Episode 5: Being in a negotiated relationship
Should men pay for sex? We chat to Cathy, a 59 year old courtesan
This week’s Sex Advice for Seniors is the first part of an interview with someone from the United States who has decided that all relationships after a certain age should become “negotiated".
As you will hear, what does essentially means for her is that the vulnerability that women experience in relationships – both financially and emotionally – implies that there has to be a contractual basis for everything that happens within that relationship. To many, the position Cathy puts forward may seem very coldhearted and leave no space for emotional connection beyond the contract.
However, one could argue that this is an old position which goes back to at least the 19th century, in which the social conditions for the reproduction of capital were addressed. This means that the labour and commitment that women are traditionally expected to put into a relationship are, in fact, entirely rational and can be reduced to a transaction between families.
Modernity has merely created a fantasy narrative around this transaction involving white weddings and eternal love and "the one”, in which a prince on a white horse will sweep you off your feet to carry you away to a life of pure love. Cathy argues that the truth is far more prosaic and that often the prince turns out to have far more obvious motivations. If both sides of the relationship are satisfied, then this contractual arrangement must be explicit.
This may seem like a very American perspective in which many things that we take for granted in Europe (such as socialised healthcare, et cetera) are reduced to a cost-benefit analysis.
Cathy is not saying that there is no such thing as love, but that you had better be pretty aware of what is going on when the first flush of being together has dissipated, and you are left doing all the washing up as all of the putting out.
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