The Mirror thought this new story was as good a time as any for a list of other celebrities who claim to have received such offers. Myleene Klass was offered “some kind of sex contract” (which sounds like the name of a catchy single – just saying Myleene) by a newly married A-lister. At 19 Britney Spears was offered $7.5 million by an American businessman. The businessman went through the proper channels and contacted her record label Jive, but he was still turned down. Pamela Anderson appears to have struck a deal over a $250,000 kiss and found temporary love with Rick Salomon whilst Dynasty star Stephanie Beacham turned down $40,000 for a night of passion.
Being an equal opportunities kind of paper George Clooney and Taylor Lautner were cited as fellow indecent proposalees. However instead of cash Lautner was offered a glimpse of ‘Team Taylor’ knickers worn by a middle-aged woman and Clooney endured the humiliation of a gay Italian reporter professing his love for him.
Women offer themselves (via a pant-flash) but these men think it’s a case of ‘how much?’ and picking out the one with the waggly tail.
One would hope there was a sense of humour regarding the Team Taylor knickers, although that stunt was pulled by a middle-aged Twi-hard so who knows. It was hardly a power move. If male celebrities have been offered such things as a sex contract (seriously Myleene, think about that single idea) or cash for a night of passion – and I suspect some of them have - then they have kept schtum about it. Why? Because no matter what the bidding amount it’s made on the assumption you can be bought and, therefore, discarded.
Yet there is the faint whiff of the catcaller’s excuse when it comes to the female recipients of these offers, ‘they should be flattered’. Brick noted a change in her own attitude: “At first, I found such a label [blonde poppet] ghastly and patronising, but I defy any woman not to be secretly flattered by such accolades when they’re genuinely given as an appreciation of your femininity.” Secretly flattered or gradually worn down? Any woman has the right to reject voiced appreciation of their femininity. Just as Brick has the right to accept such terms as “blonde poppet”, who’s a good girl then, you are, you are!
Other than perpetuating the idea that women are objects to be bought and sold, it really is only the business of the women getting such offers. Just as Brick’s ideas about a happy marriage involving a husband looming over the weighing scales (which must not tip 10 ½ stone) and proffering bright purple dresses for her to squeeze in to are perfectly valid if that makes her happy.
The issues here are not about the health of Brick’s marriage or her thoughts on it, nor about the women having to employ extra security due to huge cheques being waved at them for a few hours of intimacy. What is more curious is why men don’t think their behaviour in these scenarios is particularly odd and, moreover, nor does the press. Beyond the odd opinion piece that takes the attitude of ‘men, what are you gonna do about them?’ to which the reading public happily shrug: ‘you tell me!’
Tony Parsons whinged to Grazia recently about the integrity of his genitalia to the rest of his body. If his partner comes home with a bigger payslip there’s every danger of it shrivelling and dropping to the ground in some sort of fiscally induced gangrenous trauma: “For if a man can’t be a breadwinner, then what exactly is the point of him?” Assuming this was hyperbole and we don’t have to treat the male genitalia like a dangling knee scab (don’t pick!) we can reject any medical issues and concentrate on flipping this round (the subject not the…scab). Tony Parsons is not accused of having Daddy issues because he has some desire to be the breadwinner; but if his partner wrote in Grazia about her desire to be looked after by a man the comments about her Daddy Issues would come spewing out of the bottom half of The Internet.
While I am often irked by attitudes and opinions being dismissed with a wave of the hand and the conclusion of ‘Daddy Issues’, I sometimes wonder if we hear enough about the Oedipus complex. Or rather: a capitalist Oedipus complex. A mummy, at a price. Because there’s no such thing as something for nothing. Everybody owes someone and this desire to be the breadwinner means mummy’s in debt.
Am I making you hideously uncomfortable? I’d counter this argument by agreeing not all men are like Parsons, Mrs. Brick’s husband or ‘Eccentric French Millionaire’ but many a relationship is tinged by similar attitudes. A breadwinner is owed, the hard work of the person staying at home somehow does not quite equal keeping up with the mortgage. As women climb the career ladder it’s important that we hike up the value of those people who earn less or keep house. A relationship needs to move on from a question of give and take to a gender neutral question of what needs doing. Until a woman’s body is no longer viewed as a commodity (or we give women the choice to commodify) in the home and outside various men will feel failures if they aren’t The Breadwinner (millions of penises shall drop to the ground, plop, plop, plop) and the potiche will continue a surely doomed reign.