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The Rise Of Online Advertising For Non-Monetary Rent Arrangements In The Online Markeplace

The growth of online marketplaces has led to an explosion of a new type of advertisement with potential tenants being asked for just more than their monthly rent. Online marketplaces have made these situations more visible through several features of the platforms that host these ads. Understanding those features can help us better understand how common internet platforms contribute to ongoing gendered inequality.

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The Gendered Affordances of Craigslist “New-in-town Girls Wanted” Ads

Sex-for-rent schemes have emerged on online sites as rental options. We analyzed 583 advertisements that were posted on Craigslist in London and Los Angeles and interviewed 34 women who were or had been in these arrangements. This research yielded four key tensions: (1) navigating innuendo (mis)interpretation versus preserving arranged ambiguity, (2) the guise of amateurism and romance versus persistent specificity, (3) calculated sacrifice versus narrative of a better life, and (4) consent versus consensual non-consent. Findings attest to the affordances online platforms offer by connecting geographically dispersed parties in a low risk, anonymous forum. Furthermore, present research joins discourses on the commercialization of intimacy and forms of precarious, gendered labor while asserting Internet features are pivotal in facilitating these arrangements. We propose gendered affordances to conceptualize how individual aspirational labor efforts, combined with platform affordances, commodify intimacy for sale on the moral marketplace.

  • Schwartz, Becca, & Gina Neff. “The Gendered Affordances of Craigslist ‘New-in-Town Girls Wanted’ Ads.” New Media & Society, (May 2019). doi:10.1177/1461444819849897.