How to Be an Escort (Part 2)

by Jessica Brookman in ,

FACT: I have more to say about escorts.

First, I'll apologize to my Catholic mother. If she knew how to use a computer, these pieces might really have offended her....

hotel girl

Anyway, I got a thought-provoking comment on my article HOW TO BE AN ESCORT and I have to address it. Again, the first article I wrote was a response to a New York Observer Article and a response by Leandra Medine @ Man Repeller





There are a few points in the comment, specifically with regard to my use of marriage as a basis for comparison. Here are the snippets: 

But how is this different from what expensive prostitution has always been: privileged men employing their means to get sex and companionship on their own terms? Hasn't the "girlfriend" element always been part of the equation for the men? But the escorts don't get a remotely equivalent "boyfriend" experience, so it's not a relationship style; it's a job. If they enjoy their work, that's great. But it's still a job. 


I fundamentally disagree that sex without the chance of a relationship is inherently a "mans" preference. I'd argue that the women (who we are assuming to be doing this voluntarily) are finding these terms favorable to them as well. They are entering into this "contract" without the expectation of a traditional relationship, so the fact that there will never be one after they have sex is not relevant. The idea that sexuality has to be expressed only when it will lead to a relationship, marriage and/or children is antiquated. This, I think, is pretty commonly accepted. 

So are we sure we're not actually just uncomfortable admitting that not all human sexuality is designed to be contained within a monogamous long-term relationship in the first place?

That confuses me, personally, since we freely acknowledge that some people choose to sleep with people for free after meeting in a bar (for example) and that these sexual encounters have very little, if any, chance of becoming a traditional relationship either. This intent is not stated outright, usually, but that doesn't make it any less clear to both parties. 

If our objection to non-relationship sex is that it's "on the man's terms," then women who have sex with men they meet in bars are also escorts. They're just just performing their services for the price of a few drinks...or less. Similarly, should women who have sex with someone they are dating be able to sue for breach of contract if it never turns into a more serious relationship? No. Because everyone knows that sleeping with someone does not guarantee that you will marry them, or even date them. And, as an adult, you are responsible for your decision about whether to have sex knowing this. 

I disagree that it's inherently female to "expect" a relationship wherever there is a sex.

I'd argue that it's a learned attitude. It is about how we're teaching and expecting women to regard their sexuality in the first place. I think it's based on where women are taught to derive their relationship to how men desire them. Being desired as a wife, we're taught, is good. Being desired for sex, not as good. 

It also blows to think that an adult woman isn't capable having sex with someone she's attracted to simply because she feels like it without either feeling "slutty," being slut-shamed by others, or feeling like she's been taken advantage of in some way simply because she's not in a relationship with that person. 

So, the argument, again, that these escorts are being extorted seems valid only if you believe that ALL women SHOULD want a relationship with every person they sleep with. THAT seems oppressive to me, whether or not money is involved. 

I'm also not clear about the relevance of your marriage-is-bad-for women argument. Even if you stipulate that marriage is a bad deal for women, it's a huge leap to go from that premise to the conclusion that being an escort is a good deal for women. 

I was using marriage as the assumed natural extension of our most preferred relationship "mode," i.e. a committed long-term, monogamous relationship. Because Leandra talks about the idea of wife-in-training (non-escort girlfriend) vs. perpetual girlfriend (escort), I wanted to remind readers that marriage is not necessarily the only option on the table these days. Nor is it the best end-result for many women. The idea that marriage is ideal and that anyone who never gets married is somehow deviant, defective, or undesirable is inaccurate and damaging to women's progress towards equality. 

I was addressing the concern that she had for escorts (and feminism) on the basis that they are using their sexuality in a way that will never result in that marriage. If we remove the notion tat ALL women are striving for marriage, it becomes less difficult to understand how a woman might exist in a sexual situation unrelated to the possibility of "happily ever after" without feeling guilty or used in some way. 

I'm not saying that BECAUSE marriage is bad for some women that becoming an escort is a good idea. Of course it's not binary. I was simply bringing out the idea that not everyone is after the same things from the start. And even if an escort eventually decides to get married, i don't believe she should necessarily feel any worse for having slept with clients than a non-escort should feel about having slept with exes.

People have sex. People have sex before they get married. People -- men and women -- voluntarily have sex with people they never plan on marrying (or even dating). Period. What does the exchange of money have to do with this at its core? Not that much, in my opinion. 

I wrote this originally wondering if our objection to expensive escorts is less about the exchange of cash than it is in our insistence that all women should WANT  the same thing. That ALL women want to be girlfriends-then-wives. I was questioning the notion that any woman who disobeys this "feminine directive" must be subversive and evil OR extorted. 

Further, our interest AND outrage probably has something to do with the fact that, in this echelon of whoring, the girls *don't* seem to come with the typical sense of desperation we "expect" of prostitutes. I mean, there aren't many front page articles about the lives of random hookers turning tricks for $50 on Sunset Blvd, right? But, we can't pity these girls. They aren't tragic at all. And that is what makes it controversial, in my opinion.

Thoughts? Hit me in the comments. -@jessicabrookman.