Selling a Woman

“A new, sparkling and enthusiastic beginner”; “A top-level babe with an unbelievable body. A furnisher of ultimate pleasure”; “A sensual star with a reputation to keep…” These are some of the catch-phrases used to sell the services of prostitutes on an agency “meeting” website.

By Geneviève Raymond

Most of the “models” are 21 to 26 years old. We get to see their height and weight and the size of their breasts (specifying if they are real or not) – and their rates, varying from $240 to $260 an hour.

The agency answers calls and sends a woman to see a client (an “outcall”), or can have the client meet the woman in one of the 8 downtown condos owned by the agency (an “incall”). The three co-owners share a $70 cut per hour gleaned from a stable of 40 “independent workers” who they oversee each shift.

For the first time, I am meeting with the owner of an escort agency, and I’m consulting the websites and other forums that promote sexual services. I have a lot to learn, and I have to keep an open mind to understand “the world’s oldest profession.” I consult an urban dictionary to decode the acronyms used in the sex trade: “GREEK,” “DFK,” “DATY,” “BBBJ,” etc. I’ll let you research what each of those mean…

Pretty Photos

“Her photos are very pretty, but sometimes that hides collagen marks, a big weight loss or something else; I don’t want to have someone freaky, I’m a guy that likes things top notch,” writes QQlover on the Montreal Escort Review Board (MERB) website. For these men hiding behind their pseudonyms, shopping for a car, a barbecue or a woman is all the same. A prostitute is a consumer item.

“Before, women could give bad service. With classified ads in the newspaper, there was the bait and switch phenomenon: a man ordered an Asiatic and found himself with an African,” explains J., the co-owner of the EG agency. “Now, the clients have all the power because they can consult the comments on the MERB website. The escort agencies can’t lie about the quality of services they offer.”

This businessman welcomes me at his suburban home. He is dressed in sports clothes. Except for the Tesla parked in front of the door, nothing says that this thirtyish man leads a life of luxury. For J., the ends justify the means: “Make a lot of money by working less.”

Top of the Line

His agency, considered top of the line, sells “GFE”: the “girlfriend experience.” That means that the prostitutes will let their johns kiss them, will perform fellatio without a condom, and offer “two services” (two ejaculations). Tests for sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases are carried out at the discretion of the prostitutes.

“The police leave us alone because we aren’t selling drugs, we don’t offer underage women and we aren’t violent with them. They’re there of their own free will and we organize their schedules as they like. We aren’t pimps, we own a meeting agency that puts men and women together,” explains this energetic Latino in defending, in an almost charming way, how he earns his living.

But what is the cost of being a sex worker, in terms of the physical and mental toll it takes? I have trouble understanding how a woman can choose to be penetrated by several men in the space of a few hours, aside from sexual desire. According to the Council for the Status of Women, most prostitutes were victims of sexual assault (rape, incest, pedophilia) before turning to the sex trade. There certainly must be a disconnect between body and spirit.

Daddy Issues

“Most of these women have ‘daddy issues’ (bad relationships with their father) and quite a few consume drugs or alcohol to do johns,” J. explains. “The women do the job for cash and easily fall into living the fast life by earning more than $1,000 a day. They want to party and buy Louis Vutton handbags.”

In so many words, this manager admits that prostitutes don’t leave the business with more money; on the contrary, they tend to spend away their cash. “I advise the women to have a goal when they become escorts. Yes, spend freely for a while, but for a determined time period. I don’t want to see them here at age 30,” says a man who plans to retire by age 40.

After a life of excess often punctuated by episodes of violence and great vulnerability, it’s not easy for these women to return to the job market earning minimum wage with no experience they can put in their CV.

A study entitled La prostitution, il est temps d’agir (Prostitution: It’s Time to Act) by the Council for the Status of Women indicates that prostitutes have a mortality rate 40 times that of the Canadian average, and that 68% of them suffer post-traumatic stress.

J. still thinks that his “girls” enjoy good work conditions with an appealing salary and a high-end clientele. He doesn’t equate his “girls” with those who work the streets or are exploited by violent pimps.

Saved Marriages?

“Most of their customers are married men, businessmen, lawyers or doctors between 35 and 60 years of age. We have a lot of clients who are Asiatic and introverted,” J. explains. He argues that his agency has saved marriages and stopped pedophiles from acting out on their desires: “The younger the women, the more popular they are.”

John James is a psychology professor at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. In an article on juvenile prostitution, he says: “Many don’t think that their sexual behavior causes harm to victims, or they quite simply justify themselves by thinking that their sexual needs are uncontrollable.”

Very rarely does J. get calls from women wanting to purchase sexual services. “Women don’t have to pay for having sex,” he says.

In our patriarchal society, I’d say that women – who also have sexual needs – have more trouble profiting from a woman or a man, no matter what their addiction, self-esteem or greed issues may be. Using humans as sex objects is inherently very violent.

(- J. is not his real name)   

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 29, no. 4, May 2021, pages 8 – 9.

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