The clients who do want to have sex—and of course, there are many—don’t want that sex to be uncomfortable or unpleasant for me. They want to me to take pleasure in the act as well. They want to feel attractive and competent and gentle and attentive. Many of them are all of those things. If they express guilt about paying for sex, I don’t try to talk them into feeling otherwise. When one man said he should stop seeing me because the money he spent on our appointments should be going toward his kids’ college funds, I replied, “Well, if it makes you feel any better, it’s going toward mine.” (I never saw him again.)
Yes, I’ve met men who didn’t respect my boundaries and who harmed me, inadvertently or purposefully. But such men were few and far between, and I refused to see them again.
Not every man who visits a strip club, watches a clip of porn, or pays for sexual companionship wants to commit an act of violence against a woman. Rapists and murders are the ones who want to rape and strangle people; some of them hire escorts, some don’t.
When Melissa Farley tells The Economist that men who hire prostitutes “are not nice guys looking for a normal date. They regularly attempt to rape and strangle women,” she’s not talking about my experience. Farley’s cloudy thinking rests on the belief that a man’s sexual interest in a woman is fundamentally disrespectful, fundamentally abusive, and fundamentally wrong.
But what’s wrong is the stigma surrounding sex work. In the professional world, there is no other service arrangement in which clients are accused of hating those whom they hire. Not janitorial work, furniture moving, notoriously dangerous meat-factory work, or any other job that requires use of the service provider’s body in grueling, unhealthy ways.