scriptures were written in order to gain new insight to them, instead of shutting of critical faculties and worshipping at the altar of Tim LaHaye.

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Does it ever cross Paul’s mind, even for a second (excuse me, does he run it through his mental grid) that the Bible is forbidden in Atheistopia and these women do not know what “sin” is? Or that even if they did know, they might not care what sin is? Seeing as they’re, yanno, atheists?

    Yet they all speak and think in fluent Christianese…

    Can’t offend the Church Ladies buying and reading this for ego porn, you know.

  8. Unrelated, I’m going to just put this — — right here for the time being….

  9. “In Atheistopia, where prostitutes are legal and licensed, it is natural to assume that they would live lives not dissimilar from legal prostitutes in the U.S. today, but Jenkins just portrays them as hopeless, uneducated, drug-addicted losers, walking the streets in sin and wretchedness, and not really engaged in legitimate business.”

    I think the problem is that Jenkins, as an RTC, can’t in any way be seen to suggest that the wages of sin might not be death, or at least really horrible suffering. If he portrayed legalised prostitutes as intelligent, educated, happy women, then the idea might creep in that, perhaps, the hopeless, uneducated, drug-addicted nature of modern prostitutes isn’t a Justified Reward for Their Sin, but the result of not-very-nice social forces (many of them perpetrated by RTCs). And we can’t have that.

    Re: the Netherlands: I’m not surprised to hear that even with legalised prostitution, there’s still abuse– but I’d still say that it’s at least a little better than letting the whole system run unregulated.

  10. He felt a strange emotion, however, as he made the public rounds.

    Aaggh. I’m tired of Paul’s continual amazement at feeling anything but utter contempt for other people. Especially since it doesn’t actually inspire him to DO anything.

    And what is this supposed to mean?
    finding it easier one-on-one than with a pair or three,

    I mean, its just a weird statement. Is the combined power of their lady-ness is too much for Paul? Is it the constant giggling, nudging, and eye-rolling at everything he says?

    • Paul’s already in Vegas mode — he knows a pair isn’t going to help him much.

    • I think it’s psychological: Paul can in no way get through such a conversation without radiating his superiority and contempt-mascarading-as-concern for those women. And that works far better if your subjects don’t outnumber you. If Paul talks to one lady he can always try physical intimidation if she doesn’t seem to understand her place somewhere below his footsoles, but 3 girls will probably just laugh at you, and physical intimidation will almost certainly result in one of them getting behind Paul and kicking him in his pair.

    • Yeah, it’s a weird detail. If Jenkins hadn’t written anything, I probably would’ve assumed Paul was talking to folks one-on-one, because that’s how most conversations are. But because Jenkins is actually specifying it, I can’t help but go, “Hmm … what does he mean by this?”

      I agree, it’s probably a combination of personal power and the notion that a flock of chattering hens are no good for anything.

  11. Paul contemplated the irony of that, considering the source.

    What irony? “Hey, this legal sex-worker, operating in an environment with the same degree of personal protection as other legal professions, is commenting on somone else’s dangerous and illegal activites! That’s more ironic that that one song about rainy wedding days!”

    As he talked to various women, finding it easier one-on-one than with a pair or three…

    “easier”? That’s an odd word choice. I mean, if you’re canvassing an area asking sensitive questions, it’s probably more effective to talk one-on-one. (“Look, I know you can’t say anything in front of the others, but you do know this guy right? I mean, I didn’t hear it from you, and you don’t have to say anything. Just nod…”)

    If a group of sex workers are all talking, it’s probably a lot easier to question them as a group, since they know you’re not a potential John looking for a date.

    The only way it’s “easier” to talk to a pro one-on-one is if you’re haven’t made it clear you’re not a John, and you’re trying to disguise your questioning as small talk before a proposition. Which means Paul is more comfortable talking to hookers who think he might be a John and are treating him like one. No shock there.

    …he actually felt compassion for them. Paul ran that through his mental grid.

    Aaand full stop. Once again, through the magic of bad writing and bad characterization, we get another example of C’thulu Jesus at work:

    Real Person: “While I talked to these prostitutes, I remembered that they’re God’s children too, and even if they were ignorant of the sins they were comitting, they still deserved the chance to learn about God’s truth and earn His Forgiveness. Thinking about their sins and what I had learned about God, I felt a growing sense of compassion for them.”

    C’thulu Jesus RTC:“As I talked to these dirty, filthy, drug-addicted, disease-riddled whores, I felt a strange, alien emotion wash over me: compassion. Never had I reacted to these trollops with any feeling even remotely similar. I had to pause and reflect, wondering what strange influence had so altered my emotional compass. Then I remembered His Grace that had been laid upon my soul, changing it forever!”

  12. Off topic: Apparently the guy that fired an AK 47 at the White House has been arrested, and is described as a mentally disturbed individual that was obsessed with the White House and though Obama was the Anti Christ. No True Scotsmen, start your engines!

  13. Also, a side note:
    “You gonna get her in trouble? What she’s doing is dangerous–and illegal.”
    That’s… an odd word choice. The second part sounds like she’s condeming Angela. But the first part sounds like she doesn’t want that to happen. “She’s not in any trouble is she?” That’s what normal people say. I couldn’t imagine the first sentence being from someone who wishes that trouble on Angela unless it’s a whiny five-year old. “I’ll tell my mommy! I’m gonna get you into trouble!”

    I dunno, knowing Jenkins it’s probably meant to show the woman dislikes her. But I like to think that this woman is actually showing far more compassion and kindess for someone she doesn’t agree with than Paul or Angela do, both of whom just barely pretend to care about others and then only in the sense of “I care about them now because they might change their minds and completely agree with me later.”

  14. it surprises me that Jenkins imagines that drugs would still be illegal in an atheist-run world, but that prostitution would be quickly legalized.

    But this is precisely the situation in most of the world. Prostitution is legal in most countries, There are three types of countries where it is illegal:

    Totalitarian and formerly totalitarian countries (Former Soviet Union, China)

    Islamic countries

    the United States of America. (We are in good company.)

    By contrast “drugs”…the standard assortment are illegal everywhere. (Even the Netherlands, although it is so decriminalized that the law doesn’t matter.)

  15. As someone with mild social anxiety (I’d rather not use the phone to talk with people, or go into group settings a whole bunch, take online classes rather than physical ones because of all the other people in a classroom…) it could be as simple as he’s more comfortable one-on-one than talking with groups.

    Of course, I doubt that, because Jenkins could never let his faultless manly hero have such a wussy thing as social anxiety in any form.

  1. Pingback: Rappy Reads Fundamentalist Literature « Rappy's Review Board

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: