The Value of Fantasies
A number of thoughts have been on my mind recently, some relating to and expanding on my last post.
One such thought is how as long as a woman is in any way dependent upon the earnings brought through escorting, she's not at liberty to be 100% honest and upfront. This is probably why it's taken me over a year to come back here to display to the world my lingering feelings of anger, resentment and confusion, because now I am no longer dependent on prostitution (which is what escorting is, regardless of the semantics popularly employed for legal protection), nor am I concerned with whose feelings might wind up hurt by the truth.
This is a game belonging in the realm of fantasy for clients. Clients create the demand, and it's an escort's job to cater to the fantasy and to protect it from the harsh light of day. I used to think about that when out and about in town, grocery shopping or the like, wondering what would happen if a client recognized me when I wasn't all dudded up. Would his fantasy be crushed to see me without makeup, acrylic nails, or attractive clothing? How would his opinion change if he knew the fantasy projected has little to do with my everyday reality? And what if he found out I wasn't at all like he thought I was?
Well, I found out the answers to some of this once I reached the point of no longer being able to stomach this business and began speaking out, asking difficult questions, and even occasionally crying during sessions. Yes, I admit it, not that it's probably a secret thanks to your crazy review sites and back-channel men's groups. But whatever -- I'll tell it as I see it now.
Men I'd known for years didn't care to hear my truth or to acknowledge how this business was affecting my life. The people who repeatedly proclaimed themselves to be "friends" backed away when they learned a little about where I really came from and how I've come to feel about this sordid 'lifestyle'. A very few stood by me on platonic terms while I sorted out my emotions.
Typically, my anger brought out clients' self-righteousness, which further fueled my indignation, and around some of us went. Feelings were hurt on both ends undoubtedly. Fake bonds were exposed for their lack of substance and men for their lack of heart. That passion they touted as so remarkable in me became a threat when it spoke toward truth rather than superficial bantering.
But it's okay now, because I've stepped so far back and looked over these past several years with a critical eye and am better able to see the situation for what it is and always has been. I no longer lament damaging those supposed bonds because they never truly existed outside of a mutual fantasy. All a person can do is take away from this lessons learned.
One such lesson is what I referenced above, that escorts aren't inclined toward open honesty while employed in this sector. That goes for porn stars, strippers, models, etc. Anytime a woman is dependent on this arrangement for her income, if she is a wise businessperson she learns to conceal the truth artfully, to omit what might make her clientele uncomfortable, and to bend the truth where it suits the situation and presents her in a favorable light. Men don't like guilt-trips; they don't like being called out for their role in all of this. Smart escorts know this.
What's particularly on my mind right now is how common it is to defend the business and the clients tooth and nail against scrutiny that might make the men cringe, or worse, cease participating in this form of exploitation. When I worked as an escort, it was common for me to tap-dance as well, saying what I hoped they wanted to hear. I too defended this industry against the naysayers, and still do when they offer up weak arguments from naive, outsider perspectives. I too pretended this is a wonderful way of life that I was so fortunate to be a part of, nevermind that my options were limited. Like so many others, I offered up the Libertarian defense which claims a person has a right to do with their own body as they see fit, nevermind the conditioning that went on behind the scenes or the economic incentives offered to young women before they've come to deeply understand themselves or their own sexuality. I'm guilty for having played the game right along with everyone else here.
My point this evening is that I've learned over time not to trust the words of sex workers when they're speaking in a public forum, because indeed they are biased by their need to keep up appearances in order to protect the fantasy. So, to the outside world looking in, it may appear that we're a happy family, that we've figured out how to make this work in the best interests of all involved. But this is a lie. It's an act, albeit sometimes a very good one, going so far that surely some of the sex workers are themselves convinced of its validity and have long forgotten any other way of looking at the situation. That's the problem in a nutshell: the dependent individual has a vested interest in protecting that which she depends on. Hence why so much of the bitching and complaining that does go on is restricted to "safe" spaces, like women's groups or in-person communication between women. To state out loud and publicly the unsavory, the frustrating, and the harsh truth is professional suicide.
Thankfully I've shaken off that dependence and am able to speak up, loud and clear, without concern for any financial ramifications. That's not intended to put down those who are unable to escape dependency on this business, as it's true that we have a great number of aging, single mothers among us. And it's true that this industry provides better wages for the amount of time and energy expended compared with other lines of work. But I'm questioning why that is. Why can't we be paid living wages doing something other than catering to men's sexual fantasies? Why must it so often be a trade-off between living paycheck to paycheck or learning to play this game well? Why does what we claim to value wind up inverted in our economic hierarchy? For example: providing childcare, household maintenance, meal preparation, and agricultural production are all services we as a society value greatly, yet we pay service workers, childcare professionals and farmers far less than they deserve and can get by on as individual earners. But useless CEOs ruthlessly ransacking the government and economy become billionaires. Why?
The beauty of escorting, as I see it, is working within the Midwest where the clients tend to treat escorts better than what's reported in the East, West and Deep South. Why this is, I do not know. But still, the fact remains that we have a conundrum where women are made well-aware that providing sexual access will garner much higher income than using one's skills, abilities and time for more productive uses that greater society could benefit from. Instead we cater to men with money in order to earn a living and justify it anyway necessary.
How sad of a situation we've created here, not only in the sex industry but also in wider society as a whole, worldwide. What people are willing to pay for is in no way a direct reflection of what is of genuine value and importance.
At the end of the day, it comes down to those who hold the resources that others desire being able to command them, to make demands of them. And just think, those of us who cater directly to the middle and upper-middle classes are considered the lucky ones, the workers who supposedly have it the easiest and shouldn't complain. Funny how those comparisons run...