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Professional cuddling business challenged as alleged prostitution

Compared to other countries, America is pretty puritanical about the subject of sex. And here in the Midwest, sex seems to be an especially taboo topic. Wisconsin's bashfulness about sex and intimacy might be evident in the way that a Madison-based business has been received by city officials.

National news outlets have been discussing the apparent forced closure of a business called the "Snuggle House." The business model is unconventional but simple enough to understand. Customers pay money for sessions with professional cuddlers in order to enjoy human intimacy in a non-sexual context. Even in Wisconsin's most liberal city, however, police and city officials can't conceive of how such a business would not devolve into prostitution and other sex offenses.

At a rate of about $60 per hour, many customers might consider cuddling sessions to be money well spent. A wide body of research (and direct observation) have shown that intimate contact between humans has countless psychological and emotional benefits.

But officials in Madison are skeptical. An assistant city attorney expressed a seemingly bleak worldview when she said: "There's no way that (sexual assault) will not happen. No offense to men, but I don't know any man who wants to just snuggle."

She and others believe that the Snuggle House is either a front for prostitution or will eventually lead to it. Owners of the business claim that they have safety mechanisms in place to prevent crimes such as sexual assault.

It is unclear if the Snuggle House will be closed down (if it hasn't been closed already). But in light of the fact that similar businesses are not facing opposition in other parts of the country, it seems as though Wisconsin may be especially uptight when it comes to matters of sex and intimacy.

Source: San Francisco Gate, "Police not feeling the love for 'snuggle' business," Dec. 8, 2013

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