It’s a hard world out there, one that hardens most hearts. I saw a Twitter post from an Escort a little while ago that simply said, “Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.” It made me think, what hardens the heart and how do some Escorts manage to navigate the storm?
I had a challenging childhood, bullying at school, and a business stolen out from under me by unscrupulous scumbags. My personal values involve staying open to good people, even if that means being taken advantage of by assholes at times. To me that is a better reality. To me, a hardened-heart would be me, robing joy from myself, worse in my mind than having it taken by someone else. But then I haven’t had a fraction of the challenges that many Escorts face.
So What Could Make An Escort Mean?
Let’s count down some of the many pressures and social evils that are perpetuated against Escorts and other sex-workers. This is hardly an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will set the scene for understanding the legitimate hardening of a worker’s heart. An argument as to why ‘Getting Mean’ would be a perfectly reasonable defensive response.
Count Down …
Ten – Society Hates Sex-Work. It isn’t a normal hatred, no it is far worse. It is a perverse hatred. One where nearly everyone is biologically, emotionally and intellectually interested, but most secretly protest and even rally against the idea of sex-work. Publicly expressing one out-dated view while secretly maintaining aroused interest. This isn’t just hatred, it is hatred with passion, because it reflects self-hatred of the contradiction inside people. A repressed desire, combined with rejection, missing-out and a lack of resolution between primal desires and a socialized view of how they think they must behave. The false image they think they need to present to the world.
Nine – ‘Here Be Dragons’. I have commented before on my dislike for criminals, rapists and real time-waters being lumped in with real clients. It pollutes the view of real and decent clients. But having said that, there really are evil people playing in this area, taking advantage of sex-workers, their lack of social protection, the isolation of the work, the potential for financial advantage and the poor support, protection and laws that are around sex-work. It makes this a place where some of the most evil men in society pray on women. These scum would harden anyone’s heart – seeing what one person can do to another and how bad society can be at supporting victims and preventing future crimes.
Eight – Failure of Institutional Support. Societies institutions, at best turn a blind eye to sex-work, and worst they actively support and enforce harmful behaviour, damaging stereotypes and the isolation and depression of workers. Myths of higher incidence of disease and poor parenting still prevail, preventing workers giving blood, getting accommodation, receiving equivalent health services and getting in the way of parenthood and the surrounding supports and protections that workers should have.
Seven – Peer Competition. Another myth is that the community supports itself and provides help to the independent workers and other industry participants. Well in many ways it does and there is great solidarity and support in many areas. There is also two-faced competition and outright harm. Fake booking made by other workers or their contacts for workers on tour are just a tiny example. Some terrible things have been done by one worker to another out of envy, competition or just transference of their own pain to another in the same way any other hurt person is likely to lash out.
Six – Youth and Beauty Myth. Most workers I’ve met are not as impressed by their own intelligence, skills and beauty as the clients who see them, or even their own peers are when they comment on them. Most don’t understand how amazing and desirable they are. Yet even though they don’t see themselves as most of the world sees them, they believe their peers are more youthful, more beautiful and more skilled than they are. This isn’t true. Yet against their own insecurity and rejection of the positive, they often have an exaggerated fear of loosing their (relative) youth and beauty. This contradiction of strong fear against weak positive opinion is another personal, but also socially imbued force, that puts additional pressure on industry workers in the most personal way.
Five – Real Client Needs. Clients, people like me, are needy. Escorts provide a service that is sadly wanting in society and when they do it well, clients want more. More contact, more love, more of what the worker is providing. This is a human interaction, so sometimes the workers need this in return. Drawing the line is hard. Draw it too harshly and clients go elsewhere and they do not provide loyalty and friendship in return. Draw the line too generously and well meaning clients will take unwitting advantage of what is on offer. It may make for loyal regulars, but their needs have a strong potential to be emotionally and financially draining.
Four – Health and Well-Being. Of course there is the risk of disease, illness, violence and any of these can take a worker out of action – reducing their capacity to generate their own income. The risks may be able to be managed, but they exist and they can easily play on someone’s mind and add to the overall stress of the work. If unwell, society and its support mechanisms often fail to adequately and fairly address the needs of the worker.
Three – Isolation. There may be ways of avoiding isolation, however independent sex work in particular is a solo business for the most part. Admin, security, preparation, marketing and the work itself is isolating both in its mechanical practice and in the way society isolates sex work and all of its aspects. This is hard enough at the best of times, but when difficulty in trusting peers, clients and social institutions are added to the mix, this isolation can be crippling in times of hardship.
Two – Rejection and Abandonment. The nature of the work is all about selection by clients. It is a rare thing in society to be chosen by someone else and workers get to experience this more than almost anyone else, but they can easily loose that buzz of adoration. What is left is rejection. Why was someone else chosen? Where did the regular I thought of with affection go? Often these changes in selection are not accompanied with any explanation of the reason, and as a result it is easy to assume the worst, adding extra negativity to a worker’s self perception. As a client, I find rejection, abandonment and the lengthy separations between bookings hard (many blog articles I have written on this topic). As an escort, I imaging it is even harder, at least in volume if not individual intensity. How can this not be a ‘heart-hardening’ force?
One – Business Risks. On top of everything else, job security, career longevity, ability to maximise income and retain value is difficult. Many people, in other industries, can build up their businesses and sell them, or make money from growing their business. These strategies for business growth and exit are much harder to accomplish in the sex-work industry. Yet marketing, reputation, personal security, brand building and other aspects are also harder. This is not easy work in any way, and although it may be lucrative at times, it is hard to sustain and hard to build a business that can be sold and create a ‘windfall’ at some future moment. It is a damn hard career choice.
So What Could Make An Escort Mean?
Zero – How is anyone left? The question shouldn’t be ‘what could make an Escort mean?’, it should be, with all of this pressure and forces rallied against sex workers, how is it that so many manage to stay sane, stay kind, continue to truly connect with their clients and their peers, and avoid the hardening that would happen to almost anyone else? It is amazing that most sex workers are still so emotionally giving and wonderful, lovely people.
So on the few occasions where I feel I was treated poorly or unfairly as a client – and it is only a few, I try and remember the pressures at play. The forces that create stress for Escorts, by comparison, they make the forces that create stress for me look like child’s play. I know how badly I can react and behave when I am stressed – I am not proud of some of those moments. The stress on the escorts that I adore is so much more, so embedded in society, and even coming from well meaning clients like myself as well.
So those that occasionally seem like ‘Mean Girls’, are for the most part, decent, lovable and kind people struggling or reacting to their pressures, their lives and their stress. It is mean of me to compare their behaviour to my own, I am not under the stress that they are under, and yet I still expect kindness, attention and care. Who is the jerk here?
I hope that you get my point. This is a hard industry for so many reasons. Some of those forces we can all work together to improve, some are unlikely to change anytime soon. However if you are at the receiving end of what you feel is poor behaviour – unless it is profoundly bad, cut the other person some slack. The list (count down) in the article is only a small part of what they probably had to face, just this week alone.
I have finished this article (one I started a long time ago) as my first of 2018, in what I hope is a tiny contribution to making 2018 a great year. Forgiving each other a bit more and being a little more understanding and supportive. Many escorts and clients I know are struggling at the moment, let’s reach out and be more loving – especially to the workers who are confronted with this harsh reality every day.
Thank you for your readership. Comments are always welcome here or on Twitter. Please also understand that I am not trying to speak on behalf of Escorts, I am just a client who is trying to understand the forces that are impacting upon the companions that I meet and how I should behave in return to ordinary humans struggling with significant pressures.
Xx SP 3 January 2018