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July 11, 2004 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Working Girls Jay, your average john, discusses his experiences with Working Girls -- as in, they work the "oldest profession". Nicole, a Working Girl, shares her experiences. Together, they try to educate people about what it means to be a "Callgirl" and the motivations behind those who are johns and prostitutes.
posted by SpecialK (92 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm...you know, i think i'd find it incredibly unsettling to find out my girlfriend is an ex-whore.

Having said that, I think finding out my girlfriend was an ex-courtesan who had only 4 to 8 regular clients wouldn't be so bad.

Weird.

Also...talk about the best of the web...this is quite an interesting find.
posted by taumeson at 6:18 PM on July 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


So much of this entire topic is based on labels.
Consider this: what a prostitute does is not unnatural--in fact it is not just natural, but essential for the species. So is the difference that prostitutes and their customers don't wish to reproduce? Just wanting sex for its own sake is almost a universal drive.
So, what other factors?
The exchange of money *immediately* before or after sex? Is it prostitution if "consideration" (a common law business term for money or goods) is not exchanged within 1 hour? 2 hours?
Monogamy? Give me a break. One relationship at a time? Not having a relationship with someone who is married?

"Soliciting" a sexual act *at the same time* as asking for money? Isn't that the common legal definition?

"How about I buy you a nice dinner, then we go dancing, then back to my place for a nightcap and a quickie?"

Not very subtle, but is it soliciting "prostitution"?

In other words, "prostitution" is just a label.
posted by kablam at 6:42 PM on July 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and if you videotape it, it's porn, and legal. (am I wrong here? I've always wondered)
posted by abcde at 8:50 PM on July 11, 2004


No matter how you slice it, paying somebody to pretend they want to spend time with you is pathetic. I'd jerk off before I'd go that far. Realizing that she's only being freindly because of the cash in your wallet should only make you feel worse.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 PM on July 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Prostitution is rape.
posted by the fire you left me at 8:56 PM on July 11, 2004


Agreed, Kablam, but I didn't know how else to write the topic teaser except to use the labels that everyone else calls them by.
posted by SpecialK at 8:56 PM on July 11, 2004


I'd jerk off before I'd go that far.

Say it isn't so!
posted by abcde at 8:59 PM on July 11, 2004


Prostitution is rape.

Whatever.
posted by McBain at 9:00 PM on July 11, 2004


Prostitution is rape.

Feminist chicks dig the fire you left me.
posted by jonmc at 9:03 PM on July 11, 2004


What about prostitutes that specialize in rape fantasies?
posted by spazzm at 9:07 PM on July 11, 2004


Kablam -- that's neither here nor there. Anything's "just a label"; there are very few instances in which there's a clear line drawn In the end, "prostitute" is a useful word to have.

(It's "unnatural" -- not that I like that word, or that it figures prominantly in objections to prostitution -- in that one of the people agreeing to have sex may feel no attraction toward the other.)
posted by Tlogmer at 9:16 PM on July 11, 2004


I find the whole idea of using a prostitute repugnant. I figure a guy who needs them is pretty damn desperate. I figure all streetwalkers are in a pretty desperate state, and could really use some support in getting out of the lifestyle. And I figure most courtesan-style prostitutes are doing just fine for themselves.

And I really couldn't care less about johns or courtesans. Hope they get fair value in exchange.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 PM on July 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


How is prostitution rape? It's done with clear and explicit consent, and is usually more of a business transaction than anything else.
posted by amberglow at 9:25 PM on July 11, 2004


Haven't any of you seen Pretty Woman?
posted by pemulis at 9:32 PM on July 11, 2004


So, are half of you who are replying saying "Prostitution is bad, mmkay" actually reading the blog or not? (This means you, fff and fire you left me.) I'm curious, because the blog is about courtesian style working girls that screen their clients very carefully ... not streetwalkers. Also, if you read through the blog and the linked blogs, you'll see that most say they enjoy what they're doing, and spend a lot of time doing it and doing the backround work to prepare for clients.

This post is particularly poingnant in that vein.
posted by SpecialK at 9:33 PM on July 11, 2004


yeah, ugg. I find the idea of screwing a prostitute a little gross. Especially a streetwalker.

Otoh, I don't think I would mind paying for monogamous sex. Like, i wouldn't mind having a concubine.

---

I guess it's just important for me to think the chick actually likes me (for some reason) while fucking. heh. Maybe I just don't have enough self esteem to bang a whore. hmmm
posted by delmoi at 9:38 PM on July 11, 2004


Prostitution is rape. --the fire you left me

Yeah....see, that's like Godwinizing the thread in my opinion. You wanna back that up with something, or didja just want to toss in a flaming rhetorical blanket?

I mean, it makes a nice bumper sticker...but what's it mean, man...what's it mean?
posted by dejah420 at 9:38 PM on July 11, 2004


Let me go a step further.

In any sexual encounter, on of the primary stimulants to a normal male particpant is the idea of consent; the idea that the other party, male or female, wants to be fucking you. Now, the motivations for such consent may be manifold-love, pity, the fact that you're a being in the vicinty with a dick, whatever-but thay still want be with you.

