Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Empowement In Contradiction

When I first started blogging some years ago, I used to frequently visit a certain well known blog (at least at the time it used to be). Besides the content (which was consistently excellent), I found the blogroll particularly interesting - it represented a myriad of interests from science, music, economics, politics, graphic design, technology, gourmet cooking to the lives of high end call girls and everything in between.

Thus came about my acquaintance with Belle de jour and the blogs by some other high end escorts. They were all well written and apparently belonged to women who were spectacularly beautiful and accomplished and did what they did for the money (not to mention pleasure). Instead of feeling entrapped and exploited they found it empowering to do be able to command the prices they did and on their own terms.

The rationale being that if one is a free agent then this line of work is no longer demeaning At that point it just becomes a job that happens to pay very well. The dollar value they had been able to assign to the trade was very satisfactory - that any amount of money could be considered a "fair trade" for granting sexual favors is a glaring contradiction to empowerment in my mind but that's just my opinion.

One woman described an  elaborate screening process she had established that would determine if a man would be eligible to be her client. The idea was they did not barter sex for money or gifts indiscriminately and they were not this profession for the lack of better options. Many like Belle de jour had advanced degrees and high paying jobs. This gig was no more than moonlighting but it paid very well - with international travel and diamond trinkets thrown in for good measure. As far as they were concerned they were putting nature's bounty of youth to good use and monetizing it for all it was worth.

A reasonable reader might take this all in with grain of salt - anything that looks too good to be true often is. As a marketing ploy for a book, I thought this was a terrific idea - it got the readers piqued if not anything else. Reading this book extract from Superfreakonomics at Delanceyplace made me wonder if the depressed wages for prostitutes affects these women too and if that would in turn affect their perception of empowerment.

"Why has the prostitute's wage fallen so far?

"Because demand has fallen dramatically. Not the demand for sex. That is still robust. But prostitution, like any industry, is vulnerable to competition.

"Who poses the greatest competition to a prostitute? Simple: any woman who is willing to have sex with a man for free.

"It is no secret that sexual mores have evolved substantially in recent decades. The phrase 'casual sex' didn't exist a century ago (to say nothing of 'friends with benefits'). Sex outside of marriage was much harder to come by and carried significantly higher penalties than it does today."

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