It's interesting to see how an area, country, or society can change its morals almost at the drop of a hat.
For example, Weimar Germany, devastated by the worldwide financial collapse of the 1930's and saddled with an insurmountable war debt, quickly became a moral wasteland. As fortunes crumbled and the future seemed hopeless, the basic rules governing social interaction evaporated and Berlin became a destination for sex tourists, not unlike today's Bankok.
Businessmen from around the world used their vastly inflated home currencies to buy the affections of "demi-castors," or upstanding middle-class women who turned to prostitution as a means of making ends meet. From matrons to schoolgirls, women from every walk of life and level of society demonstrated that, in the end, there is one commodity that never loses its value.
While Weimar Berlin is an outrageous example of the impact that a brutalized economy can have on society, recent events have demonstrated that the evaporation of social mores is not as unlikely as one might hope.
From young New York women seeking to sell themselves to wealthy businessmen, to people offering cheap rentals in return for "benefits," to rural Kentuckians trading sex for gas, the news over the last few months has been full of sordid tales of women deciding to turn to prostitution as a means of dealing with inflation. The definitive event in this trend was probably New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's dalliance with Ashlee Dupree. While the news was running in circles attempting to explain Spitzer's downfall, precious little attention was devoted to the woman who was willing to exchange her body for cash and an embarrassing moment in the spotlight. It's interesting to speculate on the reason for this lack of coverage: was the media uninterested in the forces that motivated Spitzer's Lolita, or was it simply convinced that it already knew them?
In a recent Radar magazine article, Jessica Pilot discussed the experiences of three acquaintances who have chosen to become high-priced call girls. It makes for some fascinating reading, as Pilot's friends, "Olivia," "Kelly" and "Heather," are neither undereducated waifs who have been consumed alive by the big bad city, nor intravenous drug users who have fallen to the bottom of the economic dogpile. As polished, well-educated, intelligent women who are working their way up in their chosen professions, they don't fit any of the traditional prostitution narratives. However, when they finish their "day jobs," these women claim to make between $800 and $2000 per hour by servicing the carnal desires of Wall Street tycoons.
What is particularly fascinating about Pilot's trio is that have chosen this profession. Pilot's article suggests that part of the seduction of "the life" is the easy money and the easy access to luxuries, but that doesn't seem to capture the heart of what compels these women to sell themselves. Perhaps the key lies in the huge sums of money. While I'm not willing to admit how little I make, it's fair to say that Pilot's trio can clear most of my yearly income in a decent weekend. When the sums are so high, it's not really surprising that buyers can easily find sellers!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He secretly wishes that there were more women on Wall Street.
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