Brothels and Hook-ups in the #MeToo age

Let’s declare our unqualified support for sex between consenting adults.  One of life’s truly mind-altering experiences.  Ah, ‘me too’ please.  And it’s free!  But I hear you say, that’s not what they told me down at the Cherry Tree Garden brothel last night…

When you visit a brothel it’s free in one important way – free of hang-ups and worries from an embarrassing phone call the next day about that promise you made, or those three little words you unintentionally uttered in the throes of passion to that girl from the office, or the one from the bar you found yourself in.  And, importantly, those issues of “consent” are unlikely to be challenged. Potentially, a high price elsewhere.

As many brothel patrons will insist, that free sex you had with the girl you’d spent a fortune on in The Flower Drum, the bottle of red you impressed her with, the hotel room – all of which has probably set you back upwards of five or six hundred dollars and double that if she didn’t do sex on a first date – is expensive. Certainly, compared to the “no strings” rendezvous for a couple of hundred dollars in a classy brothel.

Now, whether we’re the man intent on the conquest or the woman unconsciously taking the temperature of the offered gene-pool, I know we all appreciate the thrill of the chase. There’s the witty conversation, the flirtatious role-playing between that gorgeous woman who has somehow confused him with Brad Pitt and the man who has been simply smitten by a woman, any woman really, that agrees to talk to him. Yes, it’s all quite excitingly primal to follow that Darwinian urge to be alpha parents – without the annoying procreating part of course.

An added complication today is that we’re now in the age of #MeToo and other movements properly calling out the sexual predators in the community. This may add a hurdle to well-intentioned hook-up sex, needing something akin to a “pre-nup” along the lines of a written agreement between the consenting adults that they are indeed consenting. Even if it’s a bit passion killing to try to find a biro at that intense pre-coital moment.

The writer Claire Berlinski calls the #MeToo movement “a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity” and “a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.”

She tells a story about how she discovered she had a new power: the power to ruin the career of a professor she knew at Oxford who grabbed her bum 20 years earlier while drunk at a party. “I was amused and flattered,” she writes, saying, “I knew full well he’d been dying to do that. Our tutorials which took place one-on-one with no chaperones, were livelier intellectually for that sublimated undercurrent. He was an Oxford don and so had power over me. But I also had power over him – power enough to cause a venerable don to make a perfect fool of himself at a Christmas party. Unsurprisingly, I loved having that power.”

Reformers in the #MeToo and Hook-up age should keep her underlying point in mind: Change may be good but be wary of unintended consequences. Turning men and women into hostile opposing camps is not going to be good for either sex. In the meantime, that free sex in the brothels we were talking about seems freer and less complicated than ever.

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Dec 03

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