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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

smoocipic.jpg What fresh hell is this?

Smooci is a mobile phone app that is helping facilitate the ongoing normalisation of women selling their bodies for sex.

It’s a dilemma. While sex work exists it’s surely in everyone’s interests that the women involved in it are kept as safe as possible. And safety, purportedly, is one of the main attractions of Smooci, a phone app that has taken off in Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong, which is now being rolled out in Europe. The escorts – and their clients – are able to leave reports for each other. (So, presumably, no woman is going to agree to meet up with any bloke who has been left feedback that mentions his “Ted Bundy vibe”). If it sounds a bit “Uber for blowjobs”, then I’m sure that’s exactly what the app’s developers want you to think. It’s all about making exchanging sex for money seem, well, “sexy”. And I mean sexy in the same way that bookies have made online gambling “sexy”: high tech, easily accessible, the impression that everyone’s at it. But there was nothing sexy about a recent report from specialist charities that work with women involved in prostitution. It detailed strong links between benefits changes and so-called “survival sex”. One woman said: “For me it was sex work or starvation.” The app’s promotional videos show attractive young men and women sitting by roaring fires and clinking wine glasses (and not one sweaty tub of lard asking: “Do you do anal?”). Hook-ups are “dates”. The women are “companions”. Even Smooci, the app’s name, is designed to conjure up images of chaste kisses on petal-strewn chaise-lounges. But perhaps a more accurate label for it would have been Pimpi.