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?

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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.

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?

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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)