I got a call last week from a producer of a huge daytime talk show, hosted by a celebrity and all. They wanted to know if I had ever been on TV before because they’d like me to appear in an upcoming episode they were putting together. I got all excited and then remembered I never asked, “What’s the show going to be about?”
“Oh!,” the producer responded, “It’s going to be about a legal Nevada prostitute who claims she’s providing a real, high-quality level of intimacy for men with her companionship, because their wives or girlfriends aren’t doing that for the men…”
The producer heard my little gasp on the other end of the line and empathetically added, “I think it’s terrible, personally. I cannot even believe the success this prostitute has had with her article. But it did get circulated widely on the internet, so we’d like to jump in on some of that activity, show both sides of that story…”
Both sides? Like a court case in which we can’t move forward until a decision on who’s right is reached? I know, I know…I’m being overly sensitive; the producer was just doing her job.
I interrupted her again with more questions. “Were you intending to put us together on the same stage at the same time?”
“Yes…that’s what we want to do-—have celebrity X appear in the middle between you, asking you both questions as well as inviting the live audience to participate.”
“Hmm…I don’t think so. That’s not a good idea for me.”
“Oh why not? It would be great!” Yeah. I know it would be good for the show’s ratings, but not so great for PoSAs (Partners of Sex Addicts) if it turns into a verbally dynamic conversation. Which has been my past experience with media. Everyone wants a story if it involves sex, intrigue, and betrayal… because they sell. But even when I’ve been assured the media company ‘had my back’, the opposite was true, so now I’m understandably nervous, I think.
Finally I replied with, “The only way I would even consider it, is if you bisect the show into two parts- first the host can interview the prostitute. Then in the next segment, they can interview me after the prostitute has left the stage.”
The producer didn’t like that suggestion. Right. It doesn’t create enough ‘tension’, I guess. Because my primary goal is to ensure some dignity for PoSAs everywhere who are in a nightmare because of their partner’s sexual acting out with prostitutes, I declined the offer.
Next the producer asked me if I could recommend other women for the show who had experience in being “on the other side of this issue.” Issue? What issue would that be?
The issue the other “side” will have is the lie that we women in committed partnerships are doing a lousy job of providing intimacy as being the reason that the prostitute’s business is booming. The prostitute actually bragged about that in her article, which I read later. I shouldn’t have read it because it deeply offended me as a PoSA, especially when I learned that she is a big advocate for legalization of prostitution in the U.S. and all the rights that would confer on prostitutes.
But then again, did I really expect not to be triggered by a woman who’s so disingenuous as to insist on euphemistically calling herself a professional courtesan, not a prostitute?
At PoSARC, we work with partners every day whose lives are wrecked because they’re being gaslighted, given STD’s and are suffering heartbreak due to their partner’s infidelities. And tragically, ironically, I seem to work with almost exclusively PoSAs where the sex addict withholds sex from them. So…the claim that we’re slacking off in the intimacy department deposited me somewhere between enraged and thinking how ludicrous it all was. Wonder, if I’d agreed to be on the show, which of my two outraged sides would have shown up- the feminist side or the PoSA side? Hmm.
I wished the producer luck with finding women who would go on national television talking about their sexually compulsive husbands or boyfriends (or ex’s, for that matter).
The producer assured me there was a cadre of attorneys that would protect any woman I would send in. I had to explain it’s not about legalities. It’s about ethics. It’s about us protecting ourselves from further hurt by those who exploit themselves to make money and then try to paint us as 1950s housewives, hopelessly stuck in dreamland, wishing our husbands would be monogamous. Participating in that isn’t my idea of a good time or an example of good activism, either.
“Oh, right. Sensitive topic. Well…I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find a few women who don’t mind talking about their experiences.”
“I wish you luck with that,” I said to the producer and finished up the call. On the one hand, I was glad someone wanted to cover this issue, but I felt sure it would end up being sensationalized.
When I called Terre and told her, she said, “If you even think about allowing some TV show to twist and distort our stories into some juicy daytime talk show, I will personally get on a plane and lock you in a closet! We’ve all been hurt enough and I won’t allow you to put yourself in harm’s way like that. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for other PoSAs to risk being misrepresented and made fun of, in a show’s quest for a salacious episode. OK?”
I love Terre; she’s most definitely the protective big sister I always wished I had. Not to mention a fierce champion of women’s dignity. Thanks, Terre!
That a show wants to posit that there might be a balance possible here doesn’t surprise me, but it does anger and sadden me.
Is it just my observation, or are we as a people slipping lower and lower into raunch culture? Attempts to blur the line between two “sides” that will never be reconciled (nor should they be) sensationalizes and minimizes what anyone involved with a sex addict/ compulsive has had to live through.
What do you think?