Presidents’ Dinner

[This is an automatic translation of the original post in Spanish and has not been edited yet.]

I read the news that the Presidents’ Dinner has been canceled forever. It had been celebrated for 33 years and was considered one of the most prestigious events in the English capital, where the guests, all successful men from politics, industry and entertainment, participated in an exclusive dinner in a luxury hotel while works were auctioned. of art and collectibles, and whose funds were used for charitable works.

After the last dinner held just a few days ago, an investigative report by the Financial Times has come out detailing how many of its participants sexually harassed the women who worked at the event as hostesses.

The scandal in the British press has not waited and many members of parliament have come to condemn the whole affair.

Here are some links:

The hostesses had been hired to “entertain” the participants. The job description specified that the women in question had to be “tall, slim and pretty” and had been instructed to wear black underwear to match the short skirts they would be given for the evening. Also, they were warned that attendees might be a little “awkward.” Being 130 the hostesses and 360 the guests, we have that each of these women had to “entertain” 3 men.

The women hired for the night were students, dancers, actresses, and models who wanted to earn some money (£ 150 for working from 4pm to midnight). Many have come out to report that they were scared, disgusted, and traumatized by the experience. They have described that they were harassed in every possible way. They clearly were not expecting something like this to happen: “I have never done this before and I will never do it again!” – One of them said, when she was interviewed by the Financial Times. “It’s f *** ing scary.”

My reading is that among the many things that went wrong that night, possibly the worst was the ambush of which this group of women was the victim. Let’s think about it for a moment: You are a young girl who has been hired to serve a group of older gentlemen, entertain them, maybe chat and smile at them, but when you get to the place it turns out that they throw you into a pack of dogs that try to rip your clothes off . They’ve completely scammed you!

And it is because of the way the evening has been arranged (the guests are only men, the proportion of hostesses per guest is high, rivers of champagne flow, etc.) in reality the work that was sought in these women was not one stewardess but that of an escort: For the organizers, “entertaining” at this dinner was equivalent to flirting, seducing and resisting the sexual assaults of several men at the same time.

Escort work lately has been well documented on Netflix, which has set itself the task of passing a long list of movies, documentaries and series about this profession, clearly knowing where the public’s attention is. And it is that this is a complex but well established job, and there are women who are dedicated to this and for which they can earn from £ 200 an hour. The horror of discovering that you have been hired to be an escort when what you are is a stewardess I cannot imagine.

And if you think about it, the organizers did something stupid of monumental proportions, collecting £ 1.8 million in tickets but only spending a paltry £ 22,000 on the key part of “entertainment”.

So let’s think of another scenario: Suppose the organizers multiply the budget by five and hire 130 escorts, who know the nature of the event well and have instructions to entertain diners, smile at them, perhaps flirt and seduce them. However, the work does not contemplate that they must access the sexual advances of the participants.

Since what we have now is a group of men immersed in alcohol and surrounded by women (women who now at least pretend they are having a good time) it is necessary to also have an appropriate security scheme, and we hired a group of, say, 20 “bouncers” that are ready to disrupt any troop sign.

The night is now running smoothly: the participants may behave the same way they behaved the other night at the Presidents’ Dinner, but they face a group of women who know exactly what they are doing. Any of the men who try to put up a fight, or who go overboard with one of the escorts, is invited quickly and discreetly to leave the premises. Many of the participants come and go to the hotel rooms, and the auctions raise millions of pounds to be used to help underprivileged children.

And let’s say then that the Financial Times journalists go to this event, and report everything they have seen, but in this case the story is not accompanied by the women’s complaints.

Would we be equally outraged?

From what I have been able to infer, for many people this would be outrageous anyway because of the degradation to which these women would have been subjected. However in this version of the event, what we have is exactly what we have every night in any “Gentlemen’s Club” that abound in this city and in any city in the world. And note: There are no public resources involved. There is no violence. There is no abuse. Yes, indeed we are treating all these women as “expensive pieces of meat” – as Jon Stewart once said – but none of them report anything to the press, nor complain about what happened, nor seek the sympathy of anyone.

As a man I must reflect on this event and be honest about what my reaction will be the next time I have a similar situation in front of me. Here I believe that there are some ethical considerations that must be resolved and that should help guide the actions of each one. But I won’t talk about that now