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Oct 23 2011

News Flash: Some Sex Workers Like Some Of Their Customers

I hadn’t really intended this blog to become the “busting myths about sex work” site. But comments in my recent posts about sex work have been bringing a barrage of myths and generalizations about it, so I’m taking a little time to shoot them down.

Today’s myth: Sex work is always an impersonal, entirely commercial interaction: an exchange of physical pleasure for money, with no emotion, caring, or human connection. It was recently expressed in my blog by jose, who wrote:

Please someone help me understand why prostitution exists.

Isn’t sex the ultimately intimate relationship with another? To me the whole point of it is the personal connection. Even if it’s casual sex for fun. You don’t have to know the other person for years to get that kind of link (although it’s different if you do know the other). Just after doing it you don’t even have to talk to know what the other is thinking and feeling. It’s like a mind melding or maybe you’re communicating with your entire body instead of using just the usual bits (mouth, eyes…), I don’t know why that happens.

(snip)

But I’m reading here sex is a service to be provided. Like a thing, a good. I want a sex, you sell it to me, I take it, pay and go. Where’s the human link in that? Is that even sex? I guess you would sweat and be tired afterwards… it rather sounds like going to the gym, except you use a woman instead of a workout machine.

Okay. First of all, jose: Prostitution exists because not everyone feels the same way about sex as you do. For many people, sex is a fun, pleasurable physical experience between living creatures. And that isn’t just true for sex work customers. Lots of people have casual, “just for fun” sex who don’t visit prostitutes. And for many people, sex can be both: they value the “intimate personal connection” kind of sex, but can also enjoy and appreciate the “just for fun” kind.

The way you view sex is certainly a perfectly valid way of seeing it. But it’s not the only valid way of seeing it. Enjoying sex as simple fun pleasure is not, as you commented later in the thread, a “twisted” view of sex. It’s just a different view of sex from yours. Do you really think your personal experience of sex is the only possible one, or the only valid one? Hey, I don’t like broccoli — but I don’t sit in pissy judgement of people who do.

But more to the point for today’s myth:

You’re assuming that there can be no personal connection between a prostitute and a client. And that is just flatly not the case. Lots of prostitutes and other sex workers like their clients — some of them, anyway — and experience a real connection with them. They enjoy the sex, and experience it as not only a physical pleasure, but an emotional one. This isn’t universally true for all sex workers — but it’s often true for many of them. And it happens more often with regular customers — but it can also happen with first-time or one-time customers.

When you think about it carefully, this myth makes no sense. Think about other professionals. If you see a therapist, do you assume that the connection between you isn’t real because you’re paying for their time? What about your doctor? Heck, what about your hair stylist, or the barrista you chat with every day at the cafe? People can offer a professional service — and still enjoy providing that service, and feel a genuine, caring connection with the people they’re providing it for. And that goes for sex as well.

In fact, that’s one of the central points of my book, Paying For It: A Guide By Sex Workers For Their Clients. Sex workers treat customers better if they like them — so the book tells you how to be a customer that sex workers will like. And the book is filled with stories from sex workers — prostitutes, but also professional dominants, strippers, phone sex workers, and more — who tell about customers they genuinely liked and felt real intimacy with. I’m one of them: I never worked as a prostitute, but I worked as a stripper, and I had customers I felt a strong connection with, and deeply enjoyed dancing for, and who I remember fondly to this day. And in fact, many prostitutes say that much of what their customers want is not so much the sex, but the conversation, and the cuddling, and the other not- specifically- sexual forms of connection and intimacy.

So knock it off with the judgment, okay? If paying for sex isn’t for you, then it isn’t for you. But the way you view sex is not the only possible one, and it’s not the only valuable one. Please stop with the hostile judgments of other people’s consensual sexual choices, just because they’re different from your own. Thanks.

47 comments

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  1. 1
    Dhorvath, OM

    I run a small business and I sell my personality more than any product or service in my business, yes the products and services are what have the attached prices, but what keeps people coming to me is who I am and how I relate to who they are. This is how any small business builds clientèle, and I don’t think that the big W has started to dip their toes in sex work.

    I also have casual sex, and it’s fun and doesn’t involve some mystic connection between myself and the people who decide to join me in that kind of play. Although there I am building on my personality as well and a great deal of what attracts me to the partners I end up with is their personality.

