• Mon, Dec 9 - 11:25 am ET

Harlotry: How Sex Workers See Their Own Sexuality

The Girlfriend Experience

The Girlfriend Experience (2009)

I write about sex and sexuality a lot. It’s part of the territory–I deal very intimately with people’s sexuality every day. What I don’t talk about much is my own sexuality, the sexuality of my co-hookers, and the difference between the way our sexuality is seen and what it’s really like.

There are a lot of myths surrounding the sexuality of whores. Everyone seems to assume we’re either nymphos or frigid, over-fucked to the point where we no longer have any interest in unpaid recreational sex. While I’m sure there are people who fit into these categories, I’ve never met any of them.

The people who seem to most strongly believe that we sex workers are insatiable sex maniacs are, of course, clients. As an escort, I cannot count the number of times I had a prospective client tell me that he wanted to be held down and just used for my pleasure. I could never tell them that if they truly wanted to give them the time of my life, they could pay my rate, buy me a nice dinner, and leave me alone to eat in peace. I couldn’t point out that my personal preference isn’t to go after my pleasure, but to have it given to me, and that there are very, very few dicks in the world that inspire me to give myself an impromptu workout. To say any of that would ruin their fantasy of the eternally accessible wanton woman to whom payment is just a formality. The extent to which they assume I must want them for no other reason than their possession of a penis would be insulting if their desire to be wanted wasn’t so oddly endearing.

On the other side are the people who believe sex work will totally ruin sex for the worker.

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  • anna

    I think most people don’t want to do their jobs in their home life, so that’s probably where that stems from. My mother was a chef, but never wanted to cook her amazing food at home because she had already cooked all-day. My friend works as a maid and makes her husband do the majority of her housework. I work with small children, which means I really don’t want kids any time soon.
    While I agree with everything you say, I suspect the idea that all sex workers are tired of sex probably stems from the idea that most people don’t want to bring their work home.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      That’s what I was thinking, too. I love skiing, but it’s really expensive. To skirt some of the costs, I started working as a ski instructor. During the holidays, most of us will be on our feet for hours at a time for a week or two straight. I’m passionate about it, but even I need to not think about snow or mountains or turn radii for a few days after expending that much energy!

    • http://www.bayswan.org/ Carol Leigh

      Well, it really works differently re: sex for me. I might not want to do sex work (the same kind of sex) at home, but sex work might increase my appetite for other kinds of sex, sex that inspires me. I have heard that a great deal from sex workers. I can’t think of too many analogies as I haven’t done that many types of work, but if my work might involve food, I still want to eat when I get home…just maybe not serve (of course) or cook as you say above.

    • anna

      Yeah, but I was just saying people are probably putting their stereotypes about their jobs onto sex workers. So, it’s actually kind of good, they’re thinking about sex work in a way that equates it with their jobs. Just another normal job

  • CarolLeigh

    Dear Harlotry,

    Thanks for this essay! Fun and true for me too. I always ponder about clients telling me they want to please me, etc. I recently decided that lots of them just say that because that is the role that seems both kind and erotic for them. So I realized that many, many know perfectly well that we don’t necessarily want to be ‘pleased’ by them. It’s just part of the discourse. Even that seems odd to me…it short-circuits a more real approach, which is possibly threatening to his concept of appropriate sex, or just not erotic in the way he wants. So, also what that means is (maybe more) that he loves to eat pussy…and he is not quite sure how to frame that.

    Why on earth are there no studies about these details? It would be so simple…or maybe there are studies that folks are aware of. C’mon sex worker sociologists and all you sexologists! I know there are so many of you.

    Most of my work was quite some time ago, and it was also extremely common for clients to try to please me, or state that it was their goal. That also went along with my image and the way I worked, of course. I really wonder about the difference in for male sex workers in regard to all this.

    Nowadays it seems that clients more often mention the idea that they want to be sure we aren’t forced, or that they are concerned about that issue in general.

    Anyway, thanks for the amusing, down-to-earth essay.

    Love and condoms,
    Scarlot Harlot

    • Bostwick

      Ms Leigh!

      I don’t know why I’m so surprised to see you around these parts, but I’m super happy you’re weighing in.

      Love,
      Some SF ho

      PS: Thanks for everything you’ve done (and continue to do) for the community!

  • Krusticle

    I couldn’t point out that my personal preference isn’t to go after my pleasure, but to have it given to me

    Read more: http://www.thegloss.com/2013/12/09/sex-and-dating/sex-workers-sexuality-myths/#ixzz2n2bzA9dd

    Very eloquent, Harlotry Lady. Wish more men understood this.

    • nadja

      I just want to point out that Scarlot Harlot/Carol Leigh is the woman responsible for coining the term “sex worker” as a way of uniting sex workers regardless of their specific field of work. She’s a legend.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Leigh

      It’s very cool that she’s here keeping up with the younger generation of sex workers!!!