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Cinderella--Maybe Not
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During the tail end of the afternoon and early evening, forced inside from the fog and cold, I sat on my leather chair and watched Pretty Woman for the first time in about ten years.  Michael was making gazpacho in the kitchen, and I sat there enjoying this modern Cinderella tale that has held up.  Sure, everyone looks slightly robotic and big-haired in that 1990's way, and the portable phone that Richard Gere holds to his ear is the size of a brick. 

But the elements remain:  down-and-out girl with a heart of gold meets her prince, who saves her from her squalid life.  In this version, though, Vivian saves Edward right back, making him slightly human in his dealings with the character played by Ralph Bellamy.

In any case, it's the feel good movie of the year.  Julia Roberts is lovely, the movie charming.  I remembered why I used to use it in my Cinderella unit.  My freshman composition students read many versions of the tale from around the world, and we capped it off with this film.  A wonderful time was had by all.

After gazpacho, I went into my office, clicked on Redroom for one last look, and found, to my surprise, two naked women on the member page.  One was quite a substantial woman who was advertising her rear, and the other an average looking woman, who wanted to proclaim her bold penchant for walking around the house naked.

For a second, I wondered what it all meant.  I often have this lack of savvy when confronted by pictures out of context.  One time, one of my sons during his teenaged years left a pornographic shot on his computer, and I stared at it for a good long time before I could figure out who was doing what and to whom and with what body part. 

As I stared at the two photos last night, I thought how strange that these two women thought this might be the place to sell their wares.  Or maybe not.  Maybe this is a good demographic.  Then I thought about selling bodily wares, and thought back to Pretty Woman, a movie about a woman who does just that.  Lucky for her, Richard Gere picks her up.  But the movie very quickly glosses over that aspect of Vivian's life, as I so often have while watching it.  All the bad stuff has happened off screen and before the movie starts.  We don't see her degradation into this life.  We don't see the other men who have hit her.  She tells us she is familiar with being hit after the Jason Alexander character wallops her.  We don't see the daily and nightly sex she has to have in order to survive.

No, we see her in her Pretty Woman moment, and because it's a Disney movie and because it's Julia Roberts, even when she's wearing her thigh high boots, she looks amazing.  Her life changes fast enough so we don't have to dwell on the idea that at one point, she was like the women who posted those photos last night on Redroom.  Desperate, sad, degraded.

In the written versions of Cinderella--those from Germany and from Native American lore--we learn exactly how degraded Cinderella is.  In the Algonquin version, she's even scarred from her time sitting by the fire.  She's lost her hair.  Her skin is puckered.  In Aschenputtel, her sisters are much worse than we see--again--in the Disney cartoon that made the tale familiar to most American children.

When she is redeemed and saved at the end, we appreciate it more because her suffering is clear as are her smarts.

Maybe the women who posted last night would say they don't need to be redeemed.  Maybe they would tell me that they are using their bodies for their purposes.  Maybe they would say this is a free market, baby, and I need to mind my own damn business.

But their photos reminded me that no matter how beautiful the lead character is, prostitution and exploitation are just exactly what the words mean, nothing shiny, nothing that should be serenaded by Roy Orbison.


13 Comment count
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Er, Jessica, you didn't

Er, Jessica, you didn't leave a link.

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I think they were taken

I think they were taken down, thankfully, and I didn't want to encourage the click!



Jessica Barksdale Inclan

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were people actually *selling* sex on RR???

If so, I'm glad to hear that Huntington (or whoever) is on the job and pulled those ads down quick -- this is *not* the place for straight up prostitution. If not, this still is not the place for naked photos, I would say, but I wouldn't equate exhibitionism with prostitution. They're really not the same thing. There is a common continuum, perhaps -- but probably there are authors on Red Room selling books that are on that continuum, too . . . : ) Just my thoughts!

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It seemed to be a spam for a

It seemed to be a spam for a sexual "opportunity."  Before I put up a spam filter--a bot catcher--on my web site, I was getting many links for porn.  It was a porn festival.

I'm not sure what that opportunity was.  Likely, it was a nice get together with some form of renumeration at the end.  The nudity was the advertising part of the program, at least, that's what it appeared.

Her thoughts about exhibiting herself were for titillation, for getting us to reply, I would think.  And, of course, exhibitionism and prostitution are quite different!



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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I'm so tired of spam.  Pornographic or otherwise.  Just had to say that.  Thanks for the further details, Jessica -- and thanks, Ivory, for staying one step ahead of most of it!

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We're working on solutions to better block offensive profiles

We try to create a balance between allowing profiles to go up quickly and our interest in moderating them for quality. We're looking at moderating all profiles before they go up, after this recent spate of porn spam. I guess we're really successful now, if we're developing serious porn spam like the big social networks...?

Those two profiles mentioned were not posted by the women pictured, they were a type of malicious spam created by a real person trying to distract or annoy our community by cutting and pasting "real looking" porn off the internet and creating offensive profiles to go with them.

