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A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose*

for hire

The French are looking to Germany and Switzerland for sex. No, really. The French who are known for their romance and liberal sexual appetite, are turning to countries known more for precision for the messy imprecise act of love. This isn’t some sort of cultural rebellion or irony like Le Big Mac; it is instead a response to France’s laws regarding prostitution. Prostitution is legal in France, but third-party procurement is not. Ordinarily most people can go out and fetch themselves some company, but the issue here is that of the disabled. People with physical and/or mental disabilities who want to hire people for sexual interaction need to do so over the phone or through a service, which is not legal in France. The issue of disability and sex workers is becoming more (internationally) popular these days and brings up many interesting questions.

It’s not possible to discuss any of them without addressing the legalization of prostitution. It’s a bizarre law that offers little if any protection to whom it claims to protect. If we really cared about the victimization of women, men, boys & girls they wouldn’t be working the streets in the first place. And speaking of working the streets…dropping the euphemisms would be helpful as well. Using words such as; escort, surrogate, and call girl creates a meaningless hierarchy. Does the teenager working a corner deserve less protection than the 35-year old with business cards and connections? We can’t really believe that an hourly worker is less deserving than a salaried worker? So let’s start with calling it what it is: prostitution. It is what it is, and if you find it repugnant you probably should not be one or hire one.

Now back to the issue of the disabled and sex workers. If prostitution were legal we’d be done with this chat. But seeing as it’s not, and there seems to be the beginning of a disabilities movement brewing, let’s discuss. At the heart of much of the rising outcry is that disabled people are entitled to a sex life. No one would argue with that. But the giant leap from “sex life” to paying for the sex life is worth noting. The underlying sentiment is that the only way for a disabled person to have sex is to purchase it. This is not only inaccurate but also a bit frightening. Who is determining this? How physically or mentally disabled does one have to be to forgo any chance of a romantic relationship? What is the cut-of? Does a woman who thinks she’s too big qualify? What of a man who considers himself too small? What about those with speech impediments, scars, skin diseases, disfigurements?

It’s not that much of a leap that legalized prostitution will go the way of legalized marijuana. With the right connections/doctors some people will be able to avail themselves of something, which is illegal to others. If you believe that this path is the one of least resistance to get these laws off the books than this is good news. If you believe that making judgements of people’s worthiness is nasty business, than it’s not. All men are created equal. Searching for exceptions or classifying groups is something we do when we cannot embrace the enormity of that concept.

*Gertrude Stein

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Cultural Critique, Well-Being

 

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And You Too, Can Be A Star

review of the new film Sessions refers to one character as a ‘sex therapist.’ The therapist’s job, as described in the review, is to have sex with a client. Sex can be therapeutic, but a ‘sex therapist’ is an actual therapist. Psychiatrists and psychologists specialize in sex therapy (the study and treatment of sexual dysfunction.) Treatment involves talk therapy and homework assignments (homework not tutorials!) Are there sex therapists (or scout leaders, coaches, pediatricians, dentists) who have engaged in unethical and criminal behavior while on the job? Sure. But a sex therapist does not by definition engage in sex for pay. The review goes on to describe this character as a sex surrogate (how did such a straightforward career end up with so many titles?)

What ever happened to good old-fashioned prostitutes? When is the last time you even heard that word? Everyone’s and escort or a call girl, or I suppose a sex surrogate. I’m not sure the working conditions change much with a new title. Director of correspondence control is still a mailroom clerk. But everyone likes a fancy title. Personally, I find the title; “stripper” far more attractive than that of dancer. Stripper conjures up an act or at least a gimmick. Dancer is a bored practically nude women swinging from a pole. And if that girl leaves the stage to squirm on a drunken businessman in a back room, she’s not just a dancer she’s a surrogate. And what of all men and women in the corps de ballet? Does every introduction now have to be followed with; “no, really, an actual dancer”?

Who doesn’t enjoy a little spin? We like to put the best face on things. Our children are all doing incredibly well and everyone that’s remotely related to us is gifted. But when did we decide that being a prostitute is somehow undesirable but being an escort was understandable? Do we really think that all those dancers are making their way through law school, but strippers are simply down on their luck? (And for the record these professions and terms are not gender-specific.) For some reason the sex professions enjoy more than their fair share of spin (there’s a burlesque joke in there somewhere.) Nobody acts in pornographic movies; they are porn STARS. Nobody poses naked for pornographic magazines; they are CENTERFOLDS. There must be bold-faced terminology for internet pornography as well (feel free to leave me in the dark.)

In the end a rose is a rose is a rose I suppose. But it’s not a help to the therapeutic community to call a person who has sex with clients for money a “sex therapist.” It’s strangely apt, but not all that helpful to that other profession.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Cultural Critique

 

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