    So I don’t think it’s fair to see sex work as a commodity, like skim milk or gasoline, something you just purchase at either the closest or cheapest outlet. It’s a personal transaction that trades on personality, social function, currency, physical interaction, and probably some other things that I am not thinking of right now. As such, one sex worker is not interchangeable with another, and their customers often become regulars and build a long term professional relationship. Repeat custom is reliable income, it’s comfortable, and it feeds back into itself.

  2. 2
    Pteryxx

    Some professions involve a great deal of intimacy and trust, and caring, without necessarily being personal. I watched “24 Hours in the ER” recently, so I keep thinking of emergency room personnel, treating and reassuring random complete strangers who may be incoherent or combative at the time. Like veterinarians and most teachers, they wouldn’t go into this profession in the first place if they didn’t care about their clients AND enjoy the work itself. I care about strangers, but I couldn’t be patient and social enough to take care of terrified ones in an ER every day – animals are more my speed.

    Professional intimacy from a surgeon’s point of view: Surgeonsblog: Taking Trust

    Ironically, there’s a variant of sex work that I’m interested in – providing intimate services and training to the disabled – but I’m not sure I have the social skills to do it justice.

  3. 3
    SamBarge

    “So knock it off with the judgment, okay? If paying for sex isn’t for you, then it isn’t for you. But the way you view sex is not the only possible one, and it’s not the only valuable one. Please stop with the hostile judgments of other people’s consensual sexual choices, just because they’re different from your own.”

    I’ve been reading through the threads on sex work and I have to say, this sounds suspiciously like something I would hear from a liberal or progressive Christian about faith. You know: “Sex work (Christianity) isn’t like that. Those exploiters/pimps (fundamentalist Christians) aren’t doing it right. And, anyway, who are you to judge what I do with my body (life)?”

    I read the posts with an open mind, although I saw nothing here that I haven’t read in other pro-sex work pieces, but it hasn’t changed my view that sex work, on the whole, is exploitative of women and detrimental to society. I understand that some people manage to have a career in the sex industry and still maintain their personal autonomy (just like there are Christians who can believe in God and still reasonably sane) but we can’t say that because those people exist, the rest of the industry (faith) is somehow let off the hook.

    My experience with sex workers has been more of the variety of women forced into the work, either through abuse, coercion, drug and/or alcohol dependency and, in one case, economic need. I appreciate that there are sex workers out there who may choose to pursue this career but I dearly hope that we will see a day where access to a woman’s genitals is not a commodified transaction. Because, like faith, it’s a flawed model as its core.

    So long as it’s a commodity, women’s sexuality will be exploited – not unlike the woman in the ad on this page who is wearing a ‘sexy police officer’ costume and who assures me that ‘we can help you’ stop believing in God. Thanks, but I have my own tits to ogle, if I’m inclined, and if I needed help to stop believing in God (I don’t) I wouldn’t need a sexual image of a woman to lead me forward.

  4. 4
    Amanda Marcotte

    While I’m sure in some circles, prostitution is there just because sex can be a fun diversion, I’m a bit skeptical that really answers the question of why it exists. After all, you can get fun diversion sex for free. It also leaves out the question of why there aren’t many female consumers of prostitution, since women have the desire for NSA sex, too. You’d actually think if it was just for NSA sex, women would be MORE willing to pay, because they’d have the reassurance from a pro that they weren’t going to get raped.

    I have to think there’s an emotional payoff, and I think that it’s because johns get off on the act of paying for it. Which generally doesn’t say nice things about johns.

    That doesn’t really say anything about prostitutes, of course. I no more think that a prostitute is a bad person because her customers are than I think that of someone who works in a convenience store in a sketchy neighborhood where most of the customers are drug dealers.

  5. 5
    Pteryxx

    Well, anything can be commodified and exploited: food futures, education, voting rights, health care. I don’t think that means those things are inherently immoral.

    It also leaves out the question of why there aren’t many female consumers of prostitution, since women have the desire for NSA sex, too. You’d actually think if it was just for NSA sex, women would be MORE willing to pay, because they’d have the reassurance from a pro that they weren’t going to get raped.

    Um… women get raped by on-duty professionals NOW, such as doctors, police or therapists, in spite of laws and codes of ethics. Prostitution would have to be legal AND regulated AND have protections enforced AND no longer be an excuse for slut-shaming or rape apology before women in general could patronize it.

  6. 6
    Matrim

    @SamBarge> Except that Christianity makes specific claims about reality, claims that are either refuted by evidence or untestable. One’s opinion of sex work is just that: an opinion. Certainly it can be exploitive, but so can any other form of work depending on how it’s run. I find working in a cubicle nine hours a day to be much more dehumanizing than someone running an incall on Craigslist. That’s just my opinion, I don’t claim it as fact.

