Black and white close up photo of two people kissing, photo cropped from nose to top of shoulders. Image for article Why are women less likely to hire a prostitute than men? NZ Pleasures.

Part 1 – Why are women less likely to hire a prostitute than men?

Preface: Terminology

In this post, I use the common words “man” and “woman” as terms of convenience. I do not intend to exclude queer or gender-diverse folk; my intention is simply to aim this article primarily towards cis-het women seeking cis-het male prostitutes or companionship services.

The sex work mural on Marion st in Wellington, depicting a prostitute leaning against the wall. One knee bent with her foot against the wall. She's wearing a red skirt, boots and a black crop topI am also using the term “prostitute” interchangeably with “escort” or “sex worker” in this post. “Prostitute” is the most common search term currently used on the web. Using it here means more people will find this post. For example, women hiring prostitutes.

For anyone reading this who doesn’t know the difference; the term “prostitute” usually refers to a criminal, since prostitution is most often a legal term referencing a crime. Additionally, it is sometimes used pejoratively to refer to ‘selling out’ oneself for money to do something you don’t really want to do. Implying coercion. Not all sex workers are criminals since not all work in places where sex work is a crime. Nor are all sex workers being coerced into something they don’t want to do. 

Since “prostitute” is so often used in a pejorative way, I consider that the more inclusive and less confronting term is “sex worker.”

And now, on with the show…

Part 1

It’s about trust and safety

Looking through a window at a woman sitting at a table having coffee. She wearing a yellow jacket and drinking coffee. We can see the male escort she's sitting with, wearing a brown jumper, facing away from the camera.

In a central city cafe at lunchtime, across the road from the public services office where she works, I meet my prospective client for a quick coffee. She is 48 years old, highly-educated, and I can tell from her facial expression, as she waits for me at a white ultramodern plastic table, that she is self-conscious about her appearance. She looks up as I get closer and I am quick with a broad, warm smile, an outstretched hand, and a cheery “Hi! I’m Harley, are you Claire*?”

Claire is a virgin. A key feature that further narrows her demographic is that she is in a powered wheelchair, having been born with cerebral palsy. The meeting goes well and as we start wrapping up we begin to make plans for her booking. I make sure to give her lots of chances to tell me exactly what she wants to get out of the encounter. She is nervous, yet enthusiastic and very open.

After we have gone through some of the details she comments – unprompted – “I don’t know why I haven’t thought of doing this earlier… like, years ago.”

Curious, I ask her why she hasn’t. She replies, “I didn’t even think it would be possible until just last week.”

Claire is no intellectual slouch. She also appears to be outgoing and easy to talk to. It seems it never occurred to her to contact a sex worker until now. 30 years into adulthood.

Trust and safety is just one barrier to women hiring prostitutes.

A male-orientated market

Sex work is just not something people think of as being available to women. Some might argue that it is not ‘appropriate.’ Others might consider it is not even safe.

Sex services for men are virtually ubiquitous – open your eyes and they seem to be everywhere. It’s more challenging trying to avoid them. Those of us around before the advent of mobile phones will remember how you couldn’t walk into a public phone booth without being completely surrounded by mass-printed postcard-sized ads for phone-sex services stuck onto every surface. (These even served as entry-level porn for adolescent males in pre-internet ages.) Personal computers and mobile smartphones have moved these advertorial solicitations online, along with everything else.

To find any kind of similar service for women, however, you have to put in some concentrated effort, especially in the smaller cities and towns. I don’t recall even once seeing an ad for phone-sex services for women up in those old phone booths. I always wondered about that. To this day, you never see ads for women’s sexual services online, either. You see ads for sex toys, but not for sex services.

Think about that. Ads for toys, but not for services. Objects, not people. That could suggest that women seeking sexual expression are avoiding men and preferring toys. If that is even partly true, one wonders why.

As with so many challenges that women face when seeking companionship of any kind, it is most often about trust. How much can a woman trust a man to respect her physical well-being, her emotional needs, and her sexual desires – in short, her safety? 

To make the search even more difficult, the vast majority of male profiles on escort listing sites are for gay or male-to-male services. Great if you’re a gay man, not so great if you’re a straight woman. Thankfully, most listing sites now have filters to narrow down the search for straight male escorts. 

Sadly, though, many women have been serially let down before, and many will simply give up looking. In blatant spite of this, other women still continue to look. Demand is slowly increasing, and the landscape is changing… albeit at a virtual snail’s pace.

The number of women clients is increasing… slowly

A sepia image of a naked man and woman in embrace

Unless you live under a moon rock, you’ll have noticed that the number of men paying women for sex is orders of magnitude larger than the number of women paying men. The question then begs: why? What is preventing more women from seeking sexual services from men, or even considering them at all?

There are a number of common presumptions and stereotypes, some less helpful than others—

  • Women do not demand as much sex as men and are more willing to go without it
  • Women can get sex whenever they want; lots of men will have sex with them, so why pay for it when they can get it for free?
  • Women are more shy than men about asking for sex and thus not as forthcoming about seeking it
  • Women have more of a need for emotional connection than physical connection; they can find that sense of emotional connection among existing social networks; and, therefore, don’t need male prostitutes
  • Conservative and religious social values have repressed and limited women’s sexual expression. 
  • Men do not (some might argue they cannot) really understand women’s sexual needs, and so women would not seek sex from a male sex worker
  • Sex work is still seen as ‘bad’ or taboo, and therefore women have an aversion to it in fear of being ‘found out’ and censured by friends, family, or workplace; and, furthermore, since women are far less likely to engage in sex work services, that social censure is perceived to be much worse for women than for men.

These are only some of the prevalent reasons; there might be more personal sources for discomfort with the idea of hiring a male escort. In the next post in this three-part series, we will look at some of the history and cultural context in which male prostitution for women exists and finds challenges.

Continue reading with Part 2.

The authorHarley Brixton – is a male escort for women and couples. He is currently based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

For more information about the author, Harley Brixton, see his:

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