I Like The Idea, But The Branding Needs Work

by CALICO RUDASILL on September 14, 2018

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Calico Rudasil is a feature columnist for Sssh.com, the award-winning porn site for women & couples. With over 18 years’ experience under her belt, writing about and for the adult entertainment industry, Calico qualifies as something of a Web Porn Dinosaur; similar to a tyrannosaurus, only with far more attractive arms and a less pronounced overbite.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but many times in my life, I’ve unfairly prejudged products, places and even people based on the way they were “marketed” to me, for lack of a better way of putting it.

For example, when I was a teenager, I had an opportunity to go see a performance of David Mamet’s Pulitzer-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross when it was still running on Broadway, but I turned up my nose at the chance, based on the way it had been described to me.

“A bunch of sad old salesmen sitting around in a room bitching about their jobs?” I thought to myself. “No thanks. Besides, what kind of dumbass name is ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’?”

Of course, when I saw the film version about 10 years later, I immediately realized the only dumbass was me.

As a twenty-something who aspired to write (and who struggled to write good dialogue) I didn’t just like the movie, I was in awe of it. The thoughts which ran through my head then, as the movie’s closing credits rolled, were entirely of the “What kind of idiot teenager was I?” variety.

Oh well – live and learn, right?

Don’t “Box” Me In

These days, I try to remind myself of that experience whenever my initial reaction to a recommendation someone gives me is decidedly negative.

“Slow down, Calico,” I caution myself. “Sure, the latest Adam Sandler movie probably sucks, but who knows? Maybe somewhere in there is the slapstick comedy equivalent of a ‘coffee’s for closers’ moment.”

I gave myself that reminder again just the other day, when I spotted an article about so-called “sex boxes” in Zurich.

Sex in the city: Zurich’s prostitution ‘sex boxes’ deemed success in Switzerland,” the headline read.

My initial reaction involved pursing my lips, raising my eyebrows and almost spitting the questions “Sex boxes?” out my mouth.

See what I mean about this awful prejudicial tendency of mine? I didn’t even know what the term meant and already I was poised to hate it. Why? I love sex — and certainly have nothing against boxes, objects in which some of my favorite possessions have arrived over the years.

As I read on, I realized I was merely falling prey to a negative branding association, once again.

“Each night, a beeline of cars forms on the way to a drive-in in this Swiss city’s Strichplatz area, but the customers are not lining up for fast food,” the article begins. “Rather, they are waiting for a service of another kind: to spend time with the prostitutes plying their trade in one of Zurich’s famous ‘sex boxes.’”

OK, I’ll admit, I’m not really feeling the sexy yet – but that could just be a reaction to the name “Strichplatz,” which sounds like some sort of dicey medical procedure which is preceded by the administration of a heavy-duty anesthetic.

This Makes So Much Sense, There’s No Way We’ll Ever Do It In The U.S.

I know a lot of people are reflexively opposed to prostitution – or any manner of sex work, for that matter. But to me, so long as everyone involved is an adult who is a willing participant and their safety and security are as assured as possible, I don’t see it as my place to say they shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

In fact, the more I read about the Strichplatz sex boxes, the more they sound like a pretty good way of handling an activity which has been around so damn long, people frequently refer to it as “the world’s oldest profession,” even if that characterization is debatable.

“To municipal authorities, this arrangement makes a lot of street sense. As the city noted on its website, the premises were intended to ‘improve the working conditions of sex workers – their health, physical and mental integrity,’” the USA Today article notes. “Five years later, these goals ‘have been achieved,’ (said) city spokesperson Nadeen Schuster.”

There are several other things to like about the Swiss approach to prostitution, as well. Prices are negotiated directly between the sex worker and the client (and there’s no mention of Swiss pimps, at all), sex workers must “register with public health authorities and undergo regular health checks” and there’s security staff present – but present in a way that respects the privacy of all involved.

“For privacy reasons, there are no security cameras, but each box is equipped with an alarm button that will summon guards in case of trouble,” the article reports, adding “There have not been any serious incidents so far.”

As I noted earlier, I know for a lot of folks legalized prostitution is a very tough sell. They find it inherently demeaning to the people involved, or simply chafe at the moral outrage of it all.

Look at this way, though: If it’s going to take place anyway (and clearly, it is), doesn’t it make sense to keep it above board, provide as much safety as we can, and generally reduce the most problematic aspects of sex work as much as possible?

That said, we really do need to come up with a better term than “sex box.” (“Strichplatz,” on the other hand, is kinda growing on me.)

Calico Rudasil is a Sssh.com (@ssshforwomen) columnist and Sssh will be on Peeperz for fun times again in the near future, meanwhile why not check us out:

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