    Long story short, you’re making a false equivalency.

  7. 7
    Kiwi Sauce

    What are the laws in the US for solicitation? In NZ, we decriminalised solicitation (I think it was that) a couple of years ago – I would have preferred outright legalisation.

    On the particular topic here, I view it as none of my damn business whether working girls/boys like any of their clients or not. Liking clients is not an argument for or against any occupation.

  8. 8
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    While I’m sure in some circles, prostitution is there just because sex can be a fun diversion, I’m a bit skeptical that really answers the question of why it exists. After all, you can get fun diversion sex for free.

    Except there’s a perception, justified or otherwise, that you have to be very good at certain times of social interaction in order to obtain fun diversion sex for free. (Also, fun diversion sex obtained at random can often wind up being surprisingly awkward, and physically unsatisfying whereas I imagine there’s an understandable expectation that a professional will have experience working around awkwardness and be physically skilled).

    It also leaves out the question of why there aren’t many female consumers of prostitution, since women have the desire for NSA sex, too.

    This is disingenuous at best. You’ve written about slut-shaming and societal opposition to women’s sexuality extensively on your own blog and Greta’s discussed the stigma surrounding sex work extensively throughout this series. You’ve also touched on the social assumption that women who just want sex can easily find a willing man, because of the way men and women are socialized regarding sex. You may know better, but not everyone has the same awareness you do.

  9. 9
    Infophile

    @4:

    After all, you can get fun diversion sex for free.

    Only if one or more of the following is true:
    -You’re female (and even then, decently attractive)
    -You’re very conventionally attractive
    -You have extremely good social/flirting skills and you have the time to commit to it
    -You have sufficiently low standards for who you’ll sleep with (how low they have to be depends on your own attractiveness and social skills)
    -You get lucky and find someone with

    Long story short, there are many people out there who don’t have the right attractiveness, social skills, time, luck, etc. to find a partner for casual sex. This is primarily due to how American society (and similar societies) has trained women to be protective of their sexuality and to treat casual sex as something to be ashamed of. Many women have gotten beyond this, but many haven’t. This leaves a gross gender imbalance in the population looking for casual sex. As such, only the “top tier” men can typically indulge.

    For evidence of this, go onto a casual sex site sometime, and register for a free account as both a man and as a woman, and see how many potential partners are available in your area in each case. You’ll likely see a huge imbalance – I’ve heard that some such sites have a 10:1 gender ratio.

    But even if that weren’t the case, consider this: If you want to get sex for free, you might be able to, but you won’t be able to exercise much control over the quality (either in your partner’s attractiveness, their skills, or what acts they’re willing to perform). If you’re willing to pay for sex (and it’s legal in your area), you can easily find someone who’s attractive, meets your personal kink, and is experienced. In other words, you’re able to pay for quality. Some prostitutes even let you pay for a “girlfriend experience,” to simulate an emotional connection.

    @7: Prostitution, and most related acts, are currently illegal in all of the US except for some rural counties in Nevada. For those close to the Canadian border, it’s technically legal in Canada, but most acts relating to it (brothels, soliciting in public) are illegal. So, barring travel, it’s illegal for 99% of US residents.

  10. 10
    Patrick

    Again, I’m not sure you’re really engaging with the people you’re debating. I doubt they believe that all sex workers everywhere dislike 100% of their customers. I rather suspect that they believe that situations where sex workers do not like their customers, and would not otherwise have sex with them, are the morally problematic situations that are worth discussing.

  11. 11
    Pteryxx

    @Infophile: While you’re blaming women for the casual-sex gender imbalance, don’t forget how the same society that trains women to be wary of casual sex also trains men to competitively pursue it. Thus we have men who won’t take “no” for an answer, or who care more about racking up bedpost notches than the quality of their encounters. I dare say your average woman on a casual sex site gets plenty of offers, but very few that turn out to be worth taking, whether or not they come from “top tier” men.

  12. 12
    Infophile

    Mind pointing out where I blamed women for this problem? I’ll freely admit that I left out a lot of causes behind this, but even in what I did say, I placed the blame on the obscure “society.” In America, society is still very much patriarchal, so one could equally make the argument that I was blaming men.

    I’m also guessing that if societal pressures were equalized, the primary effect would be that women would be more free to seek casual sex, and there would be less of an effect on men.

