Men are addicts-this is an addiction

09Aug10

A follow up to my post from earlier.

The title of this post is a quote from a Rio sex-worker in a Guardian news report.

Outside, an autumn chill descended on Vila Mimosa’s main street ā€“ Rua Sotero dos Reis ā€“ and rain hammered down onto a sign promising “streeptease”. Inside, hundreds of drunken men packed this sprawling warren of brothels and bars for another evening of shouted conversations and fleeting encounters with the 3,500 or so local prostitutes.

But the rowdy 24-hour parties that have made this labyrinth of excess notorious across Brazil may soon fall silent, as Rio de Janeiro prepares for a multi-billion dollar facelift in the run up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Read the full article here. I really don’t know what to make of it…these women see prostitution as the only viable means of survival and they’re going to be driven away. Is this all about making sexual inequality and violence invisible so that Rio may appear ‘respectable’? Probably. What I can’t get my head around though is the tone of the Guardian’s report. The language is of workers, clients and guests- no amount of inverted commas can alter the tone is as if they reporting on just another threatened industry. Is this story relating genuine concern or is it just a bit of excitement? I genuinely can’t tell.

One thing is for sure, this is more or less the same strategy being deployed in the UK in the run up to the Olympic Games and it is being motivated by that very same reason- the Olympics. Of course Rio is a city that has massive poverty inequalities as well…once again, the class division is seen as simultaneously a sex division. While the revellers flock to the Olympics the women and their families will be the ones who suffer. In a world where sex-work is seen as just another industry this is nothing more than a hostile take-over.

There is also something worrying about the young woman’s noting that sex is a male addiction. Addiction makes it sound as if the men who go to these women are just desperate victims of something beyond their control, that their desire is so profound that they can act no other way and thereby relieving them of any responsibility. At the same time, if these men are addicts then the women are merely the drugs…the palliative that makes them feel better. As one of the women quoted says “we will make your marriage better”. Its as if these women have internalised the idea that they provide a vital social function, relieving stresses and making things run more smoothly. This functional analysis of their own place in society risks completely occluding the exploitation that they are subjected to. At the same time I can’t imagine to speak for these or any other women… its quite possible, after all, that the Guardian has cherry-picked these quotes to make these women sound like dynamic and go-getting entrepreneurs. Capitalist realism strikes again- nothing may be framed outside its discourse.

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One Response to “Men are addicts-this is an addiction”


  1. 1 Mental Disorders 101

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