Soon: Chapter 23: Angela and the Whores

Paul questions another sad prostitute–about Angela, not about Morty/Jonah–and learns that Angela is asking the women (Of course there aren’t any male prostitutes in Jenkins’ world!  Don’t be ridiculous.) to come to a meeting at night, where she can tell them all about Jesus.  This particular prostitute is too scared of her “employer” to go (and more on her later), but Paul decides to go.

The one and only thing he does all day to further his hunt for Jonah (yanno, the life-and-death mission for which he is getting paid?) is to call Bob Koontz in Chicago, and have the Chicago Bureau run a check on Morty Bag-of-Donuts.  And I roll my eyes into the next state every time that damn name is mentioned.

“Sure.  I’ll have somebody from the local bureau [in Vegas] run it over to you.” [Bob said]

“Okay, but I don’t want them trampling all over my case.”

PAUL, IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO STOP BEING AN ARROGANT ASSHAT FOR TWO WHOLE SECONDS??  I AM QUITE SURE THAT THE VEGAS NPO HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH THEIR TIME THAN TRAMP ALL OVER YOUR SEARCH FOR ANGELA.

Paul goes to the meeting, but decides to lurk in the shadows like an ineffectual Christian Batman rather than actually go inside.

Nine women come, and Angela begins the meeting in this odd way:

“I applaud your courage in coming tonight.”

I bet they come most other nights, too.

*rim shot*

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

“I don’t plan to keep you long, because we realize it’s as dangerous for you as it is for us.”

Okay, getting serious now: THIS MAKES NO FRAKKING SENSE.

“As dangerous for you as it is for us.”  Angela…honey…you are doing something illegal.  They are doing something not illegal

The sad thing is, this could have been a fascinating turnabout: putting the powerless in positions of power can be a great tool in fiction.  As I discussed in the last installment, Joss Whedon played with this idea in Firefly–five hundred years in the future, when prostitution has become legalized and legitimized, classy Companion Inara Serra is by far the most respected person on Serenity.  Her status in society is such that her mere presence can turn the tables.  Being a Companion is, in the ‘Verse, something to which the most elite in society aspire.

Now, I am not for a moment saying that Jerry Jenkins had to do a Whedon-esque treatment of prostitution in Soon.  But he brought this problem on himself by wanting to have it both ways:

1.  Atheistopia is so depraved that they legalized the “out-and-out sin” of prostitution, but

2.  Somehow, the prostitutes have none of the protections that come from living within the law and being part of a licensed profession.

Thus it may indeed by ironic, as Paul smarmily observes, that prostitutes’ lives are legal and Christians’ are not, but Jenkins has made this a fact of his world.  And unless Jenkins comes up with some reason why the prostitutes lives would not change (Spoiler Alert: he doesn’t), Angela is laughably incorrect in her assertion that things are equally dangerous for prostitutes and Christians.

If law enforcement raided this little meeting, some people would be in for a lengthy prison sentence.

And those people would not be the whores.

But no, we are to assume that Angela is correct, and the prostitutes live lives of quiet desperation.  Instead of saying “pimp,” they say “employer,” but it’s all the same–the prostitutes are scared and helpless and hopeless.  Engaged in legitimate employment, they apparently just can’t quit working for one organization and go work for another, or work independently or open their own business.  And I guess the Prostitution Licensing Association of Rockland (PLAR) isn’t looking out for its members as it should.

So, Angela blah-blahs on and on about Jesus and the “exciting news” that the helpful Christians can spirit these poor, whimpering women away from their legal employment and make them outlaws:

“You may be in trouble with your employer right now.  He doesn’t know where you are, and unless you come up with a very creative and convincing lie, you’re going to suffer for having been here tonight.

We’ll put no pressure on you, we won’t force you into any decisions, and we’ll never ask you to do anything against your will.  You will be presented with the claims of Christ on your life, and we hope you’ll see that God loves you and that Jesus died for you.  If at any point you decide this is not for you, you, of course, free to go.”

Free to go straight to the cops and report a band of Christians who are enticing law-abiding citizens to worship God.

Then Angela lets a reformed prostitute called “Freda” talk.  Remember, the room is full of lifelong atheists.  These women will need a very compelling argument for the existence of God.  But Freda has one, certain to convince the most hardened skeptic:

“I mean, come on.  Look around.”

Well, you can’t do any better than that, and the prostitutes are sold.  (Har.)  Of the nine in attendance, seven leave in the van Angela has ready.  Once the driver has pulled away and the other women have left, Paul decides to scare Angela to death by sneaking up on her. 

Being Paul, he talks about himself for quite awhile–being blind but now seeing, neglecting his mission in order to stalk her, etc.  Then he invites her our for dessert.