  13. 13
    Pteryxx

    Ah… and many men would consider actually being a sex worker beneath them, because that would entail them providing sexual services to women who find them attractive, instead of recruiting attractive women to provide services to THEM. Heck, it’s hard enough to get some men to confess to cooking or laundry.

  14. 14
    Eclectic

    I knew a pro domme who took considerable pride in the number of ex-clients she had People who got un-conflicted enough about BDSM that she’d see tham at group parties rather than furtively in private.

    Even though yes, this reduced her income.

    She’d only introduce them with consent (discretion being an important attribute of a sex worker), but I was introduced to more than half a dozen people who’d graduated from “customer” to “friend”.

  15. 15
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Again, I’m not sure you’re really engaging with the people you’re debating. I doubt they believe that all sex workers everywhere dislike 100% of their customers. I rather suspect that they believe that situations where sex workers do not like their customers, and would not otherwise have sex with them, are the morally problematic situations that are worth discussing.

    Err, where in what was actually said do you find that?

  16. 16
    Pteryxx

    @Infophile, sure. Here’s your paragraph:

    Long story short, there are many people out there who don’t have the right attractiveness, social skills, time, luck, etc. to find a partner for casual sex. This is primarily due to how American society (and similar societies) has trained women to be protective of their sexuality and to treat casual sex as something to be ashamed of. Many women have gotten beyond this, but many haven’t. This leaves a gross gender imbalance in the population looking for casual sex. As such, only the “top tier” men can typically indulge.

    First you’re talking about “people” who don’t find casual partners, finished by “top tier” MEN who get to indulge. While “women” just need to get past their hang-ups to get casual sex. The object of your verb might be the societal training, but all the rest of your paragraph is imbalanced. So is the 10:1 follow-up… women who aren’t conventionally attractive, or over 30, aren’t going to be flooded with potential partners on a dating site either. You’re essentially saying the problem is that women aren’t making themselves available enough, with socialization as the proximate cause. You’re still describing casual sex in terms of male competition for a female resource.

    I’m trying to point out to you that viewing casual sex as gendered competition is already a problematic social influence. It’s also harmful to both men and women. I’m sure there’s plenty of men AND women who are sick of trustworthy men’s signals being drowned out by the constant noise of predators and PUAs while being told they’re less manly if they don’t “score”. If we have a healthier social construct for sex in the first place, there won’t be so many men spamming casual-sex invites to every acceptable female profile, either.

  17. 17
    Infophile

    -You’re female (and even then, decently attractive)

    Remember when I said that? I’m aware of the issue you raised, so don’t go assuming I’m not. I know that when many men think of how easy it would be for a woman to find casual sex, the average woman they picture is going to be young and very attractive (which is all that gets shown in the media, and so is what they see as the average). But even once you control for that, the imbalance still remains (the “10:1″ point was a quote of ill-remembered statistics from a casual sex site’s member registry).

    As for “describing casual sex in terms of male competition for a female resource,” one could just as easily make the opposite argument: The way I described it, it’s like I’m saying sex is women eating at a buffet of men, where all the tastiest men get picked up and the rest get left behind. Hell, that even feels like a better analogy to me.

    Don’t go putting judgments into my mouth. I never said “that the problem is that women aren’t making themselves available enough”. I said the imbalance was “primarily due to” this fact, which is a non-judgmental statement of causality. If I wanted to point to a problem, I’d point to the illegality of prostitution before I pointed to the choices individual women make.

  18. 18
    Pteryxx

    Yep, I still find “some women have gotten past that” to be a pretty darn judgemental explanation of the gender imbalance. At the very least it’s a problematic oversimplification, and so are both the competition and buffet analogies. I don’t think the primary reason for women’s underrepresentation is because they’ve been convinced that they’re not hungry.

  19. 19
    tinker71

    How about we actually discuss Greta’s take on the subject, and how we agree or disagree, instead of getting “knitpicky” as hell about other’s comments. Is that totally unreasonable?

    ‘If you dare to disagree I want at least 10 articles in support of your viewpoint, peer reviewed, and published on independant webzines, by PHds or above. THEN I can review which articles are worthy of inclusion, (and so I can pick-and-choose quotes that suit MY biases, support MY opinions, to the exclusion of yours) and show that I am a more Masterful Debater than You (Collectively and Individually) and blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.’

    I LIKE Greta, I followed her here from Blowfish, and I’d like to continue reading her articles, but YOU GUYS are sucking the life (and all enjoyment) out of them.

