What happens when we share a sense of victimization?
Society doesn’t like sex work. It doesn’t like sex workers, it doesn’t like sex work clients, and it doesn’t like the defenders of sex work! There is a perpetual human history of trying to shut down the world’s oldest profession, yet it never has, this is an industry, profession and human need that will never go away.
This means that ‘sex work’ and all of its participants and advocates have always, and probably always will, be under siege by the mainstream views, or at least the publicly stated views, of the bulk of society. This article isn’t about changing that, although I wish we could, it is about what happens to people under siege – what is happening to us?
What is siege mentality?
Siege mentality is a shared feeling of victimization and defensiveness in the face of the negative intentions of the rest of the world. Although a group phenomenon, the term describes both the emotions and thoughts of the group as a whole, and individuals being overly fearful of surrounding peoples, and an intractably defensive attitude (thanks Wikipedia).
Is the sex industry under siege? Of course it is, it always has been. Who is under siege? Escorts and sex workers most of all. Although the clients of sex workers, the defenders of sex work, and anyone who advocates for sex work, to a lesser degree, they are all under siege too. Anyone who sees sex work as work, as a valid and socially helpful industry and sees sex and intimate human interactions as being locked in some anachronistic dark ages – well all of those people are under siege. I am under siege writing this blog, having a secret life as a client of escorts, and having to be hidden from the world. If you are reading this, you are most likely under siege too!
Escorts under siege.
If you have read sociological articles or group psychology articles on this topic, I would love for you to point me in their direction. I have struggled to find much on the topic. What is true about a group under siege, is that normally there will be group social conformity, and lack of trust, and a preparedness to assume the worst in other groups (the enemy).
This is no doubt a topic better explored by others, if it hasn’t been already, and it is also a reality, not something that should necessarily (or can) be changed. As a ‘client blog’ however, I would like to take a short look at what it means for clients of escorts. In some circles, this is a symbiotic relationship, a partnership where the better participants make the industry work, and try to get along despite obvious differences. In other circles, clients are part of the enemy, even seen as worse than ‘non-participants’ by some people.
I can’t think of many industries, and this is still an industry, where the customer is so poorly regarded. The only ones that come to mind are other ‘industries’ that face siege mentality with the general public, and they include mental health, illicit drugs, police and the military. These service groups, also have strong threads of ‘customer hatred and dislike’ within their industry dynamic. Police often dislike their customers, as do drug dealers, soldiers and mental health workers. Not all of them, but enough to create a mini-war within the broader sociology of these group dynamics. There are some escorts who hate clients more than they hate the parts of society that want the whole sex work industry shut down.
What does this mean?
In a siege scenario, the escort group are always (and rightly) going to defend and support their socially cohesive colleagues, who are under the same public siege too. This makes sense, and certainly no one can know what it is like, what support is needed and help in more practical and emotional ways than fellow sex workers. There is however a choice as to whether other sex industry participants, primarily clients, are at the next level of industry cohesion and support, no better or worse than the hating public, or the worst of all – a necessary evil to be despised and used. This choice, like the framing of every group perception, depends on who is defined within the group(s), and how the groups are perceived.
Defining the client group.
There is a group of non-clients. Men and boys, who are either intrigued by sex workers and undertake unsavory activities such as online abuse, forum participation without experience, trolling, time-wasting, posting offensive material, insulting sex workers, faking bookings, absolute time wasting, robbery, and other versions of ‘getting their kick’ from the abuse and baiting of sex workers. In some circles, especially online examples where this behaviour is named and shamed, these disgraceful people are called clients. If they are called clients, then these disgraceful acts become seen as part of ‘client behaviour’. Something that colours the overall view of real clients who actually make bookings and fund the industry and behave appropriately.
The equivalent would be calling the scum-bags who steal real escort photos, set-up fake sites, and then try to rip-off clients or other escorts – sex workers. They are not sex workers, they are thieves. The group I have detailed above are not clients, they should also be seen as ‘industry abusers’, not as industry participants. They are out to harm the industry, not to support it. Clients by definition support an industry. The inclusion of these acts, under the description of client acts, leads to a mistaken perception around the customers of the industry. It also makes the ‘stereotypical client’ a bad stereotype.
Real clients pay sex workers for their service and act within the rules of the provider and the industry. Of course even in the ‘real client’ group, there are bad clients, average clients and better clients. There are people with mental health, physical health, weight, cleanliness, self-respect, and other social issues. There are nice people and not nice people. There are clingy clients and aloof ones. There are wealthy and poor, nervous and arrogant, interesting and boring, lovely and awful.
This is the same for escorts, although the divisions will be different – there will be more quality escorts than quality clients. Why, because the industry, the money that funds the ‘gap in personal difference’ makes it that way. An average client, spends time with a wonderful escort, because the market and the money bridges the gap. Any other view is naive. So every provider and client experience will be different. There will be more ‘lower to average’ clients than ‘lower to average’ escorts, but that doesn’t mean that clients are bad by definition, or that clients should be hated within the industry as much or more than they are hated outside of the industry. We are all hated by society at large.
Are escorts and clients under-siege together or apart?
I feel under siege from society, as I have mentioned in this blog, I can’t talk to most people in the ‘muggle’ world about my experiences as a client of the sex industry. It is a secret world. Most clients I have met, and that isn’t many, feel the same way. There is some ‘client siege behaviours’ in forums and groups, but for the most part, they want connection with their service providers, their escorts – that is the little emotional part of the whole Girlfriend Experience (GFE). Clients are generally not participants in the industry to make connections with other clients, they are here for the escorts.
It is disappointing to me, and I imagine most clients, when it seems like there is an ‘undeclared war’ inside the industry. That outside of the booking, ranks are closed, clients are hated, and secret conversations about the enemy are common place. I have been called naive many, many times. In what may also be another naive opinion, I believe we are under siege together. We are not the same, the issues and problems are not the same, and escorts need their safe spaces, channels and independence from clients. Once that escort support is taken care of however, surely we (quality escorts and respectful clients) are better as partners in this siege. It will probably last forever, it has so far, and we are all hated, at least in public statements, by the rest of the world.
Mutual respect and support would be a nice baseline for everyone who is playing by the rules and has respect and fairness in their hearts. I just made a big sigh as I wrote that sentence, because to be honest, right now I am steeling myself for more hatred. The hatred isn’t coming from outside of the industry, it is coming from parts of the industry. I hope that I am wrong, if I’m not, I will gladly leave. If you believe what I have written in this blog, in this website, then you know I value the industry and respect all of the participants.
Thank you as always for your readership. Thoughtful comment and feedback is most appreciated.
Xx SP 14 June 2017.