Selling looks and selling sex

I saw this story about a man who has come to believe that he must be the ugliest man in the world — because he has had 5,000 marriage proposals rejected (via Digg).

I don’t think Emil Kacic is ugliest man in the world. He is certainly not as ugly as some of the people of Newcastle. But is Emil Kacic the least self-aware man in the world? The most socially inept man in the world? Possibly.

I found another story with a bit more information (warning: contains some NSFW images). My Romanian is not too hot, but I reckon it says he has been looking for 30 years. This means that the average length of time he has known each woman before proposing is 2.19 days. No wonder he is getting rejected!

I’ve got to the point where I have even been asking women I am meeting in the streets to marry me, but they always say no.

What a shock! You know, I think if a stranger came up to me and asked me to marry them, I might do a bit more than just say no.

The thing is that when somebody proposes in this manner they are sending a whole variety of signals. He is desperate and rude. The fact that he is 49 years old and has still never married, despite clearly wishing he had, itself provides enough information to anyone who has the question popped in their face. Emil Kacic is a lemon.

It reminded me of another example of somebody approaching relationships in a controversial way. This also hit the internet big time a couple of months back. The “spectacularly beautiful” woman who placed an ad on Craigslist outlining her exasperation that she was failing to date anyone who earned more than $250,000. (Yeah, my heart bleeds.)

The most incredible bit of her ad is the paragraph where she points out that some rich people marry — gasp — plain-looking women!

Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the Upper East Side so plain? I’ve seen really “plain Jane” boring types who have nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I’ve seen drop dead gorgeous girls in singles bars in the East Village. What’s the story there?

Both the gold-digging Craigslist advertiser and Emil Kacic are making the same mistake. Both assume that looks alone are good enough. Mr Kacic reckoned that, as long as he was not abnormally ugly, all he would need to do was ask enough people and he would eventually marry. The Craigslist gold-digger (not a nice name, I know, but I don’t have her real name so it will have to do) also implies that the only possible justifiable reason why a man would want to marry someone would be if they were good looking.

For sure, looks must count to a degree. You would be lying if you said otherwise. But it could never be the sole factor, or even the main factor, when making the decision to marry. The reason comes from one of the respondents on Craigslist:

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a crappy business deal. Here’s why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party, and I bring my money. Fine, simple. But here’s the rub — your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity … in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won’t be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms, you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset…

In case you think I’m being cruel, I would say the following: if my money were to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It’s as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

What I find interesting is something that is kind of skirted around by most people. What the Craigslist gold-digger is doing is little more than a subtle form of prostitution. Yet while the Craigslist gold-digger might attract a few eye-rolls and tsk-tsks, you won’t find her being fined or thrown in the slammer.

In this sense, masses of people sell sex. Countless relationships along the lines of what the Craigslist gold-digger was seeking must be forged. How about also actors who film sex scenes, models, those people on Babestation-style programmes, Page 3 girls, strippers, porn stars, brothel workers, street prostitutes?

My guess would be that many people find some of the activities at the end of that list more unacceptable, but some at the beginning of the list relatively innocuous. But they are all essentially activities that involve people selling their bodies for money.

Perhaps the biggest difference with the later items in the list (besides the case of street prostitution, which happens in a public place and with women in a particularly vulnerable situation) is the socio-economic status of the people involved. Is there a bit of snobbery that comes into play?

It strikes me that selling sex, in its various forms, is a reality of life. And since prostitutes are in an especially dangerous position I would have thought it would be wiser to be trying to help them more rather than increasingly criminalising (and thereby making even more dangerous) their particular brand of this common activity. In a sense, they are being penalised for calling a spade a spade.

4 comments

  1. You know, I think if a stranger came up to me and asked me to marry them, I might do a bit more than just say no.

    Would you marry me, Duncan?

  2. 2.19 days ! Better that someone I once met many years ago. He asked me to dance; I didn’t want to but couldn’t be cruel enough to say so. Afer trying to make conversation for about two minutes he said,”how about getting engaged” I was rude enough to turn him down and refuse the next time he approach to dance.