Sexual currency: A licence to sell your body... and your soul?

There’s a lot of silly blather going on about how ‘empowering’ it is to show off your ‘assets’, so says Colette Sheridan in her weekly column
Sexual currency: A licence to sell your body... and your soul?

“Where is the dignity in Madonna posing virtually nude, having a toy-boy and trying desperately to be cool in her seventh decade?”

IT should come as no surprise that the organisers of the Miss World competition are reintroducing the swimwear round this year.

Young women today have no qualms about exploiting their sexual currency. Decades of feminism have not resulted in a rejection of the objectification of women for drooling men.

That’s because so many women (who call themselves ‘girls’) buy into the idea that stripping off is cool as long as you’re the one who stands to gain. But it never really works that way, does it?

What is Miss World for? Getting your kit off in the interests of being crowned the most beautiful women in the universe with all the trappings that goes with it, is seen as a perfectly valid ‘career’ choice.

It supposedly opens doors and provides opportunities - such as glamour modelling for heaven’s sake - for thoroughly liberated young women.

These days, the gals aren’t half as repressed as my generation. They probably don’t think they’re selling out by posing suggestively and generally behaving like tarts. It’s all good for the profile, right?

Well no, not really. Not unless you want a job as some sort of pin-up girl.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of silly blather going on about how ‘empowering’ it is to show off your ‘assets’.

I used to like Madonna, particularly in her early incarnation as a wannabe pop star and provocateur who combined Rosary beads with predatory-type boots. She was fun, keen to shock, but at heart, a dedicated careerist who slithered up the greasy pole.

Trouble is, she wants to remain there at any cost.

I don’t want to sound ageist but at 63, shouldn’t Madonna be enjoying the fruits of her labour and making way for new girls on the block? Where is the dignity in posing virtually nude, having a toy-boy and trying desperately to be cool in your seventh decade? She makes Joan Collins seem almost classy.

Call me old school, but isn’t there something inherently wrong with today’s version of feminism, which trumpets cheapness and vulgarity and tries to dress it up with notions such as being autonomous and in control?

We’re supposed to be OK with women working in porn or being paid to have sex with men as long as these women say they enjoy it. ‘Sex work’ is the new term for prostitution. It has a trade union vibe about it and begs to be taken seriously.

Sex workers of the world are just cashing in their erotic currency. It’s kind of sad. Often, these women are articulate and well able to fight their corner. They could do so much more with their lives.

You might have a vague hope that the halls of academe are unsullied by students on the pull for all the wrong reasons - but you’d be wrong. Durham University in the UK is, would you believe, offering online support lessons to students involved in sex work.

The course, an interactive toolkit, was developed by Leicester University and is aimed at students who earn money by working as escorts, strippers, lap dancers or from webcam porn or phone sex.

In my day, eroticism at college hardly stretched beyond a John Donne love poem. But Durham University says the support lessons are simply a response to an increasing number of impoverished students turning to sex work.

The university is concerned about safety. A 2015 study found that one in 20 students were engaging in sex work and one in five were considering it.

It’s yet another step in the normalisation of prostitution. It’s not considered by the practitioners to be exploitative or dangerous. Instead, it’s dressed up as just another job, one that is empowering.

The thinking is that using your sexual currency is a bit of a no-brainer if you’re broke. But seriously, would you tell your parents that you’re a sex worker?

Alarmingly, Ireland ranks fourth in a table of European countries with the most sugar daddies registered with Seeking Arrangements, a U.S-based agency.

Students in Cork are advertising online, seeking sugar daddies to help them cover rent and other expenses.

We’ve heard of students going hungry and having to avail of UCC’s food bank because they’re so broke. But sugar daddies is a step too far.

One student wrote on a classified website: “20 year old girl in college. Need money, looking for a sugar daddy. Preferably sending you pics/vids etc. Genuine people only!!!”

Another wrote that her last sugar daddy paid her rent, “but this time I am looking for maybe something a little different as my current landlord has decided to sell the house. I’m looking for maybe a landlord who will give me a property in return for weekly meet-ups.” (They’d hardly be discussing dialectical materialism!)

Whatever happened to blue-stocking students hanging out in libraries...

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