Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thirty-Two: Hostilities

I was following an on-line discussion about sex work and sex workers and followed a link to an article at Jezebel.com about the clients of escorts and prostitutes. The thing that amazed me was the level of hatred and contempt in the comments for any male who hired sex workers. The commentariat took it for granted that any man who hired an escort or a street girl was a monster who'd be violent with a girl in a heartbeat. That's certainly the way clients are portrayed in moral-panic journalism, and it's certainly something taken for granted politically by a large swath of feminists. I suppose I expected that--- it's certainly the message that the Scandinavian view of sex work puts forth: all sex workers have been "trafficked", all clients are violent abusers.

I wasn't, I think, expecting the depth of personal contempt for anyone male who left a comment saying that he'd been a client.  The men who wrote in wrote to say that they weren't violent, that the girls they hired weren't heroin-addicted girls brought in from Belarus. Some wrote to say that because of their own lives--- physical disability, social awkwardness, lack of attractiveness ---their only access to sexual partners was via sex workers. That brought out far more contempt and anger  than even the standard political claim that all clients are, by definition, violent abusers.

The hatred was directed at the men for being...failures. If the men couldn't get sex because of their looks or awkwardness or disabilities, then they didn't deserve to have sex. They were told to go masturbate and then mocked for having to do that.  The target of the contempt and derision shifted across the comments from being about the idea that sex workers could be abused to being about the idea that men could be awkward or graceless or unattractive and still want sex.

I didn't join the discussion. I can't afford to hire escorts or even street girls; I can't support a sugarbaby. But I have no problem with the idea. My own tastes are quite niche-specific, and if I had the money and lived in a city where there were services that had the resources to cater to my tastes, I'd have no problem using the services.  My interests are very specific, and I'm well aware that every passing year makes it harder to find what I'm looking for. Find a service, specify what I'm looking for, negotiate a price. That just seems very straightforward. And treat the girl who'd arrive at a rendezvous with the respect one gives any professional. I'd be hiring a girl as much for her skills as an actress or in conversation as for what she could do in bed, and I'd always offer up clear professional respect. She'd be someone hired to be a character in my internal novels or films, and I'd be well aware that I was paying someone with skills and knowledge to create a role with me.

I'm still someone that the commenters are Jezebel.com would despise, though. It's hard to grasp that their contempt would be based not on anything I might do to a girl I'd hire, or on anything I might feel or think about her. Their contempt would be based on the idea that I might need to hire someone, that I wouldn't be good enough to have a potential partner find me desirable--- and based on the idea that I might want something that would be above my station.

I can't afford a service of the kind I'd need to use, and I don't live in a city where such services exist. So all this is theoretical. I am amazed, though, at the depth of contempt the Jezebel commentariat have for men who might have only the options of involuntary celibacy or hiring a sex worker. I'm beginning to sense a contempt for any male sexuality, too--- something I must discuss with young companions or my acquaintance.

1 comment:

writergrrl88 said...

I really think men who employ consensual* sex workers (whether in the literal, such as paying street girls or call girls for short-term services, or the more abstract, such as patronizing stripping establishments or "keeping" a sugar baby) are helping the young women. Young women who find themselves in the sex industry are usually there because they're trying to better themselves (putting themselves through school, supporting a small child while still being home for him/her during the day, etc.) or because they are desperate and would be homeless/dead/injured/ill without an income.

I certainly think it's classier to see a sugar baby, high end stripper, or call girl than a street prostitute, but that's just my personal view. (Also, a street prostitute is likely to have a pimp, which I dislike. I think pimps are a problem, because they often abuse women and take more than their share of the profits -- creating a situation wherein women must work more, often in more dangerous situations, whilst taking home less money to attempt to improve her situation.)

I don't see a man who employs a sex worker as a failure -- often, this is an option for men who haven't the time for a more complex relationship, or who are in a sexless marriage and are sensitive enough to have discrete sex whilst not divorcing a now-frigid woman.

*I do not agree with portions of the sex industry in which women/girls are forced to work. Sex workers should understand what they are doing, be willing to do the work, and understand potential risks and be willing to get tested/take precautions.