September 22, 2014

Manservants 'R Us

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

I’d planned an entirely different post today and then this crossed Twitter feed.


Um. Wow. And also…What?!

I went from GIMME to CREEPY in a New York minute, but then I settled down to read the particulars and turned fully into hmmmmm. This is what snagged my attention: “That’s when we realized male-strippers are hand-me-down fantasies.”

I’m amused by the smug judgmental diss at the end of the ManServants video: “Ladies, if you hate your friend–and yourself–get her a stripper.” I’m all about empowering women and particularly empowering them to claim their sexuality. I’m just not convinced a male strip tease where the dude is all over you like A Night at the Roxbury does that.

Stripping isn’t organically a female fantasy, but one essentially reclaimed from men. Don’t get me wrong, we like to see guys take their kit off. (Boy. Howdy.) But male stripping as entertainment is something women have appropriated from the original male fantasy and it has very different power dynamics then its female counterpart. A bachelorette gig at a male strip club–sorry, male revue club–can be a damn good time, but it’s ultimately not so different from a trip to Medieval Times only with less clothes and no horse shit.

Well, no actual horse shit.

The ManServants web site makes it clear that’s not what they’re about. Based in San Francisco and opened for business this fall, ManServants initially positions itself as an antidote to any woman stuck on the…horns of a stripper dillema. Its raison d’être is to empower women in order to give them an experience that makes them feel worshiped and adored.

ManServants aren’t about what men think women want, or about women acting like men and objectifying men—it’s about the fantasy of finally getting the royal treatment. It’s about adoration, not domination.

With ManServants we want to empower women to define what’s sexy and make their own rules. Rules that a ManServant may then follow.

Sounding better by the minute. Though there’s still a whole “obedience” issue going on there so in that sense, somebody’s being dominated. But wait! How does an enterprising, charming, woman-loving, hot dude get to become a ManServant? So glad you asked!

As a general footnote, this is not an adult entertainment service. No nudity or illegal activities will be permitted. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not send us naked photographs. Your penis will not get you a job, but a great smile and winning personality will. Do not consider applying if you have ever been called the following: douchebag, sexual offender, sexist, creeper, nut job, weirdo, or convicted felon.

I would now like to go do tequila shots with the founders of ManServants. They had me at “your penis will not get you a job.”

Order up!

ManServants can act as chauffeur, bodyguard, picture taker, purse holder, party wait staff, bag carrier, dog walker, grill master, butler, bartender, live music performer, personal assistant, cabana boy…basically whatever tasks might make you want to call out “oh, monkey boy!”, a ManServant will do. You can customize your ManServant too and choose the clothes, hair color, and even the accent of your choice! Darlings, you know how I feel about certain accents…

It’s fun to joke about the studly guy we’d get to mow our lawns and clean our floors, but do we really want to see that fantasy become reality on our doorstep like a Swifter box delivery? Mmmmmmaybe. But if we reverse the genders and make it Maidservants with similar sycophantic adoration for a fee, it shifts the entire power dynamic and becomes more derogatory, offensive, and pervy. Much like the change in power dynamics between a “male revue” strip club and a standard club with women on the pole.

Factor in that many aspects of a ManServants job are as simple as “compliment her every quarter of an hour” or “go for a walk with her” with even a massage upgrade on the offer. It seems ManServants means to make the most of the (generally true) assumption that women are just not being loved and appreciated enough by their mates or their families or both. It means to provide women with some en pointe solutions to combat that lack. Husbands and lovers take note–and perhaps take lessons.

Gotta say, while I’m not sure I’d do it (I’m fairly certain I can’t afford it), I can totally see the fun of hiring up a handsome ManServant designed and chosen specifically to my tastes whose sole duty is to make me goddess of all I survey for a day. Even if only short-lived. that would be some fantasy. Would you?

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  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    I see the blerg factor here, but on a fundamental level I definitely see the appeal for women.

    I agree with the ad—I’ve never wanted to be within ten paces of a semi-nekkid, gyrating male stripper. Though speaking from my limited Ellora’s Cave experience, when they’re dressed and taking photos with people, so many of them are such sweeties.

    But some women just LOVE the whole stripper thing, and I recognize that.
    And yes, the reverse sexism/objectification I’ve observed is appalling. While some feminists say we can’t actually objectify men/sexually harass them, etc, I completely disagree.

    Getting back from a vacation yesterday, I have to say, there’s nothing better than having DH unpack the car. (Tho to be fair I did the unpacking last time.) Basically, whenever DH anticipates my needs, I’m instantly in heaven. So I see how this fantasy of having a guy around whose easy on the eyes, has a winning personality, and can take care of the grill or extra grocery bags, etc, would be just wonderful.

    After all — isn’t this what we’re writing about when we’re writing romances? It’s not just about bonding, love, hot sex, and a true connection — it’s about having a competent man around who can lift some of the heavy load. The men in our romances are never just decorative are they?

    Oh — and the maid service thing that you speak of, Kiersten, I think that’s called a Mail Order Bride.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    I, too, can see the appeal, but ultimately it’s a pass for me. Attention is nice, but IMHO it’s best served organically, meaning when I get lucky enough to generate it on my own without having shelled out big bucks to have a guy give me a smile.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorKiersten Hallie Krum

    That’s what I always come back to. I mean, it’s nice, but it’s fake and paid for and I’d much prefer to have the real thing and any substitute is just gonna be a pale imitation. Maybe that’s enough especially if someone is so starved for that kind of attention and care. Lord knows there are plenty of women out there who’ve never been…tended. But I don’t think I’d ever get past the “for hire” aspect.

    Now having a Guy Friday is a whole different vibe and I think *that* I could get behind…or in front of…but again, likely far beyond my pay grade.

    Reply to Kiersten Hallie Krum
  • Post authorAlexa Day

    Y’all will probably not be surprised to hear that I’m all in favor of Dudes For Hire. 🙂 As a woman celebrating her age by reconsidering the whole pursuit of marriage thing entirely, I just think there’s a tremendous practical value in having a man around when you need him and gone when you don’t. If I could afford services rendered, I’d happily pay to escape doing things organically via dating. It’s possible that I wasn’t dating effectively, and it’s more than possible that I’m jaded by the whole process, but dating, as I remember it, was kind of a time-consuming crapshoot. Hanging up on dating stung for a little while (dating didn’t try very hard to get me back), but today, I just don’t miss it that much. Not dating, oddly enough, has made it easier to write romance.

    This is part of the reason I enjoyed watching Satisfaction on USA. I only saw a couple of episodes before I lost track of it, but they were doing some very thought-provoking things with the idea of Dudes For Hire, the Ladies Who Hire Them, and the Men Those Ladies Married.

    Reply to Alexa Day
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