Thursday, February 9, 2012

Occam's Hooker: Or "How Can I Tell if I'm Living Next Door to a Brothel"

disclaimer: I have no idea whether the "Hotel Femme" is, in fact, a brothel. For the sake of its continued business let us assume it is merely "Baroque."
Dear Fleur Flaneur,
I live in a beautiful district in Old Tbilisi. The buildings are historic; the weather glorious. I wake up overjoyed every morning when I see the Narikala Fortress from my window. I only have one question. I live next door to a pink hotel called "Hotel Femme."* It's often closed - we can't see into the front room - but lots of men always seem to turn up and park their cars outside. Scantily-clad women make an appearance in the streets every now and then. I did some googling and found photographs of the interiors of the rooms. They're awfully....pink and lush, and there's plenty of paintings naked ladies (and one imitation Mona Lisa) on the walls. They also offer "massage treatments" on their list of facilities. They're next door to the baths, so the "massages" might be legit - but then again, I'm aware that ladies of the evening operate in those baths. Fleur, I'm starting to get worried. Do I live next to a brothel? Or am I being judgmental? I don't want to be mistaken for a prostitute if I live next door!
-Nosey Near Narikala

Dear "Nosey,"
Now, in Tbilisi, often things are not what they seem. "KGB's Cafe" is not actually run by the KGB. "Davitashvili St" and "Perovskaya" streets will show up on the map as "Amagleba" and "Akhvlediani" streets. "Open at 10" means "You might get a coffee at eleven if you're lucky." "The electricity will be on in five minutes" means "break out the candles, baby, because you're going to have one dark night." So there is no particular reason to assume that just because a pink hotel is called "Hotel Femme" and is decorated like Belle Watling's establishment. and located in a city where solicitation of services is a necessary part of performing masculine identity, it is necessarily a "specialized hotel and a telephone service which provides gentlemen with the company of a young lady, for a short while." 
         So, have no fear! "Hotel Femme" may be a more than comfortable place to put down roots for a night. But if you'd like to avoid being taken for a prostitute next time you loiter on your own street corner, ask yourself the following questions.


"Am I blonde?"
"Am I visibly non-Georgian?"
"Am I without the protective company of a male?"
"Am I female?"


 If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you are probably a prostitute, and hence men are well within their rights to touch you inappropriately, solicit you for sex, or kiss you forcibly in the street. You see, men here (as in many places the world over) are using the law of "Occam's Hooker."* The simplest explanation for your being female and otherwise unprotected is, naturally, that you are looking for sex with any man who wants it. What could be simpler? Don't we know that, after all, all women want nothing more than to engage in risky sex with disrespectful strangers?
So judge away guilt-free, Nosey in Narikala! After all, they're judging you right back.


Occam's Hooker: The notion that "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Hence, if a woman is sexually appealing to me, this must be because she wants to have sex with me." Not to be confused with Schrodinger's Harlot, the notion that, until proven otherwise, a woman both does want to have sex with me (because I am so sexually appealing) and does not (because all good women are chaste virgins).

Good luck with tricks!,
Fleur Flaneur


ETA: Yes, I totally do live next to "Hotel Femme." And it took me a whole year to realize - at the suggestion of my landlady, no less - that it was a potential house of ill-fame.
*Note - name has been mildly altered to protect the identity of a possibly-totally-legit hotel. 



4 comments:

Shawn Basey said...

Hahaha, this is a brilliant post. And anyways, I thought all Georgian hotels were, by default, part-brothel. I mean, you can use them as a hotel, but it probably isn't too hard to get "extra services."

And it's nice to hear a woman writing about objectification in Tbilisi. Mostly I read foreign men blogs about it, then Georgians writing, "What are you talking about?!" More women need to write about this.

As for Schrodinger's Harlot... I think the definition - "A woman is both a virgin and not a virgin, and the very act of checking the state affects the state of a woman's virginity" might be more accurate.

Jennifer said...

OK, I'll leave my burlesque stuff in Madrid then :P

After reading a couple of other Georgia blogs, I've seen that many women have to deal with sexual harassment - how bad is it? I saw in your last post it only happened to you once, but on the TLG blogs, I've seen accounts if this happen to many women.

Now, I look Western, but being a brunette, maybe I'd stand out less. Do you think there are ways of avoiding trouble as a single, woman in Georgia?

Fleur Flaneur said...

Jen - it's not that bad overall. I've had two bad incidents - the first involved a man forcibly kissing me in the street, the second involved a waiter from a restaurant on my street calling me and harassing me for weeks despite - and this is where it gets weird - me NOT giving him my name, number, or ANY information whatsoever (I paid in cash). I was seriously freaked out and never learned how he got his hands on my number (probably through the ONE guy I stupidly gave my number too after he helped me when I got injured and drove me - and my MOTHER - to a pharmacy).

However, in neither case did I feel *unsafe* so much as pissed off. I think my landlady would seriously harm anyone in my neighborhood who tried to harass me - I often come back alone late at night without any problems on my (well-lit) street, and my mother and I have walked across Old Tbilisi at 3-4 am before. I wouldn't get drunk or go anywhere alone or secluded with a man I didn't know and trust - it's unfortunate that harassment does happen here (and all to many places). I've learned to be much firmer/nastier and to avoid my fear of being seen as a bitch in order to stop situations much sooner. And from experience, never give ANY man your number unless you want to be called 10-20 times a day.

@Shawn - you're probably right re: Schrodinger's Harlot - I didn't think that one through. I've been lucky in that I've not experienced serious/threatening harassment yet (the two above incidents, and my mother got groped in an underpass), but I'm quite sensitive to the issue of rape culture in the US and UK as well as Georgia, and it's one of the serious issues I have about spending time here long-term. I think there's something really damaging about the "Myth of the Strong Woman" (another upcoming post) - ie, the "strong" woman who "can" cook, clean, earn money, take care of her family, etc. and is so "respected" for her "strength" - which is all too often an excuse for men sitting back, being lazy, and protesting that they "simply can't" do what their "wonderful and respected" women do - and it's something that grates me wherever I find it, whether in New York, in Italy, or in Tbilisi.

Benjamin Glass said...

It's fair to point out that Tbilisi is way ahead of the rest of Georgia in Western terms and this includes the no-no of harassing women on the street.

In the remote regions of Georgia people are so devoutly religious and very well behaved that you wouldn't come across this at all.

However, I'm not a woman and even if I was I walk around so blinkered at times I wouldn't know if somebody was propositioning me.

I suspect it could only be those with a lack of social decorum that would act in this way.

There is a school of thought amongst the younger generations that all Western girls are easy regardless.

This can only be blamed at the internet generation who see all manner of explicit behaviour be it from music videos, films and 'adult sites'.