Tag Archives: sex work

Politicians and Privileged Prostitution

Ain't no party like a politician-prostitute party (image via Sugar Daddy Blog)

In a tabloided media world, few things hit harder than a sex scandal. Mistresses, gay escorts, faux-lesbian bondage clubs and high-class call girls rock and sometimes sink political careers.  Men in power apologize to constituents, often flanked by their dutiful wives, while pundits wag fingers over the increasing moral decay of our prostitute populated nation.

But is moral depravity endemic to cultures accepting prostitution?

Not at all.

Attitudes towards prostitution (like attitudes towards all sexual variations) swing with the changing tides of culture. Sometimes tolerated, sometimes weaved centrally into social fabric, prostitution has always existed in some form.

The forms prostitution takes reflect the social structures of the society in which they exist. In contemporary culture high-priced escorts sit atop the hierarchy relatively untouched by the law, while women working on the streets (particularly women of color) bear an inordinate burden of arrests. Ancient Greeks had their own structure with hetairai (courtesans, much like modern day escorts) and concubines for privileged male citizens. The Roman Empire had a similar structure, though prostitution was less accepted in Roman culture than in Greek.

In our culture that condemns and outlaws prostitution, the level of public ire raised by dalliances between men of power and prostitutes depends on the type of prostitute. White, educated women found through private escort services (such as the women hired by David Vitter through the DC Madame) generate a relatively low level of interest (unless the prostitute involved goes public, as in the case with Eliot Spitzer) while male escorts or women working in the street cause moral outrage and media calamity. (For more on social sexual hierarchies, read Gayle Rubin’s seminal essay “Thinking Sex”).

Social privilege in the sex-for-hire industry mirrors the social structure of privilege. Media glamorizes the heterosexual encounters between white, educated women and men of power while denigrating homosexual affairs and relationships with women on the street. When the public reproaches a politician’s sexual indiscretions, the righteous indignation is just as much over the affair as the type of sex sought.

This post is dedicated to my friend Andy W. for his financial contribution towards running this blog. Thanks Andykins!

Sex Work and Class in a Rough Economy

I caught up with an old friend last night and she confided in me her desire to start working as a dominatrix. Pro-dommes (professional dominatrices) I’ve spoken with before have told me how competitive the industry is right now: as times get rough more and more middle-class women enter into sectors sex work that ostensibly prohibit any blow jobs, hands jobs, or other traditional sexual activities. Don’t believe me? Go check out your local strip joint and see how many women there have a B.A.

Considering potential heavy competition, her inexperience and need for cash I suggested housework.

“Oh. NO. No, no, I couldn’t do that.”

This is a pretty common reaction from white-middle class women. I pointed this out to her and she just laughed.

“Yeah, I guess so. Still, I have to clean all the time already. I don’t want to do that for work and only make $15 an hour.”

I had a housecleaner once. I paid $25 an hour just to sweep and mop my place. There’s good money to be had in doing people’s dirty work.

As I drove home that night I wondered how she would feel if a client asked her to dress up like a French Maid and dust his balls. Does that bear too strong a resemblance to cleaning? Or is it just dirty enough to be middle-class?