    I’m sorry Greta, if this is a horrible thing I have done, yes, its your site, it’s your blog, its your writing, and I too believe that intelligent public discussion, can make a difference in the way we as a society feel about all sorts of issues. If this comment is wrong, please take it down, as soon as you like. (I know you will, in any case, but I’d like you to understand, it’s really okay.)

  20. 20
    dfl42

    Couldn’t you use that commenter’s same logic to argue that it’s impossible to have a personal connection with a teacher because they get paid to teach you? Imparting knowledge is a service to be provided as much as anything else is. That doesn’t mean you can’t connect with people as human beings while providing it.

  21. 21
    Kerry

    I’m a longtime reader of this blog, and I have never commented before, but I felt compelled to do so this time.

    The sociologist Kingsley Davis has an intriguing theory that one reason prostitution still exists and thrives is that it helps keep families together. Counterintuitive though this may seem, think about it this way: a man whose sexual needs are not being met in the context of his marriage or long-term relationship — for whatever the reason may be — is driven to seek fulfillment elsewhere. If he takes up an affair with a mistress, the “other woman” is going to demand a commitment of time and energy that is far more likely to disrupt his existing relationship. A prostitute, however, demands no such commitment. With a prostitute, he can fulfill his needs and return to his existing relationship with no need to hide emails and phone calls, lie about his whereabouts, and so on.

    Greta, I greatly enjoy your blog, and I thought I’d share this nugget of information. To me, it makes a lot of sense. Keep up the fantastic work.

  22. 22
    luxaeturna

    This is quite interesting. I never thought about sex work in this way, but it makes sense.

    I’m wondering where this fits in with the stereotype that a man doesn’t pay for a prostitute, he pays for her to leave. I suppose that might be true of some men, but not others? Or is it just complete bullshit?

  23. 23
    yoyo

    As a feminist who worked for a short period (18mths) in escort due to extreme financial pressures. i have to say that i agree that a worker can become friends with clients infact i still have close relationships with several. It can also be very problematic as clients/people you think have become friends can use the way they met you as grounds to put you down or damage you later. On the whole my experience was not negative but i would say several things:
    1. I was in this field by choice
    2. I am very educated and determined and know my rights
    3. I had the support of my partner and friends
    4. I was able to leave when I wanted…. but despite all this
    5. I was raped and ripped off,
    6. I wasted most of the money I made coping with the hours and the fallout. So my conclusion is that it is not a benign choice that it is a veryhazzardous occupation that MAY work but it is sad that there is not better support and options for people generally. Unfortunately the PUA sites let you know what many men feal about women who have casual sex, to some extent in a paying relationship , those pr…ks have to behave.

  24. 24
    NathanDST

    @Amanda Marcotte–

    After all, you can get fun diversion sex for free

    Not all of us. Myself, for example. I’m not attractive to a sufficient number of people, and I don’t do well with flirting. The situations in which I’ve been able to get fun diversion sex have involved friends with benefits situations, and those are few and far between. If I were to go to a bar or other hangout, the odds of me being able to get some NSA sex are slim to none.

  25. 25
    Anonymous

    I have seen only one sex worker in my lifetime. I saw her several times, and even before the first sexual encounter, she insisted on at least half an hour of ‘get to know each other’ time (which was one of the reasons I caught her out). In short we did develop a relationship. I even sold her some Lego.

  26. 26
    Eclectic

    Actually, this inspires a different, serious question:

    Why not just masturbate?

    There have been times in my live when I’ve been desperately lonely and wanted someone to talk to, and yes sex with someone else is lots of fun.

    But I’ve never felt any sort of “pressure” of horniness that a bit of self-loving couldn’t relieve. Like John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction.

    I know history is replete with stories of people, particularly men, who have done catastrophically stupid things for sex. But I can’t even begin to imagine what that urge would be like.

    I can see guys who need their egos stroked wanting trophy wives to show off. But sex itself?

    Can anyone explain it to me?

  27. 27
    Matrim

    @ yoyo> While I’m sorry you’re experience was less than positive, it doesn’t mean that it is the standard. For example, I doubt that if you had been working in a well regulated brothel that you would have endured the same problems. There are a lot more experiences than just yours.

  28. 28
    Dhorvath, OM

    Masturbation=/=partner sex. You are coming at this from the same angle, that buying a prostitute’s time is just about the sexual interaction, the rubbing of genitals as it were. There is a person there, and whether someone goes to sex workers to push another person down, to share intimate time with another person, or to idolize another person, the operative attraction is that there is another person involved.

