White-Knights and Prostitutes

*This post has been updated*

A month or so back some people I follow on Twitter who are Russian-focused recommended someone’s writing, so I followed her. Thus far I’ve not seen much to justify the recommendation (her latest piece is a lame satire of Trump, as if there’s a shortage of that sort of thing) but following such people can nevertheless throw up some interesting discussion points. Last night the lady in question, a Ukrainian-American, took to Twitter to complain about how men stereotype her. Here’s how I responded to one of her tweets:

Bear in mind she started the topic with “Let’s talk about stereotypes of Slavic women”, and that she purports to be a professional writer and journalist; in my naivety I thought maybe she actually wanted a discussion. It turned out she didn’t, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t have one here.

Russian women do get stereotyped and it can be unpleasant for a normal woman when its assumed she’s a whore. But, as I point out in my tweet, there’s a reason for this. My Turkish friend, for example, takes a very dim view of Russian women because in her home country they are synonymous with the thousands of prostitutes who turned up to ply their trade, many of whom were at the very low end of the business having unprotected sex with truck drivers which spread disease and broke up families. It might be a view that’s unfair to Russian women, but my friend hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting ordinary Russians and so she’s going on what she knows. And there is no denying that there are a lot of Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish prostitutes working in European cities – more than Turkish, Egyptian, and Portuguese, for instance.

If I walk into a bar in Thailand, or even down the street, the locals assume I’m interested in a prostitute. If I found myself in Pat’s Bar in Lagos after the rugby had finished, most people in there would think I was after a prostitute. If I went into the York International Hotel in Dubai in 2004, most people would assume I was there for the hookers. Similarly, when Brits turn up in certain Mediterranean holiday resorts, the locals expect trouble. If the England soccer team are playing away, the local police flip the safety catch off the water cannon before they’ve even cleared immigration. Any discussion on stereotypes and assumptions made about you based on your nationality must take into account the origins of those stereotypes. So in the case of this lady above, she ought to at least acknowledge that, for many people – especially the Arabs and South Asians she mentions specifically – the only Russian or Ukrainian women they’ve ever encountered have been prostitutes, and that many of her compatriots are prostitutes.

Ah, but this is Twitter and I should have known better. Within minutes of posting the white-knights appeared.

And:

Alas, this is pretty standard on Twitter: a vaguely attractive woman posts something and you get a handful of men falling over themselves to agree with her. If you say something remotely contradictory, they all pile in. This is why I am so fond of this pic (origin unknown):

Naturally, the original poster didn’t respond, but was content to like the responses to me. But that’s by the by. What i found ironic is the assumption that these tens of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian women who worked as prostitutes had no choice (note the usual lefty debating trick of deliberately conflating “most”, “many”, and “all”).

There’s a habit of western men when they first meet a bunch of developing-world prostitutes to assume they’re all bright young things down on their luck whom life has dealt a miserable hand and they’re in need of saving by someone just like them. Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes with a bunch of third-world prostitutes will know they’re ruthless bitches who have lied so many times they barely remember their real name. When it comes to Russian prostitutes, they became adept at telling gullible men they were well-educated and wanted to work in a normal job but had no choice but to become prostitutes in Dubai and Bangkok because of the economic hardships at home. I used to hear this back in 2003-4, then I worked out these women were not well-educated, they came from broken homes with seriously fucked-up childhoods, and simply made the choice to make some good money quickly. Again this is fair enough, but one should never forget that for every woman who chose to become  a prostitute, there are plenty who faced the same hardships but chose differently.

Now there might have been some women from Russia and Ukraine forced into prostitution, by which I mean they’re in chains and controlled by gangsters, but I I’m not convinced more than a negligible number work abroad in such conditions. Certainly this was the case when I lived in Dubai, because the girls would have talked about it. They were bound to their sponsors once they got there (as are many legitimate workers) but nobody forced them to come, or hoodwinked them. Long-time readers may remember I actually witnessed one girl being recruited for the job when I made that trip to Nizhnekamsk in 2004 in the company of another girl who knew the process rather well and, without batting an eyelid, told me everything about how it works. And as has been discussed in the comments at Tim Worstall’s on several occasions, trafficking Eastern European women for the purposes of prostitution makes absolutely no sense whatsoever: all major cities are awash with young women working voluntarily and prepared to do pretty much anything for a couple of hundred quid. Where’s the economic sense in kidnapping a woman, chaining her to a bed, and risking a lengthy jail term for people-trafficking in such a market?

What the white-knights are doing is assuming these poor Russians and Ukrainians had no choice but to become prostitutes, thereby implying any Russian or Ukrainian will turn to prostitution should the right economic conditions arise. Given these remarks appear in a thread in support of a Ukrainian woman complaining men often presume she’s a hooker, it’s rather ironic. Even more ironic is she approves of these remarks. It’s a funny place, Twitter.

