Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date


Publication Information

4 J. Gender Race & Just. 321 (2000-2001)


This response begins by addressing the different perspectives as presented by the panel “Sex, Lies and Exploitation.” One of the panelists, professor Plasencia, presented a powerful and graphic documentation of digital communication’s influence on the sex industry. Some of the images involved explicitly portrayed the sex trade while in others, it was portrayed more subtly as an arranged or mail-order marriage. The author's response to professor Plasencia is mixed. On the one hand, it is rather easy these days for one to mistakenly encounter a sexually explicit website. On the other hand, however, since little information exists on how widespread this behavior is when not facilitated by electronic communication, or the frequency of occurrence before the evolution of the internet, it is hard to discern trends. The response supplements this lack of trends argument using the Department of Justice’s 1994 report stating that only four percent of rapes involving children under twelve were committed by strangers, and forty-six percent were committed by family members. The response criticizes Plasencia in that her paper lacks a solution for the issue at hand. It then compares those findings to those of other professors, including Tanya Hernandez who focused on mainly adult behaviors. The response then analyzes whether this issue presents gender and race problems any more than any other facet of our lives, but also whether this is something new. Specifically, it attempts to weave together some of the strands of the various and diverging papers to demonstrate the positive and legitimate ways we can use these differences in gender, race, and power. It also seeks to illustrate the ways that, as other panelists have demonstrated, the empowered exploit these differences. It does so in the context of courtship and marriage. There are two main observations that this article seeks to explain. First, American women primarily file for divorce, even though they all too frequently end up in poverty following marital dissolution. Second of all, women are also the prime motivators in getting married as opposed to staying in less binding relationships. The two main reasons that explain why both of these observations might hold true are that the payoffs from marriage differ between men and women and different views of courtship have different implications on married life. Regarding the first reason – that of payoffs from marriage differing between men and women – both men and women generally hope for health, wealth, and happiness when they seek to marry. However, men usually receive health and wealth. On the other hand, for women, wealth and happiness are tied together, whereby happiness is a benefit derived from the increase in husband’s wealth. A man’s wealth, unlike a women’s wealth, usually increases when he marries and grows when he has children. As for the second reason, that men and women think differently about the purpose of courtship, the response explains that men view courtship as a contest in which they are to triumph against other suitors. After courtship, or after men triumph, their attitude within their household changes. They spend more time with their friends and watching television. As a result, it is of no wonder that fifty percent of American marriages begun after 1980 dissolve.


Reprinted with permission of Journal of Gender, Race and Justice.



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