    Masturbation won’t allow someone to feel affirmed in their perception of sexual agency in the same way that interacting with another person can. So while it may reduce specific sexual tension and is arguably a healthy part of anyone’s sexual life, masturbation can’t provide as much of the social event of partner sex as visiting a prostitute can.

  29. 29
    Pteryxx

    masturbation =/= partner sex… On the sheer mechanics of it, some types of physical stimulation just don’t work well when you try them on yourself, but work great when a partner does them to you. Similar to how you can’t tickle yourself effectively.

  30. 30
    Dhorvath, OM

    On the sheer mechanics of it, some types of physical stimulation just don’t work well when you try them on yourself,

    And there are some things that even two can’t pull off…

  31. 31
    SamBarge

    Matrim: “While I’m sorry you’re experience was less than positive, it doesn’t mean that it is the standard. For example, I doubt that if you had been working in a well regulated brothel that you would have endured the same problems. There are a lot more experiences than just yours.”

    See what you’re doing there? Just like a Christian apologist who is claiming that yoyo’s experience of prostitution wasn’t the norm or was unlike what most prostitutes experience. You casually imply that her lack of a well-regulate brothel was the cause of her rape (a little victim-blaming goes a long way) and that her experience isn’t the only one and, by extension, insignificant to the discussion.

    Seriously, if you suggest the analogy doesn’t work, then you’re as wilfully blind as most Christian apologists too.

  32. 32
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Seriously, if you suggest the analogy doesn’t work, then you’re as wilfully blind as most Christian apologists too.

    ….I call Poe.

  33. 33
    SamBarge

    Oh for fuck’s sake. You’re wrong.

  34. 34
    freemage

    I think one place to look for support of GC’s position is Japan. There, it’s not merely a curiosity, but a thriving industry–the hostess club. Men shell out fairly substantial amounts of money to go out on what are essentially hired dates. Most of the clubs are strictly no-prostitution, so there’s no sex–the men are literally just paying for a companion who will laugh at their jokes, flatter them, respond to their flirting (within the club’s limits) and otherwise simulate a social encounter where they ‘win’–where they are reassured and generally treated well, and don’t have to risk a negative outcome.

    And to be honest, the times I’ve gone to a strip club, the overall impression was much the same. Sure, there were a few guys who just wanted to look at naked women as objects. But more often, they engaged in conversation and asked questions about them (if you paid attention, of course, it became obvious the girls were, to a large extent, playing specific roles meant to cater to male fantasies, but even then, that’s part of the simulated intimacy–and guys generally paid for private dances from the women who fit their personal taste in fantasy, which isn’t quite the same as just picking a set of boobs at random to ogle).

  35. 35
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Oh for fuck’s sake. You’re wrong.

    You made an assertion based on a metaphor, you had the issues with the applicability of that metaphor pointed out to you, you declined to respond to those criticisms and insisted that anyone who doubted you was “blinded” and yet you claim that others are acting like religious apologists?

    Too perfect. Sorry, not buying it.

  36. 36
    Kiwi Sauce

    I’m now wondering what SamBarge means by My experience with sex workers in #3.

    Care to elaborate?

  37. 37
    Yoyo

    sorry Sam, in my country, one of those well organized western democracies, the well regulated brothels are where most of the abuse happens. Infect most of the legal brothels have also links with real sex slave operations with our nearby Asian nations. This does not even touch on the experiences of those who work in the unregulated illegal brothels probably 50% of the market. I am not anti worker or anti client, all I am arguing is that it is not all happy experiences no matter HOW regulated the market is.
    When you are in a room with a stranger there is a chance you will be attacked no matter whether it is a for cash arrangement or a casual pick up, unfortunately if that is your day to day employment the possibilities are much higher.
    Back to the main topic – yes most good workers can and will make good friends if they want to, however that does not change what is really a fairly dangerous way to make a living.
    Think of it this way, if building workers made great mates would that make up for a higher than usual rate of deaths at work?

  38. 38
    Yoyo

    Sorry I think it was matrix I was resounding to.
    PS it is true that many clients of sex workers cannot compete in the free sex market, they are lonely older widowers, amputees, not physically attractive or socially adept, for these people there are much fewer options if they want sex.

  39. 39
    C. Mason Taylor

    SamBarge, you said you’ve discussed the issue with several sex workers.

    Were any of them working under a system where prostitution was completely legal, regulated, and socially accepted?

