Step Right Up, and Lose Your Dignity: On Buying a Date
The other day, I was watching television, when my eyes were accosted by an ad for whatsyourprice.com. It is, for the love of all that is holy, a dating site in which “generous” people bid on dates with “beautiful” people. So, that narrows it down. Because if you’re cheap and ugly, you’re out of luck.
…seriously, WHAT? Go ahead and take a look at that site. Prepare for your IQ to drop at least twenty points, your blood pressure to skyrocket, and your sense of indignation to hit its zenith. Basically, how it works is you upload a profile, a person bids on a first date, and you accept it. I suppose if you are one of the generous folks, you troll for a date, place a bid and wait.
Because nothing says HEALTH RELATIONSHIP like having to PAY FOR IT. And, ladies, if you’re worried about a Date Fail, fear not! The About section quells your terrors, “Even if your date turns out to be a dud, you will be compensated for your time.” Essentially, you are a HOOKER. So, haul out your Vivian boots, slap on a blonde wig, and get thee to the Regent Beverly Wilshire.
First of all, this just makes me sad. It says terrible things about self-worth on all sides. It commodifies beauty in a strange, insulting way. This also implies that there is less of an emphasis on the appearance of a “generous” person, because he/s she has money. So, it doesn’t matter if your personality is wretched, as long as you’ve got a big wallet or a pretty face.
The website also has a section for testimonials, where you can read what “real people are saying.” Thanks for clarifying that, because I was TOTALLY thinking that there would be a testimonial section for robots, chairs, and mannequins. (Which makes sense, because this feels like a messed up episode of the Twilight Zone. Eye of the Beholder on CRACK.) In the section, the word “gentleman” was thrown around a lot, to the point where I am certain it did not mean what they thought it meant. One woman talks about how her date paid her $200, flew her to the state in which he lived, and paid for a hotel room. This is a stranger, flying you around. A person you do not know. Guys, this is how a bad Lifetime movie starts, where a girl gets murdered and everyone talks about how the guy was such a sweet GENTLEMAN, you never would’ve suspected he secretly ate BABIES. This kind of thing is romanticized stupidity. The thing your mother warns you about. This is getting into a van with a stranger to help him find his lost puppy. And puppy is a euphemism.
The site advises the users to pay half of the agreed upon amount up front and half after the date. Because nothing says CLASSY like trying ensure that your date doesn’t dine and dash! Also, CASH is KING (their phrasing – I shit you not!), and one is advised not to accept personal checks. Maybe because this is tantamount to prostitution and that’s illegal, except at the Bunny Ranch.
Lastly, the website boasts that it isn’t a new concept by any means, implying that it is merely incentive dating. (Anyone want a biscuit? Sit. Stay. Roll over.) The site wants you to think that this is totally awesome, even wholesome, because hey! It’s just like a charity auction: This isn’t a new concept, celebrities and firemen have been participating in dating auctions for decades. The only difference here is that the money isn’t going to charity.” But, um, isn’t the charity party the whole redeeming aspect? Otherwise, you are a hooker. GUYS. LADIES. WHAT THE HELL?
Going on a dating site is one thing. BIDDING ON WOMEN IS DIFFERENT. I would be just as livid if the reverse was true: if “generous” (read: rich) women were bidding on hot guys? It is still outrageous. And not in a good, Jem and the Holograms kind of way. People aren’t meant to be purchased. We are not cows. We are not slaves. And sure, signing up is voluntary. It’s not as if you’re being forced, but I cannot imagine a justifiable reason to do this. You go on a date with someone to enjoy their company, to get to know them – NOT to earn extra pocket cash and get a free meal. That’s not dating. That’s Hot Girl ebay. And it is a WORLD of NO.
To answer the question, “What’s your price?” Honey, you couldn’t fucking afford me.