Friday, 29 March 2013
All clients great and small
If there's one thing which maddens me beyond all reason, it's the portrayal of clients/punters/call them what you will in the media. With the proposed introduction of the Swedish model, never before has it been more evident that those in 'power' really don't have a clue about the realities of our client base. Truly, I am sick to death of hearing my clients described as little more than lust filled animals with all the sensibilities of a zombie.
Just as sex workers are individual human beings, so too are our clients. Speaking for myself, I have an extremely diverse client base, it's really impossible to bracket them into one group, because they come from all walks of life, backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicities. I don't ask a lot of my guys, just that they treat me with respect and that they meet my standards of discretion and hygiene. After that, they can worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care, once they don't think they're going to convert me to Pastafarianism.
Over and over again, I hear in debates that we need to stop those men, those who 'feed the industry' with their demands, using coercion and force to get what they want. We really need to step back from the stereotype of a dirty old man in a mac looking around him furtively as he negotiates a price with a girl on a street corner.
Here are some client profiles -
1. He got married at 20, he's now 50. He adores his wife, who's given him three beautiful children and would do anything for her. They haven't had sex for five years now, because she's developed MS. For those five years, he has battled with his conscience. He can't have an affair because well, that involves feelings and people will get hurt, but he can't deny the physical needs he has.
2. As a young man, he left a job in the city to care for his father full time. He gets four hours reprieve a week when a carer paid for by the state comes in, and he uses this time to visit a local escort, where they open a bottle of wine and share a bubble bath together. It is this time which he treasures.
3. He got married young and it quickly became apparent that the marriage was wrong. There is violence in the marital home, she regularly assaults him, but because he has now become a public figure he can never report that, much less leave her. Provided he keeps her credit card topped up, she turns a blind eye when he books into a hotel one night a month and hires an escort.
4. As a teenager he was reckless and fell in with the wrong crowd. He began 'joy riding' which culminated in a horrific smash. Since then, he has been confined to a wheelchair and has no sensation from the waist down. He feels his injuries are God's way of punishing him for his behaviour and he frequently sinks into long bouts of black depression, even contemplating ending his life. What keeps him going is the periodic visits he gets from a sex worker, when he enjoys a sensual massage.
5. As a young boy, he was repeatedly and savagely raped by a close family member. He has serious issues with body dysmorphia and self esteem as a result. He wants to learn to enjoy sex as an act of love and tenderness, so that he can disassociate it from violence and terror.
The above examples are real clients, my clients. Are these the men we need to criminalise ? No. The men we need to (further) criminalise are the traffickers, those who trade in misery and suffering. Leave the men who are already dealing with their own misery and suffering alone.