DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Do you think it’s a good idea to rely on escorts for sex? At least till I get better to the point of getting laid all by myself. I am currently quite inexperienced, socially un-calibrated and haven’t even kissed a girl. (age 23).
The general society seems to have a very negative attitude towards sex work. I don’t understand why. If sex is indeed such a primal need, why should its accessibility be judged? Isn’t it better if more people start getting laid?
Let me know, Doc.
Frantic and Frustrated
DEAR FRANTIC AND FRUSTRATED: For a fairly short letter, there’s a surprising amount to unpack here.
Let’s work our way backwards, shall we?
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that getting laid is a magical cure-all for the issues that many people have. Lots of people – well meaning, bright individuals – often assume that sex has magical curative properties that will heal whatever ails you, whether it’s low-self esteem, relationship problems, obsessive interest in non-mainstream activities, Internet addiction, anger issues, non-heteronormative attraction, non-vanilla fetishes and kinks, entitlement issues, or cancer.
(No, I’m really not kidding about that last one. You wouldn’t believe the emails I get from “Tantric Healers”.)
The problem is that, Marvin Gaye songs to the contrary, sex is sex. Having sex isn’t going to magically change you into something or someone you weren’t before; if you were a bundle of insecurities before you had sex, you’re going to still be a bundle of insecurities 30 minutes later. Now I do agree that more people having good sex would probably make the world a better place, but it’s more than just someone managed to achieve orgasm in the presence of another person.
But more on this in a second.
Now your question about sex workers is slightly more complicated. The disdain that some people have for sex-work is cultural, resulting on troublesome ideas about gender roles, conflicting ideas about sex and morality and an added bonus of popular stereotypes about the people who do sex work. Despite the cultural shifts towards increased sex positivity, we as a culture still tend to see sex – especially non-traditional, non heteronormative sex – as dirty and wrong. Men are often seen as bestial for wanting sex in excess to what is “proper” on the one hand even as we champion those who have lots of it on the other. Meanwhile, women who enjoy sex – especially kinky sex – are looked at with suspicion and disdain… often even when they’re in a traditional, monogamous relationship.
Thus, when it comes to sex work, we’re diving head first into a massive stew of our sexual issues. A man is supposed to have lots of sex because A Man Is Not A Virgin; therefore a man who has a hard time getting sex is less masculine. Paying for it is considered the ultimate shame – the person is SO unable to get laid that he is forced to purchase sex instead of getting it by dint of his desirability. The women who provide the sex in exchange for money, on the other hand, are seen alternately as scum or victims — occasionally both at the same time. Either they’re less than human, having fallen so low, or they’re the helpless victims with absolutely no agency of their own, caught in the cogs of an inexorable machine that grinds them down.
Please note very carefully that I said “women”. Male sex workers – while being far less common – aren’t subject to the same level of disdain that women are. James Deen stars in a movie with Lindsey Lohan and everybody is impressed with his professionalism and his acting ability. Sasha Grey stars in a movie by Stephen Soderbergh and everyone assumes that it’s stunt casting. Ron Jeremy had pop-culture cachet while April O’Neil is still “just” a porn star. We think of sex workers and the popular image is a downtrodden woman on the street-corner in fishnet stockings and pleather micro-mini’s, offering oral sex to strangers in order to get enough money for their next meth hit before meeting with her pimp. We DON’T think about escorts of either gender, who chose their careers and maintain their own independent business.
We as a society tend to automatically assume that someone who chooses sex work is someone who has no other choice – a woman who’s addiction to drugs or previous sexual abuse has lead her to this place, or who has been literally sold into sexual slavery. We don’t picture those women and men who may have chosen it of their own free will – some may like the money, some may enjoy the chance to express their sexuality and get paid for doing so and even those for whom it’s a job like any other… and one that often offers better hours and pay than, say, working at Starbucks or teaching.
(And that’s before we get into the subject about how we treat people who LEAVE sex-work; someone who did porn in their past gets shamed for having… stoped doing porn and gotten a mainstream job.)
TL;DR: the disdain for sex work has to do with how f
ked up we are as a culture over sex and gender. It says a lot about a country when we consider seeing a nipple more damaging than seeing someone get a hole the size of a chicken pot pie blown through that exact same breast.
Now, I’m pro sex-work in general, provided that it is safe, and consensual for everybody involved. I think that most of the laws regarding sex work and “sexual exploitation” victimize the sex workers needlessly and make it that much harder to actually combat trafficking — and I highly suggest that EVERYONE listen to the excellent episode on human trafficking from the You’re Wrong About podcast. I think if someone wants to visit a sex worker, whether that’s at a peep-show, a strip club, a massage parlor or an escort, that’s their business.
So with that in mind: I think relying on escorts – your words – is a bad idea for you.
I get that you’re anxious over your lack of experience, but going out and JUST getting laid isn’t going to help. Like I said earlier: you’re assuming that being inside another human being is going to magically solve these issues for you and it won’t. Frankly, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to find that you’ve got a crutch – a very expensive crutch – that will ultimately hinder your progress.
The fact that you’re a virgin at 23 is neither shameful nor terribly unusual. Some people get their start later than others and that’s ok. You’re no less of a man for being a virgin than someone else is for having lost their virginity at 17; in fact, a number of studies suggest that you actually have the advantage by starting at an age where you’re mature enough to handle the things better than most of us did in our teens.
Now, if it were just a case that you weren’t terribly hung up on what it MEANS to be a virgin at 23, if you just wanted to have the experience and get this whole “losing your virginity” thing out of the way… well, honestly, I’d say more power to you. Having your first time with someone who’s invested in your comfort and pleasure is hardly the worst experience in the world, and a damn sight better than a hook-up with someone you met at a bar who decided you’d do.
But that’s not what you’re looking for. The fact that you talk about “relying” on escorts is kind of a huge, blinking clue that this goes a little deeper than wanting to experience the physical act of sex and much more about how you feel about your ability to meet, date and sleep with women.
Visiting an escort will get the itch scratched, sure. But this isn’t going to be a substitute for going out and actually getting that experience you’re needing; in fact, you may well find that you’re using going to escorts as an excuse to NOT go out and meet women… and at anywhere from $300 a session on up, that’s going to be one damn expensive excuse.
This is one of those times where I think you’re better off working on yourself. While I don’t think visiting an escort is bad in and of itself, I think that it’s only going to make YOU feel worse about things. I strongly suspect that if you do, you’re going to feel like you “cheated” somehow or that you’ve done something so inexcusable that women would never love you if they knew.
(That’s not true… but nobody ever said thought processes like this were rational.)
The only way any of us learn is through experience, and that means going out there, talking to people, asking women out on dates, making mistakes and learning from them.
So save your money. Read through the column, read my books, watch the YouTube channel, learn what it takes to be someone women want to date. Make some mistakes. Risk getting your heart broken a couple times. You’ll be a better person for it in the long-run.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org