25 cent peep shows: strange as they sound

By Jeff Groat
[lifestyle bureau chief]

If you’ve ever been walking to a bar on the south end of Granville Street downtown and seen that sex shop on the corner, you’re probably wondering what the hell a 25¢ peep show is. It’s as strange as you thought.

In certain seedy areas it’s nothing more than a booth which shows porno flicks for a meagre 25¢ shot. “What’s the big deal?” you say, “I can get porn for free off of the internet.” Yes, you sure can, and a whole variety of it too. But what your little old laptop can’t do is add the sense of taboo or danger that being in a public space does. You see, you pay, go into the booth and watch. Most people (“people” in this case is almost overwhelmingly men) like to service themselves while they watch, knowing that daily activity is going on outside their booth and in the streets outside, heightening the sense of excitement. Many places keep a strong contingent of disinfectant on-hand to aid in the cleanup. This I know, because if the booths weren’t cleaned up, they probably wouldn’t be so succesful now would they?

Some places are classy enough to have real women perform in said booths, behind a glass wall, or one-way mirrored window. Usually these places charge a little more than 25¢ per show, and the women depend upon the tips to make a substantial living.

These types of places get a lot of criticism for a number of reasons, but the arguments mostly take the stance that these women typically come from bad situations in life and are being exploited for their bodies.

They’re one step away from prostitution critics say, and many in fact, have been shown to be active prostitutes in their hours away from the booths. Many are exposed to hard drugs while working in the industry, and let’s not forget the fact that they are forced to dance and show off their bodies while (mostly) men whack-off onto the floor.

We live in a society that is already deeply concerned about female self-esteem and the ways in which women are objectified and demeaned. And there are some women who work in the industry that have paid their way through school and don’t think it’s that bad of a way to make a living. The concept that men would pay to watch naked women and whack-off is not a new one – men have been paying for sex for thousands of years. What is strange to me, is that our society constantly uses this to justify the exploitation of women who have problems, psychological or otherwise, and yet they don’t have many other options to make a living.

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