Men around New Zealand are advertising accommodation at reduced rates — or for free — in exchange for sex acts. An investigation into the sex-for-rent market found these landlords had profound loneliness in common and had given up on more traditional ways of meeting women.
The advertisements were posted on US-based website Craigslist; Stuff responded to seven of them under the guise of a wannabe flatmate. Most who replied said I was not the first to inquire. Their recurring view of an ideal candidate was a "young and dumb" and broke woman.
Psychologists and academics familiar with fringe intimacy — men who buy sex from prostitutes or via sugar datingfor instance — agree the sex-for-rent phenomenon rings alarm bells. Professor Jan Jordan, a criminologist specialising in gender and crime at Victoria University of Wellington, says combining a socially isolated male with a financially struggling female was "dangerous for both parties" but especially for the woman. amanda.
Police confirmed they have investigated multiple cases of sex-for-rent gone awry. Detective inspector Dave Kirby of the adult sexual assault team says while it was not a common complaint, sexual violence in general was "hugely under-reported". She believed many more kept silent, as "they would blame themselves for ing up for it in some way".
The person knows where you live. In that situation you don't have a place to go.
Six different online for sex-for-rent rooms in Auckland and Christchurch have been up on Craigslist over the past week. New pop up every fortnight or so, most in notoriously unaffordable Auckland.
All sex-for-rent on Craigslist appear to be posted by men and while most seek women, a handful seek males. A recent ad requested "a female and not too old".
Another, offering "free rent in exchange for bedroom fun", stipulated applicants not be "narrow minded or fridgid [sic]". One man said over that he sought "a live-in girlfriend at least pretend " for his one bedroom hotel suite.
An ad-poster whom we will call Tyler was in his mids and on the lookout for "promo model types … preferably students or travellers looking to save money for new shoes" to share his Auckland home. He described himself as a "chill" guy who loved parties, good company, and dining out. Tyler tweaked the wording of his ad every few days.
At first he had an age limit of 24, but he dropped it to What he wanted in exchange for a room was not made clear; in our conversations he said he was open to negotiation. Photos he ed showed an aging bungalow with mink blankets piled on single beds and a threadbare lounge suite in the living room.
He said the house was owned by his mum. There would have been a bigger discount if he'd been allowed to watch, but what he'd really like was more sado-masochistic. Over the phone, Tyler explained how he wanted whomever took him up on his offer to bring home a stream of burly men who "could, like fend me off while you guys were having sex, or punish me for trying to in".
He said he liked the idea of choosing male suitors together during "drunk Tinder sessions". If Tyler went a few hours without a reply, he sent a flurry of messages. It's so boring!
I met Tyler in a well-lit cafe — he neither paid me nor paid for the coffee — one afternoon. In person he was visibly jumpy. He would not make eye contact, said he suffered frequent anxiety attacks, and that when he'd written about enjoying parties he really meant he hoped his new flatmate would organise orgies as he didn't have any friends. After almost two hours of talking, he leaned in and asked if he could grab my leg.
I said no. His eyes filled with tears, and he scurried out of the cafe without saying goodbye. Later that afternoon he ed to apologise if he'd seemed "a bit stroppy" — and said that "being friendzoned [sic] is kind of hot anyway".
I didn't reply immediately and the s began again:. Then, "Come on I need friends".
Tyler reiterated how he'd "love to have [oral sex] every second day at least", underlining 'at least' and specifying exactly how he'd like it performed. His leaps in mood highlighted another risk: that women have scant idea what a man offering a bed in exchange for sex is really like, especially if he curates an idealised facade — like Tyler's cruisy persona in his — to begin with.
Dr Pani Farvid is a senior lecturer in psychology at AUT and says Tyler's character struck her as similar to many regular buyers of sex: intensely socially awkward men "seeking to redress that lack of intimate contact with women". on Craigslist from six months ago included one seeking a woman for just a few nights.
No trouble maker please.
No drugs or bad things," it read. Not all sex-for-rent required "boom boom", as an Auckland man in his 40s put it. He explained how he wanted to share a room with someone non-judgmental and watch transgender pornography together. A man offering free accommodation more recently was a taxi driver in his mids whom we will call Frank.
Dr Farvid said based on my phone conversation with Frank, he was "reminiscent of the whole 'incel' type".
Incel means 'involuntary celibate'. Incels believe having sex is their right and hate women for apparently withholding it from them. They tend to be socially isolated and generally disgruntled. Frank lives in Christchurch and to the "open minded not narrow minded or fridgid [sic]" woman offers a king single bed, TV, and wardrobe. Within an hour of my firsthe sent an unsolicited but not entirely unexpected photo of his penis.
He doesn't need a paying flatmate as he lives in his dead parents' house. Over the phone Frank expands on his ideal candidate: "Young.
Big tits. Not fat, out of shape, or ugly".
When I'm horny I'll just let you know. And if you like sex too, well that's even better. After two years without a girlfriend — he claims his last one punched his sister, took out a restraining order against him, then allegedly became a prostitute — and no luck on dating sites, Frank turned to Craigslist. Frank paints an idyllic picture of his house.
You'll wake up to birdsong, and semi-tame hedgehogs roam the garden at night, he promises.
He's re-vinyled the kitchen and it's handy to the bus station. No one ever visits and asked if he has hobbies, Frank can't think of any.
He does love his elderly cat and enjoy the odd documentary, though says he doesn't watch a lot of TV "because a lot of it's crap". In the 35 minutes we speak, he calls 14 other things either "crap" or "bulls…" — a grievance every two and a half minutes, on average.
Items include the Australian Outback, "New Zealand girls", interest he earns from investments, and the length of time it takes to fly to Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is Frank's favourite place because, he believes, "the guys are in charge and the girls do as they're told".
He elaborates: "I'm not ugly and I can't get a girl in New Zealand, but in Asia white guys who are in their 50s, even 60s — they're fat, ugly, got the plumber's crack happening and the wife basher's shirt — are walking around with a little honey under each arm. Rules for flatmates are few at Frank's place, he says.
Apart from the obligatory sex, applicants must not have men stay over. Both Frank and Tyler displayed a neediness during our limited interactions. That was symptomatic of their social isolation, says McPhillips, and something the intimacy of living together could exacerbate.
McPhillips says while people tend to think they can divorce sex from attachment, hormonal reactions to orgasm make that difficult and can lead to undue fixation. But it's not what this transaction was meant to be and if it develops in the context of control and deprivation, it's a problem. Professor Jordan agrees, and says while paying rent with sex might seem a clear-cut solution on the surface, she believes it's really a complex "indictment on society".
The sex-for-rent market highlights two problems in New Zealand, say the experts. One, that being poor drives women to use their bodies as currency, to perhaps agree to sex acts they wouldn't otherwise — undermining the concept of consent. And two, there's too much pressure on men to live up to the masculine stereotype of scoring women on the regular. Certain men, often buyers of sex, incels, and the socially isolated, have "a desperation underneath", says Jordan. McPhillips says that while paying for rent with sex is intrinsically dangerous for women, it could look like "the best compromise for somebody who viewed sex as a compartmentalised part of their life" and couldn't afford somewhere to live.
The transaction cost, however, may be far higher than they bargained for. Sex for rent: adverts placing women at risk as dark side of housing crisis exposed.
Amanda SaxtonFeb 17 Experts say women entering sex-for-rent agreements face a power imbalance that can lead to far riskier situations than they bargained for file photo. ZIP: 73533 73055 73534