Siege Mentality

Why do sex workers and sex work clients act defensively?

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?

ViewFromInside

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

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.

Hiatus Perspective

Traveling in April was a well needed chance for a review.

Making a personal reassessment.

When I first drafted this article, I had not seen an escort for more than four-weeks. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a break, but it was the longest hiatus for me since I started upon this adventure. Instead, as some of you know, I went traveling and I took the opportunity to do some thinking.

I tried to think about my future. What did I need to do to be better, be aligned with my real self, get more enjoyment out of life, and be a good person to be around for myself and for others. So here is a little insight into that thinking and how it has been progressing since the first release of this article.

HarbourCocktail

Some of the triggers for making change.

One of the triggers for ‘reassessment’ I had already hinted at in this blog in the piece on Relationship Breakdowns. It was an ending with an escort that I liked very much, a person that I had been seeing regularly since almost the beginning of my client journey.  The last part of the last message that I received from her was as follows …

“… there is much I like about you but what I like most about you is your money. If this hurts you remember that I am a sex worker, I do this because I like money and this is how we met. And if this hurts you then maybe you aren’t cut out for being a john after all.

Either way, there’s no going back from this. I think it’s time to accept that our relationship has come to its natural end.”

This very painful conclusion to what I thought was a great connection has been on my mind, and to be honest, is still on my mind. The more confronting parts of this exchange, combined with other personal issues and some other recent negative experiences with escorts made me look at my travel break as a badly needed chance to get some space, think about recent events and return with a plan.

The beginnings of a plan.

I have been needing more from my Escort interactions than it is fair to expect. From the lonely and unfulfilled position that I was in when I started this adventure, I needed physical and sexual fulfillment, and I also needed more interpersonal connection and deep personal intimacy. I put these two things together into the same sought outcome. In some way, I thought that regular and extended (mainly dinner) bookings with escorts might address both groups of needs – especially with escorts where I felt a strong connection. Maybe in some rare cases they can be combined, but for the most part this is asking too much on the relationship, too much from an escort. I have been coming to the party with the wrong expectations. So what does this mean for me?

Friendships with escorts.

In my real-life (I would rather say public life, as it is no more real to me), I deal with clients and offer a personal service. I consider many of my clients as friends. They however don’t know if I am a ‘real friend’ to them, or just a ‘friend for business’, until the client relationship is over – money in any walk-of-life gets in the way of knowing this for sure.

I am in the reverse position in the client-escort world. I hope that friendship has developed in some cases of strong and sustained connection, but I can’t know that it actually exists until the business is over, an emotion and topic that I started to explore in my Friends and Lovers blog. So now, after having been hurt on more than a few occasions, I am going to try and just focus on the ‘business at hand’, and let the friendships, if there are any, sort themselves out over the fullness of time. I am going to be a little more of the ‘ghost’ persona that I described in the blog article and respond to escort communications rather than seek to initiate them.

Since drafting this originally, I do however have to admit that is a work in progress. If anything, I have been in exactly the same position. I am unclear as to whether I can separate bookings from the gaps in between them as much as I had hoped.

Changing my booking behaviour.

None of this means a change in who I am. I can’t help but try to be a gentleman. I feel that regardless of the transactional nature of this business, a client should always try to be charming, good company, as good as they can be at sex, well mannered, clean, respectful, courteous, generous, interested in their partner and play their part in making the experience as rewarding and memorable as possible.

In some ways, this is the same set of behaviours for building friendships, but from now on, I am going to consider it as building a good client-escort connection, and not assume that it is also building a friendship outside of that business relationship. That actually means at least two significant changes for me as this year progresses.

A new adventure.

Part of my booking ‘decision making’ was built around friendship and a sense of related obligation. No escort has any obligation to me and I need to reduce the sense of obligation that I feel toward them. If called upon to be a friend, then I will of course be there, but I no longer feel that it is an obligation to make bookings in the belief that I am helping a friend. I will make bookings on where I believe I will get the most enjoyment in the same way I expect that escorts will take bookings from where they achieve the greatest level of their own goal and need fulfillment.

I will look to the best fulfillment of my physical, sexual, intimacy and enjoyment needs. This will certainly center around escorts I have come to know and feel enjoyment with, but I am aiming to remove any guilt, pity, obligation and any other negative considerations from the way I make decisions about who I ask to see.

Other changes.

I will also be making other changes in my life. I am going to travel more, for its own sake, to learn about new places and meet new people. I am going to get therapy to deal with some of my ‘need to be liked’, to be a friend and gain fulfillment from other life choices in the areas where seeing escorts is not the best pathway. I am going to have fun and I am going to be fun to be around for others in my life, inside and outside of my sex-industry encounters.

I am going to continue to see escorts (and write about it here, in the same generalist and discrete way). Some regulars I am keen to see as soon as possible. I have missed them enormously while I have been away. I may however change from primarily ‘dinner dates’ and look at other booking durations and formats as well. I am undecided on what this means in practice just at the moment, but I am going to try other experiences – more interesting bookings, even if that means less of them in total.

Communication changes.

