Towards the end of my work as an “escort” I was thoroughly exhausted. The brothel work had been brutal on my body, but the “independent escort” work had exhausted my spirit. Whereas once I just ran the gamut of garden-variety sexual activities with, at best, a distant smile and a “good day to you,” I now had been obsessing over my appearance, my apartment, my advertising, and my “image” as well. I’d been made to adopt the most insidious of all contracts: The Girlfriend Experience — winsome, involved, overly nurturing, and available. Intelligent enough to understand but never enough to contradict. Lying to “clients” about my background, my views, and my habits in order to demonstrate a pleasing personhood for the paying male ego.
Friends had also left brothels in droves and began to navigate this landscape of pretense for themselves. According to “clients,” we didn’t drink heavily, smoke, do drugs, swear, speak coarsely (other than at appropriate sexual moments) argue, have opinions, or refuse to gratify. In truth, most of the women I knew had problems with drink, drugs, eating disorders, mental health problems, and anger issues. We may not have been routinely beaten by punters or raped (although it does happen), but our self-esteem and self-assurance was as paper thin as our digital platforms.We pretended to be happy, empowered, sexy, and comfortable in our roles as sponges for immediate male satisfaction while pushing our maladies and distresses down the sides of the sofa… just like those women detailed by Betty Friedan: isolated housewives, secretly quaffing vodka and pills to deal with their controlled misery. In each of our separate apartments, the “high class escorts” I knew were indeed like those housewives, only now it was more than one “husband” we served to keep a roof over our heads.
Rae Story is a part time freelance writer living in the UK. She describes herself as “sex industry critical” after having worked industry for over 10 years, in various capacities and countries.