LEGAL BROTHELS VERSUS DATING APPS: has sex changed for the better or worse?

Uber has done it to the taxi industry, Airbnb has done to it hotels – now there are rumbles that dating apps are destroying the legal brothel industry.  Social networking apps like Tinder and Grindr have introduced society to casual sex, making it convenient and easy to find like-minded people for sex just by using your fingertips. No need to try those eye-rolling pickup lines or to get into a slurry, alcohol-filled daze to front up to that stunning girl at the bar. So, have dating apps really helped or hindered our sex lives, or created other unintended consequences for society? Everyone seems to have an opinion and they seem to rage around the following ideas:

They’re increasing risks for women’s safety.

It seems more people are meeting like-minded strangers for short-term sexual flings. The anonymous simplicity of these encounters means we’re not always following the old rules for blind and online dates, when in fact we should be more strictly enforcing them. For example, always meeting in a public place and not at home, always telling a friend where you’re going and who you’re intending to meet. This casual attitude puts women, and sometimes men, at higher risk of something going horribly wrong. In the UK for instance, recent research produced worrying figures regarding Tinder and Grindr related crimes: In the past two years, more than 400 offences, including rape, sexual assault and robbery were directly linked to dating apps and these were just the reported ones. There’s no reason to think it’s any different here in Melbourne. Clearly, a major downside to dating apps is the tendency for people to think below the belt and not with their brains and it’s fair to assume that wanting instant gratification leads to swiping right with a degree of tunnel vision. These apps are also copping plenty of deserved flak for a rise in sexually transmitted diseases. This is probably the time to point out that practising safe sex with strangers is a good idea. In fact, it’s the best idea. You don’t know their health status (often, neither do they, unlike the girls in legal brothels) or how many people they’ve had unprotected sex with before you. Is it really worth it?

They’re lowering barriers towards illegal sex and human trafficking.

The world of illegal sex-trafficking has embraced mobile/internet app technology. There are peer review services, mobile friendly directories, and other clever apps that promote illegal sex-work services. These apps make it easy for a customer to find an illegal sex-worker, and making it dangerously easy for pimps, human traffickers and illegal sex-workers to profit in the exploitation and trade of women and young girls through the simplicity and anonymity of disposable cell-phones. The legal brothels in Melbourne are well regulated to control the insidious hand of criminals. As has been written elsewhere, these legal brothels, and the safeguards built into their business models are being unintentionally, or intentionally, eroded by these apps.

They’re encouraging the rise of a “hookup” culture.

Hooking up for no-strings-attached sex was happening long before Tinder or Grindr and even before the invention of the internet. But, social media has opened many doors in terms of ease of access. With these apps, and to a lesser extent, online dating sites, setting up a meeting with another person happens fast and you don’t even need too many interpersonal skills. It also means you don’t have to trawl bars and venues trying to impress strangers with your embarrassing pick-up lines mentioned before. Using an app means there’s a nearly endless list of eligible people close by that want exactly what you want, or so they say. But, unlike visiting a legal brothel, it’s a bit of a lottery in terms of looks and personality with photoshop enhanced ladies all looking like ageless spring goddesses who just want to walk on a golden beach and make love in the sand… with just you. For money.

Living in this hook-up culture makes us a lot more relaxed about engaging in casual sex, bringing about a change in attitude toward relationships and we’re feeling freer to experiment. If you’ve ever used a dating app or travelled down the road of online dating, you’ll know it’s overrun with fraudsters and time wasters, just like real life. Sure, they’re exposing you to more people, but in doing so, exposing you to potential risks. That’s a choice you make. The sexual landscape is changing with the technological advances, but we should not dispense with the safeguards of the legal brothels in Melbourne and risk reverting to the dark days of facilitating the trafficking of young women, or in any way adding to the upward trend in sexually transmitted diseases in our community.

Williamstown has Melbourne’s finest Legal Brothel – The Cherry Tree Garden. Come visit us.

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