I've experienced all of the above motivations but I can say without a smidgen of doubt that I'd take any of them over the idea that I'm nothing more than a few notches on the meter towards tpwards paying the rent/pimp/crack habit.
posted by jonmc at 9:53 PM on July 11, 2004


...paying the rent/pimp/crack habit.

well, jon, i've known a bunch of girls and guys that put themselves thru college that way...how about that? any better?
posted by amberglow at 9:57 PM on July 11, 2004


No matter how you slice it, paying somebody to pretend they want to spend time with you is pathetic. I'd jerk off before I'd go that far. Realizing that she's only being freindly because of the cash in your wallet should only make you feel worse.
The thing is, the vast majority of "desirable" young women prostitute themselves regularly. To qoute kablam:
"How about I buy you a nice dinner, then we go dancing, then back to my place for a nightcap and a quickie?"
Face it, most people (not just women) are conniving scum, keeping up the farce inherent in buying women drinks for sex, date rape, etc.

This is not usally a problem because the above "scum" usually just interact with each other. Hilarity ensues when decent human beings get tied up in the mess.
posted by blasdelf at 10:13 PM on July 11, 2004


If anyone is interested in further work on working girls, I just finished "Brothel", by Alexa Albert. I can surely say that I recommend it, as it is written from a compassionate standpoint by someone with a public health background. It goes into the lives of the girls of the mustang ranch (and some of their families), the staff workers, the "pimps" (yes, even at the ranch, they still seem to have "pimps"), and the johns. However, by the end of the book, I felt myself asking (among other questions): "what about the wives/girlfriends/significant others (as many of the johns are married), and how do they feel about all this?" Not all of them can be swingers, happy about it, whatever. I just cant seem to have a rosy disposition about it, even in a relevantly "safe" life of a brothel. Anyways, Ill check out the blog, but I just wanted to throw my two cents in.
posted by fillsthepews at 10:15 PM on July 11, 2004


Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but I don't think there's any problem with *any* sexual encounter (or any encounter between human beings) as long as: 1) everybody involved knows what they're getting into, and 2) they all want to get into it.

Some prostitution fails the second test: I'm against that. Otherwise, I don't see the problem.
posted by Eamon at 10:16 PM on July 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


Well, I wouldn't do it. But then, I wouldn't take up medicine either - way too much contact with the bodily fluids of people I really don't know.
posted by snarfodox at 10:17 PM on July 11, 2004


Marriage is prostitution.

/just trying to be edgy
posted by dhoyt at 10:56 PM on July 11, 2004


If marriage is prostitution and prostitution is rape, the principle of transitivty dictates that marriage is rape. I am just sayin'.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2004


bcc - I believe Andrea Dworkin supprts that view precisely.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:31 PM on July 11, 2004


Oh ffs bashos_frog, it's Catharine MacKinnon not Andrea Dworkin, and at any rate the quote is crap.

know I should have left that one alone, just gets under my skin how that quote gets bandied about any time a discussion remotely veers towards feminism
posted by arha at 12:11 AM on July 12, 2004


They're talking back on the blog:
We've been Metafiltered

I haven't had much to say the past few days, but some other people sure have! Working Girls has been Metafiltered. To read what bloggers on the Metafilter site have to say about the subject of paid companionship, click here.

And a few thoughts of my own.

five fresh fish said:
I find the whole idea of using a prostitute repugnant. I figure a guy who needs them is pretty damn desperate.

Huh! Pretty damn smart, if you ask me. Why? Read the blog!

jonmc said:
Realizing that she's only being friendly because of the cash in your wallet should only make you feel worse.

Sorry, Jon. She's having sex with you because of the cash in your wallet. Why feel bad? Does a sugar daddy with a mistress feel bad? Do you feel bad because the mechanic only fixed your car because you have cash? Or the waitress only brings yu food because you have money?

In fact, escorts may be friendly because they genuinely feel friendly towards you, assuming she enjoys having you as a client, there's good rapport and -- maybe -- the initimacy is pleasing for both of you. It's possible to like your customers, in any business.

pemuis said:
Haven't any of you seen Pretty Woman?

Pretty Woman is not an accurate portrayal. For starters, prostitutes often do kiss their clients
FWIW, I think this was an interesting find. Its something I know much about and not something that friends of mine who use prostitutes or are/were prostitutes tend to bring up often in conversation.
posted by davehat at 1:52 AM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


It's always kind of weird when the subject of the post responds :) But yeah, noting my previous statement that for a lot of people sex has already been commoditized, there's no sense pretending otherwise at this point, and we might as well let people go about the business of it then :)
posted by Space Coyote at 2:23 AM on July 12, 2004


I met a woman once.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:13 AM on July 12, 2004


was she pretty?
posted by mr.marx at 3:18 AM on July 12, 2004


Face it, most people (not just women) are conniving scum...

... or, you could restate that less pejoratively as: "Most people behave like human beings..."

I know the rough outlines of the "prostitution is rape" argument; I also know that the boundaries between one kind of "sex work" and another are much, much thinner than most participants (including and usually especially the arbiters of terminology for those kinds) would want to admit. I also know that there are many, many reasons why women do this kind of work (and I assume it's the same for men).