    The reason your use of Christianity as an analogy here is a poor one is because Christianity has demonstrable, inherent flaws. Atheists criticize Christians for their behavior, to be sure, but even if so many of them didn’t often behave so unbelievably badly, their beliefs would still be wrong. You may differ, but no serious atheists say “Christianity is inherently wrong because Christians do bad things.” And of course, if we step back a bit and instead of just saying “Christianity,” we say, “religion,” you’ll find religious belief systems like Jainism that are genuinely peaceful, showing that religion doesn’t have to do all the harm that it often does. But there’s still no reason to believe that Jainism is true. Your analogy is enormously fallacious.

    But you are doing just that here with prostitution. You’re saying it’s bad because lots of bad shit is sometimes connected with it, ignoring the fact that so much of this can be traced to other sources, and completely refusing to isolate it from other variables. By this same method bigots like Ann Coulter attack single parents. Your argument is utterly unscientific, utterly uninterested in the truth.

  40. 40
    tommykey

    After all, you can get fun diversion sex for free.

    Some people might opt to pay a prostitute because they don’t want to put the time and effort to try and pick someone up.

    Take someone who works long hours and the only available females he tends to meet during the day are coworkers, and he doesn’t want to chase any of them because he’s wary of having sexual relations with colleagues. So he sees a prostitute once in a while after a long day at the office for a relaxing body rub and then some sex. I suspect that might be the motivation for some male customers of sex workers.

    My own personal feelings about prostitution are ambivalent. On the one hand, I don’t think it should be a crime if one person offers companionship and sex for a fee if someone is willing to pay for it. But as Yoyo explained above, there is an element of risk, especially for the providers, that does not normally face people who work in most professions, whether it be the possibility of robbery or assault, or even being infected with an STI.

    In one regard, there is a form of prostitution that seems to be de facto legal. The sugar daddy sites where typically wealthy older men can meet younger women and set up an arrangement. I imagine it is hard to prosecute because it is not a situation where one party pays another party for a sexual encounter but rather pays for a relationship of a certain duration where sex can happen from time to time.

  41. 41
    mouthyb

    I feel compelled to comment.

    I worked as a professional dominatrix for a year. I mostly talked to people over the phone, but did meet a few of them in person. This is what I found (n = hundreds, over the phone and no one’s business in person):

    For every likeable person who was willing to treat me like a human being, there were easily twenty who engaged in behaviors ranging from merely annoying (like refusing to respect the times I asked them to contact me; how do you feel about 3 am phone calls?) to frightening (like demanding my personal information and contacting the booking office, claiming to be someone who could reasonably get that personal information, and telling me they were going to come find me at home.)

    Also, loads of unsolicited dick pictures and commentary on how I should be more attractive (lose weight, wear makeup, dye your hair, smile more, etc), insistence that their fantasies were something that, despite my demanding explicit consent and a half-hour of discussion first, that I ‘made’ them have, and therefore ought to be verbally abused for when they felt guilty for those feelings.

    Even the more likeable ones behaved (and remember, I was the top) like they owned me, with the exception of ONE guy. They got jealous, tried to sic the dommes on each other, demanded that I change the hours I was available and otherwise attempted to force me to change my boundaries because no matter how nice they were, they were buying me and wanted me to know that. They also, occasionally, tried to demand that I meet and have sex with them, even though I said up front that I would not. No matter how much lip service they gave respect, they constantly tried to transgress those boundaries. One of them actually found me on my Linked In academic, professional account, used it to get my email, and emails me periodically to ask me to come back.

    I count part of transgressing those boundaries behaviors like demanding that I tell them they were the ‘good’ customer, that they were better than everyone else I saw. They wanted to know that they could convert me, marry me. They demanded a great deal of personal information which was none of their damn businesses, and many refused to take no for an answer. They explicitly compared me to other dommes unfavorably when they wanted something, and tried everything in their power to get me to say something untoward that they would repeat in conversations with other dommes.

    My fellow dommes were a mix of people who had education and people who did not. Those of us who came from educated backgrounds tended to be middle class, with the resources to stop if we wanted to. I was not one of those, and listening to the middle class dommes discuss involvement like a fun hobby pissed me off. Sure, I suppose if you are able to stop any time you want, it can be something light-hearted and fun.

    It did not pay as well as people want to think. The company charged $120 an hour over the phone, I made $40, but the calls were never consistent enough to have a concrete budget, and the cost of costuming for pictures, photography, trips, networking and little rewards for wading through miles of bullshit (like, in my case, a good pair of leather boots; retail therapy IS the pastime of sex workers), in addition to the bills, ate up what I had.

