Saturday, January 21


I am morbidly fascinated by this story about websites where you can review prostitutes. I mean escorts. These sites are sort of like MTSU Review, only with less handjobs. Oh, snap.

But seriously. I'm learning so much about the depressing sex habits of the financially priveleged and the women who rent their bodies out to them to send themselves to grad school ... or whatever.

Many men make a lifestyle out of patronizing escorts. They call it "the hobby," not prostitution, and they are "hobbyists," not johns. They consider themselves connoisseurs of fine women, and they are eager to learn from their fellow hobbyists who will provide exactly what they want.

I just have to stop here and point out that when I hear a phrase like "connoisseurs of fine women," I get a scary mental picture of a giant man drinking a scantily clad woman from a champagne flute. It's just that goddamned ridiculous.

What they want is generally very clear: They want a centerfold model who will hang adoringly on their every word in public, then perform any sex act in any position with professional skill in private. The combination — a romantic dinner date followed by uninhibited sex — is called the "girlfriend experience," or GFE. Of Angelica, a reviewer wrote, "The term GFE should be based on what she is."

Well of course they want that. They also want a private island with hundreds of hot young college girls competing in games for their attention! It's true, because I saw it on TV.

But here we go, the buried lede: The Girlfriend Experience. I had never heard of this before (I don't hang around many hobbyists, I guess), and some quick work-safe research has taught me a bit more about that term. According to this source, apparently, the GFE is something like this:

... "to most guys it means a provider that makes the experience seem unrushed, enjoyable, fun, relaxing and more like a real date than a quick commercial encounter. In practice, though, it seems to depend on chemistry, personality and mutual expectations, as YMMV ("your mileage may vary") for both the provider and client. A general description might be: a session that facilitates the experience, mutual cuddling/foreplay, mutual kissing, mutual oral sex (covered or uncovered--depending), and involves either the illusion or reality of passion on the part of the provider. Most of all its about being a sincere mutually desired human interaction. It is the opposite of the women being treated like a sex toy and the man an ATM machine.

But is it the opposite? What it comes down to is exactly what it purports to be the opposite of: Man with money beds prostitute. The only difference is in the degree of acting, right? She who does a bang-up job of acting like a girlfriend the whole night (whatever that means) gets a high rating and nets more cash from future clients. Trying to add a layer of false humanity to it really just makes it that much more creepy, doesn't it?

More importantly, which came first -- the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold archetype or the GFE?

Before review sites came along, hobbyists had no way to protect themselves, said David R. Elms, president of The Erotic Review, which began in 1999 and claims that it gets 350,000 unique visitors a day.

"I'm a hobbyist, and I was getting ripped off," Elms said. "There was no way to hold people accountable for their actions.

"There had to be a way to get this information out," he said. "If a guy got ripped off or he received good service, then he could tell somebody. We treat it as something equivalent to going out on a hot date and telling a hundred thousand of your closest friends."

Aside from possessing the uncanny ability to evoke a deep red rage in me, David R. Elms has the huevos rancheros to suggest that, throughout his life, he has just not gotten the kind of fuck for his buck that he, as a staunch penis-bearing capitalist, is entitled to.

The story mentions that escorts also get to screen the clients that come to them through the review sites, giving them a measure of control over who they see. Escorts also can "out" bad clients with whom they have bad experiences. It's a small comfort, I suppose.

But here's the clincher:

The sites represent the ultimate commodification of women, who are impersonally rated by anonymous men in much the same way they would judge a sports car or a racehorse. Some find it demeaning, but most acknowledge that it's a fast, easy way to build a reliable client base.

I don't get it. The website, where their performance is reviewed, is demeaning, but not the actual sex work itself? Seems to me that if you commodify your body and sell it, you've got to expect to be treated as a commodity. This sounds dangerously like "Fuck those bitches, they get what they deserve!" but I assure you that is not what I mean. I just think these women who are offended by the site might be projecting their anger at the intrinsically demeaning nature of sex work onto the review sites and what they represent.

But more importantly, check out the structure of that paragraph. Read it aloud. Notice how it starts out all Here's yet another way in which women's bodies are bought and traded but then ends up with the women acknowledging what a boon to their business these websites are? It's not the writer's fault, necessarily, if he is, in fact, just stating facts as he was told. But it's a telling transition, starting off with acknowledging the commodification and then ending up with the women grateful that their commodification is made that much easier by the existence of these websites.


Blogger oskiesmom said...

This is truly sad, to read the word 'intimacy' and 'provider' in the same sentence. I may as well go to my HMO for it. I mean, I need intimacy, and I would like some expertise, but I don't think these women, skilled as they are, would quite "earn" their dollar from me. But these men? Settling. Just settling. And fooling themselves. Who's the bigger capitalist fool, though? The woman, or the man? Sad to say, but I kind of have sympathy for both. Anger ... I can't get there.

Sun Jan 22, 01:27:00 PM  

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