What I Learned From Working Graveyard Shift in a Sex Shop

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xoJane.com, Jane Pratt's lifestyle site for women, is not about changing yourself to fit any mold of what others think you should be. It is about celebrating who you are. Like Sassy and Jane before it, xoJane.com is written by a group of women (and some token males) with strong voices, identities and opinions, many in direct opposition to each other, who are living what they are writing about.

Comments

  1. “the average Source customer wasn’t a gross, disgusting pervert, but just a normal, lonely dude who was too homely/fat/short to get a girlfriend and too shy/sweet/poor to sleep with hookers.”

    This is the realization that must never be permitted in a feminist-friendly society: the notion that sexless men aren’t predatory monsters or pathetic losers deserving only hatred.

    • That’s so strange. I’m a feminist and I think I just wrote something really accepting about why people might shop at a store like that.

      • Just a metalhead says:

        Some feminists are empathetic and sex-positive, a lot are not empathetic towards men and very sex-negative, at least in relations to male sexuality.

        You cannot go on feminist websites or read feminist literatures without being quickly exposed to people who loudly express the opinion that porn is intrinsically misogynistic and that men who use it are misogynist, that they are almost abusing the porn stars of what they consume.

        It’s even worse for johns, who, for many feminists, are just a step above rapists. They are assumed to be violent, to treat women like mere objects and to be automatically abusive. A very popular opinion on prostitution in feminist circles is that selling sex must be legal, but buying sex must be illegal as it is always an act of violence against women. The expression that sex workers are “selling their bodies” has been promoted by feminists and seeks to equivocate johns and slave masters.

        This is the reality of the feminist movement. If you disagree with it, I encourage you to speak up against it in your movement, to reclaim feminism from the radicals.

  2. People visit stores like this for all kinds of reasons. Loneliness is one of them. Pretty much everyone has a sex drive (save the asexuals) and desires for human touch and validation, but it’s not always available to everyone (for a lot of reasons, some no fault of their own, some due to dysfunctions) so normalizing sex stores, and sex work, would help a lot of people, men and women both.

    I only worry that a cycle of utilizing stores creates more isolation, secrecy, shame and less human connection and openness, as that seems detrimental to these sad lonely people who are only seeking that which everyone seeks. Not that the stores should go away, certainly, but I’d love for them to be considered less creepy and more “in the daylight” so that there is less shame overall.

    • yes, normalizing sex work will benefit both – male customers and women workers.
      Women dont need to pay for sex. Even the obese women can get laid left and right with lean guys and complaining why they wont date them.

  3. The author will also realize the same thing if he observes the men who hire sex workers.

    I think it needs to be acknowledged that obtaining sex is much more difficult for men than it is for the other gender, and paying for sex is an understandable, logical solution.

    Unfortunately there is only hatred and disgust for men who pay for sex. Women and feminists particualry hate those men, even the ones who claim to be sex-positive.

    • “I think it needs to be acknowledged that obtaining sex is much more difficult for men than it is for the other gender, and paying for sex is an understandable, logical solution.”

      As long as you’re wishing, I’d like a pony. (i.e., don’t hold your breath.)

  4. I just think it is time to legalize prostitution. As much as I hate the idea.

    But, clearly too many men are just sexually frustrated and need an outlet. We have highly intelligent Ivy League women working as $1000 an hour escorts, already.

    So, let’s just make prostitution as accessible and safe as porn so men can enjoy sex in a safe, clean, and regulated environment. The female sex workers would also benefit.

    • Good idea. What country do you propose to implement it? because it’ll dang sure never happen in the U.S., sad to say.

  5. wellokaythen says:

    “Truthfully many of the strangest moments on the job had nothing to do with the fact that I was surrounded by pornography, but rather the standard weirdness that comes from working with the public in any capacity.”

    Very good point. A retail graveyard shift, really any retail shift dealing with hundreds of customers every week, will bring you in contact with the small percentage of people who are memorably weird. I don’t mean that as a snobby remark, just stating the mathematical likelihood. I’d be curious if you had worked in a 24-hour convenience store if you’d have comparable experiences.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    Well of course the customers were odd. This was in Canada, right? In the U.S. the customers are totally different….

  7. wellokaythen says:

    Some interesting debate here about why men look at porn. Let’s not lose sight of the basics, because sometimes the basic explanation may actually be the best. Maybe the whole point IS the “self-induced orgasm” and not much else.

    Masturbation is fun. Porn has a way of making masturbation even more fun. Most men consume porn that increases the pleasure or intensity of self-pleasure. When men “consume porn” they usually masturbate while they view it. (I hope this is not news to anyone.) I call this the “Funner Wanking” Theory. No doubt for many men this theory is sufficiently explanatory. We can try to analyze this further and discover some deeper wisdom, perhaps, but we have to start here.

    The other theories I’ve heard have some merit, but they seem to be less explanatory, because they cover a minority of cases or overlook the physical basics.

    There’s the “Poor Substitute” Theory, which explains that what these men really, deeply want and need is intimate contact with a real live woman, but, since they are unable to convince a woman to have sex with them, these men are left with a pale imitation. Among more judgmental people, this could also be called the “Ugly Loser” Theory. This article flirts with this theory but eventually rejects it.

    A related theory is the “Unavailability” Theory, which suggests that the men who look at porn are willing and able to have intimate relationships with women, but they’re in situations where the options are extremely limited. This would also include being in monogamous relationships in which the other partner is not willing or able to have sex, so the man turns to porn as an outlet.

    I’ve also heard the “Objectification” Theory, which suggests that the larger problem is the social and cultural assumptions about male and female sexuality. The culture has convinced men that the best way to think about women is as sexual objects, and porn reinforces those feelings. So, if men were more conscious of gender dynamics and more intellectually engaged with their own sexuality, the demand for porn would plummet.

    A related one is the “Misogyny” Theory, in which men consume porn in large part because of the apparent effects of porn on women themselves. Porn allows men to give vent to their inherent hatred of women and fear of female sexuality. The men in this theory literally get off on oppressing women. This theory tends to go backwards, reading the effects back into the intention – many women feel uneasy about porn, so therefore that must be the main reason that porn exists.

    What these other explanations have in common is that they generally avoid talking about masturbation itself, except maybe as a distantly related substitute for in-person sex. Nowhere does wanking seem to be enjoyable for its own sake, but only to meet some deep emotional need going back to childhood or as a political statement or as a passive-aggressive assault on women.

    The odd thing about American society’s growing obsession with talking about porn is that we still maintain a taboo about discussing masturbation. This creates a really disjointed conversation, like trying to talk about funerals without talking about death. When a lot of people talk about “porn use,” what they’re really talking about is how they feel about masturbation. This makes for a very evasive discussion, even a dishonest discussion.

    I know sex/food comparisons are totally cliché, but they can be very illustrative. Let me try this one:

    A lot of men like cheeseburgers. We could talk about how some men are emotional eaters, so the burger provides a kind of substitute for love that they are not getting elsewhere. We could talk about how some men are food addicts, so the cheeseburger fuels a kind of addictive cycle. We could talk about how some men might eat a cheeseburger as an act of rebellion against people in their lives telling them to eat more healthily. Some men eat them because their food options are very limited. We could talk about how in American society traditional machismo extolls the masculine virtue of eating beef and denigrates fresh vegetables as “unmanly.” We could talk about industrial production of beef combined with mass marketing campaigns.

    But, are any of these the best explanation for the average man eating a cheeseburger? The basic fact to start with is that it’s enjoyable. He buys one with the expectation that it will add some enjoyment to his life.

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