While sexual experiences with professionals are often relegated to the realm of sleazy, lonely men who can’t attract a little feminine affection, much less love, there’s been a steadily growing stream of popularity in sexual services among a seemingly unlikely demographic. Career oriented women with disposable incomes, a lack of time for developing a romance, and unhappy with their choices at the local bars at last call, are reportedly buying lap dances, cyber sex sessions, and the company of professional escorts. According to at least one account appearing in the UK’s Times, they do it because they’d rather have the fun without the attachment so they can focus on their work and their kids instead, a very similar reason given by professional men who’ll pay for sex and companionship. It seems women in the US and Britain are sampling many of the same forbidden and controversial pleasures as men after centuries of dealing with discrimination and sexual repression…
On the one hand, seeing women with the money and the opportunity to pay for sex taking up male escorts can be seen as another wrench into some ideas about women held as conventional wisdom. Women aren’t less interested in sex than men, they’re willing to initiate it when given the chance and they feel bold enough, and they aren’t opposed to one night stands, looking for hookups at bars, clubs and even online. Even more, there seems to be a growing trend of couples enjoying professional services together as women use a significant other to either access more sexual experiences, or keep trying new things even though they’re in relationships already. And on top of that, as noted in the first link, female customers aren’t all about gentle and sensual, and are more than willing to try something rough or sexually adventurous.
But they’re not just going to try anything; they want assurances and if there’s a professional who’ll give them the experience they want, that’s what they may very well pick. Of course libidos and tolerance for excitement and experimentation varies from person to person, but the point here is that we need to recognize the obvious fact that women can be, and often are, just as sexual as the men who are often stereotyped as bipedal containers of pure lust. That should be obvious to most of us today, but we often pretend that it doesn’t happen due to long standing gender stereotypes.
On the other hand, we might have a unique double standard. While prostitution and many sexual encounters between a client and a paid professional are generally illegal, the demand for them is always sky high. This is what allows criminal organizations to make millions off horrific human rights abuses. Have you ever seen the film Taken? The unfortunate part is that its portrayals of human trafficking and those who engage in it haven’t been exaggerated all that much. Nations with regulation and government oversight of sex workers can offer a number of ways to persecute and shut down criminal groups without further punishing their victims for having been drawn into illegal activities, though casting human sexuality as an illegal taboo in the face of a non-stop stream of demand always creates serious problems. And generally, the victims of these problems are young women.
Would ladies building demand on the male side of the field be criticized for helping to contribute to a typically illegal and highly abuse profession looked down upon by the morality police of the West? Or would a male side of the supply be ignored due to modern stereotypes of male sexuality? One point to consider is the brand of sex tourism in which well-off European ladies pay young men in the Third World nation of Senegal for sex and company during their vacations. Are they taking advantage of guys who can’t find work in a very poor nation with barely an economy to speak of, or just helping them out, as they put it?
The psychology of sex becomes maddeningly complex when money enters the equation and it’s very hard to make judgment calls about who’s objectifying who when both genders are buying companions’ services in a situation without any evidence of obvious abuses, such as in illegal brothels around the world. What won’t be of much help to figuring out these issues is pretending that only those on the fringes of society or the socially inept would ever seek out sexual entertainment, and that only those who should be shunned and ridiculed, or treated with a mix of condescension and pity, would ever provide such services. Unfortunately, today we’re still living in a culture where the Vatican is ready to crack down of feminism, but when it comes to priests using their position to molest altar boys, they’re not in a big hurry to cooperate with the authorities “for the good of the Church” and the leadership’s public image. Something tells me that we’re not going to make progress in finding constructive ways to deal with the whole subject of sex in the public forum anytime soon…
[ illustration from the sci-fi series Caprica ]