Sunday, 2 March 2014
Time for a little self-disclosure.
Women, has a man ever offered you money to have sex with him?
It happened to me, twice.
About 10 years ago I was heading home after working late. My Sandy Hill neighbourhood features some dilapidated buildings offering single rooms for rent to students and other transients. There's also city-sponsored lodgings and transition housing. Two men schlepping a 24 walked past me, one of them trying to engage me in conversation, for the purpose of checking out whether I'd like to "party" with them. When I expressed my lack of interest in them or their plans, the other man offered me money as an incentive.
I walked into the lobby of an apartment building and waited 30 minutes before I felt it was safe to go to my own house where I lived alone since my daughter had graduated.
When I was young and silly, I crashed a private party with a friend of mine. It was the 80s; the theme was Movie Stars and Hookers. The two of us - decked out in tatty Rocky Horror Show duds - dropped into a Victorian era townhouse in Ottawa, checked out the activities and left after an hour. Yes, there was "free" food, booze and blow - but as I suspected, those came with an invisible price tag.
I had heard about the party from an acquaintance at work, which is probably how The Lobbyist found me. Out of the blue, I got an invitation, via the colleague, to have lunch with a man who had co-hosted the event. Intrigued, I accepted and thus caught a glimpse of a most unsavoury side of politics.
He offered employment; attached to the impressive salary were ambiguous tasks and responsibilities that could be described as networking and maintaining favourable private relations with Important Men.
Now, radical feminists and abolitionists believe that all "good" women should be offended by men who offer payment for sex. I wasn't offended, I simply didn't want to engage in that kind of work. Nor do I wish to be employed as a registered nurse, a zoo-keeper, a short-order cook or an early childhood educator although I have benevolently taken on some of the chores involved in the work these professionals do, as part of my commitment and willingness to care for those I love.
Was I concerned for my personal safety? Of course. In the first case, I didn't want those two men to know where I lived. As for the second offer ... Sex work is work. Like being a professional athlete, there are physical risks involved.
In the 80s, the feminist therapist Dr Helen Kaplan, "a pioneer in the field of sex therapy and founder of the country's first clinic for sexual disorders established at a medical school", advanced a savvy comparative analysis of the working conditions of prostitutes and professional athletes. When religious moralizing and weepy calls to rescue victimized fallen women are removed from the equation, professional sex-work and sports-playing are remarkably similar.
Truthfully, there are disgusting men that most women would never fuck for love or money but are compelled and coerced to do so by religious, political or social reasons. Fear of economic reprisals as well as the threat of emotional and physical abuse are also factors.
These "clients" are called husbands. I hasten to add, those particular husbands who feel entitled, by virtue of marriage, to use their wives as flesh-holes.
And, à propos de rien, are Toronto taxpayers footing the bill for Rob Ford's trip to attend the Academy Awards? Since the Mascot Mayor won't be "eating at home", will his sponsor Jimmy Kimmel pick up the tab for Rob and his entourage's entertainment suite in Hollywood?
Also, read this and this about the Harper government's attempts to re-criminalize prostitution.