Other times, the porn profiles we get are posted by online pornographers seeing if they can drive traffic to their sites by creating fake profiles on various social networks (including ours) that contain links to their sites.

The most baffling of the porn spam we've gotten has been created by sophisticated spambots (in other words, it's automated, not a real person posting) that are unclear as to their purpose because they don't contain links.

As far as real people earnestly posting profiles for themselves that were "off" in a sexual way, we have had a few, but they weren't pornographic or advertising prostitution (so far, anyway), they were just people way too heavily emphasizing that they were "looking for love" or ones that contained pictures that they should have realized were too tacky to post here.

The thing that bothers me the most about all of these types of porn spam profiles is that these spammers, whether doing so for money or malice, are using real photos of real women.

I wonder how any of these women got those pictures taken in the first place, and then how the pictures got out in the world and picked up by others. Who knows what those women's stories are and if they know what's happened to these pictures of them. And in today's world, with photoshop, there's porn that looks real but isn't (I believe there was an interesting case in which an actress successfully sued a person who created "fake" porn using her face on someone else's body and put it online).

The language the spammers use to go with the pictures is usually generic, filled with stereotypical porn language that reinforces ridiculous ideas about "types" of women and about sex. It's sad to see a real woman's photo, often with her face, associated with these degrading ideas that can't possibly reflect who she is or what she "wants" in life.

Any time anyone notices a profile that doesn't belong here, whether fake or "real," porn or just weird (usually regarding sex or money, or sometimes an appropriated identity or other misrepresentations), please email us and we'll take them down. Thanks to the people who have been keeping us posted. Behind the scenes, we'll continue trying to prevent them from ever being seen in the first place and to achieve our goal of a community of all real names, real pictures, of wonderful people you'd love to know!


Ivory Madison
Founder and CEO, Red Room

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Hi, Ivory-- I am not

Hi, Ivory--

I am not surprised that Redroom has been hit by this horrid practice--but it was very surprising--I've never seen this here at all.  And I know about the bots.  That's what attacks my web site all the time, or used to.   This is what happens this day and age, and suppose it's the other side of wonderful coin we have going here.

I did send an alert--or flag--to the posts.  And I will continue to do so.

Good luck with stopping them, and it certainly won't stop me from reading and posting.



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Cinderella and reality



This explains what I saw in red room a while ago.  I wasn't sure what I saw.  It wasn't beautiful or sexy.  It was blurred.  

I liked your last paragraph a lot.  I've never seen that movie, so that confirmed it.     It's sad because I used to love Disney's Cinderella growing up, and I even played the role of Cinderella in my high school musical.

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So the picture did not =

So the picture did not = 1,000 words?

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Prostitution is very much on

Prostitution is very much on my mind at the moment, as I'm giving a talk about 18th century Japanese prostitution next week and I'm trying to decide just how 'real' to make it all for the people who attend. For some reason, people do seem to romanticise prostitution of certain types, and I am likely to bring them down to earth with a bump.

I received an email a few weeks back from a woman who thanked me, sarcastically, for shattering her illusions. She'd believed these 18th century women were like princesses, cared for and adored and loving every minute of their charmed lives. In what way would being imprisoned after being sold when just a child ever be considered 'charmed'? She was very upset with me for being honest and pointing out that such a life is miserable. Most (art) historians seem to gloss over the hardship for fear of putting people off. I think that's doing a great disservice to the women they're talking about.

The thing that surprised me was that it was a woman who'd been living under these illusions. And she's not the only woman who's voiced a certain amount of disapproval regarding my honesty about these matters. My mind boggles, it really does.

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Ukiyoe and my problem




I'm glad to read your comment.  Every time, I see Ukiyoe prints of prostitutes, it disturbs me.  It used to be much worse.  I didn't like people who collect them.  I'm sorry.  Some non-Japanese proudly wanted to show me pornographic Ukiyoe prints.  No, thank you.  Long ago, a good friend of mine showed me her treasure.  She and her husband, both Americans, went to San Francisco and bought an expensive Ukiyoe print.  They asked me about it.  I looked at it.  I told them the print showed a few prostitutes and children and explained that prostitutes wear their obi sash in front and some other detail.  They were shocked because they just had a baby, and they thought the print reflected family value. 

But I grew up since then.  I see value in Ukiyoe in historical and artistic sense.

And I always love Hiroshige's prints.

Keiko Amano

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Isn't that sad,

Isn't that sad, really--putting up something "beautiful" to find the true meaning. 

I'm glad you were there to tell them.



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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That's what my boggle was,

That's what my boggle was, Gina, watching Pretty Woman, finally, with new eyes, older eyes.   I think this movie cameout in 1991?  I was all of 29, and it seems so romantic.  Richard Gere!  And then I focused on the Cinderella aspect, leaving the prostituion part behind for the most part.

The movie doesn't seem quite as charming now, and, frankly, I think your talk to the group should be real.  I think it's important to make it real for us.  We don't want to picture the truth behind all of it, so we cover it up with a pretty story.

Good luck!  I hope it goes well.



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com