Defining the Subtle Boundaries of Consensual Prostitution

We all know that if sex workers were given fair and reasonable rights, we’d be seen more broadly as people providing a service than “criminals.” Perhaps we will live in a day when it ISN’T ok to rape a woman selling sex. Even then, if a girl can dream, the average John would be required to not only pass safety processes upheld by the law, but also conduct upheld by society. I think most people reading this can agree on these concepts.

As far off as that may seem, it doesn’t mean we can’t start demanding this safety and appropriate conduct from the gentlemen who patron our services. The first step is to acknowledge the wide, yet often ignored, gap between prostitution and rape.

Prostitution is the practice of engaging in sexual activity with another person for payment. There is an implied awareness and willingness on the part of the person engaging in sex. If we are speaking of a person who is not aware or willing, that clearly falls into categories of human trafficking or rape. In the case of prostitution, the consensual transaction is between the service provider and the client.

However, not all sex workers have the know-how to set crucial boundaries to make this transaction safe (again – thanks to many of them operating in hiding instead of regulated establishments). So when a client dangles a carrot after she has said “no,” there is an oh-so-subtle moment when a normal transaction starts to become non-consensual.

I am a reasonable person, as I expect both my client and escort readers to be. I am aware of what constitutes rape. By definition, rape is when a person uses force or threat to engage in sexual activities with another. Emotionally, this spectrum is wider. Even still, the spectrum is wider when we consider this sex epidemic you may have heard of – rape culture.

“Why do we keep referencing rape culture? What is rape and what is rape culture? Why do I care? What does it have to do with me?” Yes, many questions that generally upstanding clients may have. Yet many others may not even think twice because they have cash in-hand which they believe buys them a ticket to pound-town with any woman on the market. I encourage all types to heed this message.

Let’s imagine a scenario for a moment… Keep in mind that in order for a client to ever walk through an escort’s door, she has to say “yes” to his request. She must consent to the appointment. Be sure to drop any shred of a notion that a sex worker is obligated to take any client. Escorts can consent or refuse to consent. Below is another example of when an escort can answer “yes” or “no”.

Client: “Do you provide _____?” (perfectly reasonable question prior to a transaction).

Escort: “No, I’m sorry, I don’t offer that.” (a clear answer of ‘no”).

Client: “I’ll pay $200 more.” (Initiation of power).

The morality downfall starts with the obvious fact that the client can easily find an escort that provides the specific activity that he is looking for. A popular example may be a request for anal. When the client requests anal, he gets a clear answer that the escort is NOT willing to provide that service with her body. The client then tries to override her desires for her own body by presenting more money. This is often followed by strategies of guilting, shaming, and complaining.

As a side note to clients: I do understand that many men make this mistake innocently and less directly. An innocent “nudge” can quickly skew your perspective on what is acceptable after it becomes habitual. In the world of intimate transactions, delicate and extreme are not far between.

So in this example, he wants to see this girl and he really wants anal – what’s the big deal, right? Lets look at the details of what makes this person tick. He wants what he wants. He wants girl “A” off the escort listings, not girl “B” or “C” who happen to offer anal. He wants the one he wants. He also wants anal sex. He doesn’t want just vaginal sex with this particular provider. He doesn’t want to take advantage of her unique specialties. He wants his dick in a butt. The one she is in possession of.

All annoyance of entitlement aside, let’s look at something more concerning: he does not care if she wants to do this or not. In fact, it is of such little concern to him, that he believes his disposable leisure money is of more value than the boundaries she has set. It means he can easily ignore her discomfort (emotionally or physically) if it means getting off in the way he likes.

Sure many women charge more for certain activities. They will offer that upcharge. That is something they have previously decided they are comfortable doing if the financial benefit is there. In the case we are speaking of, the woman said ‘“no.”

A man who does not recognize the importance of a person saying “no” to a sexual activity is already on the rape spectrum. If he believes bribery makes it ok, he does not have respect for another human’s flesh. He does not care if that person is comfortable. He wants to take what he wants and is willing to push for it regardless of how it may affect the other person’s comfort. He is taking advantage of a person in a vulnerable position.

This rings especially true when you consider that many sex workers are in tough positions. They want to reduce their number of clients and therefore reduce their risk. So an extra $200 in exchange to forgo hard limits seem ok on a rough day.

In this moment the failure to recognize the humanity in a sex worker spreads like a disease. The sex worker herself remembers how society reminds her regularly that she is skin for sale, not a service. It’s not about her skill, it’s about her willingness to be “bought” wholly. Once you are paid for sex, your body is owned.

THIS. IS. SO. WRONG. Not in any other service do we walk in expecting to own someone for an hour. We don’t expect our wait staff at a restaurant to brush our hair. We don’t ask a personal trainer to feed us grapes while we lounge by the pool. We don’t tell our hairdressers to pop our back pimples while they are at it. A sex worker provides a service. This is a service indeed, but one that is of sexual nature under their terms and skill set. This is a service that REQUIRES physical and emotional consent as with any intimate service. You don’t purchase sex workers rights, and for a higher price, you can’t purchase the right to say “no”.

The thought makes me look again toward the word “rape” and what it means. Rape is when one person uses “force” to engage in sexual activity with another. What is considered “force”? Is it physical violence? Is it blackmail? Coercion? Bribery? On a legal level, things can get really picked apart. But we aren’t operating within the legal realm anyway, are we? Let’s speak on a moral level.

Here’s a small list of ways men can “force” a sex worker – or any other person – into sexual activity after they have clearly said “no”:

  • Bribery: Offering more money, gifts, or other promises.
  • Shaming: Passive or even directly derogatory remarks about being a “whore”  and selling one’s body.
  • Comparing: Claiming that “other girls” do it
  • Whining/complaining: Complaining about the service once it is happening and acting unsatisfied or frustrated.
  • Passive Pressure: “God, I would really love to put it in without a condom, it’s too bad.” and other remarks usually made repeatedly.
  • Not asking: Never asking and instead “going for it” (i.e. Removing a condom, penetrating without asking, cumming in mouth without warning).

Ask yourself, ‘What type of person would get off after getting what they want as the result of any of these behaviors? How can someone ejaculate knowing they have pushed a person into sex by any means?” Ponder what this person could be capable of if hormones were high, alcohol was involved, or any other circumstance where inhibitions are lower. How far is the jump between any of these things and sex by physical force or threat? Sex for money is not an open door. Force is still force. Rape is still rape.

Keep your reality in check. Find someone who suits your needs. Respect the people you pay for a service by honoring their bodies and their rights.

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