UPDATE

The whole thing turned into a big pile-on yesterday afternoon. One person in particular took objection to being called a white-knight:

A man on the internet leaping to the defence of a woman who is “a personal friend” after incorrectly believing someone insulted her, followed by an attempt to look tough, is pretty much the textbook definition of a white-knight. Does this guy not realise he’s so deep in the friend zone that he could tweet his little fingers off all day long and still not get anywhere? His threats didn’t stop there, however:

I’m trembling so much my knees are knocking.

Some others were simply dim, chief among them this woman:

She’d give Cathy Newman a run for her money. Then white-knight pops up again:

According to Twitter, the reputation Russian and Ukrainian women have in the Middle East and elsewhere stems from women who were trafficked there, forced into prostitution against their will. If you follow the thread, we learn none of them have actually met any of these women – but from their offices in the US and Canada they have read reports and studied papers which show they have been trafficked and few are there voluntarily. How so many are free to take boyfriends and get married remains a mystery. Perhaps their pimps are the romantic sort?

Finally, given this started out with various women complaining men treat them like prostitutes, allow me to pass on some advice to my female readership. If you find men are routinely presuming you to be a prostitute, I recommend you:

1. Look at the places you are hanging out in.

2. Look at the men you are hanging out with.

3. Look at your own behaviour.

I know many women, and many Russian and Ukrainian women; very few have told me they get mistaken for a prostitute. If it’s a problem for women, it doesn’t appear to be universal.

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39 thoughts on “White-Knights and Prostitutes

  1. When travelling *within* Russia, some guidebooks warn women about not spending too long waiting on their own in any hotel foyer. The assumption among Russian men (And in the east, Koreans) is that you are a prostitute, simply because of your location and the fact that you are hanging about.

  2. Oops, Tim. You’ve made the mistake of talking from actual knowledge and experience (meant in a nice way) to lefties. That really winds them up.

    That it winds them up so does rather tell you something about lefties.

  3. It’s a funny place, Twitter.

    You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

  4. I remember some time in December 2008 or January 2009 (I had resigned from my job and was packing up my house to emigrate to New Zealand) and was listening to Ken Bruce in the Afternoon on t’radio.

    I can’t remember the topic but a caller said something to which K+Ken Bruce replied “You can’t say that!”. “Why not. It’s true”. “Just because something is true doesn’t say you can say it”.

    This is the same except on a blog post via Twatter (no, that is NOT a misspelling) so there is your problem right there. It’s the way of the world nowadays. facts don’t matter. Feelz does.

  5. If this is such a problem for her, why doesn’t she just lie about where she from? Oh right, she’s blonde.

  6. I grew up in Toronto, Canada and my neighbourhood had many Jews and Italians and all the Italians would dig up their backyard and grow tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. For longest time I thought all Italians were farmers and then about ten years ago I read something on Italian immigration to Canada after second world war and it was mainly people who lived on farms who emigrated.

  7. “Alas, this is pretty standard on Twitter: a vaguely attractive woman posts something…”

    And there’s no guarantee of that. On the internet, no-one knows you are a dog.. 😀

  8. On Twitter being a weird place, Chateau Heartiste picked up a really interesting point a few days ago:
    “Any anonymous board is by its very nature Right Wing […] Anything anonymous inevitably turns Right Wing, because the only point of being Left Wing is for status, and you can’t win status anonymously, so left wing talking points quickly dissipate, there is no incentive to repeat the pretty lies of the left. The less anonymous the forum, the less about truth and more about status-signalling the political discussion becomes.”

    On Twitter, anyone with a blue checkmark will usually be a lefty/idealist; whereas the pseudonymous users are right/realist. Your lady friend has the mark; I’m surprised her white knights aren’t also verified.

  9. these women were not well-educated, they came from broken homes with seriously fucked-up childhoods

    In my personal experience, there’s no fixing that once it’s metastasized and these women will never be able to have healthy relationships absent intervention and extensive behaviour modification. I believe the classic phrase is “you can’t turn a ho into a housewife”.

  10. Tim, you’ve been too modest to talk about your forthcoming fame. For those who don’t know, an extremely famous blogger called Notorious DZA is going to immortalize Tim:

    “And now, because you stupidly ran your mouth on your pathetic little blog, I’m going to immortalize your idiocy. Turns out I’m a bit of a blogger myself, and I’m betting mine reaches a much wider audience than yours. Prepare to become famous, dipshit.”

    Why, he’s a regular white knight for everyone.

  11. Curiously all those women without the advantage of conventional attractiveness somehow manage to make their way in life without becoming a prostitute, yet the attractive ones have no other option.
    It’s a conundrum to be sure.

