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« December 2007 | Main | February 2008 »

Should women pay for it?

The indomitable entrepreneurial spirit of Heidi Fleiss strikes again, and the former madame has announced plans to open a "Stud Farm" in the Nevada desert (employment opportunities available, FYI). Fleiss is convinced there is an untapped market of women willing to pay for sex.

While I applaud the concept (and Fleiss is certainly no amateur when it comes to understanding markets), I have to admit to some initial skepticism. This may appear lopsided as I predicate my entire position on pornography on the belief that women will happily pay for pornography, if it's a decent enough product.

Nonetheless, I had to work through some visceral repulsion before I could endorse Fleiss' venture. To start, huge differences separate paying for porn from paying for sex. Women are the mistresses of heterosexual intercourse (and the world might recognize this if women would claim their rightul ownership instead of cowering under insecurity and a demeaning obsession with "goodness"). Porn inhabits a totally different world. Even though most people conflate porn and sex, watching porn is not the same as having sex (which is why I can condone sexism, racism and the like when they are relegated exclusively to a space of sexual fantasy). They are qualitatively different experiences.

Since I believe in female sexual power, it was tough to swallow (so to speak) the idea of women paying men to have sex with them. We can get it whenever want, right? So how can it be ok for women to subvert this natural order, and act as though we can't?

Here's how: Thorstein Veblen. Or rather, the phenomenon he coined conspicuous consumption, which describes lavish spending on goods and services for the mere purpose of displaying wealth.  Diamond-encrusted cell phones, absurdly expensive cars, and (proving it's all relative to a given society) a second child for Chinese families are all examples.   

Following this (il)logic, in a society where women have little trouble getting laid, and are earning more than ever before, the best way to flaunt both wealth and sexuality is to pay for it. It is an interesting turn of events, since it was not so long ago that the best a woman could do was be a symbol of conspicuous consumption (see "trophy wife").

Fleiss has once again found a market where none was thought to exist. She has imagined the ultimate vacation for wealthy LA socialites--a women can grab a couple girlfriends for a weekend outside Vegas at a luxurious spa providing massages, facials (of all kinds) and endless sex with hot men. Decadence embodied, no?

I'm not going to say this exactly helps feminism, but I'm certainly not going to begrudge women a little decadence. Now the question is whether Fleiss will be able to navigate Nevada law and get this little shangri-la up and running.

You need to have written to have writer's block--otherwise we all have it

Word to the wise: If you want to kill any ability to commit words to a page you plan to show the world, read yourself some of Camille Paglia's spine-tinglingly scathing book reviews (search by byline). Or perhaps read More, Now, Again, Elizabeth Wurtzel's account of how she managed to create one of the sharpest products of modern feminism, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women. The latter book--one of my all-time favorites--apparently required thousands of Ritalin pills, a few pounds of cocaine, and four months of treatment in Connecticut followed by intense outpatient treatment in New York.

One should read all the above regardless, but be warned.

Mad Truth

Ripped shamelessly from Pop Feminist, who transcribes Andy Warhol quotes for fun.

"Some people can have sex and really let their minds go blank and fill up with sex; other people can never let their minds go blank and fill up with the sex, so while they're having the sex they're thinking, "Can this really be me? Am I really doing this? This is very strange. Five minutes ago I wasn't doing this. In a little while I won't be doing it. What would Mom say? How did people ever think of doing this?""

Also, consider this:

"Women are the one group that grows more radical with age." (Gloria Steinem)