Loser

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I caught a few minutes of an oldish movie called Loser (Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari) over the weekend. It’s not really my kind of movie, but I remember renting it a few years ago because the director is one of the few reknowned female directors out there: Amy Heckerling. It’s mostly a feelgood movie about a boy and girl in college, each with financial problems, who come together gradually and fall in love. But at least it goes deep enough to show some of the real nastiness kids often have to cope with during those years.

Something jumped out at me with this viewing. While the boy on a scholarship struggles to find a cheap place to live, the girl (Dora) has lost her job as a cocktail waitress. She can’t get financial aid without an apartment, and she can’t get an apartment without substantial income, so she goes looking for other jobs that capitalize on her looks and sexuality, because those types of jobs pay better. She eventually plans to sell her eggs, but is rescued from this mildly dangerous procedure by the boy; and the epilog assures us the boy now enjoys “first dibs” on said eggs.

Do we really need more reinforcement of the idea that the only way a woman can earn a living on her own is by selling sex on some level?

Comments

  1. Glaivester says

    Do we really need more reinforcement of the idea that the only way a woman can earn a living on her own is by selling sex on some level?

    Actually, in context this seems pretty realistic. This girl is supposed to be what? 20 years old? Hasn’t completed college yet? Realistically, selling sex is likely the least time-consuming and most lucrative way to make a living for her.

    If she were a thirty-year-old with a bachelor’s degree in business, tha would be a bit different.

    Moreover, the reason why we see this more with women than with men is more due to demand than supply (in terms of sex; in terms of selling one’s gametes, women make more for the reason that it is more difficult and invasive for them to donate ova than for men to donate sperm). If there were a lot of women out there looking for a young man to have sex with and willing to pay for it, I’m sure there would be a lot of takers.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Actually, in context this seems pretty realistic. This girl is supposed to be what? 20 years old? Hasn’t completed college yet? Realistically, selling sex is likely the least time-consuming and most lucrative way to make a living for her.

    I didn’t ask if it was realistic. I asked about message reinforcement. Selling drugs would be pretty realistic for the boy in the movie. But goodness, we can’t reinforce the message that drugs are lucrative and some people benefit from the trade! But we can reinforce the message that girls need only be valued for their sexuality.

    If there were a lot of women out there looking for a young man to have sex with and willing to pay for it, I’m sure there would be a lot of takers.

    I very seriously doubt it. In a sexual transaction, the one who receives the sex is psychologically viewed as the one in charge. I don’t think most men would give up being in charge just to get laid.

    May I ask why you almost always state your opinions as fact, rather than saying “I think” or “I believe”?

  3. Glaivester says

    May I ask why you almost always state your opinions as fact, rather than saying “I think” or “I believe”?

    Simplicity, I guess. I will try to be a little more humble about my ideas in the future though, because I do realize that I can be wrong about things (and probably am wrong a lot more than I’d like to admit).

    I very seriously doubt it. In a sexual transaction, the one who receives the sex is psychologically viewed as the one in charge. I don’t think most men would give up being in charge just to get laid.

    And cash, don’t forget the cash.

  4. scarlett says

    I had a friend who worked as a skimpy (barmaid in bra and g-string; she got more to take the bra off/flash ppl). She could have done regular barwork, or waitressing, or nightfill, which paid less and had more anti-social hours, but infinitely better for the self-esteem and paid enough to get by (the Aus min wage is $A15 permanant $A17 casual) if she’d been willing to put in the hours. She wasn’t. She considered it empowering that she could do a four-hour shift and walk away with as much as $200, most of it off the books so she didn’t _have_ to pay tax on it.
    And yet – after a year, she had nothing to show for it, except in that year, she’d been able to buy whatever she wanted. Oh, and she had the most terible self-esteem which she hasn’t recovered from, and has developed an inability to see many in any terms other then what they can give her materially.

  5. scarlett says

    Damn, there’s no edit button…
    OK, the point I was making was that it annoys me when TV shows and movies act like there’s no alternative for a woman to make a bit of money then to sell sex on some level – that’s rubbish. And it annoys me when said TV shows and movies have the woma nrescued at the end of it (Pretty Woman is another example) and have the woman suffer no emotional consequences of being exposed to such a scene. From what I can gather, working as strippers, skimpys, prostitutes etc can do incredible damage to a woman’s ability to interact with men – they’ve seen them at their worst (and little of their best) and judge men by that standard.
    I’d like to see storylines where women struggle to be friends with men, struggle to have any kind of relationship with men where sex and money aren’t the main currency.

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    I still don’t think the cash would persuade. No matter what a prostitute earns, her earnings are still considered shameful. In some circles a pimp can hold his head high, but never the hooker.

    That would all have to be redefined before men would subject themselves to trading sex for money, I expect.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a gender who wears those short pants that hang off the hips and down below the crotch like giant diapers is immune to shame. :D

  7. SunlessNick says

    Either that or survive/escape from such a life by their own efforts and on their own terms, rather than being saved from it.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    What exactly have you never seen happen in real life? I’ve escaped some pretty hellish things in my own life, with no help from any man (though I must credit my mother on more than one occasion).

  9. scarlett says

    I really don’t know what I meant to say there, but my sentiment was that it annoys me when I see storylines where the woman goes through some pretty harsh experiences only to be ‘saved’ by the man and sail off into the sunset with him, with no consequences to her self-esteem, sexuality, relationships with men etc.
    Oh, now I remember what I meant! Basically that I’ve never seen it happen in real life that a person, male or female, can walk away from a harsh experience to live happily ever after and never be affected by it again. I haven’t seen Loser, but Pretty Woman and storylines like it annoy me because it said to me ‘and she was never haunted by the darker side of human nature she had witnessed ever again, now that she had been saved by a man’.

  10. SunlessNick says

    Basically that I’ve never seen it happen in real life that a person, male or female, can walk away from a harsh experience to live happily ever after and never be affected by it again.

    I meant a character surviving though their own resourcefulness, not surviving without scars or consequences.

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