I have an idea. A cure, if you so will, for the common misconception. You’d have to come visit me in Frankfurt, Germany, but it’ll be worth it.
You see, for years now I have been reading these brotastic little rants against comfort zones. The assertions that “this makes me uncomfortable” is just a whiny assault by some womenfolk to keep the man (or, as it be, “boy” might be a little closer to the maturity level involved) down. All those “men’s rights” blogs and, sadly, some of the Facebook streams of guys I consider at least acquaintances, have those rants. How “hey cutie” doesn’t hurt. Or a compliment, a light touch, isn’t so bad and it’s all just whining.
But, alas, as I said, I have the cure. Come visit me in Frankfurt. We’ll go downtown, exit the subway at the train station, and head north. Up Taunusstrasse, the area best known as “Europe’s biggest Red Light District”. We’ll go walk. The houses here are called “Laufhäuser”, “walk houses” because they’re essentially multi-storey one-room hotels. Up the stairs, into a hallway of sorts, six to twenty rooms. Each occupied by a working girl. Prices here go from around $15 (middle of the week, upper floors) to $280 (weekends, lower floors) for the “usual”. And the “usual” they sell. Some will hoot and holler, “hey cutie” or something to that effect. Some will whistle, wink, or flash. And some, the desperate or brave ones, will touch you, try to pull you close.
All this happens for one reason, and one reason only: Sex. Quick, anonymous, no strings attached, sex.
As the average American boy or man I guarantee you, you’ll feel uncomfortable. You’re not in control, you will be the rag doll, the pinball, bouncing from trying to avoid one grasping hand to trying to not make eye contact with someone else, lest you signal interest and will be followed by her down the hallway, hootin’ and hollerin’.
A long time ago, more than a century back, these houses were hotels which, through slow migration, became brothels. Today’s red light walking houses are designed to corner you, designed to bring you, the quarry, close to the girl, which, as one of roughly 1,000 working every day (~3,000 on weekends) around Frankfurt, competes for your attention. An attention you, likely, do not want to give, fake affection you do not want to acknowledge or return.
We can leave. We can head down Moselstrasse and disappear into the night, leaving barkers who try to pull you into strip clubs (“hey, hey, you, one question…”), prostitutes with bad teeth and track marks on their arms who offer you their services, and shady guys, behind. We can have a drink and laugh about the weirdness, the discomfort.
But for the women whose discomfort you challenge as fake or exaggerated, for the girls who grow up being hooted and hollered at, being propositioned, being complimented shallowly in the pursuit of sex, for them there is no Moselstrasse. That’s what being a girl is like, from early on in life to late. Don’t be the hooker. Don’t hoot, holler, touch, pull, proposition, or use any of those idiotic pickup lines. You’re better than that. Your counterpart is better than that. And, most of all, you’re not a red light hooker.
[ If my depiction of sex workers in this piece offends you, please have a look at Walkers where I explain my stance and the realities in Frankfurt ]