Saturday, May 7, 2016

Curtain Call For Space Brothels

Subterranean edition of Leviathan Wakes

I manage programming in the anti-sex trafficking field, so it's perhaps not surprising that themes related to space brothels and sex workers in space really hold little interest for me. The TV show The Expanse carried forward some of the not-so-credible genre cliches associated with prostitution (e.g., working girls with nice cop boyfriends) - cliches which I'd like to think have a limited, ah, future.

But even within the limited optic of the show, we can see that the conditions of production/reproduction of space prostitution are about the same as space mining in the Belt: cramped living quarters, no differentiation between workplace and personal space, little insulation against coercion and violence. Very much like the experience of the majority of trafficked women and youth in real life.

Have I featured space brothels in my own games? Not too often, although players in my Fate Strange Stars games have visited a fetish bar on one of the Deodands' sordid orbitals, and one female player chose to create a rebel sex worker. For me it really depends a great deal on where the players want to go; I'm certainly not going to push them there. I've been in too many games that were theater for the GM's particular, or rather "particular", interests. I've probably done that myself at times, but maturity is understanding that you are GMing and creating a world for others - even when the primary and immediate motivation is creation for oneself.

What gets played out at the table depends on the comfort level of individual players. I frequently game with women and LGBTQ folks, and being LGBTQ myself, don't make assumptions that what one or two players find amusing will be universally experienced as fun or enjoyable. It's often best to know when to draw a curtain around a scene. In fact, we use a curtain-closing gesture at the gaming table as a sign that it's time to move on.