My bias is generally ethnographic, if you will -- or perhaps narratist might be a better term. I'm convined that it's absolutely crucial to actually hear the voices and engage in actual dialogue (not just Q&A) when you're trying to understand why someone does something you've been trained to find repugnant. That's why it's important to do things like actually read the blog before you comment about things you do not yourself do (sex work), or do not yourself admit that you do (patronize sex workers). If you're not there doing them, you need to find a better source than your own imagination plus one viewpoint.

Because I've taken the trouble to listen and hear stories, I know that there are as many reasons as there are people doing it -- and that's true on both sides. Is all of this "unnaturalness" toward sex perpetuated by a bad system? Yeah, probably. But simple declarations like "prostitution is rape" and "paying for sex is disgusting" don't really do anything to make things clearer. In fact, all they do is reduce the discussion to a series of progressively polarized posturings.

Finally: I find that in public fora, too -- and especially in mixed company, of course -- there's a strong element of reactionary behavior. Guys who I know wouldn't bat an eyelash about "paying" will often declaim about how "disgusting" prostitution is.


on preview (can't resist): ... she was pretty generic.
posted by lodurr at 3:54 AM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


... No matter how you slice it, paying somebody to pretend they want to spend time with you is pathetic.
Well first of all, I agree with you. But that is just me personally - I would rather be alone than pay someone for company. As with all aspects of life, it takes all kinds and there are really no right or wrong points of view (assuming mutual consent etc). If it makes someone feel better to have the company of a woman for sex or anything else and they have no problem with paying for it, what is wrong with that?


Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but I don't think there's any problem with *any* sexual encounter (or any encounter between human beings) as long as: 1) everybody involved knows what they're getting into, and 2) they all want to get into it.

No, I don't think you are oversimplifying at all. This is the essence of how we should treat one another, in my opinion. If one or more adults want to do [insert activity of choice] alone, as a couple or a group, they are all consensual and nobody is hurt (unless they want to be), why should they not do it? Of course, society does and should set certain standards on where you can do some things, but that is where the standards should stop. Live and let live, in short.
posted by dg at 4:43 AM on July 12, 2004


well, jon, i've known a bunch of girls and guys that put themselves thru college that way...how about that? any better?

Amber, I'm not saying people shouldn't do (within reason) what they feel they need to do to get by, just saying why I won't participate.

Do you feel bad because the mechanic only fixed your car because you have cash?Or the waitress only brings yu food because you have money?

No, but sex is not a cheeseburger deluxe, at least it isn't to me. I rather fuck someone who's fucking me because they want to, not because it's their job description.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 AM on July 12, 2004


kablam: You're right but for the fact that it's settled law that marriage constitutes good consideration. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! : )

I'm probably not clever enough to make moral judgements on prostitution but I do know that the idea of it fills me with sadness. There's something a bit special about sex and it's a shame that some are forced to or chose to offer it for sale.
posted by dmt at 6:22 AM on July 12, 2004


... No matter how you slice it, paying somebody to pretend they want to spend time with you is pathetic.

It sure is. That's why I can't abide shrinks.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:38 AM on July 12, 2004


jonmc said:
Realizing that she's only being friendly because of the cash in your wallet should only make you feel worse.


As is your 'buddy' the bartender, your waitress, the cab/limo driver, bellhop, hair stylist, barber, masseuse, doorman of your building, dealer at the casino, caterer of your party, clown magician at your kids' party, stripper at your bachelor party, event coordinator of your cruise or resort, or anyone else you could concievably give a tip to.

... No matter how you slice it, paying somebody to pretend they want to spend time with you is pathetic.

Very true, but we all pay people to pretend to give a shit about us on a very regular basis.
posted by ChasFile at 7:13 AM on July 12, 2004


ChasFile, all the people you mentioned are being paid to provide an actual service, not simply an illusion of intimacy, or more accurately going through the physical motions of intimacy.

And again, I'm not saying that makes prostitution neccessarily a bad thing. I even believe it should be legalized. I'm just saying why I won't patronize them.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 AM on July 12, 2004


People want to pay for sex, others feel that they can have sex with said people for money, no biggie.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:26 AM on July 12, 2004


I don't have a problem with prostitution as such, pretty much due to the consenting adults thing that others have already mentioned. I do, of course, have a problem with some of the baggage that comes with it, e.g. rape, abuse, STDs, coersion, economic desparation, pimping, etc. However, I think those things are largely due to the fact that we choose to push prostitution beyond any kind of legal oversight by outlawing it.

On the other hand, a man that cheats on his wife (or vice versa), particularly with a prostitute, is scum. Monogamy isn't natural? We can argue the merits of that one until the sun goes down, but if you can't be monogamous, don't get married. Or don't stay married. Or marry someone who also doesn't want to be monogamous. Anything else is wildly dishonest, dangerous, and all around shitty.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:43 AM on July 12, 2004


being a courtesan isn't any better than being a street walker. you can still get killed on the job, you still get things like body lice, and hiv. you can still be a mess, in every respect, even if you're nobley putting yourself thru' uni or appear to be in control. i've been to the funerals. i buried my best friend in a custom made chanel suit.
posted by t r a c y at 7:48 AM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


has anyone found anything like this about MALE prostitutes? I'd be really interested to read something from the other side

amberglow:well, jon, i've known a bunch of girls and guys that put themselves thru college that way

other than in fiction, ive never seen the perspective of male escorts/prostitutes/whatever. anyone with something to share?
posted by headless at 8:21 AM on July 12, 2004


STRAIGHT male prostitutes -- I should have said that. men who see women, not men who see men.
posted by headless at 8:23 AM on July 12, 2004


headless, aside from arm ornaments at charity events, there really isn't much market for straight male prostitiutes. Even the most unattractive straight women can get sex if she wants it. It may not be with the most wonderful or best looking guy in the world, but if she builds it, they will come.

