WEIGHT: 61 kg
Services: Striptease, Role playing, Trampling, Disabled Clients, Food Sex
It was a Wednesday, and I headed out to a bar. Other than a woman serving, everyone else there was male. Some were playing pool. Some were drinking, but most were doing neither. I asked the bargirl why there were no women in the place. And yet, by Saturday morning, much of the cash has been transferred to bar owners, prostitutes, girlfriends, and wives.
A privileged observer might suggest that women in such a town ought to be liberated to earn their own money. But the point is that they already are. The total value of the sex trade could be said to be the value of the net transfer of wealth from men to women.
How can we begin to value an industry this big, ancient, and diverse, especially when much of it—probably most of it—is undocumented and untaxed? During another African trip—this time to Bamako in Mali—I asked a young man whether he had a girlfriend.
He told me that the girls back home in his village were friendly and open, but the big-city Bamako girls had higher expectations. So, naturally, buying a moped became a priority for any aspiring young Malian. For a man there, a moped means sex as well as transport.
These anecdotes point towards the difficulty involved in calculating the extent of the sex trade. What is this transfer of value worth? Now consider how many similar transfers of wealth take place. Of course, flowers are bought by many people for all sorts of reasons, but many are bought romantically by men for their female partners, or for courtship.