I am also going to change the way that I communicate. In my work, when a client contacts me, I am responsive to their business needs. Sometimes I send clients that I am less interested in ‘signals’ when I don’t really want their work, or I am too busy to take on any more – this signal is often non-contact or non-response.

In assuming that escorts might be friends, I try to ignore signals that they are too busy, not really interested in seeing me as a client, and I accept a level of delay and need for me to re-contact that I wouldn’t expect in a transactional relationship. I may, as a result, have been guilty of ‘bothering’ well mannered but apparently uninterested escorts into bookings because I put their disinterest down to friendly forgetfulness. Trying to ignore signals that perhaps my business wasn’t wanted.

I’m not going to be that guy anymore – I’ll ask once and assume that non-responsiveness is the real answer. Part of my issue with at least two of my escort relationship ‘break-downs’ was expecting communication and then asking why I wasn’t getting any response.

Exploring my own sexuality.

I am also ready for some other experiences beyond ‘dinner date’ girlfriend (GFE) experiences. I think that in dropping some of my need to ‘build a friendship’, I can experience some bookings that are just more primal and more intensely focused on the sex or other aspects of the experience. I guess I am looking at practitioners in other areas of sex-work to see where my interests start and stop.

As a person with a largely ‘vanilla’ experience of sex, I have a lot to learn, and parts of me to awaken that I don’t even know what they are – they have been dormant for a very long time. This isn’t just for sex, I am opening myself up to other experiences in my life as well.

In my more regular bookings, I believe I will look for some chances to experience other things with trusted regular companions, travel, extended dates, sharing other experiences together, and opportunities for me to have new experiences, fun and enjoyment before time passes and those chances are lost. Hopefully constructing these experiences in a way that is new for my companion as well.

Avoiding being hardened by hurt.

The biggest realization from this hiatus is that I will not be hardened by hurt. I have not been hardened before in my life and I will not be now. To some people this makes me soft and easy to take advantage of. I reinforce my life-long view, that being ‘soft’ and sustaining hurt is far better than being ‘hard’ and immune to emotion. I will keep opening up and seeing what the world can bring. I am simply changing what I personally need to receive from the part of my life that is booking escorts. A personal expectation and contribution to sex and intimacy in the moment, and less expectation around between booking contact and emotional reinforcement of friendship.

One day, I hope this whole adventure leaves me with some industry friends, close companions I met along the journey. I really hope that a few of the people I have met already are in that class of connection. For now however, I am recommitting myself to having fun and new experiences, and doing so in a manner that is respectful, sustainable and thoroughly enjoyable.

I am back from hiatus, I am back writing and I am reinvigorated for what lies ahead.

How is this all progressing?

Now a month on, and several bookings back in to my journey as a client, I am troubled by this article. Of all the articles I have written and then updated later, this is the one where I feel I was mostly talking rubbish. I was trying to tell myself that there would be changes and that I had changed. I haven’t, at least not so far, and if anything I am more troubled by my failure to disconnect ‘booking moments’ from ‘ongoing connections’ than I was before my travel break.

At the time of updating this article, some specific things are playing out. Some drama in other parts of my life, as well as some changes with escorts that I care for. Together they have left me needing the connection with these escorts more than ever. I felt this article talked a good game, but if you want to know if it is real, at least real for me, it isn’t. It was idealistic and aspirational – underneath I am a quivering mess, seriously impacted by a couple of very minor things. As the parting words of my long-term regular said, ‘maybe I’m not cut out for being a John after all’.

I am almost tempted to delete this article, but it is part of my journey as well as the others after all. It certainly shows how confused and conflicted I really am.

Please comment, re-tweet or contact me with feedback if you feel inclined, and thank you (once again in many cases) for reading my self-indulgent articles.

Xx SP 19 April 2017 (article updated 22 May 2017). 

 

Sex and Guilt

Buying sex and dealing with associated guilt.

Client guilt, the dark-side of seeing escorts.

Get over it! Guilt is the most useless emotion. Guilt is anger directed at ourselves. Guilt is to the spirit, what pain is to the body. Forgive yourself, guilt helps nobody. I’m sure you, like me, have heard similar quotes on the subject of guilt.

Every client wants to rid themselves of guilt and embrace the pleasure and enjoyment they seek when buying the services of an escort. However guilt is a sneaky and invasive feeling, shaking it isn’t always that easy to do. So why do I feel guilt and what should I do about it?

GuiltShot2

So where is my guilt coming from?

Well that is a very long list, summed up by the cheeky T-shirt above. Here are a few of the obvious sources: I’m deceptive and breaking trust in a monogamous relationship. I have daughters who wouldn’t understand my secret life or sex-work in general. I’m buying intimacy from someone who would most likely not even notice me in the ‘normal’ world. I’m older, I’m spoilt, I’m selfish, I’m entitled, I’m wasting money that could do something far more meaningful in society. I’m a creepy client of sex-workers and other better men than me don’t need to buy this service. I’m needy, flawed, and insecure.