So to speak.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2004


five fresh fish said:
I find the whole idea of using a prostitute repugnant. I figure a guy who needs them is pretty damn desperate.

Huh! Pretty damn smart, if you ask me. Why? Read the blog!


Sorry, but I don't believe it.

If you have to pay for sex, you've got some sort of social problem.

"Friends with privileges" is how the rest of the world manages to get laid when they can't get a more or less permanent partner.

If you can't find yourself a friend to fuck, something's wrong. Sex isn't difficult to obtain.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2004


Sex isn't difficult to obtain.

Maybe not on your planet, but for a lot of the human race, it's no piece of cake. Trust me, I've been there

If you have to pay for sex, you've got some sort of social problem.

Then a large portion of the world has "social problems." Would shyness, unattractiveness, or just awkwardness be on the list, because all those things can keep people out of the sexual arena.

the rest of the world manages to get laid when they can't get a more or less permanent partner.

Maybe the rest of the world isn't getting laid as much as you think. Maybe there's a place where people just give it away, but in my experience that's a privilige of the most attractive of us, or those living in extremely "liberated" enviornments.

Thankfully I've been happily in a relationship for almost a decade, but I remember what it was like back in the day. Like I said before, I have moral and aesthtic objections to using prostitutes, but I gotta challenge your assertions as well.
posted by jonmc at 9:13 AM on July 12, 2004


If you can't find yourself a friend to fuck, something's wrong. Sex isn't difficult to obtain.

Or perhaps you don't want to complicate a friendship by trying to get sex out of it. If you've got teh money and all you want is some non-commital action, well, fuck it.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2004


five fresh fish, you stud. Your rampant generalisation is causing much of MeFi's readership to gently seethe.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:30 AM on July 12, 2004


I mean, I'm not freakishly unattractive, I'm talkative, successful and open to new experiences, and I haven't had sex in... a woman.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:33 AM on July 12, 2004


I agree with jonmc on the thing about sex not being the easiest thing to come by.

Hell, I'm married and I can't get laid. (ba bum da)

But seriously.. I don't think it's as easy as having a 'fuck friend' or some random person who wants sex. Maybe after logging months in at a bar or hours upon hours on the computer in Yahoo chat rooms.. but then, I don't think that's much different than paying for sex.

Though, I'll have to clarify for jonmc one thing - people are paying for sex, not intimacy. If they confuse those two, so be it, but really.. the whole prostitution things is about the act of sex. It gets dolled up in psuedo-fantasy and all, but if you are trying to get your intimacy needs out fo it, I agree there is a problem there.

In the vein of just paying for sex as a service, I see them just like any other service provider/waitress/mechanic, etc. Where a john is trying to satisfy their lack of intimacy.. that's where I think there are some issues that person needs to address with themselves.

Me, I don't think I'd ever pay for sex, though.
posted by rich at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2004


I've never been to a prostitute (or a whore, or a hooker), but that doesn't mean I've never paid for sex. And with a prostitute, it's comparatively cheap, even without factoring in the fact that the time spent is worth something.

On a date, you pay for dinner, a movie, a horsie ride in the park, maybe a nightcap, cab ride, (hell, what else? Everything else), and then think about the time spent preparing for the date, the suit, the cologne, the entire evening, maybe more than one evening... it could go on for months.

We dealt with some of this in an earlier thread, but that shit adds up, if you want to think like a mercenary about something so integral to human nature.

And if you are (and many do, and many don't), then why not get it for comparatively cheap from someone who knows what they're doing and is a sure thing? I'd think that not only is that a bargain, but it frees you up for other non-sexual pursuits for the balance of your week.

(Intimacy is a whole nother thing, though that too can be bought. But it's rather more expensive.)
posted by chicobangs at 9:55 AM on July 12, 2004


Wowsa. I'm honestly very surprised, because I have a couple of friends that seem to have absolutely no problem hooking-up with friends and/or new partners whenever they want.

Anyway, it doesn't much matter. I feel the streetwalker girls are in deep trouble, and could really use a hand getting their lives together. The courtesan-style prostitutes, on the other hand, generally seem to have it together pretty well.

Which is another way of saying that I don't think the down-and-out prostitutes are so much engaging in consensual sex as they are engaged in staying alive. Certainly from their viewpoint, and almost certainly from any sane reality-based viewpoint, they don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter, which takes a great deal away from the entire notion of consent.

