Lies About Prostitution: 3) Sex Workers Hate Their Job and Their Clients
Prostitution is a service work that requires both empathy and strong emotional boundaries
Do prostitutes hate their job?
The belief that trading sex for money is degrading implies that the prostitute has to feel bad about it.
Here the ideologue is trying to invade the prostitute’s mind to implant extraneous feelings into it. He believes that she has to violate some innate instinct to do this kind of work. He negates her agency by implying that she is not able to freely choose to do sex work.
However, the testimony of many prostitutes is that they actually enjoy their work. Others have the same kind mix-feelings about their job that most workers have about employment that has nothing to do with sex. There are good parts and bad parts; good days and bad days. Even the most rewarding and prestigious jobs - like scientific research, in my case - involve endless hours of drudgery, fighting red tape, bureaucracy and mindless repetition.
In fact, the most rewarding jobs are the ones that involve human contact. And you can’t deny that there is a lot of that in prostitution.
Prostitution is a service job
Like other service jobs, prostitution mainly involves a lot of human contact, not only physical but also emotional. There is much good in that. Far from it being perceived as a violation, it is rewarding to give something to others that makes them a bit happier.
We humans are social animals. We thrive by helping and pleasuring others.
Of course, a prostitute has to develop emotional mechanisms to protect herself from the psychological baggage of her clients. But, in that, hers is not different from other professions that expose you to human suffering, like being a medical doctor or a therapist.
Here is how an escort describes her experience:
“Escorting was a new environment with new social dynamics and incentives, and thus I found a new character emerge. I was there to please, and so my character compartmentalized my own preferences. I didn’t lay there actively hating the experience; I simply became someone who enjoyed it. If the experience was too hard to enjoy, I became someone who didn’t mind enduring it. I didn’t force myself to be authentic, but I actively looked for ways to express authenticity if I could without disrupting the character I was inhabiting. For many clients this was easy - I would often lay there feeling myself love them. Sometimes I cried with them. I let my heart move. To this day I feel like pieces of my soul lie with a few clients I’ve seen, and I’m happy for them to have it.” Escorting Was Good For Me, Aella, escort and blogger.
If prostitutes feel bad, it’s not about actually doing their job, but because of the slut-shaming and marginalization that society heaps on them. However, modern sex-positive culture has given them the tools to identify these instruments of oppression and free themselves from them. Consequently, there are more and more sex workers that have come to appreciate their jobs and even speak highly of it.
The myth that prostitutes secretly hate their clients
Since prostitutes feel degraded and exploited by their work - argue the prohibitionists - they must hate their clients. They see sex is an intimate act that must be done with somebody you love. So, surely, doing it with somebody you have no intimacy with must lead to resentment. Therefore, while externally being all sugar and spice, internally the prostitute hates her clients.
The other side of that coin is that the client deludes himself into believing that he has some kind of intimacy or connection with the prostitute, while in fact she despises him. Johns are dupes looking for love in all the wrong places. They are victims of their own desires.
But none of this is true.
Prostitutes have a whole range of feelings towards their job and their clients.
Many have a professional relationship with their clients, similar to the provider-client relationship of other jobs that require intimacy, like psychotherapists or couple counselors. These professionals have to connect with their clients at an emotional level, but they also have to develop defense mechanisms to keep that connection from spilling over to their own emotional lives.
Other jobs, like masseuse, physical therapist or sport trainer, require physical contact with the clients, which is often experienced as intimate.
In all these professions, some kind of internal psychological barrier has to be developed between the emotions of the client and the emotional life of the professional. We can see that in the quote from Aella above.
A psychotherapist cannot avoid interacting with his client as a human being, being empathetic to his emotions. On the other hand, it would not be healthy for him to take on the emotions of the client. He has to develop internal boundaries between his mental life and that of his clients.
The same happens with prostitution. The prostitute knows how to get intimate with the client during her time with him. But she also knows how to let this intimacy walk out the door with the client when he leaves.
“The structure of escorting protected this for me. I had to maintain really clear boundaries - I left on time, I didn’t make any special exceptions even for people I really genuinely liked, I didn’t give discounts. Blurring any boundaries would have triggered that anxiety, suddenly made it personal, and destroyed my ability to enjoy the experience with them.” Escorting Was Good For Me, Aella, escort and blogger.
Sex work provides emotional support to the client
Good prostitutes do not provide just sex. They listen and provide emotional support and validation.
“Because ours, like it or not, is a very personal and tremendously human work. Sex may or may not be part of a service. But what takes place, in a very high percentage of cases, is an intimate and personal conversation. Customers usually want similar things, there are no differences in what human beings need. We are talking about affection, deference, attention, tenderness, respect and consideration.” Paula VIP, sex worker (translated from Spanish).
Sometimes, the client does not even want sex. He may want to chat and have physical contact. This is especially true for clients who develop ongoing relationships with prostitutes, sometimes lasting many years.
One type of relationship that is becoming more frequent these days is the Sugar Daddy, where the man provides ongoing financial support to the woman in exchange for regular sex and time together. The relationship may, or may not, be exclusive. It is not uncommon for the Sugar Daddy and the woman to fall in love with each other. How is this different from marrying for money?
Copyright 2022 Hermes Solenzol.