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At the 2016 “Seeking Arrangement Party” in Hollywood, women in their late teens and early 20’s are mingling with men referred to as “John McCain’s”. It is a masquerade ball, and the “Eyes Wide Shut” comparisons are exasperated by the fact that all of the women in attendance are wearing masks. I can’t decide when I’ve finished reading this article if I should feel sorry for these women or empowered by the fact that they are using their bodies to make very large amounts of money for nothing more than little small talk and, more than likely, sex.
“I’m just looking for someone to pay for my boob job,” says a small blonde woman who flew into town from Utah; she’s a Mormon. “I thought I must be doing something wrong because all the guys I’ve met on the site so far have been sending me dick pics and hairy-butt pics.”
There’s a moral ambiguity present when talking about sex work, and I’m not even entirely sure that I’m comfortable speaking on the subject because I know next to nothing about it. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, and I don’t know what it’s like to have the power that they hold over men. But when I read testimonial from this article I can’t help but feel torn.
“I want to start a handbag line,” she says. “I have all these great designs and ideas. And I just don’t see how I could ever get together the capital. So an investor would really help.”
This question of what is morally right or wrong is something that everyone needs to decide on their own. Is “the girlfriend experience”, as it’s referred to in Vanity Fair by one of the anonymous “babies”, nothing more than glorified prostitution? Or is this feminism incarnate? These women are willingly going out and having sex with older men, who they aren’t attracted to, in exchange for lavish gifts and money.
One girl living in Austin claims she charges $700 an hour for sex, and honestly, if people are willing to pay her that much and she has no problem doing it, then good for her. Could you imagine, as a straight male, doing this with 40-, 50-, or 60-year-old women? It sounds appealing, but as a 25-year-old man I don’t know that I could go through with that. When I don’t have an attraction to somebody the last thing on my mind is having intercourse. But again, I don’t have a vagina and having sex for a woman is different than it is for a man.
Some of these girls need to pay off their student loans. Some of them are sick of working minimum wage jobs waiting tables or making coffee. But I’d be hard pressed to believe that these “babies”(a word that is making me cringe to type out) don’t have some serious PTSD after doing this kind of work for a few months or years. The most popular way for women, as well as gay men, to get into this line of work is to sign themselves up on websites like “Seeking Arrangement” and “RentMen”. The names alone tell you what you’re getting. It’s prostitution under a different name.
“People don’t call it ‘prostitution’ anymore,” says Caitlin, 20, a college student in Montreal. “That sounds like slut-shaming. Some girls get very rigid about it, like ‘This is a woman’s choice.’ ”
Prostitution is commonly referred to as the oldest profession in the world. When women were at their most oppressed, this was the easiest way for them to make money. The Bible even talks about how men would have “concubines” or women who were thought of as less than their wives. Does everyone see the problem here? In 2016 when women’s rights are at the forefront of everyones minds, we’re going to sit back and tell girls that it’s okay to have sex with antisocial tech millionaires for a quick buck? Is this not an oxymoron, or am I missing something? The statistics speak for themselves, and they’re brought up in this very article.
Jenna says that a friend of hers was sexually assaulted by a man she met on a sugaring site. “She didn’t want to report it,” she says, “because she didn’t want her parents to know what she was doing.” Women in sex work reportedly experience a high incidence of rape, as well as a “workplace homicide rate” 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous job, working in a liquor store, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology.
I’m just going to say it. If you’re a man who signs up for a website called “Seeking Arrangement”, and you’re willing to shell out thousands of dollars on a night out with some girl who you don’t know, I’m going to assume that this man is going to expect something in return. It’s messed up, but the school of thought that women are objects is only getting enforced when sites like this are allowed to run unregulated.
I liken this to a documentary I watched a while back on Netflix called “Hot Girls Wanted”, which gave viewers an inside look at the porn industry and why it’s luring very young women (always 18 but, in general, not very much older than 22) into starting a career in porn. Most of the girls wash out after a few months, and many leave addicted to drugs and what I can only assume are deep seated psychological issues.
This is honestly one of the most interesting articles I’ve ever read, and if you haven’t seen that documentary I highly recommend it, but I don’t see how anyone can finish this expose and not come away feeling sorry for these girls. For the girls interviewed it didn’t even seem like it was out of desperation. They just didn’t want to work a prototypical 9-5 to pay for things they wanted. And at the end of the day if they say they’re not being harmed then who am I to say they shouldn’t be allowed to do this?
…some did “cake sitting”—a specialty service for a fetish that craves just what it says—or stripping or Webcamming or sugaring. Some beat people up in professional “dungeons”; others did “scat play,” involving sex with feces. They did what they felt they had to do to pay their bills. But was it feminism?
If you can put up with sex play that involves sitting on cakes or playing with human feces then more power to you. I’m not going to stop anyone from doing what they need to do to pay their bills or buy some new clothes. Me personally? I think I’ll take a 9-5 office job over that..
[via Vanity Fair]
Image via Vanity Fair/Mark Schafer