Those people engaging in consensual sex should be having it as much as possible. If they can profit by it as well, then by all means they should be allowed to do so!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 AM on July 12, 2004


Prostitution is rape.

prostitution is commerce.

commerce is rape.
posted by quonsar at 10:02 AM on July 12, 2004


Well, we all work to avoid starving to death, really :) If it's that or Wal-Mart, I'd have to think about it.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:02 AM on July 12, 2004


... No matter how you slice it, paying somebody to pretend they want to spend time with you is pathetic.

You know, I would imagine that a fairly sizeable percentage of Johns are paying for sex simply because it's kinda dirty and stigmatized, and that's a turn on to them. Why else would hollywood stars married to supermodels get busted in such affairs?
posted by glenwood at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2004


I'd rather work on a street corner than at Wal-Mart.

Also, quonsar's got a point.

And there's a reason intimacy is so much more expensive. It's because it's such a rare thing. Sex? Everybody does do it. Some of the more libidinous of us do it rather a lot. But everyone who really wants to have sex can generally find someone willing.

Prostitutes, however, are not generally in the intimacy business. Life is not a William Vollmann novel, where you can get a pro into a hotel room for two hours and have her tell you stories from her childhood. That only takes time and patience.


Thanks for the link, SpecialK. I'm passing it on to a couple of friends who could sure use the community and the dialogue.
posted by chicobangs at 10:11 AM on July 12, 2004


Pardon the garbled grammar above, but my point is: I'm paying for sex right now! And so, I'd bet, in a roundabout way, are you!
posted by chicobangs at 10:15 AM on July 12, 2004


I agree that streetwalkers are likely the victims of circumstance and probably not doing what they do by choice, but I think it's patronizing and antifeminist to suggest that women can't choose to become, and to enjoy being, courtesans (call girls, escorts, etc.).

Is it less moral to see a prostitute than to get someone drunk, pick someone up in a bar, or tell lies to get them into bed? People do all sorts of things to get other people to have sex with them.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2004


Life is not a William Vollmann novel

I was wondering how long it would take for Vollmann's name to crop up in this thread.
posted by Prospero at 10:35 AM on July 12, 2004


five fresh fish's Profile
Location: Canada


Ah.
posted by Tlogmer at 11:03 AM on July 12, 2004


Sorry, Prospero. Open doors are for walking through.
posted by chicobangs at 11:05 AM on July 12, 2004


Maybe I should hire a prostitute. How much should I be paying? Should I take take this to AskMe?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:06 AM on July 12, 2004


kirkaracha: Is it less moral to see a prostitute than to get someone drunk, pick someone up in a bar, or tell lies to get them into bed? People do all sorts of things to get other people to have sex with them.

I've never found the argument that there are other actions out there that we find to be more morally problematic to be much of an excuse for anything. I think though, that one of the reasons why our culture is so uncomfortable about prostitution is because it is one of the few spheres honest about the fact that sex in our culture frequently involves more manipulation and power games than mutual respect.

I think there are two ways we can go about this. We can just get over ourselves and treat sex as a cynical exchange, or we can try to figure out how to make sex into what we want for it to be. Where the notion of "get other people to have sex with them" is treated as a quaint old notion.

But then again, perhaps that's impossible because in the process, you start cracking open some of the more cherished myths of our culture, like that men can only experience intimacy through sex, or that we have to wet our wick on a regular basis if we don't want to go blind, and grow hair on our palms.

I think though that one of the ways in which Feminism has failed in many ways is that it has done a good job framing what is wrong with how we approach sex, but not been that successful at framing what sex could be. We had the whole "sex-positive thing" but that just replaced a taboo about talking about sex (*) with a taboo about *talking* about sex. You can talk about your particular kink until the cows come home, as long as you don't say "you know, that might not be the best thing for everyone involved."

(*) I think in many ways the Hays Code has done violence to our history of sexuality. My favorite song right now is Rasputina's cover of the 1930s hit "If your kisses don't hold the man you love" and evidently their version is tamer than the original.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:32 AM on July 12, 2004


If you have to pay for sex, you've got some sort of social problem.

Wowsa. I'm honestly very surprised, because I have a couple of friends that seem to have absolutely no problem hooking-up with friends and/or new partners whenever they want.

fff, your friends are likely not representative of the world at large. i assume they all have two eyes, two arms, two legs, functioning genitalia, no major burn scars, no bizarre physical or psychological factors, etc. etc.

there are lots of people who are unable to find a free sexual partner. i don't like a lot of the baggage that comes with prostitution, but i think legalization would help the workers immensely, and it's comforting to know that even the most wretched among us can get themselves a decent fuck.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:34 PM on July 12, 2004


I'm not freakishly unattractive, I'm talkative, successful and open to new experiences, and I haven't had sex in... a woman.

I'm so stealing this.
posted by mr.marx at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2004


I agree that streetwalkers are likely the victims of circumstance and probably not doing what they do by choice, but I think it's patronizing and antifeminist to suggest that women can't choose to become, and to enjoy being, courtesans (call girls, escorts, etc.).

I hope that wasn't directed at me. I think I've said several times now that I don't have a problem with courtesans nor those who use them.

