Meet Anthony – Anthony is a straight male escort and researcher of intimate desire. Currently he flies between Melbourne and Sydney but he is available wherever you are. Get to know him on his website Male Escort Diaries, and on Twitter @AnthonyByNight.
He’s here to talk to you about shame, pleasure, and sex work. You all know I love a good theory about sex, and I’m fascinated/frustrated by the way we have certain gender-related taboos when it comes to sex. The fact that female sex toys are encouraged while men are often shamed for using them – that kind of thing. Today Anthony’s going to talk about our gendered shaming when it comes to paying for sex.
Paying for pleasure – a male escort explains
There’s something about sex that puzzles me. There are a few things actually, but there’s one that I’ve been thinking about for some time. Girl on the Net has graciously granted me permission to mull it over on her website, so thank you, GotN.
I’m a researcher of sexual desire.
Actually, let’s call a spade a spade: first and foremost, I’m a straight male escort. I’ve been doing this for three and a half years. I went into it for the extra cash and I’ve stayed in it because I like the work.
After a few clients came to me to help them overcome childhood or abuse or adult rape, I started researching topics so that I could better assist these clients. Hey, we all need professional development in the work place, right?
My focus is always how to please them: how to work with them in a way that brings sexual pleasure to them and helps them through difficult times if that’s what they came for, such as overcoming childhood sexual trauma, rapes or profound anxieties about sex. A therapist or psychologist could do a similar job, but women come to me because they want to take action. They’ve analysed it enough; now it’s time to do something about it.
Here’s the thing that has been puzzling me about sex: how are women so free to talk about and use vibrators and sex toys, but so resistant to talking about – or actually going through with – booking an escort?
And on the flip side, how are sex toys for men so non-existent and taboo to talk about but visiting female sex workers or strippers is easy to do and talk about with mates?
Have a chart to explain it:
|Acceptable to talk about doing||Buying and using sex toys||Booking female escorts|
|Taboo to talk about doing||Booking male escorts||Buying and using sex toys|
Yes, it’s a flawed chart.
Firstly, I’m no mathematician, so creating an appealing chart with three variables was beyond my MS Word ability or interest in learning about.
Secondly, it’s hard to find suitable single words to describe these activities. ‘Taboo’ and ‘Acceptable’ are moral judgements, so depending where you stand on the issues, they might be bang on the money for you or might infuriate the hell out of you, aghast that one might consider men booking female sex workers as acceptable.
But, did Max Mosley get criticised for having a sex party with sex workers? No. He got criticised because of the Nazi uniforms; that’s where the moral judgement was. No one gave a crap about the sex workers.
Men who visit sex workers are the same as men who don’t. There’s an equal ratio of upstanding citizens, middle class family men and working class heroes in the people that do and the people that don’t visit sex workers.
It’s the same for women. Women who book escorts have exactly the same desires, fears, religions, bodies, ages, salaries, anxieties and confidences as women who don’t book. I know this because I know many women who have booked and many women who haven’t.
If both groups are made up of the same types of people, why is it such a taboo for a woman to book a male escort and why do they feel so embarrassed discussing their sexual needs when they’re in the room with one? (Yes, women who book me struggle to discuss their sexual needs openly. How many times have you sat someone down and told them how hard you want them to pull your hair, caress your shoulder, take you with force or seduce you with words?)
The Shame Factor
‘You seem too nice to do this. This is sordid.’
A client said this to me recently, midway through a booking. If that’s what my clients think, I’ve got my work cut out. I was shocked, but I get it. She expected me to be rougher round the edges, more on the edge of society and society’s rules. I’m not, except for the tiny factor that I’m a male escort (which is perfectly legal where I live and I am one of the few licensed ones).
One theory I have which may go a long way to unravel this puzzle is this:
With any activity we do, it’s the level of social acceptance and moral judgement that determines how much shame someone will feel or have put upon them by doing that activity.
Look how far we’ve come with homosexual relationships, for example. And in the opposite direction: a downward acceptance of smoking cigarettes. (“Oh you smoke? Shame on you. You’re going to a gay wedding?! Fabulous!”)
Shame along with moral judgement are very influential in the debate about the legitimacy of escorting as ‘work.’ I won’t make the moral case for sex workers here. For some readers what I do is absolutely fine; for others I may as well make bombs or be a sleazy politician*.
*Australia has a very unsleazy, former (female) sex worker as an elected MP. In her inaugural speech, Fiona Patten said this and became an instant legend: “I may be the first former sex worker to be elected to a parliament anywhere in this country, although no doubt the clients of sex workers have been elected in much greater numbers before me.”
In many places it’s illegal. Laws are formed or changed on the back of society’s moral stance, which fluctuates with prevailing winds.
The Acceptability of Vibrators
The social acceptance of vibrators is high, maybe an 8/10. Moral judgement of people who buy them is therefore low, let’s say a 3/10 (individuals are judged by their peers on a different scale to society’s social acceptability level), which means the shame score is 2.5/10. Brilliant! Go buy a vibrator!
Seriously though, there’s a lot of research into shame and its relationship with morality. My scoring system is the briefest summary of that I could come up with that wouldn’t psychoanalyse the pants off you.
But it wasn’t always so acceptable. It took an episode of Sex and the City to turn a productive and unthreatening industry into a booming totally acceptable, sing it from the rooftops one. Why? Because people saw that it was socially acceptable to buy and own one.
Vibrators are an everyday part of modern culture. They’re relatively nonthreatening to individuals and to relationships. The shame factor has been eroded along with the fear factor. The upsurge in vibrator sales did not lead to a drop in morality, a rise in divorces, or a discarding of men, which is vital to any moral acceptance. If a product or service could retire men to the scrapheap, it will never get off the ground.
So this is good news for women and sex toys but gentleman such as myself must continue to work in the shadows for a little longer.
Opinions are changing. Slowly, but changing nevertheless. The percentage of clients who book male escorts as a birthday present to themselves, a divorce anniversary or a weekend adventure is rising steadily. More and more are sharing what they’ve done online and with their friends, especially after the booking when they realised it wasn’t sordid at all but actually good fun.
My clients love that they’re doing something for themselves and are in complete control of the experience. Even if they hand control of proceedings over to me, it’s all about them.
The fact that my agents are women also shows there’s real power to the pussy going on. Women taking charge of their sexuality and getting their sexual needs met. How cool is that?
Sex will continue to puzzle me until the day I die or – potentially far worse – the day I stop caring about sex. In writing this post I learnt more about the nature of shame and the imbalance between men and women booking escorts. Many of the men who visit female workers share their strange desires openly without shame. Many of my clients are hesitant to talk about their sexual needs, which has something to do with sexual shame and also feeling ashamed of putting their own needs first for a change.
Vibrators are an accepted consumer good within society. Women watching male strippers – at the cinema or in a club – is an acceptable experience. Let’s bring the two together, shall we? I’m fighting the case for a high social acceptance score and a low moral judgement score for booking a male escort, so that myself and my clients get a shame score of around 3.5. That’s not asking for much, is it?