This morning a fellow teacher who, according to his degrees and professional standing, appears competent to do research, perform statistical analysis of the output, and make balanced statements about populations made such an outrageous statement to me that I am still having a hard time comprehending it.  He said:

“Fat women all hate prostitutes.  The skinny ones are fine with it because they’re not threatened.”

The mind is simply boggled.  When I suggested that perhaps he was making a generalization, he staunchly held to his argument.  He said, in fact, that he could tell me which of my students were okay with prostitution and which ones weren’t with 98% accuracy just by looking at them.

When I suggested that he was simply stating a layman’s opinion rather than a research-based assumption, he went on and on about how all of the women he’s met have fallen into those two categories (i.e., fat = anti-sex-workers; skinny = pro-sex-workers).  This man was clearly talking out of rear end rather than his mouth.

But it’s not an uncommon thing to hear someone making obscene judgments about other people based on their physical appearance.  Gender, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, parental status, even beliefs about prostitution, are apparently openly obvious by simply looking at someone from across the room.

It is just not that easy.  If it were that easy, everything about our lives would be radically different.

Even people who we think we know to some degree – for example, the parents of our children’s friends – often will surprise us when we sit down and have an open and honest conversation about topics relating to sex and sexuality.  We cannot make the judgment that other essentially good, interesting, intelligent, engaging adults will come to the same conclusions as we do – particularly about our children’s (and more specifically, their children’s) sexuality education or sex lives.

Plenty of parents think that young people should wait until they’re in college – or married – before they have sex.  Plenty of parents think it’s appropriate for young people to experiment sexually as teenagers.  I know from talking to many, many parents that you just can’t tell which perspective any given person has until you ask them.  Religion, education, age, and gender are all relatively un-useful indicators.  Maybe on a population-wide basis you can make an educated guess, but without an honest conversation all you’re doing is guessing.

The man I spoke with this morning said to me, “I’m going to look this up in the literature, and if you’re wrong, I’m going to know that you are angry and unhappy.”  Don’t be that guy.  Rather than making assumptions about other people, ask them.  Especially when other people’s children and sex are concerned.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I’m pretty sure this colleague knew (or should have known) that he wasn’t making a “research-based assumption” when he began a sentence with, “Every woman I’ve ever met.” Obviously this would not be valid sample for statistical analysis, nevermind my sincere hope that he has not asked this question of every women he has ever met.

    As to the assumption that fat women hate prostitutes due to perceived competition, that is patently ridiculous. There are plenty of men who prefer women of size; and reflecting those tastes, there are plenty of prostitutes who themselves are women of size (search on craigslist for BBW, if you must be convinced). Fat women have nothing extra to fear from prostitutes of any body type.

    Women who do (or should) fear competition from prostitutes are ones who don’t make their mates feel special. Of the handful friends I have who visit with prostitutes (and admit to such), the only reason I’ve heard so far is how great it makes them feel to have a woman giving her full and undivided attention to his happiness, if only for an hour.

    I wonder how their wives would feel if they knew how their own health was being compromised due to their unwillingness to dedicate even one hour to their husbands’ happiness.

    Granted I’m an old, married guy so my circle of friends represent only a certain demographic, so I can’t speak to other demographics.

  2. Please, Karen, do let us know when this guy gets back to you with the results of his literature review. It does boggle the mind, the idea that there would be some research that backs up his opinion regarding a correlation between women’s body weight and their opinions regarding sex workers.

    It strikes me that some people feel intellectually superior to others, and oftentimes will play mind games to get to others. It could be a game he’s playing with you: he stays emotionally distant from the conversation and enjoys goading and watching your reactions. Do you think he’s this type? This type of person operates from an internal disquiet, low self-esteem and cynicism. Don’t let it get to you. Could be years before he reaches some internal peace of mind.

  3. Roberto, when I tried to point out this man’s lack of logic on the statistics and the uselessness of using personal experience as a statistical measurement, he pointed out that he had talked with *a lot* of women about this. But he also said that he never brings it up, they do. All of them. Which is silly in the extreme, because the idea that randomly every woman that he meets brings up their views on prostitution is so laughable. In any event, he was so completely out of touch with reality I couldn’t really figure out how to bring him back down to earth.

    I think your point hits very close to home – it is the connection in a long-term monogamous relationship that is so critical, not the physical appearance of the partner(s). I think that there can be a blame put on physical appearance when really the problem is a lack of connection. But because our society is so focused on the physical, people of both genders can default to that as the “real issue.”

    Ruth, I think he feels superior because he’s a man. He also accused me of crying because he disagreed with me. (I have a cold and a runny nose at the moment, and am not prone to crying fits regardless.) He was quite heated in the conversation – not cool and distant at all. But regardless, he certainly doesn’t seem to have internal peace of mind.

    Thanks for your comments! It’s fun to hear what people’s reactions are to what I write here.

  4. Well, he’s entitled to his opinion. Perhaps he’d enjoy doing some research on the issue. I wonder if he could pinpoint the precise Body Mass Index above which a woman will feel threatened by prostitutes.

    He could probably further study if prostitutes feel threatened by committed partners. After all, by providing free of charge what your colleague deems to be identical services, is that not a threat to prostitutes’ business model?

    Perhaps if you can get him to go study these issues, he’ll be too busy interviewing prostitutes to bait you any further.

  5. According to my research, sexually insecure men make judgments about women based on their weight.

    Tell me a man’s opinion about women’s body size and I can predict his sexual confidence level with 99.843% accuracy.

  6. OMG, you people are cracking me up. Thanks for the humor! 🙂

  7. I remember James Watson making very similar remarks just before he finally melted down completely and admitted to the world that he was a screaming racist.

    Your colleague is a misogynist and a terrible person. Hopefully, professional ruin is right around the corner for him, too, and similarly by his own doing.

  8. Look at it without the emotional baggage.

    Perhaps there is agrain of truth there.

    Religious woman hate prostitutes. Why?”

    ” Because the Bible tells me so” ?

    Perhaps they hate the prostitutes because they have themselves internalised the concept of their reduced value as percieved by their society.

    They project their hatred of themselves onto a socialy accepted scapegoat?

    Women are bombarded constantly with messages about their unclean(menstrual) and less than perfect state of physical perfection.

    Seems logical that some would project this onto other woman.

    And whoes fault is it ?

    Society cranks it out, but the woman keep buying the magazines and feminine products

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