Grimm, I think my two friends are representative of the world, in that they do have two arms, legs, etcetera. Most people in this world have those qualities!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2004


I like George Carlin's view on the topic:

Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal?
posted by icetaco at 1:47 PM on July 12, 2004


so what's the real taboo here ... is it sex? is it money? ... which is more sacred?

if the girl's just giving it away without being someone's friend ... well, that's not too bad ... if the girl's only giving it when she's treated to a nice dinner and all that, with love being a secondary consideration ... well, some don't mind too much

the minute the dollars change hands, all of a sudden, something's radically different

is it the sex or the money that's bugging us here?

how many women do you know that are with a man that makes less money than they do? i know there's some, but they're exceptions, aren't they?

aren't men supposed to be the providers?

if you do it in the context of a marriage, it's socially acceptable and approved ... if you just fork over some cash, it's different ... and this is not a comment about "money grubbing" women ... no ...

why is a man's role defined by his wallet? and if it's a question of intimacy ... a lot of married couples aren't that intimate

what's really offensive about prostitution? ... that it's a blunt portrayal of our sexual roles in traditional society?

as a man, the issue for me isn't why women are "whores" ... that's something women have to struggle with

why are we "johns"? ... either in the most basic sense ... or a more metaphorical sense ... why do we "pay" for our sexual role in society? ... why do we define ourselves as what we do, which has a heavy component of what we earn and what we spend it on

the no. 1 problem in marriages is money

do we ever seperate money from sex, or love, or anything else, including how we define or think about ourselves?

what's the real problem here ... the money or the sex?

oh, chicobangs, i suspect that the reason life is not a william vollmann novel for us is that we're not william vollmann
posted by pyramid termite at 1:48 PM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


I haven't had sex with a prostitute, but I can't help but think that would've been more honest than some of my past relationships. Surely I'm not the only person who has gotten 'friends with privileges' status with somebody who wanted love that would never happen.
posted by mosch at 1:59 PM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's best to address the two type of prostitution separately.

There are those prostitutes who are in it because they lack an alternative. They do not "choose" to be prostitutes: they are "forced" into it by their drug habits, coercion, lack of wherewithal to choose differently, etc.

There are those prostitutes who are in it because it's a viable job. They do choose to sell sex, and are in control of their employer and direction in life.

Do many people have a problem with the first type of prostitution? Yes.

Do many people have a problem with the second type of prostitution? I have no idea...
posted by five fresh fish at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2004


Do many people have a problem with the second type of prostitution? I have no idea...
Utah seems to have no problem with it.

in responce to johnmc, who said waitresses and cab drivers actually provide a service and therefore are not the same as prostitutes:

come on. Yes, waitresses do get paid $3.30/hr to provide a service. They pretend they like you so you give them a tip above and beyond that. Same with everyone else who expects a tip. They could do their job in a surly, disgruntled manner, but in exchange for a few bucks they do it in a nice manner. Not only have we as a society have decided that's ok, we as a society participate in prostitution - as defined as the exchange of false intimacy for currency - on an almost daily basis.

And implying that a good bj is not a valuable service is frankly insulting, as I'm sure is this very sentence.

I'd imagine a prostitute could do a really bad job, and I'd imagine her not making much money. I can also imagine the opposite. My only point is captured by this little quiz - tell me if the following statement was written about a prostitute or a waitress: if she pretends to like the guy, listens to his wants, caters to his desires, and anticipates his needs, she'll make more money.
posted by ChasFile at 2:23 PM on July 12, 2004




fff, could it be that the American Tradition is to largely be petrified by anything sexual (this goes back to when the Dutch first found the place, and hasn't ever gone away), while being absolute masters of commerce (probably more than any other civilization in history)?

Stick with me here. I'm feeling my way through this.

So, to take the main taboo that is the black hole at the center of the American Character, and bring it into the harsh and perfect light of free enterprise, in a basic and time-honored way, presents an all-too-easy and yet oh-so-dangerous matter/antimatter situation. Sex belongs behind closed doors in the dark between a married hetero couple, and nowhere else.

If you allow fucking into my wallet of all places, then I can't be sure of anything! Suddenly, the basic building blocks of the American Empire are on shaky ground, just like that!


And pyramid, I only brought Vollmann in here to illustrate the difference between paying a hooker for sex and paying the same hooker for intimacy.

I, happily, am not William Vollmann, and hopefully not too many of you are neither.
posted by chicobangs at 4:06 PM on July 12, 2004


I think it's humorous that, of all the commenters, none admits to paying for a prostitute. Many make it clear that they'd never do it, but no one here's ever done it? Really?

Well, I have, on more than one occasion. I've paid male and female prostitutes. I don't feel bad about it either. They often appeared to be genuinely aroused by the idea that someone else finds them attractive enough to pay for their touch. I've also had my share of free consensual sex, too. I found them all to be generally positive experiences, actually.

I've had interesting conversations with prostitutes, too. I remember chatting with one who told me I was her first customer. She was very interested in my opinion of her services!

I think there are two ways we can go about this. We can just get over ourselves and treat sex as a cynical exchange, or we can try to figure out how to make sex into what we want for it to be. Where the notion of "get other people to have sex with them" is treated as a quaint old notion.

