Like many people I know a few secrets. For example, I can tell you the secret to get a visa to America, but not right now. Here I’ll share a secret that explains sex work. When everyone knows this secret, maybe even the most religious people will be more respectful. The secret is loneliness. Of course that requires a little more explanation. Here goes – –
The customers of sex workers are lonely, but so are the sex workers.
As you know prostitution is often called the world’s oldest profession. I do hope you are open minded enough to understand there is a reason this phrase has been around for quite awhile. Anyone with an open mind will realize that is not an accident. I have an MBA in marketing so I have a slight advantage in using some marketing jargon, but the meaning is clear. Sex work must serve an important, long term need in the market place it serves. A “market” only exists because of a need and a means to fill that need. I’m quite sure I am not the first person to say this. But a whole lot of people seem to ignore it.
First it is easy enough to think that the need being filled is men’s loneliness. Customers are lonely, but the women, meaning sex workers, are lonely too. Loneliness explains a lot about sex work.
Second, there are several examples of the way this need is filled for women too, maybe even more than for men. In America a major concern regarding sex work is underage runaway girls who seem to prefer being with a pimp and even being a sex worker as opposed to being with a dysfunctional family. A feeling of family and community with a pimp and other girls like themselves is often ignored, but it is a symptom of loneliness being resolved in an unapproved way.
The same is true internationally. I recently read a report about a high number of dysfunctional families and sexual abandonment in rural Thailand. It is well known that young Thai men are “butterflies,” as is common in so many other places. Butterflies flit from flower to flower and do not stay with one for long – leaving babies in their wake. It is the same all around the world with young men, and women, if their culture allows it.
It is America’s sex culture that is being marketed as the standard around the world with the help of the TIP program. I have talked to dozens of Thai prostitutes over several years as well as those in Philippines and Dominican Republic. With virtually no exception sex workers have told me they are not, repeat not, subject to violence from their customers. I begin to suspect that the violence reported in so many other blogs is an American phenomenon that some bloggers assume is true around the world too. It is not!
Surely it is time to get to the point, right? So true! The point is that a large number of sex workers everywhere in the world are lonely just as their customers are lonely. The same way American “girls” feel safer and have a sense of community with a pimp and co-workers as opposed to their own family, so too do women around the world in many cases prefer the company of their customers to that of home grown butterflies and abusive men from their own country.
In an amazing range of countries from Philippines to Albania women have told me they don’t like the men of their own country and hope to meet foreign men. For them foreign men were nicer, more generous, and know what foreplay means. These were often women experienced with both local and foreign men who made that choice.
One way for poor women to met foreign men is through sex work. You are welcome to take the hard line used by American feminists that every sex worker is suffering horrific shame. I know better. I have a different point of view. I know – yes, know – from first hand experience that sex workers and foreign men often share their loneliness. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Loneliness, and relief from that loneliness, has a lot more to do with successful sex work than you are likely to hear about anywhere else.
Loneliness also goes a long way to explain why the American TIP program and even NGOs often are in an open struggle to find victims. Many women and men whom both TIP and NGOs consider to be their highly sought after victims and abusers respectively are neither victims nor abusers. New “victims” often have to be taught economic advantages to victimhood by those same organizations that need victims to justify their missions and their donations.
As a side bar, I am reminded of the way a lovely 32 year old “friend” – her name was New, a Thai nickname – kneeling nude next to me on the bed broke into tears and sobs. When I asked why she was crying she said it was because I reminded her of her best German friend, a customer who died recently of cancer. There clearly was a passion there that I shared in as I held her in my arms.
I suggest – from personal experience – that sex workers and their customers often have a deeper relationship, even if only temporarily, that surpasses the simplistic understanding assigned to them by others. That deeper relationship revolves around shared loneliness.
And you can think whatever you wish about that.