May 28, 2011
Antonia, I hoped I could talk to you about something that happened that I would like your insights and thoughts on. I am older man, 64 almost 65, since my last relationship ended five years ago, I haven’t been with a woman, until a few months ago when I used the services of a sex worker.
For the last several years, I was starved for affection. What I really missed was physical affection, I missed touching and being touched, kissing and being kissed. I was so hungry for that. I would go through periods of time of reaching out to women to no avail so I focused on having a rewarding and meaningful life even if I had to be single. I found new things to fill my life. One of the things I found was doing was volunteer work.
One of my volunteer jobs is being on the board of directors of non-profit organization that provides services to domestic and sexual assault survivors. I find this job very rewarding and I’m proud of the agency. I honestly believe that we are helping many women to live healthy lives because of the services we provided them.
I longed for affection so much that I finally hired a sex worker. The experience was magical. The evening I spent with her I felt so alive, it was like a sunny day after weeks of rain! I was walking on air the next day. Only, I couldn’t really share the experience with people because I was afraid of being judged. Now I feel both good and guilty. It’s nice knowing if I’m starved for affection, I can hire a sex worker.
I also feel guilty and sad. I feel guilty because of my job. My non-profit organization stands for the betterment of women. I believe that no woman should have to live a life with domestic violence or sexual abuse. Paying a sex worker almost feels like a betrayal of that. And to be honest I am afraid of what the people, the wonderful women in my life would think of me if they knew.
It does matter to me, because I value their friendship and their work. And I feel by seeing this sex worker, who I will call Catherine, I am adding to her pain. Catherine told me that at times she is very suicidal. Perhaps a lie, but I do believe her, because she wasn’t asking anything of me, just sharing.
I want to love someone and to be loved by someone. But, I don’t have the power to make it happened. Love happens when it happens. I feel lonely and as hard as I try to change that by doing rewarding work doesn’t fill that loneliness.
When I read your email, I thought about all of the men like you who I’ve encountered over the years: clients who are conflicted by mixed feelings about sex workers as well as their deeply held principles, desires and needs; men who respect and admire women but have a virgin/whore complex; men who feel guilty deriving pleasure within a system which exploits women. All of those bodies colliding in that messy puddle: desire.
This conversation is long overdue. I can’t answer your question personally without commenting on it culturally. I’m going micro and macro so hold tight while I sort through all of this complexity.
First, something you omitted in your question: where did you find the sex worker? If she is in any way related to your agency and is seeking shelter or help, you are in fact, hurting her and exploiting her extreme vulnerability. Your guilt in this scenario would make perfect sense, as well as your concern about the women you work with at your agency. Your worry about what they would think if they knew you were paying her for sex acts would be valid because you are taking advantage of her weakness. If this is the case, consider quitting the arrangement pronto, before your secret devours you.
If the sex worker is in no way related to your agency, and you sought her out anonymously from a website, it sounds like she would benefit from some counseling services. This conversation should occur outside of the conversation about sexual favors. Consider cutting ties with her on a sexual level indefinitely because of her instability. She may need to talk to someone who is not paying her for sex. That person is not you. That person is a qualified professional.
There are two great places I know of locally that are sliding scale or free counseling if you are in Los Angeles (?) I’ve been to both of these places and they are great:
Southern California Counseling Center here: http://www.sccc-la.org/
The Maple Center here: http://www.tmcc.org/
Back to you. There are several websites to explore to find a clean, safe, escort who is not suicidal. I could send you a personal email with those links for possible leads. In your email you said that you have been starved for affection and then later say you want love. Let’s break that down. They are separate. If you are starved for attention and want to be touched, the sex industry is a good place to go for a one-hour date. Be respectful, punctual, clean and safe. I recommend a sex worker, especially since you are not cheating on a wife or girlfriend in order to meet your sexual needs as long as you understand they are not interested in dating you. The attention they provide is within the constraints of their job and you need to respect that. Seeking romantic love from a sex worker is like going to the Hardware store for eggs.
The guilt you may feel for hiring a sex worker is real, but it’s also informed by our culture, which sells you sex then criminalizes you for purchasing it. You’d be hard pressed to find a man in the US who hasn’t bought a lap dance, hired a girl to perform a bachelor party or paid a chick for a sex act. If you are coming from a respectful place why feel guilty?
Maybe because you don’t want that, after all. Maybe you want a relationship and love. You seem interested in women in a full-bodied, emotional, intellectual way. It seems like you respect and admire women and feel bad exploiting them. I can understand viewing sex workers as an exploited class in general for lots of reasons.
For example, sex workers are an underserved class of women with no protection or health care. One reason is that touching a person with the intent to arouse them and receiving money in exchange is illegal in the US, and so the infrastructure of sex work is unregulated and unsafe here. This invites danger and risk for the sex worker and to a certain degree, the johns.
Statistically, sex workers are victims of violence and considered disposable by our culture, which also desires them with an unbridled compulsion. Personally and culturally, what it means to be a sex worker is complex. What it means to hire one is also complex. Rabid loneliness is where we are at as a culture. We have more means than ever to connect instantly, but it’s not lasting or meaningful. We are compulsive and juvenile in our drive to connect, but remain alone. I relate to your loneliness.
Culturally, the sex industry was designed to cater to the sexual needs of men and use women to that end. Many women do sex work in order to survive. I think maybe you hired one of those women.
There are women who do sex work that are empowered, meaning, they are making a conscious choice and they/we believe that it’s a valuable artistic expression and cultural contribution. they/we come from a place of agency.
I am talking about Annie Sprinkle, Susie Bright and a variety of sex workers. (If you want to know more, I recommend: “Big Sex, Little Death” by Susie Bright and “Post-Porn Modernist” by Annie Sprinkle). Those women had an impact on me. They challenged me to love myself even if my culture doesn’t love me back. Can you love yourself and hire a woman for a sex act?
You may dig empowered sex workers. They will hold you accountable for your specific desires and there will be much discussion about where you are and where you want to be sexually. The sessions will be more about your healing and your consciousness. Be open to learning from these women. They may help you in new exciting ways. The power dynamic will be clear: they are the one in charge of the session. I think you might be more interested in that type of sex worker. This book may be of interest: “Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-first Century” by Barbara Carrellas. The book is about using sex as a spiritual practice and tool for transformation.
Everyone wants romantic love: culturally, we are taught that finding romantic love will complete us in our desire to become whole, but I don’t agree. We have to be whole on our own in order to enhance someone’s life. If you want to be available for love, you will have to take certain risks, like reaching out to women on a personal level, instead of on websites.
Take this risk: talk to women who interest you in a full-bodied, emotional way that I mentioned earlier. Love happens when it happens but you have to create opportunities for it to happen. You do a lot of volunteer work and are surrounded by people who share similar ideas and solutions.
I can’t guarantee you will find love or love will find you, but that is my wish for you.
Best of luck,