I don't think things are as simple as that. I've paid for sex without it being a "cynical exchange". I don't think the idea of desire - "getting other people to have sex with you" - will ever be a quaint old notion. I think there will always be people who value sex more than other things, and others who value other things more than sex. And finally, sometimes all you want from sex is pure animal release. What's wrong with that?
posted by me & my monkey at 4:26 PM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


Well, uh, could it be possible that (aside from me & my monkey) everybody's got something to hide?
posted by chicobangs at 4:48 PM on July 12, 2004


There are those prostitutes who are in it because they lack an alternative. They do not "choose" to be prostitutes: they are "forced" into it by their drug habits, coercion, lack of wherewithal to choose differently, etc.

There are always alternatives. Saying "I have no choice but to become a prostitute" is a cop-out. Even if the road to that choice is somewhat pre-ordained by other choices, it is still a choice. If you choose to take drugs that you cannot afford to buy, the chances are that you will end up doing something you don't like to pay for them. I have no problem with any person choosing to sell their body, but to say you had no choice (with very few exceptions) is utter nonsense.

One of the confusing things here, I think, is that people tend not to distinguish between the sex that you have because you love someone and the sex that you have just because your base desires drive you to it. If people are trying to replace the former with the latter, they will be disappointed. Many of those who go to prostitutes are clear enough about what they want to not do this and take the most economical, fastest route to what they want.

Monogamy isn't natural? We can argue the merits of that one until the sun goes down, but if you can't be monogamous, don't get married. Or don't stay married. Or marry someone who also doesn't want to be monogamous. Anything else is wildly dishonest, dangerous, and all around shitty.
While this is a whole other topic, the statement is absolutely correct. Many married (or long-term partnered) people justify their infidelities because they are not getting sex in their relationship instead of working to solve the problem which is causing the lack of sex in the relationship. Some also justify this by saying "it is just sex, it doesn't mean anything", which is even worse.
posted by dg at 5:50 PM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


chicobangs: fff, could it be that the American Tradition is to largely be petrified by anything sexual (this goes back to when the Dutch first found the place, and hasn't ever gone away), while being absolute masters of commerce (probably more than any other civilization in history)?

I call bullshit on this. About half of puritan children in Mass. Colony were born within 6 months of the wedding. In addition, midwives of the day regularly talked about the believed importance of female orgasm to conception.

These lyrics were written in 1930 I believe for Sophie Tucker ("The Last of the Red Hot Mammas") and was one of the most popular sheet-music titles of the year:
Love is like home cooking: good, and wholesome
But all men need some mutton on the outside now and then
If you find your boy is cheating,
Do the same, old dear
He's only giving you the chance that you've been waiting for for years
My goodness! Tears won't get you anything
Just a shiny red nose
Go on, paint up, powder up, put on your swellest clothes
Men: go and get 'em by the score
Neglected girls shouldn't worry
That's what God made sailors for!
For that matter, Mae West was doing the Madonna thing 40 years before Madonna was born, getting herself thrown into jail for Broadway productions that included explicit sexuality and talk about homosexuality. Her explicit sexual stage comedies probably did more to make her famous than the toned down Hollywood productions.

At one time I believed in this horribly sexually repressed past, and then digging a bit deeper, found out that it just wasn't true. It seems like every generation had their own sexual revolution, tt's own way of talking about things, its own pornography. Two hundred years before we joked about typing with one hand, people were joking about reading with one hand.

I also think that there is a danger in flattening out the discourse about prostitution and ignoring that people object to prostitution for very different reasons. While conservative Christians focus on prostitution as an attack on the American family, radical feminists treat prostitution as just the most honest expression of how men feel about women.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:45 PM on July 12, 2004 [1 favorite]


And implying that a good bj is not a valuable service is frankly insulting, as I'm sure is this very sentence.

Perhaps, chasfile, but I'd much rather the bj was delivered by a woman who was doing it because she wanted to, not because I was the first guy to saunter by with legal tender. I don't believe that sex should only be with "hetero couples behind close doors" but I do like honest desire to be a part of the equation, rather than free enterprise, but hey, I'm a sentimental old coot.

come on. Yes, waitresses do get paid $3.30/hr to provide a service. They pretend they like you so you give them a tip above and beyond that.

That's being cordial and pleasnt. There's a difference between that and providing some thing that is truly only pleasurable (to the non-psychopathic) when the other party wants to be doing it.
posted by jonmc at 6:59 PM on July 12, 2004


chasfile: And implying that a good bj is not a valuable service is frankly insulting, as I'm sure is this very sentence.

This is an interesting idea because it frames a sexual act as a "service." There is something there worth cracking open as to whether some things should be considered services or not. I have personal objections to the whole framing of affection as a "tit for tat" system because of a grandmother who was unable to give something without strings attached.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:23 PM on July 12, 2004


There are always alternatives. Saying "I have no choice but to become a prostitute" is a cop-out. Even if the road to that choice is somewhat pre-ordained by other choices, it is still a choice.

Believe you me, I know all about choices. I wholly own all my choices, even as I make those choices that I know are poor choices, yet choose to do them anyway, and dislike myself for doing so.

And if you want, I'll gladly argue that everyone else needs to own their choices and quit copping out. It would be a far better world if everyone did that.

But the harsh reality is that a great number of people are not so enlightened as you and I, and are either not aware of their ability to make choices or are not functionally capable of choosing differently than they do.

