Monday, September 9, 2013

Those dirty cheaters

I have been reading a blog by an erotic masseuse called CJ.  Note that although that link doesn't lead to any naughty pictures the text content isn't exactly safe for work either.  I have been finding it fascinating to read through her posts both for the 'freak of the week' amusement and for her take on the ethics of giving men massages and then finishing up the massage by getting them off.  CJ is very proud of herself that she doesn't sell any sort of penetration as part of the sex portion of her massage and regularly trashes the women who do so.  This is pretty amusing because the unpredictable and highly variable sexual desires and fetishes she does accommodate aren't exactly prim and proper.  While CJ is an entertaining writer she does the same thing people all over do from online games to sports - anyone who is less involved than her is a prude (casual noob) and anyone who is more involved is a skank (basement dwelling nolifer).

I really don't buy that distinction.  Of course she has the right to control what she does with her body and should not do things that would traumatize or horrify her but assuming that one's own comfort zone is the same as anybody else's is foolish indeed.  There is nothing unethical about sex work regardless of your own personal inclination towards providing it.  I really have no inclination to visit a sex worker nor to become one but I can't see any reason why we should be involved in locking up people who want to do either.

She did manage to turn me around on one topic though.  She talks a lot about the angry wives who call her up and yell about their husbands visiting her massage parlour.  In many cases CJ is acutely aware that the men she is servicing are married and that they are cheating and yet she has no problem doing what she is doing.  She feels that the men in question are betraying their wives but that CJ herself is not doing anything wrong - unsurprisingly the wives of said men often don't agree.  Previously I would have said that when a married person cheats both cheaters are culpable but I don't believe that anymore.  People are not required to be responsible for others breaking their promises.

The fundamental issue with making others culpable for one's own cheating is that this presumes that everyone in society has a responsibility to uphold monogamous marriage.  I don't mind monogamy as a thing but we don't need to build our moral or legal systems around sustaining it just like we don't need to guilt trip people for *not* sleeping with married folks.  What promises people make to each other about their sexual conduct should be their responsibility and theirs alone; the machinery of the state and the legal system don't need to be involved. (This all assumes consent for each sexual act, obviously.)

It isn't *nice* to try to hook up with a married person, just like it isn't *nice* to try to convince an adult to go to the bar instead of going to their kid's baseball game that they promised to attend.  There is a big difference though between doing things that aren't nice and being responsible for someone else's promises.  This is really because the more I look at it the more I see the real problem with infidelity being the lying rather than the sex.  When consenting adults have sex that just isn't a problem; the problem is not being up front and honest with important people in one's life.  The married person who is lying is the problem.  The person sleeping with them is just being a jackass.

CJ is consistent in this view since she would be unable to accept a boyfriend of hers getting exactly the sort of erotic massage that she provides.  She attributes all the guilt to the man in question and none to the masseuse - rightly so.  However, she goes off the rails when she insists on lying to her boyfriends about what she does for a job.  She knows that what she does would be unacceptable to them so she just lies about it.  It seems very foolish and unethical to go into every relationship deciding from the outset that you are going to cheat throughout.

Of course all of this is remarkably heterocentric and assumes monogamous marriage - CJ doesn't talk about gay men and polyamorous folks don't really have the same issues so it makes sense to ignore them for this purpose.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how much this tradition has to do with our long history of living in small communities. If you are in a 200 person community then you can see how you are going to get in big trouble for having sex with someone else's spouse. In such a situation, you ought to be very aware of what the consequences of your actions will be.

    It just doesn't translate to getting an "erotic massage" (not sold on that term) in exchange for cash from someone who you don't know. At that point you really have to just trust the other person to be aware of the consequences of their actions.

    If I got to pharmacy to buy a bottle of pills to make a suicide attempt, the person at the counter can hardly be expected to know what I plan. Back in the 200 person community, where the pharmacist has known me for 20+ years, knows my child was just in a fatal accident and knows I have a history of depression, they may want to stop and ask me some questions. (spoiler: my child did not just die of a fatal accident in real life)