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Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dietrich, Dawn Y., 1960-
Rivera, Lysa M.
Brooke Magnanti, under the pseudonym Belle de Jour, sparked a peculiar dialogue on prostitution through her novel Secret Diary of a Call Girl and its Showtime television adaptation. Through these mediations, Belle’s experiences–a duality of fiction and Magnanti’s “real life” experiences–are entwined together into a confession about Belle’s work as a “high-quality” call-girl. Her narrative provides an inquisitive glimpse into the world of escorts who navigate complex networks of hidden rules in order to be financially prosperous, safe, and happy with their work. Belle de Jour’s account familiarizes her role in sex work to a large audience through a mass media platform. While her narrative brings a marginalized voice into a larger conversation about feminism and women’s empowerment, it simultaneously reproduces and reinforces a heteronormativity that makes the profession illegal and dangerous for many sex workers excluded by heteronormative ideologies. I explore these discourses through the lens of Foucault’s Repressive Hypothesis. Belle provides the Girlfriend Experience which includes sex, but also fulfills the role of a “perfect girlfriend” momentarily. The Girlfriend Experience, or the “perfect girlfriend,” implies the escort will do emotional labor for her client including managing his emotions while suppressing her own, but also in faking sex and orgasms in a way that looks and feels authentic. Foucault identifies the progression of “normal” sex codified by science to be strictly heterosexual and within the confines of a monogamous relationship. Thus, Belle de Jour’s account calls into question the contradictions that appear evident in the values and sexual economy within neo-Liberal capitalism.
prostitution, gender performance, the Girlfriend Experience, Belle de Jour
Western Washington University
Subjects – Names (LCNAF)
Belle De Jour--Criticism and interpretation
Subject – LCSH
Prostitutes in literature; Sex role in literature; Sex role in mass media; Sex workers--Social aspects
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.
Carter, Marisa L. (Marisa Lenay), "Power, Pleasure, and Performance: Belle de Jour and the Girlfriend Experience" (2018). WWU Graduate School Collection. 709.