Just before the Republican National Convention came to town in 2004, New York newspapers were buzzing with rumors that the city’s high-priced prostitutes and strippers were gearing up for “one grand old party.” The reports quickly gained currency, for no one had problems imagining randy GOP types forking over $100 dollar bills in the dark of the night to be serviced by acquiescent, uber-sexualized women—the same women likely to be condemned as moral degenerates on the convention floor the next morning. This is, after all, what passes for sexual abandon in a conservative world—the kind of “Good Old-Fashioned Pleasure” a San Diego escort agency was touting when it changed its name to “GOP” during another such convention eight years before.
For the past five years, Americans have been wallowing in this quaint version of sexual pleasure, defined by skimpy thongs, stripper poles, porn boobs and faux chick-on-chick action. In a Bush World where commerce is king, it is all-but-inevitable that the dominant image of sexuality is that of a woman on sale. In her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, New York magazine editor Ariel Levy describes the new-old female sexuality that lies at the core of “raunch culture”: “A tawdry, tarty, cartoonlike version of female sexuality has become so ubiquitous, it no longer seems particular. What we once regarded as a kind of sexual expression we now view as sexuality.” As an L.A. workout guru specializing in “Cardio Striptease” blithely tells her, “Stripping equals sex.”