Sex work is a vast spectrum of gender, sexuality, services, providers and clients. But, phallocentric scripts around submissive female sexuality are so entrenched that many simply do not consider the fact that women engage sexual services to satisfy their sexual needs. But they most certainly do.
When I set about writing this article I sent out a tweet asking if any women who have paid for a sexual service would like to share their story. Why would a woman pay for sex? Getty The most frequently asked question is why. This question is rooted in heteronormative assumptions that men want sex all the time, so why would a woman pay for something that is freely available and plentiful?
We live in a quick sex world, where a penis is only a right swipe away. But what about good sex? How easy is that to come by? The kind of sex that is just about you. An experience where you are free to give voice to your most deeply concealed fantasies and live them out in safe, judgement free space?
What about sex with someone who knows exactly what they are doing, where everything is completely under your control? How often do you have that kind of sex? Joele is a year-old retired high school teacher, who has been in a committed and loving same-sex relationship for 23 years. She regularly visits a female sex worker with the full knowledge and support of her partner.
Far from creating distance between them, Joele found seeing sex workers has brought her closer to her partner. It has cleared the air of underlying unexpressed pressures and resentments on both sides. But many of the women who contacted me had visited a sex worker because they had sexual fantasies of being spanked, tied up, or dominated in some way. The levels of trust required are considerable.
Many of the women I spoke to described feelings of shame around their fantasy. Lucy is a year-old travel agent from Gloucestershire, who has been with her girlfriend for 18 months.
Lucy has held a deep desire to be spanked throughout her adult life. Like most of the women I spoke too, Lucy had a very detailed fantasy that had developed over many years, and despite experimentation with various partners, it never quite captured the scene she played out in her mind. As she put it: What I was looking for was structured disciplinary spankings. After the first session, Lucy was able to feedback precisely what she wanted to change or do more of.
Four years later, Lucy still regularly sees her dominant with the full support of her long-term partner. This is something I heard throughout the interviews conducted for this piece. Cheryl had tried repeatedly to bring kink into their marriage but found her husband really struggled with it. When the marriage ended, Cheryl decided it was finally time to explore her fantasies of being dominated by a woman.
Scared, hesitant, and deeply unsure of herself, Cheryl arranged her first session with a sex worker. Together, they planned her session down to the last detail.
I then had the most mind-blowing orgasm that just went on and on. I think it was 30 years in the making combined with over two hours of stimulation.
I have never, ever experienced anything like this. We then spent time cuddling and she talked to me about what I had just experienced and how I was feeling. Reflecting on her experience, Chloe said: I do want to try the threesome thing with him though as the thought of watching him with another woman is a huge turn on for me. Many other women have engaged a sex worker to fulfil threesome fantasies with their long-term partners. Regina is years-old and has been married for twelve years. She and her husband decided to fulfil their fantasies at the Love Ranch brothel while on holiday in Las Vegas.
But, Regina found the experience to be transformative for them both. Although she loves her husband deeply, she has long felt they were sexually incompatible. Anita has spent most of her married life sublimating strong BDSM and bisexual desires. She hoped such urges would go away, or that her reserved husband would suddenly develop a kinky streak, but it never happened.
Her frustration was palpable. I guess I see that logic, but some of us feel those feelings stronger. When I asked her why she chose to see a sex worker, rather than meeting someone online or in a bar, she replied: But, there was none of that there.
For the first time, I felt like I could be very self-indulgent. Seani Love is a London-based, straight male escort specialising in Tantra and kink.
I asked him what he has learnt about women and why he felt clients came to him. Many women have never received erotic contact purely for their own pleasure and so visiting a sex worker can be a major milestone on the path to reclaiming their right to receiving erotic pleasure. She spoke about how she has struggled to talk about sex for most of her adult life. When she left a year relationship, she hoped that by seeing a sex worker, she could learn to communicate and connect more intimately during sex.
I wanted to give myself some love and care, learn something about myself and have a new experience. When I caught up with Sarah and Natalie, I asked what their research had revealed about women buying sex. This parallels what we know about male clients — they come from all walks of life and pay for sex for a range of reasons.
I asked all the women who shared their stories what they wanted people to know about women who pay for sexual services. I also see sex workers as educators. My sex worker made this an incredible experience for me. After articulating all this here, I may get her a thank you card to let her know the impact it had on me.