Oooo, I hope they go to Jean Philippe at the Bellagio!

Is this gorgeous or what???  Photo from A Baked Creation, http://www.abakedcreation.com/.

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Posted on November 19, 2011, in Books, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. “Ineffectual Christian Batman” is a good name for a band. Though I’m afraid DC wouldn’t approve.

    >>>You will be presented with the claims of Christ on your life

    Sounds like a threat to me.

    Not a big fan of carrots, but from purely visual point of view, this cake looks delicious (but what are those strange silvery/pearly things on it?).

  2. Jenkins makes NO SENSE.

    And Paul’s such a creep. He deliberately targets women one-on-one, because otherwise he wouldn’t be able to make sure to dominate the discussion and the realm of space around the woman to create the subliminal suggestion that if she goes to bed with him it’ll be the Best Thing Evar (and now that he’s a Christian, he’s going to say that she should pray to God because being an RTC is the Best Thing Evar).

    It does not escape me that prayer is usually portrayed as being an on-one’s-knees, submissive act, in the literature usually pushed by doctrinally hard-line, fundamentalist sects.

    Rather like something I’m sure Paul Creepola liked.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Jenkins makes NO SENSE.

      It’s Jenkins. What did you expect?

      It does not escape me that prayer is usually portrayed as being an on-one’s-knees, submissive act, in the literature usually pushed by doctrinally hard-line, fundamentalist sects.

      Not just “on one’s knees and submissive”.

      I’ve run into extreme cases where prayer (especially The Sinner’s Prayer, i.e. the Magic Words of Salvation) isn’t legit unless you’re on your knees, bent over with your hands over your face, bawling your eyes out with guilt. If not, the Magic Words don’t work.

  3. Not to kill your buzz Ruby, but are you sure Angela was talking about their prostitution there? When I read that sentence, I first thought she meant “It’s as dangerous you to be caught listening to us as it is for us to say it” Is there some other parts of the text you didn’t quote that invalidate that meaning? Or is your meaning more likely (I’m not a native English speaker, so I might miss something there)?

    But for someone who acknowledges they are all in great peril, they sure don’t take any precautions. Paul, an open Atheistapo agent, was able to find the existence, time and location of this meeting within hours of ariving in the city while looking for something else, and is posting right outside and possibly listening in (Is the whole text heard from a Paul POV shot?), and Angela doesn’t even notice. She’s just lucky it happens to be the one Atheistapo agent on her side that blunders into this. The rest of the Atheistapo couldn’t be less competent if Herr Flick was running it.

    And yeah, Paul the arrogant asshat. “Look, have someone else do all the work I was send here to do. But I don’t want them trampling all over my case! They do the legwork, but I want all the glory and power for myself.”

  4. inquisitiveraven

    Ivan, it’s not just you. I’m a native English speaker, and that was my initial interpretation. Some of the stuff that comes later seems to fit Ruby’s interpretation (the part about being in trouble with their employers for example), but without reading that section for myself, it’s hard to say.

    Inara always struck me as being a high class courtesan. We see common prostitutes later in the show, and they don’t have nearly her status.

  5. Well, every profession has its stars and its peons.

    “It’s as dangerous you to be caught listening to us as it is for us to say it”

    That’s how I read it at first, too. Then I got to the part about needing to lie to employers, or needing to account to them at all for how one spends one’s free time, and then the bit about the van, so I don’t know.

    If the prostitutes are merely following a legal, socially acceptable profession, why are their lives so dreadful that they’d get into a van bound for an unknown destination, with a bunch of strangers who have confessed to being law-breakers and seditionists? You’re right, it makes no sense.

    And I keep wondering, why isn’t Paul talking to any men? He’s looking for a man, isn’t he? Even if all the prostitutes are women, don’t they have any clients?

  6. Angela is definitely talking about the danger of being a prostitute. She opens with the line about things being equally dangerous and then goes right into “reaching out to working women like yourselves.” The whole context of her speech is the Christians “rescuing” the prostitutes, and it not until over a page later that Freda mentions the danger of being a Christian, as follows:

    “If this all sounds too good to be true, trust me, it’s true. Your life may not get any easier. Think about that. You can live in public as a prostitute, but we Christians have to sneak around in the dark. But you decide. What’s the better life? Life with Jesus and your sins forgiven? Or going back to the streets and selling yourself for someone else’s benefit?

    Oh, and Google Books has a preview that includes part of the meeting.

  7. The explanation for Paul is simple enough: he’s an RPG hero on a sidequest. The main quest will always wait for you to trigger it before continuing, so you’re free to pursue as many inane sidequests and levelgrinding missions as you please.

