Archive for February, 2000

Pros and amateurs

Thursday, February 24th, 2000

One way or another, men still expect to pay for sex — and women pay for it, too, by keeping their financial goals low.


When I first heard about “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” I remembered an incident from my childhood. It might have been the first time I became aware that sex was sometimes exchanged for money. My parents were gossiping, mainly over my head, and a scrap drifted down in my father’s voice: “Why buy a cow, when milk is so cheap?” I asked what that meant, and my parents laughed. “Your father is talking about what happens when men and women live together without being married,” my mom explained, in a lower voice. I didn’t quite understand, but I felt the offense to my gender, and seethed with anger at my father for a few minutes.

After “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” I was also offended for my gender. But after years of life experience, I was equally offended by its members. I knew the evil patriarchy hadn’t forced the female contestants to enter this humiliating contest, or forced millions of women to watch. (The show actually got higher ratings among women than men.) If women were willing to sell themselves on national television, and other women were entertained by it, we hadn’t come very far from the gender primitivism of my childhood, when both my parents took it for granted that sex was a good that men would, or should, pay for, and one that women could either “give away” or, well, not exactly sell, but obtain full value for bestowing. (more…)