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The act of trading sexual favors for non-sexual favors: Having sex with someone who you wouldn't want to have sex with "for free", or pretend
that you wouldn't have sex with "for free", in exchange for work, gifts, or similar. The whole thing may or may not be portrayed and/or perceived as really
being a form of prostitution.
This trade may be portrayed in a neutral manner, or it may portray either the sex-trader or the service-trader as more or less a victim of the other. In either case, the act is often closely related to at least one other trope.
Neutral versions (As in, they are either equally good or equally bad)
"Unlucky sex-trader" versions:
- Entitled to Have You: The service-trader just keeps nagging the sex-trader about sex that she doesn't want, until she finally gives in with an "okay, but at least do something for me as well". Alternatively, he does something for her first, and doesn't reveal until afterward that the help actually came with a price tag.
- Sexual Extortion: Sure, the sex-trader is the one taking the initiative, but what choice does he really have if the service is the only source of the medication his dying child needs, or the like? (In regular Sexual Extortion, the service-trader pushes An Offer You Can't Refuse on the sex-trader).
- Manipulative Bastard: The service-trader weasels his way into the sex-trader's bed with promises he never intends to keep and might not even be able to keep.
- Drugs Are Bad: The sex-trader is addicted and will do anything to get his fix.
"Unlucky services-trader" versions:
- A Man Is Always Eager: Alice exploits the Bob's sex drive to get whatever she wants.
- Manipulative Bitch: The sex-trader makes the eager service-trader think he'll be getting sex in return for doing her a favor, but she has no intention of actually giving him any.
- Bastard Girlfriend: Alice gets poor Bob all worked up, but makes sure to to keep him constantly frustrated (whether he gets any sex or not) for the audience's amusement.
- Henpecked Husband: They are married, and Alice uses "withholding sex" to dominate and manipulate Bob.
"Portrayed either way" versions
- Casting Couch: An actor has to sleep with a producer to get the role. This is a Sub-Trope of Sex for Services in which the "service" is specifically a part in a cast.
- Compensated Dating: A light form of prostitution which may or may not include sex; the focus is more on a "dating" relationship in which one partner (who otherwise might not be interested) is compensated with lavish gifts.
- Sextra Credit: Same deal as Casting Couch, except that the "service" is better grades for a student and the services-trader is a teacher or professor.
While one can certainly consider this a form of whoring, the sex-trader rarely intends to make an official career out of The Oldest Profession
from making deals like this. Contrast Platonic Prostitution
, where one partner is
a prostitute but they don't
- In Preacher, Cassidy used to be a junkie. In one flashback scene, he is giving oral sex in exchange for some drugs... and then beats the living shit out of his girlfriend for catching him in the act.
- In the Swedish comic Elvis, the titular character often falls prey to the Henpecked Husband variant, with Elvis having to do all kinds of chores and concessions in return for the rare marital intercourse with his wife Hedvig. Also reversed (but still with Hedvig as the abuser) with a Played for Laughs case of the Sexual Extortion variant: Elvis is desperate for a new PlayStation, and Hedvig forces him to dance like Chippendales for her before she allow him to buy it.
- In Morbus Gravis, the protagonist Druuna has to endure the Sexual Extortion variant: Her boyfriend is very ill, and in her desperation for medication she begs a disgusting old doctor to have sex with her.
- Whatever Love Means portrays traditional gender roles (man works, woman is housewife) this way (some would say rather unfairly).
- Deadpool bought his friend Outlaw a new place after her old one was wrecked in a fight with The Punisher. She ends up doing this. Deadpool tells her that she doesn't have to, but she does anyway.
- In Chicago, Roxie comes up with a plan to use a fake pregnancy as a moral weapon against a possible death penalty. In her words, "I would just like to say that my own life doesn't matter now. It's just that of my unborn child." She's put up for medical inspection of course. She uses sex to convince the doctor to back up her story.
- In Duets, Suzi Loomis often uses sexual means to fund her cross-country trip, including a scene in which she needs to get a new paint job for a stolen car.
Suzi: "Sir, we're a little bit short on cash at the moment, but I would consider it an honor and a privilege to suck your dick."
- In Forrest Gump there is a rather loose variation.
Hancock: "Your mama sure does care about your schooling, son!"
- In My Life In Ruins, the man at the counter at the hotel offers Georgia this option in exchange for postage, but she's mortified.
- Perhaps the most triumphant example occurs in the film Dangerous Beauty, in which Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco has sex with King Henri III of France in exchange for French naval support in Venice's war against the Turks. After one night with her, he returns to his royal barge to leave the city, sits down very gingerly on a cushion, and tells the Doge "You'll get your ships." The entire Venetian crowd cheers wildly. Talk about doing your patriotic duty.
- Discussed in The American President when President Shepherd's election opponent implies in a talk show appearance that his girlfriend, a lobbyist, may have traded sexual favors for votes. Shepard calls him out on this specifically in a literal "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the end of the film.
- In Frasier, Bebe subtly insinuates that she will become Frasier's agent again if he sleeps with her. ("I'm just talking about having a little fun. After all, when I'm having fun, I'm happy. When I'm happy, I work harder. When I work harder, you become famous and powerful. Isn't that what you want? Fame and power?") He tries to bluff her by subtly enticing her with the possibility of sex, since he notes that she loves the chase, enough to make her want to take him on again in order to pursue him. He fails, badly, as a freak collision of coincidences makes her seem so much like the devil that he loses his head and runs screaming.
- In Mad Men, Joan does this with much angst in the episode "The Other Woman."
- Hanna's mother engages in this do get her out of shoplifting charges in the pilot of Pretty Little Liars.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harmony asks her ex-boyfriend, Spike, to shelter her when she assumes that Buffy is out to get her. (Harmony has sort of an unrealistic view of how much Buffy cares.) It takes Spike a bit of sarcastic hinting before she realizes what he wants in return. Her response is basically "oh, sure, whatever."
- Subverted in the official video for Madonna's song Material Girl: Madonna's character let the rich men buy her all kinds of expensive stuff, using their competition with each other over her as her convenient excuse to not kiss any of them - eventually sneaking off to kiss some guy who didn't try to pay her for it.
- In the official video for Studio Killers Ode to the Bouncer, lead singer Cherry has sex with a bouncer to get into a night club.
- An animal psychology textbook describe that this trope applies to some animals. For example, a male insect gives some food to the female, which generally takes 5-10 minutes to eat. This keeps the female occupied by eating, allowing the male to proceed.
- Inverted in Fallout 2: if the Bishop family godfather in New Reno finds out you've been messing with his wife or daughter, he'll "hire" you to do various jobs for him for free.