  12. I wonder where the “Russian Brides” web sites fit into this?

    Well, indeed. There was someone complaining in among all this that people imply he may have met his Russian wife online. It’s hard to get too upset about this when websites listing Russian mail-order brides do actually exist.

  13. Tim, you’ve been too modest to talk about your forthcoming fame. For those who don’t know, an extremely famous blogger called Notorious DZA is going to immortalize Tim:

    Heh! See the update. I’m looking forward to this: his blog is here. I bet he won’t actually write it, though.

  14. Didn’t Putin proudly claim that Russian hookers are the best in the world? Maybe your own president mouthing off might play a small part in contributing to a certain stereotype?

  15. mike on February 26, 2018 at 6:12 am said:

    If that is standard behaviour on Twitter, why would I want to open a Twitter account?

    Yup, thanks for going on Twitter, Tim, so we don’t have to.

  16. Being a Ukrainian woman myself and having lived outside of Ukraine for the better part of my life, I found Natalia Antonova’s tweet (and her experiences) to be pretty odd (I don’t follow her, but I do follow Tim Newman’s blog). As a Ukrainian, I have never in my life been in a situation where a Western guy would assume that I was a prostitute, nor has such a thing ever happened to any Ukrainian female friend of mine (of those who live abroad). Actually, my first thought upon reading the tweet in question was exactly the same as Tim’s at the end of his update: “If most men are habitually assuming that I am prostitute, perhaps I ought to re-consider the circles in which I travel.” And no, I don’t think that East European women are being dragged away in shackles in order to be sold into sex slavery – at least not in any significant numbers. Alas, this is the unsightly truth, and I see no reason in denying it.

  17. What a curious exchange.

    Michael at least provided evidence to you and while he might have been disingenuous about taking your general point, at least his challenge helped you clarify what you meant, so it was useful. Although he did engage in a bout of speculation but hey twitter isnt a pleasant place and it was tame.

    However that DZA person displayed classic tells of cognitive dissonance.

    He makes a claim that ‘many’ of those women were trafficked. You asked for him to clarify and evidence his point and his response was:

    “It’s 2018 and I’m supposed to educate you on the concept of human trafficking 280 characters at a time?”

    He doesnt appear to understand that people need to provide evidence and argument to back up statements they make. It is indeed his job to explain himself when challenge. He also was evasive in his retort, you didnt need a dictionary explanation of what human trafficking was, you asked for him to explain his claim.

    Anyone who dodges explaining themselves by saying it ‘isnt my job to educate you’ is never worth engaging further. They dont want and most likely cannot persuade you as he lacks the skills or substance to do so. I always thought to the fun of arguing on the internet was to show off your knowledge and argument skills not just tell people they are wrong and stupid for not knowing that self-evidently they are wrong or stupid. It is a very suspicious impulse.

    I’d also add, NOTHING about social sciences is self-evident. Any point requires evidence and argumentative narrative. Anyone who thinks there are just ‘facts’, doesnt understand the discipline.

    DZA continues to claim you are ignorant and stupid, then, another classic tell implies you have no friends and know what you do because you are a sex tourist? Exactly what basis do he conclude that? That is an ignorant (because they cannot know) and stupid (because its irrelevant and only fools make such assumptions) accusation to make.

    DZA claims to have read up on the problem of human trafficking into the ME, perhaps they have, yet its curious that they never displayed even one slither of evidence that they knew something.

    Compare that to Michael who at least provided you with something.

  18. Compare that to Michael who at least provided you with something.

    Yes, but I think he too was either wrong or disingenuous. My point was that the reputation Russian and Ukrainian women have in the ME come from there being a lot of prostitutes from those countries there. For some reason he thought 1) they were mostly trafficked and 2) that invalidates my point. He then thought if he could prove that some girls from the FSU were trafficked somewhere my entire argument would be destroyed. My guess is he genuinely believes these women are trafficked, and hasn’t bothered to look at any relative numbers, i.e. he just takes the number of trafficked women and assumes that’s all of them out there. He sounds like your typical NGO-type who agitates for X, Y, and Z from a desk somewhere but has never actually gone and looked the situation in the face.

  19. This is one of the reasons I avoid Twitter. All it appears to be is haiku for morons (yes, I have commented this more than once).

  20. He doesnt appear to understand that people need to provide evidence and argument to back up statements they make.

    I’ve had this dismissed by a lefty as sealioning*, which I understand to be politely engaging in debate using and requiring facts. Doesn’t really leave many avenues open for proper debate, which I assume is the aim.

    * http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sea-lioning

  21. I’ve had this dismissed by a lefty as sealioning*

    Ah yes, this plonker DZA called me that. I had no idea what it meant, I assumed he’d made a typo. He did seem to be fist-typing at one point.

