Who can talk about sex-work experiences?
This website is an unusual blog. It is the thoughts of one person, a single, middle-aged, white, Australian client of primarily independent female escorts. The rambling thoughts, but still the voice of a sole client from the privileged fringe of the sex-work industry.
I remain thrilled and amazed when someone comments, likes or reads my articles. I don’t expect anyone to pay them much attention, but I do have a view when people, mainly a small number of incensed escorts and other male clients, suggest that I should just shut-the-hell-up!
Who gets to speak at the table?
I see escorts for enjoyment, I guess that makes it a hobby. Some of the escorts I see are full-time, so I guess that makes them professionals. It is their career on the line when they talk, for me it is just an interest.
I have become, after hard work from humble beginnings, a wealthy, entitled, spoilt, lucky and largely protected middle-aged heterosexual white-guy, in a very lucky country. Escorts are by definition of societal exclusion and stigmas disadvantaged.
Many sex-workers are also disadvantaged by other societal constructions around gender, age, work and in some cases race, mental health and other disgracefully applied stereotypes. I am in a privileged position, most escorts are by comparison in a far less privileged position – it’s not a ‘level playing field’ as commentators would say if this was a comparison within business circles.
So I should ‘drop dead’, as I was so eloquently instructed by an escort via a Twitter Private Messages (PMs) just before I first wrote the first version of this article. I’m pretty sure that meant that I should silently buy that person’s services and never say anything, to anybody, about anything, ever! Clients should be seen and not heard?
So isn’t it good to hear a client perspective?
Apparently not, if a small and bitter group of escort voices are the social media and blog police. Even if I am aware and respectful of the dynamics I described above, I am apparently not welcome at the conversation table and certainly not, under any circumstances, allowed to speak about sex-work. The catch-cry is that “only sex-workers can speak about sex-work!”
On one level I get the point, there are certainly aspects that only sex-workers can speak about with expertise, but do we suggest that only police can talk about police-work? Can only politicians talk about politics? You get the point, every group, individual, interest, participant and worker all have a voice and in a democracy they should all be able to be heard.
In this blog, I am not speaking for clients, I am certainly not speaking for sex-workers in any way at all, I am only speaking for me. This is a beneficial part of my experience and for the moment an important personal outlet. It is open to anyone who wants to read it, agree, disagree, comment or respond. It is nothing significant in the scheme of things, but it has every right to be part of the dialogue, just as everyone else’s voice does too.
So why are almost all clients and most escorts silent on social media?
There are very few social media active clients. The limited number who are participants in the public dialogue feel very limited in what they can say, and in most cases are reduced to banal sycophantic fan-boy content – re-posting, liking and generalised support.
Those that are more vocal either have very thick skin, have developed a wit and banter that allows them to survive, or are widely disliked around the industry. There are no real free voices. Maybe this is a good thing, but if so, why are most of the independent escorts quiet as well?
Censorship and peer pressure?
If you ignore social media that is only for basic escort marketing, peer support and notifications, then the majority of independent escorts are silent in public communication channels. Again not necessarily a bad thing, it’s more work for them to spend time in these channels after all, but what happens to those escorts that actually enjoy social media and stating their opinion and discussing experiences? What happens to them more specifically if they have a viewpoint that is slightly unusual or differs from that of many of their peers? Do they have a right to free speech or should they be silence by attack from others?
This more outspoken group that are still here are in rapid decline. Compared to two years ago, or a year ago, most active accounts are less active, post less and are more generic in the content that they publish. Those that are still ‘keeping it real’ with individual content and ‘god-forbid’ opinion, are often forced into defensive stances and other behaviours that are akin to being ‘under siege’. Who are they under siege from? It is certainly not the general public in this case.
The level of industry self-censorship is disconcertingly high and seems to be getting worse. I am going to end this train of thought here for your consideration – it is a matter of course for each participant, escort or client, individually to determine their own position. It is enough for me to say that I am staying, I hopefully won’t be ‘dropping dead’ anytime soon. With respect and admiration, I am going to continue to say what I think as it relates to my individual journey and demonstrates respect to all of the other participants – workers and their clients.
May 2018 article update.
With legislation changes in the USA that have had global impact, and with a changing world environment around news and truth, it seems things are getting worse if you want to speak about these topics.
It’s not just these changes, the industry and participants seem to be even more under siege, even more fearful, even more likely not to speak opinions, explore topics and try and share information, learning, experiences and fun. I don’t have any answers to this phase and the challenges everyone faces. The only thing I can do is continue to express my opinions, listen to others with respect and try and show everyone, governments and individuals, haters and friends, that free speech is important.
Thanks for your readership, thanks for sticking with me. I would love to continue to hear your views and comments. Thanks also to Jeff, Ad, Peter, BB and Bella who commented on the first version of this article.
Xx SP 5 April 2017 (article updated 21 May 2017 and again 30 May 2018).