    • Ooh, I like this one. Just like when I’m playing mass effect. Yeah, so I can jump my ship to Saren/ the Omega 4 relay right now, and we’re told it’s urgent, but…. it’ll be equally urgent now and in 2 hours, and there’s still that female crew member that I’ve been flirting with and did all the sidequests for… The galaxy can wait, it’s nooky time!

  8. Well, there are some states of the modern US in which it’s illegal to work as a medium without a licence. Perhaps the Jenkinsite vision of legal prostitution is just “now you have to pay taxes, too”? After all, what do governments really do for the hardworking independent businessman, eh? (Hint: move to somewhere without government and you’ll soon find out.)

  9. “You may be in trouble with your employer right now. He doesn’t know where you are, and unless you come up with a very creative and convincing lie, you’re going to suffer for having been here tonight.”

    Oh, FFS– if he doesn’t know where you are, and even assuming he’s out looking for you (I’d assume that a pimp in a world of legalised prostitution wouldn’t feel obliged to continually ride herd on his charges, but let’s play it Jenkins’ way for a minute), how difficult *is* it to explain an absence of about an hour and a half from your job, if you’re a streetwalker? “I decided to work [fill in name here] street, but didn’t get any takers, sorry”; “I was with a john and the bastard skipped out without paying, sorry”; Or, if you’re absent for longer, “I wasn’t feeling well, and thought it was a better idea to go home and call the free clinic than risk infecting someone, sorry”? It took me five minutes to come up with those.

    • Or better yet, Angela could just give them a bit of cash and they could just say they got picked up by this lesbian chick for a job. The pimps won’t even question that one.

      But no, lying is baaaad. So we get “Yeah, your pimp may beat you to death for comming here. Sucks to be you, I guess. But if you join us without further question, we’ll give you a ride out of here.”

  10. “I mean, come on. Look around.”

    I… this is a line? In a book? This actually exists?

    Or better yet, Angela could just give them a bit of cash and they could just say they got picked up by this lesbian chick for a job.

    Or that they got picked up by this weird chick who wanted to talk nonsense to them. I’m sure stranger things have happened.

    But Angela giving money to the prostitutes so that they would have a safe excuse would be intolerable to the writers. You shouldn’t have to PAY someone to listen to the Word of God, amiright? You’re practically giving THEM money. Only instead of money it’s eternal life. And you can’t pay your rent with it. *waves Chick tract at waitress meaningfully*

  11. There’s just no way this scenario would work out in any dystopia novel worth its salt if it didn’t include the resistance eliminating everyone who heard the message but didn’t agree… and I sort of insert it here, because it’s not like Jenkin’s brand of Christianity has any compassion to anyone who isn’t a RTC. But Christians would never persecute anyone, right? So it doesn’t happen in text.

  12. First, is there any point to Paul sneaking around? Doesn’t he have Angela’s phone number or something? Second, what is the deal with Paul and Angela anyway? We already know that as an RTC Paul can’t cheat on his wife. And we know the wife is going to be Stepford-ized, rather than divorcing him. So what’s the point here? He’s attracted to her but he can’t date her. I think she’s involved in the underground railroad to nowhere but so what? That’s got nothing to do with Paul’s Athiestapo mission or his super sekrit Christian mission.

    Is Paul going to just string her along since she doesn’t know he’s married. That seems the most likely outcome at the moment.

    • No, Paul and Angela don’t have each others’ numbers. They have thus far been exchanging letters via their work addresses, and of course Angela skipped out on the Library of Congress,

      As to the second, I’m hoping to put up the next post tonight, and more will be revealed! 😀

      ETA: Or tomorrow evening. Very tired tonight.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      First, is there any point to Paul sneaking around?

      Yes, there is. Jerry Jenkins is a failed Ian Fleming with an obsession with working Spy Thriller Shtick into his novels. Whether it fits or not (and usually it doesn’t).

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy

    Also, remember Jenkins’ target audience — Bored Church Ladies, who want to be constantly reassured of their Righteousness. And that requires slut-shaming.

    An Inara the Companion might make the Church Ladies start thinking and doubting their Superior Godly Happiness. And there’s always the factor of “If I’m Not Permitted to Do X, then Nobody Can Be!” Ergo, any sex outside of the RTC version MUST have so many negatives that it HAS to be Wrong. (Note that this is completely independent of whether it IS Right or Wrong — regardless, it has to be painted as WRONG in order to reassure the Church Ladies (“Just like You, Dear Reader”) that “I Am Right!”

    RTCs are just as screwed-up sexually as everybody else, just in a different direction. (And I’ve seen a LOT of sexual screwups during 15-20 years in Furry Fandom.)

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