    You are encouraged to drink and/or do drugs; it keeps you from being able to leave and lowers your inhibitions.

    I was also in another graduate school at the time, and the service wanted you to have constant availability (and, in fact, told you that the only way to build clients was to be there for them at any time.) Because I could not be there all the time and got irate with clients for refusing to respect my boundaries (by doing things like calling me during lectures), I lost business. You see, they believed the customer was always right (as they are encouraged to believe by commercial culture.)

    In my case, as well, I am a lifestyle person. I am inclined to care about people I top, something which some of my clients attempted to exploit for free services because, after all, it’s not like they had to respect me. I was a sex worker.

    Even regulated, legalized and supported by law, the cultural supposition that sex workers are trash makes the work itself more exploitative than I am comfortable engaging in.

    Despite the spate of people advocating for it, I think that selling sex in a culture which commodifies women and their bodies is not a revolutionary act, though we used to tell each other we were ‘breaking ground’ for sexual freedom. Yet nothing I experienced lead me to believe that we were free to express our sexualities without judgment FROM OUR CLIENTS and without the demand that even moments we preferred to be personal be able to be accessed by our clients. Imagine, if you will, being on stage all the time. Clients wanted and sometimes demanded to see me piss or shit (speaking of moments I’d prefer to have for myself.) They also demanded that I have sex with my girlfriend for them, since she also worked at the service. The demand on my time and private life was insatiable, constant and insensitive of any sort of limits I set. There was considerable pressure from the booking company to allow more and more transgressions of my personal boundaries; it made them money.

    In my experience, sex work takes as a baseline a sort of weird pity for men as a group, and the assumption that we, as women, are here to provide for them. Many of my fellow sex workers believed that sex work was the goddess working through them to provide compassion. As an atheist, that also creeped me out.

    I’m going to go ahead and tell you that if you were a client, you would NOT want to hear how we discuss you when you aren’t around for the most part.

    No, thank you. I’d like to be equals, not a font of ‘mercy’ for men assumed to be clueless and entitled to sexual attention if they have money. I also am not interested in the constant pressure to change my boundaries for clients and I think that is essentially the definition for exploitation; when the worker doesn’t get to set boundaries for the limits and value of their work.

  42. 42
    Yoyo

    Mouthyb, you are totally right. The fact that money is involved and usually male female dynamics on top (no pun intended) means that female workers are subjected to a barrage of pressure to move their boundaries. I can’t count the number of clients that got jealous or wanted sex without condoms (because they were special!), or tried to find my home, or didn’t want to pay.
    This is not like being a shop assistant, we are kidding ourselves if we think in our social climate we can make it totally benign.

  43. 43
    mouthyb

    I didn’t mention this and I should: I like and respect this blog. I disagree on this subject, but I really think that a lot of the guilt-free discussions of sex and sexuality (off this topic) are great.

    I don’t want to seem as if I am merely stopping by to poop on the parade, so to speak.

  44. 44
    Yoyo

    Greta please accept my appreciation of your blogs although I don’t like the aesthetic layout here I do like the synergies. While I love your clarity of thought on atheist issues and your sex positive writing IMHO perhaps the experience of women seeing women sex workers or male seeing males is perhaps a bit of an outlier in terms of common experiences.
    Btw I found it interesting that unlike almost every other area of employment male sex workers were paid less than female (I believe the only similar situation is with models). Go figure.

  45. 45
    wywóz odpadów trójmiasto

    I drop a comment each time I especially enjoy a article on a website or if I have something to add to the conversation. Usually it is triggered by the passion communicated in the post I looked at. And on this article News Flash: Some Sex Workers Like Some Of Their Customers | Greta Christina's Blog. I was moved enough to post a leave a responsea response :-P I do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind. Is it simply me or does it look like like some of the responses look like they are left by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are writing on other places, I’d like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Would you list every one of your community pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  46. 46
    newb

    News flash: women have no respect for men that have to pay for sex otherwise they would give it to you for free.

    Don’t delude yourself. These women don’t like you in fact they most likely hate your guts.

    You are an ATM to them and nothing more. They press the right buttons and money comes out.

    If you don’t believe me go to http://www.stripperweb.com/forum/forum.php and read how strippers and escorts feel about their customers.

  47. 47
    Greta Christina

    newb @ #46: News flash: MRAs are not welcome in my blog. Goodbye,

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