Philobiblon: A brothel for women customers?

Friday, November 18, 2005

A brothel for women customers?

It is little more than an irresistible newspaper story at the moment, but The Guardian, and just about every other media outlet on earth, is reporting that Heidi Fleiss, the "former Hollywood madam", is planning to open a brothel with male sexworkers catering to female customers in the Nevada desert. Conservative newspaper editors will be lining up their "the world is going to hell" editorials now.

But even those who find the idea intriguing shouldn't get too excited - a lot of things get announced in newspapers that never happen - but nevertheless it does provoke some interesting questions about the relationship between the sexes.

I think the general attitude towards sex work is part of the hangover of millennia in which enormous emphasis was put women's faithfulness - however that was so defined (sometimes "close friendships" with women didn't matter; sometimes it did) - that so much stress is put on "SEX" as something different to other aspects of life.

Why should it be perfectly acceptable for someone to have, or give, say, a deep tissue massage, in which the masseur or masseuse will use many parts of their body in close contact with their client, but as soon as anything becomes defined as "sexual" there's a moral horror? (Indeed, as Bill Clinton's impeachment case found, there's by no means any clear definition of "sex".")

Of course the reality of sex work, for women, and men, at the moment is that it is often the last resort of the addicted, the disadvantaged, the trafficked, or those otherwise forced into it by circumstances. That sort of sex work is clearly unacceptable, as I've written elsewhere.

But what if it is a genuine job choice, gone into with open eyes and full understanding, and practiced in a safe way (in all senses)? (As presumably could apply in this case.) Why should society have any objection to this?

And what if using such services is regarded, in appropriate circumstances (i.e. not involving unfaithfulness to a partner), as just something that satisfies a bodily need. If someone at this point in their life doesn't want a relationship, but does want sex, why not just openly acknowledge this and make appropriate arrangements?

What's wrong with that?


Anonymous Vicki said...

You make a good point, Natalie, but what I find hard to deal with regarding (female) prostitution, whether entered into as a "career choice" or otherwise, is that it encourages and perpeptuates the still-common and still-accepted view of many men (and perhaps the majority of men) that women are sex objects and not valuable and valued members of society (except insofar as they serve men's needs).

This includes those men who will swear themselves black and blue in the face that they believe otherwise and they may even believe they do. (Of course, not being honest with oneself is something that is not just a male thing.)

Not that I am saying all men are like that, but enough are for it to be a genuine concern. Actions speak louder than words, etc etc...

After all, if that wasn't the case, women would not still be second class citizens. (Yes I know that's a broad statement but you've covered all that pretty well, Natalie. No one in their right mind could convince themselves women have equal status to men in all or even most sectors of our society, however much or little we have progressed in the last 20-30 years.)

I have a feeling (unsubstantiated of course) that a lot of men would despise the male prostitutes... but despise the women who buy their services more. ("How sad/desperate can you get? More proof that women are lower than the lowest low.") And perhaps not even see the irony...

(And for the record, that's not intended to be a blanket statement or assumption that all men would think like that. I know there are exceptions.)


11/18/2005 03:23:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I take your point, about the extremely low status of sex workers now. But who knows, when men come into a previously female-dominated profession the pay and status usually improves ...

More seriously, if both sexes can be regarded as "sex-objects" in appropriate contexts, and not otherwise, then maybe that is one way to move towards a better balance.

11/18/2005 08:58:00 pm  
Blogger Florisv said...

I think the main isue is as Vicki point sout is htat, many men see women as sex objects, and even worse, some see them as inferior, or as property. And treat them that way. If this service owuld open, then the world is not going to hell, just men and women getting equal rights. I have also noticed htat some women see soem peopel as a sex object. I have noticed that many women are only intrested me because of sex, and for me that doesn't work. It is probably why I rejoiced on CER2005 (communicating European Research), on monday and tuseday when I could talk to women fluently, withtout them being intrested in sex, or only sex.

It is often seen that people who like sex, are seen as low by others, even if they spread lies about it. I speak from experience. Not that I have much expericne on that subject, none , or hardley anything rahter.

I have noticed that as usual the approach seems to be that some men can get away with it, but women commite a crime when they do it. But there is no difference.

Sometimes it feels, as to some men, always want to be in control of everything, everyone has to do as they wish, and rules apply to us, but not to them.

I thought something like this already existed somewhere. What I find even stranger is how some women look at the women who would use those services, and even more strange, is that although there is a lot of saying about feminism, the old laws, are still not changed or discussed. And what they actually do is supress womens freedom of sexual expression.

I wrote about this one of my blogs, some time ago, and it got well coments over here. With some women it seems as they absolutley don't want it.

If you wonder, why I do as if I'm not one of the men, it is a question I cannot answer, negativley or possitive, or even discuss. Lets just say that soem of the things people have said make one wonder if WWII has made them any wiser at all.

I can not give more information on this subject as I do not want to bring those people in trouble, Belgian law has not yet changed on that subject, and it is not even thought about. Well it used to exist, I don't know if it still does. Which make some wonder as I personally find, it allows to supress women.

But I have found trough to post, like Gradations of life, that many people even women ,say the answer is no, there are no gradaitosn of life not understandig that if there are none then that has serious implications for them.

Do I see women as a sexobject ? maybe Yes and but certainly no as well, but withtout love it doesn't work for me, or at least attraction, and I well I'm atracted to women but I do knwo whwo it feel sot be treated as a sexual object, and a t first I lieed it, w, but I don't anymore. Thre is a differnce if its the person you love, .. I supose you understand that mcuh better then I do, or ever may, but I do not look forward to go to a crowd of ala women who would be intrested in ntohing mroe then sex. No thanks. I'd agree with Kimm Catrall, that often Women are more intresting, but not always. Because I know that to be untrue.

If you go to my blog, and click on my details, the following may intrest you as well, pandora's box, and ondeugende gedachten. There will be typos, and spelling mistakes, and I correct them sometimes, but often not. Contents matter to me, not the way there are shown. But for blogcritics that is different. But then what I post on blogcritics is so little compaired to the rest.

11/19/2005 12:26:00 am  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Natalie wrote:
"if both sexes can be regarded as "sex-objects" in appropriate contexts, and not otherwise, then maybe that is one way to move towards a better balance."

I am evidently very cynical but it is hard for me to see how it could possible do that. I don't think the general male attitude towards women in our society will allow that to happen — yet. I just don't think we (our society) are ready for it. Even now, a woman who has "casual sex" is seen as a "slut" by many men and women, and this is one huge step further than that...

Floris wrote:
"I have noticed that as usual the approach seems to be that some men can get away with it, but women commite a crime when they do it."

And to me that's why brothels servicing women aren't going to help women gain equality in the mindsets of men. (Though I hope it does and that I'm wrong!) I still think men (generally speaking — of course there are exceptions) will think it a bit of a joke and that it reinforces what sad specimens women are, and just think the male prostitutes have found yet another way to use women. "Make them pay! LMAO! How'd you manage that? What's yer secret? Onya, mate." (Perhaps spoken with envy but I'd bet any disdain would not be for the male prostitutes!)

If that is the prevailing attitude, women availing themselves of the services of such brothels would be getting screwed in more ways than one.

I sure wish I could have seen/listened to that program you were on, Natalie. (Dialup and deafness... neither are terribly conductive to listening to audio on the net!) But I would have liked to hear more on this subject. (I'm still hoping I'm wrong!)

11/19/2005 02:13:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

The issue is one of choice. If you aren't interested in non-committed sex, that's fine. But it should also be fine to have this, if it is what you want.

11/19/2005 01:22:00 pm  

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