Review boards aren’t for us. They’re for sad, sad clients to commiserate with each other and get back some of the power they feel they’ve lost by having to pay for sex in the first place. But I didn’t always know that. Once upon a time, I was a review board junkie. That only lasted until I forgot the reason I was there in the first place (to make money,) forgot that everything you post is essentially an advertisement, and started being a little too vocal about my opinions.
I complained about a thread entitled “Best Asses On [That Particular Board],” writing that it was problematic for these clients to post photos of escorts without their permission—taken from their websites or from their photo albums on the board—and that reducing us to bits and pieces was dehumanizing. I was met with many defensive responses from clients claiming that this thread (and others like it) were simply celebrating the female body. I replied, “I’ll believe you when you start posting some fat asses.” (Because believe me, you are never going to see a BBW escort in any of these stupid threads.) A few of us started trolling the thread by posting male asses and monkey butts. That’s when some of the so-called “elite” members—they have more than 1000 posts—started to complain that the site “wasn’t what it used to be” and boo-hoo, the women are talking when they should be sucking cock. (Ok, they didn’t literally say that, but that was the message they conveyed.) One day, I logged on to discover I had been suspended without warning for six months. [READ MORE]
Let’s boycott the review boards en masse and create our own.(Courtesy of ManBoobz)
Since becoming a full-time companion (my euphemism of choice) in the United States about nine months ago, I have noticed two distinct issues that affect our safety and ability to continue to operate. The first, most pressing issue is the fact that full service sex work is illegal in most parts of the country. The second issue is the fact that a very large online community of reviewers or “hobbyists” exists. While most hobbyists are not sociopathic predators who use coercive tactics to rape sex workers, the very fact that a review community exists creates a power structure that makes coercive rape a fairly common occurrence for sex workers. With so many sex workers coming forward saying they were sexually violated after being blackmailed with the threat of a bad review, there is something deeply wrong with a community of reviewers who perpetuate misogyny and rape culture.
The problem comes out of the hobbyist propensity to reduce sex workers to commodities. Many hobbyists claim it is important for them to know what they are getting into if they’re going to drop that kind of money on a “product,” and on the surface this argument makes sense. Law enforcement is a very real concern not only for sex workers, but also for our clients. It seems reasonable that a client would want to know whether or not they can trust that a sex worker is legit before agreeing to meet with them. Depending on the mood I’m in, I can even be sympathetic to the plight of the poor hobbyist who had a kinky fantasy that a sex worker cannot/won’t fulfill. We are, after all, quite the expensive hobby.
When we talk about reviews, though, and the information that is contained within them, we are not just talking about simple yes or no answers to questions of legitimacy and customer satisfaction. The hobbyists’ arguments for the necessity of reviews fall apart with one look at the reviews themselves. Not only will you find a full and detailed accounting of a sex worker’s body type and appearance, grooming habits, gender assignment versus presentation, and how nice/real their various body parts may or may not be; you also have the opportunity to read a very detailed account of the session a hobbyist enjoyed (or didn’t) with a sex worker. This includes all the dirty details on what the sex worker was or was not willing to do, and how happy or unhappy that made the hobbyist. These reviews can often read just like an Amazon.com review, with all the information about the provider’s body listed like basic product info, and the experience with the product (person) detailed below. I think most sex workers and even quite a few hobbyists would agree that these details are unnecessary and in fact compromise sex workers’ legal safety, since most of us try not to admit to exchanging sex for money.
Maybe you’ve never seen a man know that a woman is a sex worker and nonetheless respect both her, and women in general, in which case you need to consider getting different friends. I’m pretty sure that this can be done (the respecting thing I mean. Got no opinion on your capacity to find new pals), because generally my male friends say things to me like, “hey, I’m making a fucktonne of dhal, would you like to come over and help me eat it?” or “can I borrow that book when you’ve finished it?” or “Christ, ‘the left’ has such a problem with misogyny. How d’you think we can fight that? Maybe by setting fire to the whole idea of ‘the left’?”.
They do not say to me, “hey girl, I thought I was alright at feminism, but now I’ve fully grasped that you sell everything that truly defines your value, and what makes you who you are, I guess I’ve returned to the idea that women are rubbish”.
I agree that sex work, and sex workers, provoke expressions of misogyny that might otherwise be hidden. Well done, people who make this argument! You’ve correctly identified a definitely-existing strand of visible misogyny. As we’ve established, many things ‘provoke’ (read: provide a premise for) misogyny, because we live in a misogynist culture, constantly swarming with dickheads. If you think sex work is unique in that we should “tackle misogyny” by getting rid of the behaviour that ‘provokes’ it, rather than say by getting rid of misogyny itself, you are endorsing and firming up the worldview of people who hate sex working women – and by extension, women in general. You’re saying that misogyny against sex workers is unavoidable, and by implication therefore a little bit understandable.
Once again: that’s super fucked up.
-Glasgow Sex Worker eviscerates the ‘feminist’ argument that sex workers provoke misogyny on her blog