Worse than that, I may be self-destructive, seeking solace and comfort from an escort that can’t give the same to me in return (without being self-destructive in their own right). Clients often want to ‘suck up compassion’ and the poor empathetic escorts that give ‘too much’ of this support away, can do significant damage to their own psyche. The fact that I know this unhealthy dynamic exists, and yet I still desire real intimacy with many of the escorts that I meet, just makes me feel even more guilty for having these feelings and hopes. It is almost a vicious spiral, adding to all of the other causes of guilt. So as the T-shirt says, ‘I am a cunt’ (in the unfairly negative use of this word)!

Of course I didn’t even add that society hates us both – escort and client alike – if only they knew the level of guilt, shame and insecurity that can hit us. It’s not that we are ashamed of ‘buying sex’, or anything about sex-work – we are just generally ashamed of other aspects of ourselves. The mythical sexual abandon and indulgent debauchery that society may often imagine when picturing sex-work, probably isn’t anything like the world that they expect it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back (it is amazing), but there is always a price to pay, and sometimes one of those prices is unfortunately guilt.

So why do I continue to see escorts?

At TedX Sydney in 2016, Elise Payzan-Le Nestour (behavioural economist) said, “we are all greedy and lack self-control”. The smoker, gambler, drinker and even extreme athletes, vegans and religious zealots all know that their activity of choice has consequences both positive and negative – joy and despair. My initial decision was to seek joy in parts of my life that I felt I had lost, youth, intimacy, wild sex and even the adrenaline of secrecy and ‘seeing behind the curtain’ of social taboos.

Some of these reasons remain, but over time the reasons that I continuing to remain a ‘client of escorts’ have changed. There are now other reasons as well. Things like loving more than one person intimately, maintaining important connections, learning new things (both the salacious and the mundane) and having joyful, compressed and intense moments to look forward to in the future and then to savor secretly when looking back at my hidden past. I added an article specifically on ‘Staying in the Moment’ to look more specifically at this unique dynamic that exists in the escort-client world.

I actually feel quite sorry for people who do not have this amazing level of sexual and intimate experience in their lives. So those who give in to guilt and choose a different moral path, may not have to deal with the negative consequences, but they may be robbing their life of areas of fulfillment that they may regret. I believe that I would look back and regret aspects of my life, if I gave up on these amazing experiences.

I know I need the highs and lows to feel alive. My personal discovery in seeing escorts, is that a mundane, predictable and vanilla path is death, a zombie-like existence, that fails to see there is more joy to be had. This has led me to do many, many other new things, however seeing escorts is still my favorite part of a more vigorous, spontaneous and vibrant life.

How do escorts manifest and deal with guilt?

This will probably be material for a longer article in the future (if an escort or two would like to help me with the appropriate material). For now, it still needs to be placed within this discussion. Like clients, escorts are on their own journey of dealing with guilt. The sources, the resulting emotions, and the level of personal resolution changes from escort to escort and even from moment to moment with the same individual (clients as well). I have had moments when I felt I had ‘resolved the guilt’ and then it comes back and ‘bites-me-in-the-ass’ in unexpected ways.

I have been watching this play out with some escorts. In many social media conversations there is pressure to agree that guilt is bad, society has it all wrong and escorts are like the ‘mutant X-Men’ and the future of a liberated and sexually enlightened society. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that were true, and in some ways, I think that it is.

Some of the same voices however will then say that when they “retire, they wouldn’t see a man that has visited escorts”, often missing the guilt-laden irony in this statement. Some particularly smart escorts also experience guilt from their astute awareness that as advocates for feminism, their earning potential is still largely the result of residual patriarchal structures and ‘women as object’ thinking. This also causes guilt for me – as I support feminism but take advantage of the contradictions that allow me to book escorts.

Of course most of the guilt comes from us having difficulty escaping our upbringing, the standards of our families and friends, and the malicious attacks that come from an ignorant society with a mistaken view of sex-work. The social errors don’t really matter, as wrong or right, the sheer volume and persistence is a weight on client and escort alike. It scratches away at our insecure selves in those weak moments, and creates self-doubt, sadness and this most useless of all emotions – guilt.

What does it all mean?

So I don’t know what to do. Sometimes in the ten-seconds it takes to get a condom on, the guilt-laden doubts enter my head, and my penis goes into retreat. I win the battle more than the doubts do, and most times joyfulness ensues for a brief few hours, more than worthy of the financial cost, and an amazing memory is created. Of course later the guilt can return in what I guess we might call ‘post-booking melancholy’ (a topic I added after this original article was written).

As for the industry, we shouldn’t pretend that guilt doesn’t exist. Please don’t shame those who feel it more acutely than you, those who can’t be ‘out’ with their family and friends, and perhaps most of all: those of us compassionate clients should remember that in our own guilt, we need to be reinforcing to our wonderful supporting escorts that their choices are more than worthy too! Any guilt that they may feel should give way to the youthful, vigorous, spontaneous and vibrant life that they are providing to their clients, and hopefully they are fully able to enjoy this more vibrant and enriched life as well.

Guilt really is the most useless of emotions.

Xx SP 17 March 2017 (Happy St Patrick’s Day) (article updated 9 May 2017)