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18. March 2008

Prostitution, Politics and the Woman at his Side

Governor Eliot Spitzer, the powerful man in charge of the state of New York, is making worldwide headlines. We are used to that from him.

He became well known as the Wall Street sheriff, feared by leading banks and investment funds. But fear has now crept into his life. In November 2007 he was elected governor with a landslide majority of 69%; he was a potential Democratic presidential hopeful who campaigned under the slogan “to change the ethics in the capitol of Albany.” Eliot Spitzer was known as an aggressive strategist and relentless moralist. A further detail of his personality has now, however, cost him his office and his integrity. Eliot Spitzer was exposed as “Client 9” of the exclusive prostitution ring Emperors Club VIP.
A routine FBI wiretap between prostitutes and their clients caught the big fish Elliot. Explosive details filtered through quickly; Spitzer apparently even opened an account at the Club and had certain preferences, which are considered to be “not safe.” Spitzer has spent a total of ,000 for sex over the last ten years, during which time as state attorney he spearheaded much observed noted to uncover prostitution rings. Last year, the state of New York instated the most stringent anti-prostitution law in the United States, which also has dire consequences for the men who buy sex. Eliot Spitzer is now one of its first victims.

By trusting in his mega-alpha drive, many saw him as a possible democratic presidential candidate. But the question of what moved a man who had everything to risk it all, does not stir America’s public. It was rather his appearance with wife Silda in front of live cameras that prompted a massive reaction: Spitzer reading out his short avowal of his sins as well as his apology addressed to his family and the American public. Next to him, the elegant Silda is standing with dark rings under her eyes and a blank expression, gaze glued to the text. She appears to be reading along, because she most likely does not believe what she is hearing. She was certainly also the last person to learn with whom her husband spent his breaks between political sessions in elegant hotel suites, for hourly rates that ranged between ,000 and ,000.

Silda Wall Spitzer clearly made the wrong choice in not pursuing her own career as an already successful lawyer, but decided to support the up-and-coming Eliot. He spun out of control, and she might have to consider taking her Harvard diploma out of its drawer and starting a new life. This is her personal problem, but the fact that a high-profile politician is a consumer of sex workers has a dimension that goes beyond personal tragedy.

Trafficking in women, prostitution, and safe sex are at the top of the agenda of international organizations, and are a part of a broad spectrum of marginal female work. So when Silda stands next to her husband, who was doomed by his testosterone, she does not appear to care about any of it.
Public deception has consequences, but surprisingly different rules govern private life: marriage is an exception. Hillary Clinton’s immediate reaction of sending a sympathetic message to the Spitzer family is surprising, but then again it’s not. She too was once the female lead in the comedy “The Woman at His Side” and appeared in US talk shows holding hands with the faithless but repenting Bill after the Lewinsky scandal.
She sent her greeting before Spitzer’s resignation, however, when he would certainly still have been a super delegate vote. In Hillary Clinton’s latest biography, “A Woman in Charge,” one reads that she stayed with her husband because she loved and respected him. These emotions appear, however, to be relatively one-sided with the Bills and the Eliots.

The current stumbling block in Eliot Spitzer’s life is named Kirsten Dupree. Spitzer had a rendezvous with her in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. She is 22 years old and lives in a New York apartment. She might not be able to pay her rent at the end of the month, because she just broke up with her boyfriend when she discovered that he fathered two children by another woman during their relationship. She left home at 17, where she was abused, and later became homeless and addicted to drugs. Today, she lives for her music and from her sex services. In an interview with the New York Times, she said: “I don’t want to be seen as a monster. I went through a difficult time.”

Dina McGreeve, the ex-wife of the former governor of New Jersey, who resigned because he had an affair with a former (male) state official, also spoke up. She congratulates Silda’s decision to support her husband, because it is best for their daughter. Wouldn’t a mother who is an upstanding role model be a better alternative to a continuous patriarchal masquerade?

In a public opinion poll in the streets of New York, a passerby says “Viagra is ruining our government.” If this is correct, then it is high-time to make room for female talent and actions and to bury the role model “Women at His Side” with the relicts of world history.

Edit Schlaffer


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