Germany might be more open about nudity (nude parks), gender (third gender on birth certs) and sex work (it’s legalised) than Britain, but a company hiring escorts and throwing its top salesmen a sex party is still a scandal over there. In fact, the event is now being investigated – I kid you not – by the company’s present owners. Two sex workers told the press that corporate sex parties aren’t that rare, and no doubt that revelation will send shockwaves through those sectors of society which weren’t already in the know. But the media are missing the real scandal here.
According to reports the party was a reward for top salesmen. Think about it. Why were only male employees present at the party? That’s a little odd, right? Either female staff don’t get promoted, female staff don’t often get hired, female staffs’ achievements are not rewarded, or office parties are segregated along gender lines. And going by the sex workers’ descriptions, most or all corporate parties are men-only, and the sex workers hired are always female. This suggests that not only are female employees excluded, but also that no provision is made for gay or bisexual male staff. Sure, most sex workers are female (at least in most countries). But male, transgender and non-binary sex workers exist. They could’ve been hired for the gay and bisexual men and for the heterosexual women who worked for the companies. Even if there was not a single male escort to be found when all of these companies held their parties, female employees who liked women could have been rewarded too. Even if all their female staff were straight, why couldn’t they be allowed to enjoy the party along with their male colleagues, some of whom chose not to buy any sexual services?
The media has sensationalised the story purely because the sex was paid. If these men had simply gone off to have a bit of fun with female colleagues or even hostesses, it wouldn’t be a story. The fact that corporate “sex parties” (i.e. parties at which escorts are present) exist is no scandal, as there’s no indication that the company coerced its employees into doing things they didn’t want to. Nor is there any suggestion that the escorts coerced the company staff, or that they were sexually assaulted by the staff. Sure, the companies have ulterior motives for doing this. Getting people who work for you to share experiences and secrets as a group is very beneficial if you want them to bond and stay with your firm. (There is the risk of blurring hierarchies, but that’s probably what the Designated Escort Scheme was meant to counteract.) But the employees weren’t coerced or manipulated into doing anything. They weren’t shoved into a bedroom with a sex worker; the sex workers were simply there offering services and it was up to the employees to agree and go into another room.
The real scandals- that the escorts were distinguished by coloured bands and the more desirable ones designated for bosses, that female employees are not rewarded, and that company parties are segregated- have been ignored. It was sex workers who raised some of these questions when they were interviewed. These are the real issues, the real scandals, the real questions that the German public need answers to.
Are female employees not rewarded because they’re ignored by their employers? Or is it because they are passed over for promotion or never hired in the first place? Or are female employees rewarded some other way, because women buying sex makes employers uncomfortable- or perhaps because women are just assumed not to want sex? Maybe female staff get a party too, but it’s escort-less. Or maybe they get vacuum cleaners or pretty embroidered aprons instead. Or maybe they get nothing.
This story is indeed a scandal. But it should be recognised for what it really is: the scandal of how queer and female staff are still overlooked or treated differently by employers.