Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Trading Sex for Housing?

My family is full of colorful characters, so it's probably a safe bet that I'm going to refer to them once in a while. Today's Colorful Relative is Cindy, a woman who married my uncle when I was a teenager, and who is rumored to have been some kind of Madam. When I was applying to colleges, Cindy told my grandmother "I don't know why GC is bothering to go to college. She's such a pretty girl, I'm sure she could find some nice, older gentleman who'd love to pay her bills!" After the shock went away (she said that to my grandma, for pete's sake!), I brushed off her comment with a big dose of naivete and went on my merry way racking up huge amounts of student loans. In my little universe, which was otherwise populated with lots of worldly stuff like friends who did hard drugs, and teenage alcoholics, it never occured to me that women actually do stuff like that.

Now, nearly 15 years later, I just ran across an article that talks about postings on Craigslist, etc that offer housing in exchange for sex, and I'm torn.

In Atlanta, an online ad offers a room in exchange for "sex and light office duty." In Los Angeles, a one-bedroom pool house is free "to a girl that is skilled and willing." And in New York City, a $700-a-month room is available at a discount to a fit female willing to provide sex.

On the widely used Web site Craigslist.org, some landlords and apartment dwellers looking for roommates are offering to accept sex in lieu of rent.

There's one part of my brain that's saying "If you're an adult and want to do this, go for it."
And another part saying "But it's likely that a woman is not doing this on a lark, to show how "edgy" she is, but doing it because she's broke and has no other choice, can easily find herself in a bad situation. Not to mention my gut is telling me that 98% of the people proposing this situation are men, who are in effect looking to either "save" a poor woman, or get off on having the power to boot a woman out if she stops putting out.

What does your brain say?


Blogger skylanda said...

Well, the first thing my brain says is, "If she's not in the mood every single damn time he wants her to be, then what happens?" Although I really don't want to know the answer to that question.

It should be noted though that this story is all over various news sources right now, some of which have emphasized (while others have glossed over) the fact that this isn't all about het parterning - a number of those ads were posted by gay men looking for gay men. Not that this makes it all peachy, I'm just sayin'.

8:23 AM  
Blogger frog said...

How do the dynamics change if it's gay men v. man/woman, beyond the obvious? Or do they?

5:46 AM  
Blogger skylanda said...

Heh, that's a very good question, which I wouldn't even try to answer! Since I know next to zero about gay male relationship dynamics, I was more interested in the idea that some news outlets portrayed this is as a heterosexual phenomenon only, while others copped to the fact that this wasn't the case. Although I also realized after I wrote that comment that I had really only seen excerpts from the same article quoted in different places, some of which included the gay male angle and some of which didn't, so I'm not sure if that's much of a comment at all!

7:58 AM  
Blogger Sofiya said...

My brain says, oh my God, this is a form of sex slavery. I feel so bad for any woman desperate enough and vulnerable enough to let a landlord have this much power over her.

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at the W4M portion of craigslist in NYC. There are lots of women proposing the same deal themselves.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't live in New York. I live in the midwest. I have been that desperate. I wont say it is a prideful thing, it's not something I talk about with people I know. I didn't feel secure, and I knew I could be tossed out if I didn't put out, but I will say it was better then the shelter. I didn't get lice while I was trading sex for shelter. It gave me a chance to find a job, and save money to get a place. It is a huge safety risk as well, no matter how many precautions taken, I was vulnerable, and I knew it. Would he hurt me? Would the cops take me seriously if I had to call them? Would I be arrested? But, I felt the same way in the shelter as well, except there were more people to worry about, watch out for. I was lucky, he didn't hit me, he didn't treat me badly, and he let me go when I decided to leave. This was luck, pure and simple. If I was that desperate again would I do it again, probably, but it taught me to fight every day, every moment of my life not to ever be that desperate again. Hope this isn't preachy, just thought I'd give a been there perspective.

6:16 PM  

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