This is the third and final part in a three-part series of blog posts about why women are currently less likely than men to hire a male prostitute. If you haven’t already, take a look at part two, which looks at some of the historical contexts to this question.
In this third part, we look a little more closely at the judgement of wider society when it comes to sex work for women and the shaming that often results. We close with some possible ways forward.
Yet more barriers
If all of the historical and technical problems (see Part Two) weren’t difficult enough, several more cultural barriers remain.
One downside to increasing financial empowerment is that many women with the monetary means do not, concurrently, have the temporal means to make time for a male escort booking. Busy lives can leave little extra time – or energy – for accommodating one’s sexual self-expression, or even just a dinner date. Sometimes self-care alone is hard enough.
This is especially true when we recognise that it takes time to build trust. Most of the bookings I take are at least two hours in length, with time to chat, relax, and get used to each other in the beginning. Even if the money is there, the time can seem like a luxury.
Another barrier, referenced in part two, is the fear of having your appearance judged by the male escort. Thanks to centuries (if not millennia) of cultural objectification of women’s appearances, a great many women are very self-conscious about what they see as flaws in their bodies, faces, hair, and especially the more sexualised body parts such as vulvas, breasts, and butts. A couple of my clients have insisted on getting into bed with the lights off, in pitch darkness, so that I couldn’t see them. Others kept certain parts of their bodies covered while we had sex. Midriffs, especially, seem to be a sensitive area.
If sex work has taught me just one thing, after having sex with every body type and appearance that you can possibly imagine, it is that my client’s appearance is far from the most important factor in my capacity to provide a BFE (boyfriend experience) service. Far more important to me is, firstly, are you comfortable? Secondly, are you enjoying yourself?
There should never be a discussion or argument about how you look or don’t look unless it is to compliment you. My job is to make you feel good. And hey – if you still want the lights off, then flick goes the switch.
Decriminalisation, Legalisation, and the Law
As of writing this, there are only two jurisdictions in the world, currently, where sex work is fully decriminalised: New South Wales (in Australia) and New Zealand. [Edit December 2020: Northern Territory, Australia is now also decriminalised]. Sex work is legal in several more states and countries around the world, but one thing that varies widely is the enforcement of and penalties for both clients and providers. In places where sex work is criminalised in some way, women have to clear the additional barrier of feeling like they are doing something wrong by breaking the law. (#DecrimNow)
Women often aren’t used to being in charge of their sexual activity
Anxiety around your appearance is just the start of it. Women’s sexual expression has been actively repressed by a patriarchal culture that has encouraged first parents, who dissuaded young women from sexual activity at all, and then later male suitors and partners who became the gatekeepers of women’s sexual activities.
And when young women did have sex, it tended to be the men who decided what those activities would be. Picking a man up in a bar and taking him home very often results in the man asserting dominance and dictating what happens. Thus, for many women, getting sex is easy; being an active participant, less-so. For some women, this pattern becomes internalised, and they default to allowing their male sexual partners to “lead the dance.”
As a result, many women have had scant power or opportunity to explore their deeper sexual desires and honest fantasies. Having had their sexual autonomy withheld for perhaps their whole lives, the chance to express it can be daunting and confusing. The fear of judgement for having sexual desires at all can be harrowing to grapple with.
The tyranny of judgement
Another of my clients felt secure enough to tell a workplace friend that she had booked me with her fiancé’s blessing. Her friend, incredulous, then broke trust and told other colleagues. Now subject to the judgement of several people in the workplace on a daily basis, it took some time for my client to come to terms with things, break up with her friend, and decide not to give a damn. But it was a very, very uncomfortable situation, and incredibly unfair.
Even if you do keep it to yourself, it can hurt to feel like you have to hide your empowering self-expression from people you want to be able to trust. This is no fault of the client, nor the sex worker – it is a cultural hangover from hundreds of years of judgement of women’s sexualities and the persecution of sex workers and their clients. This, too, is changing… oh-so-slowly.
Absence of role models or examples
How many movies or songs can you think of that portray women as sex workers for men?
Now, how many movies or songs that portray men as sex workers for women? Is there a difference? How big is it?
There is a gaping hole in pop-culture media where positive stories and role models should be, showing anything at all regarding how to go about engaging a straight male sex worker, or the reasons why. This, again, can make it look like the service does not even exist, let alone how one might go about it.
Furthermore, there is a distinct lack of practical resources for women seeking men for paid companionship services – where to find providers, how to filter them, how to stay safe, what to expect, do’s and don’ts, and so on.
The general cultural distaste for sex work can also be a big barrier. In pubs and at dinner parties everywhere, jokes are made about whores and rentboys in a passive-aggressive dance of judgemental confusion and misconception. A common misconception is that sex workers harbour and spread sexually-transmitted infections, whereas the research data we have says the opposite. The fact is, in some places you are less likely to catch an STI from a sex worker than from a person from the rest of the population. In Australia and New Zealand, available data shows STI prevalence is more-or-less in line with the general population. (Sources in footnotes.)
The reality is that sex workers are everywhere. You probably interacted with several in the last week without even knowing it. We work in your customer service jobs. We drive your trucks. We walk your dogs, teach your kids, and pace your hospital wards. Chances are, someone you love is a sex worker.
One more misconception about male sex workers is that we are probably sleazy types, just selfishly in it for all the casual hookups. Or that we are male stripper types, buffed and tanned and all about appearance. The reality is that we come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, and all colours – just like y’all.
What can we do?
In order to reduce friction and open up opportunities for female clients of male providers, here’s what I think we can do:
Listen to sex workers
Read, follow, and watch. Becoming familiar with what sex workers do, say, and think will help you to become familiar with who we are and how we do what we do. With familiarity comes comfort. That will help you with the next part…
Talk more about sex work generally
Breaking down taboos around all kinds of sex work will help folks of all genders to be more open to seeking and experiencing sex work services. Next time you’re hanging out with your friends, pose the question: would you hire a sex worker? Why or why not? Work it out… just be mindful of those prejudices and stereotypes. Share what you’ve learned with folks who are confused or misinformed.
As sex workers, even if we can’t come out as sex workers we can still participate in the normalisation of sex work by supporting those who do come out, and advocating for sex work when we have the opportunity to dispel myths or break down stereotypes.
Normalising sex work could also result in more male providers with the capacity to serve femme clients coming up and starting out in the industry.
I think we can make it easier for potential female clients to find male providers by openly offering to recommend male providers we know. Networks of trust and accountability can make it easier for potential clients to trust the providers who are out there.
For example, after starting off the above discussion of “would you hire a male sex worker?” someone might end up admitting they would like to do so. There’s your chance to point them in the right direction.
At any time when a woman reaches out to you with any queries at all, no matter how awkward or strange they may sound, answer them to the best of your ability and without judgement. Remember, it’s about them and what they need, not what you think about it. Do your best to help them find what they are looking for. Tell them that you support them. If they do engage a male sex worker, check in on them afterwards.
Seeking and hiring a male escort can be one of the most anxious and harrowing things a woman can do. It can also be one of the most exciting, wonderful, and rewarding. After centuries of repression and control of women’s sexual personalities, it is a wonderful time we live in where services now exist for women to break out of those controls and explore their self-expression and autonomy in ways that they choose, from start to finish.
Let’s do everything we can to encourage that.
For more information about the author, Harley Brixton, see his: