1/3 Whatever happened to obscene phone calls?

Hello? You never hear about obscene phone calls anymore, despite everyone having a phone in their pocket. Yesterday’s item about the guy who was issued Sir Mix-A-Lot’s old phone number treats it as a joke, but I remember being taught in school around 1984 about the danger of “heavy breathers.” At the same time, Barry … More 1/3 Whatever happened to obscene phone calls?

Against moral panic (for cultural politics)

Pundits, sociologists, and activists frequently use the term “moral panic” to describe what they perceive as a public overreaction to an issue (or non-issue). Examples include “Prostitution and Human Trafficking – The Anatomy of a Moral Panic,” “What’s Flakka and is it Real? A Guide to the New Moral Panic Drugs,” From Miasma to Ebola: … More Against moral panic (for cultural politics)

The Traffic in Deer

Deer trafficking: another example of the spread of what I call trafficking talk, or the traffic in trafficking. Recent headlines include Two Florida Men Sentenced for Trafficking in Deer or Deer-Trafficking Scheme Nets Record $1.6 Million Fine Up until around 2010, news outlets usually called such crimes “smuggling,””poaching,” “illegal sales” or “illegal transport” (the earliest … More The Traffic in Deer

The Modern Career of “The Oldest Profession,” and the Social Embeddedness of Metaphors

This article was fun to write, and it’s even more fun to play with Google n-grams to track the usage of metaphors about prostitution in the UK vs US (such as this or this). Among many nuggets I uncovered: Rudyard Kipling coined the metaphor “the most ancient profession!” “Sex work” initially referred to sexuality research! … More The Modern Career of “The Oldest Profession,” and the Social Embeddedness of Metaphors