  22. Ah yes I’ve come across that comic before.

    It is completely dishonest. That term could be applied to someone who doesnt accept normal levels of evidence required to discuss something.

    We all could go hyper-postmodern and challenge both points of view by repeatedly asking for evidence which cannot exist or demand evidence to such a degree it renders the discussion pointless. So you could say ‘but Tim you didnt meet ALL of them, how do you know your experience was a representative sample…’ or to Michael ‘ah those studies didnt go deep enough into each person to find out what REALLY goes on in their life…’

    Ergo there cannot be anything knowable and thus you are all wrong because you cant defend knowledge from first principles ya di ya ya.

    Except….

    The concept of ‘sealioning’ is never deployed to such post-modern bores. It is applied to stop people adequately interrogating claims that people make, by asking for evidence (if there is of course) or providing a persuasive and clear narrative.

    It is a fake invention by a generation who have been raised on the net, have never really put in the hard work to know anything that is deep or useful and hasnt engaged in the adult reality of testing ones knowledge and narratives to other adults. That meme sums up part of my generation very well, the idea that asking for people to JUSTIFY what they think is some unfair attack on them with suspicious and dangerous undertones.

    It is a close cousin of ‘mansplaining’ as a barb, that term was supposed to be used when a man of no expertise ‘explains’ a domain of knowledge to a woman who actually has that domain of knowledge. It was a term to show the arrogance of men who talk over women who know more than them.

    However, in my experience this gets deployed whenever a man explains/corrects/beats a woman on a point of information of domain of knowledge. It is used indiscriminately and thus weakens its usefulness to define a phenomenon.

    Both reflect a startling self-regard and arrogance among much of my generation on the web that their views have value and that other people must be wrong if they think or know differently.

  23. Tim, as we are discussing Natashas anyway, you might be mildly amused at this item that popped up in my in box.

    Ahahahaha!

  24. “Ah yes I’ve come across that comic before”

    I always liked how the bigots in the comic are clearly the humans, and that’s who the people who use the term are identifying with.

  25. Entertaining thread, that.

    N-DZA – It’s *CURRENT YEAR*

    Eric Woods – managing both mind reading and failing reading comprehension in just two words

    sdl04 – pointless ad hom.

    Val – “criminologists” straw man.

  26. Four words Tim: weapons grade cock end.

    I skimmed through his blog; he seems to have an average of 10,000 words and three comments per post. But apparently he’s packing it in now. I’m guessing this is because he’s found a job or a girlfriend or maybe just got bored with his own drivel.

  27. RobH: good summary of the (mis)use of the “sealioning” meme.

    Tim: yeah, when I first got accused of being a sea lion, I assumed it was something to do with being British, WW2, Battle of Britain, Operation Sea Lion, something along those lines as it was during a Brexit debate.

  28. I skimmed through his blog; he seems to have an average of 10,000 words and three comments per post.

    That was my impression too. His review of Star Wars took longer to read than watching the film.

  29. DZA’s blog posts are nigh un-fiskable (imfiskable?). It’s hard to contradict him more than he does on his own. Thanks for the link – I needed to both laugh and cry today.

  30. I always liked how the bigots in the comic are clearly the humans

    Just mentally substitute “black people” for “sea lions” and see how it reads.

  31. I confess that I’ve never taken the trouble to understand gamergate but the definition of ‘sealioning’ you link to seems indistinguishable from normal adult debate practice – remaining calm, asking that assertions have some backing etc.

    So being polite and asking for evidence is basically trolling?

    These people are crazy. And stupid. And malicious.

  32. Actually I can see how sealioning can be a thing. A certain godawful regular on the other Tim’s blog hijacks threads that cover his pet topics/neuroses until everyone is bored rigid.

    You need a sort of obtuse slightly autistic line of argument that skips round its own massive holes to carry it off.

    Although I wonder if that individual is actually trying to sealion, I suspect he thinks he’s a great debater who is #winning.

  33. Oh yes, agreed, as that meme page first defines it as:

    “Sea-Lioning is an Internet slang term referring to intrusive attempts at engaging an unwilling debate opponent by feigning civility and incessantly requesting evidence to back up their claims.”

    As DZA engaged Tim, they were definitely willing, so Tim can’t have been sealioning.

    …meanwhile on the other Tim’s blog sometimes… indeed.

    The usual suspects have extended it to simply being polite and debating with evidence. Basically a defence mechanism against losing a debate to someone who is factually correct. Makes a change from “racist”, “sexist”, “white privilege”, and “-phobe”, I suppose.

    To a lefty, Jacob Rees-Mogg must be an uber-sea lion.

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