Our Bodies We Sell: Escorts In a Digital Age

by Kari Belsheim

Thanks to the awesome power of the internet, we know exactly which restaurants on our block have super dank Thai food. You can rate hotels, restaurants, services of all kinds, so it should come as no surprise that people rate escorts and prostitutes.

A recent article entitled The Luxury Rental Girlfriend, sheds an interesting light on this relatively new phenomenon in the US. After interviewing a range of “hobbyists,” men who sleep with escorts and then rate them on websites, Lisa Taddeo paints a complicated picture of prostitution in the digital age. These johns prefer escorts to unpaid relationships, because they can get the “Girlfriend Experience” (GFE) without having to deal with, well, an actual girlfriend with expectations and opinions.

So what makes the girlfriend experience? As attention spans get shorter and shorter, would people rather put capital into relationships than energy? Taddeo says, “Men want to be loving. They want the GFE without the LTR [long-term relationship].” I can understand that, and I can almost relate until one of the hobbyists says “I don’t even want to fuck her necessarily, it’s just nice to know I can reach across and touch her right boob, if I want to.” I suppose he forgot to include “and she wants it too.”

Taddeo interviews several high-price escorts, many of whom are well-educated. They aren’t necessarily heartless or unfeeling towards johns. In fact, it’s seems like they’re happy with the work’s facility “A few hours in the Hamptons, and cookies. Did we really just make $3,500 to do that?”

The article focuses on high-end escort relationships in New York, but prostitution is ubiquitous, and it’s hardly ever so independent or mutually beneficial. Even the escorts in the article gun for good ratings on sites, and a perusal of the rating website, The Erotic Review, reveals these girls are rarely as praised for their conversation skills as they are for being chunks of talking flesh.

The merits of prostitution are not the real issue in this article. Instead, it is that these men clearly operate on the idea that women ask too much by owning their own bodies. It’s simpler to pay for the GFE, than accept the fact that you may need to ask to touch someone’s boob. Whether you see it as simply laziness or a symptom of capitalistic misogyny, it is depressing.

Feminists have been debating about prostitution for generations, but one thing we know for sure is that it’s never okay to appropriate someone’s body as your own whether or not you pay for it.

Image: Pretty Woman

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