Hit & Run

Free Housing for Hot Girls? That's Slavery!, Say Progressives

Activists are calling for Craigslist ads offering housing in exchange for domestic labor or sexual companionship to be banned.

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@vonny_bravo/Twitter

The first time I saw a Craigslist ad offering free housing to hot girls was 2004 or 2005 in Columbus, Ohio, and I've since seen them in a host of other cities since. How successful such enticements are is unclear, but there's no mistaking the arrangements they offer. Yet despite the fact that such ads have been around for more than a decade and tend to transparently describe the (consensual) relationships they're after, a gaggle of outraged internet activists are suddenly convinced it's "abusive" behavior that must be stamped out.

The issue has been getting attention this week because of U.K. columnist Vonny Moyes, who covered it in Scottish newspaper The National Monday as well as in a series of weekend tweets.

The ads she shared ranged from requests for household labor from a hot girl in exchange for free rent to fetish-related requests (one man merely wanted someone to indulge his foot fetish in exchange for housing), ongoing mistress or "sugar baby" type situations (in which a free room or one's own flat was offered in exchange for sexual and romantic companionship), and people looking for short-term sex-for-housing arrangements. Sure, some of the ad posters may be willing to exploit economically-vulnerable women in order to get laid, but they're direct about what they're looking for and open about their expectations. And the majority of the men posting these ads seem to be seeking much more than someone down on their luck; they want women who would actually enjoy the situation, too.

But the Twitter outrage brigade can't conceive of these varied individual ads as anything but a big patriarchal plot to extort sex from homeless women. There's no acknowledgment that maybe someone could have a home somewhere and be looking for a home elsewhere and then actively choose this situation. No nod to the fact that these ads may not even attract any takers. And, of course, a whole lot of looking for how we can immediately and entirely quash such online speech. Here's a sample:

Also conspicuously missing? Any hint that women have agency.