Which is why I would fully support a program to help streetwalkers get job and life skills training and addiction counselling. Whatever their choice was in the past, correcting that choice requires support. The hooker who can crawl out of that gutter alone is a rare hooker indeed.

But, hey, I'm one of those damned semi-socialist Canucks, as Tlogmer so astutely identified.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 PM on July 12, 2004


and the last one tore a picture from the pornographic page
all the pleasure points attacking, all the looks of love were staged
and it's a lie that you've been given
one that hurts you every day
so why should i lay here naked when it's just so far away
from anything you could call loving
any love worth living for
so i'll lay here in the gutter
you can lie upon the floor
and when i go out in the morning i might forget to lock the door
'cause with a match that's mean and some kerosene
you won't see me anymore.
-neutral milk, 'song against sex.'
posted by kaibutsu at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2004


got an email from a nice guy, and he recounts his experiences on this topic in Viewing the Local Antiquities (NSFW)
posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2004


oops...that got messed up--here's the url
posted by amberglow at 11:54 AM on July 13, 2004


Interesting site, amberglow. Did you notice the disclaimer at the bottom? -
"All characters fictional. Copyright (c) 2003, 2004 by "John Smith."
posted by dg at 2:25 PM on July 13, 2004


yup : >

(that made it more palatable for me--being so excessively hetero, you know)
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on July 13, 2004


Actually, I assumed that the "All characters fictional" thing is there is case the author gets found out some time in the future, to establish deniability.
posted by dg at 4:24 PM on July 13, 2004


The threads dead, but here goes anyway.

Given that many people could enjoy the same thing for different reasons, for example some like the taste of food, some the sensation of texture, others the sense of fullness, others the blood sugar fluctuation...

I would argue that many feel that prostitution isn't an acceptable option because sex isn't just a physical act. If it was, then variables like person, place, time would be less significant than they are. Sex, for many, is a set of conditions, one of which may be enthusiastic consent.

The big problem I see is that seduction isn't really part of the conversation. A prostitute doesn't have to be seduced, not up to your room, not onto your bed, etc. Without seduction, what's the point? Think back to whenever you've been thoroughly seduced or done some thorough seduction... what is most memorable? Good seduction is an element of good sex, or else there is no role for consciousness, and no difference between us and animals, which is okay for some people (animals). But don't pretend you're human if you are a john or a prostitute.

Don't pretend your a human if you eat twinkies, either.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Really. Don't feel bad about it. Human is something to aspire to. Or not.
posted by ewkpates at 1:57 PM on July 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


very harsh, ewkpates, and very reductive--sex can be a lot of things--from a fully-realized, conscious and loving experience shared with someone you care deeply for, or just simple stress-relief, or anywhere in-between. There are also things that people want that they don't get from their regular partners, from fetishes to experimentation, etc. Some other people don't have a regular partner and find that paying for it makes it easier to find/obtain, etc.

As long as it's not the only way people have sex, going to a prostitute is one of a vast vast array of sexual options. It's not subhuman at all, but the providing of a service.
posted by amberglow at 2:09 PM on July 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


In fact, it's a very fully human invention, and has existed forever, with good reason.
posted by amberglow at 2:11 PM on July 14, 2004


I would have to agree that your assessment is too harsh, ewkpates, although I sort of agree with your general theme on this. For me, sex is more than just a physical act between two consenting parties, it is something that is only to be shared as an integral part of a wider relationship. But that is just me and I would certainly not look down on anyone who seeks sex for the pure physical pleasure and is not too fussy about the other person that is involved, in that they only need to have desirable physical attributes without the need for any deeper connection. Rather than look down on them, I sometimes envy them for their ability to separate the two acts of love and sex so clearly.

This does not make them less human, just different to those of us who hold sex to be something more than physical.
posted by dg at 4:23 PM on July 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


See? How can we talk about sexuality without discussing what it means to be human. Animals, at least most of them, are cognative at very low levels, and in order to provide contrast we say that human is about supercongnative behavior.

If something is animal, then, it's just low-cognative.

There are plenty of things that people can pay for in this world. Most of them are services that one could describe as animal in some sense. Hunt for me. Clean me. And so on.

Much entertainment is essentially animal, very low cognative. Escapism, a common and popular term, is often used. I would argue it's an escape from cognition into the animal.

People who want something kinky are "adding in" because of a lack of cognative activity... it's the same thing with food. Good simple food is often unappealing to the twinky eaters of the world.

The error you've made, amberglow, is in thinking that anything that humans do is "human" in the essential sense. People act like animals all the time. Killing out of rage is very animal, and humans do it all the time.

dg has summed it up, albeit out of error: if sex is nothing more than physical, then it is exact animal, because for animals, sex is little more (not nothing more) than physical.
posted by ewkpates at 1:33 PM on July 15, 2004 [1 favorite]


People act like animals when they cuddle and show affection, and nuture and protect their young, too, yet would you describe those activities as "exact animal"? Or are you equating sex with killing and saying those are the animalistic behaviors? (the vast majority of animals never kill their own kind, btw)
posted by amberglow at 9:41 PM on July 15, 2004


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