I think that one of the most important purposes of my guest columnist feature is to provide a look at experiences I’m not qualified to speak about personally, so when I received this letter I immediately asked its author if I could publish it. She very graciously consented, and I hope y’all will find it as fascinating as I do.
I’m a middle aged lesbian-leaning bisexual academic who identifies as a feminist. Your blog came to my attention a few years ago via Twitter, and your daily digest of police state violence against sex workers is an essential part of my political reading. While you have a wide array of discussions on your blog and in the comment threads, I have noticed one voice missing: That of The Jane. Or at least, This Jane.
I am a woman who has paid for sex and I liked it. If I were a rich woman, I would unabashedly procure sexual services from providers of various genders. If I were powerful enough, I would be honest and unashamed by such too.
After graduate school in a small southern town, I took a corporate job in a major city. Young, devoted to my work and at that time, well-paid, I would make it a point a few nights a week to attempt to meet women in all the conventional ways including lesbian bars and political events. What was to follow was a series of disappointments; not because I was not meeting women, I was. What I wasn’t meeting were lesbians who could just enjoy sex without it being attached to a potential relationship. We all know the old joke about what a lesbian brings on a second date: A U-Haul.
Lesbian bars were dreadful. Full of puritans. Every attractive butch was in a 12-step program, often full of judgment when I ordered a second drink since God forbid one want to unwind. If we made it far enough through the evening, I would get propositioned. No, not of the “Let’s fuck” variety but invitations to play house. If they were willing to just go back to my place and fuck, I would get lectures about smoking pot beforehand lest it interfere with my enjoyment or more importantly, my ability to consent. “Consent culture” has been around for a long time; it’s less to do with avoiding accusations of rape, than it is to appease the insecure who think that my enjoyment of recreational drugs, sex toys, kink or any variety of base pleasures somehow implies that they might be sexually inadequate. Further, there is this notion that one’s sexuality must be “healthy,” even spiritual; I never did figure out what the latter meant, but the former was a return to the days when women kept each other in check by making sure that one stayed virtuous (in other words, not promiscuous). It’s not that there weren’t any women who did just want to fuck. The bi-curious women appeared on my TV screen and in popular magazines, but in real life they generally consisted of women whose interest flagged when they reeled in which ever male they were using me as bait to hook, or those who believed that female sexuality consisted of a few slow French kisses, then our bodies would magically meld as we flew over lush fields of green as unicorn fairies. In other words, they had no idea where the hell to put their tongues.
Then one night, I was with a group of male and female friends when we entered a local strip club as part of a birthday party, and I found a bright and vivid display of women, in every shape and color, who made themselves erotic visions. I was transfixed watching their stage performances, and after a few shots I worked up my courage to approach them with dollar bills to get a closer look. The bold eye contact the dancers made helped me to not merely sympathize but to have genuine empathy for men who are intimidated to speak to beautiful women.
Everything about stripping is ultimately more about what is on the dancer’s body than what is removed. The sky-high heels create the muscularity that emphasizes and aligns the curve of her buttocks, through the smooth upper thighs curving back into the calf; they promote a straight posture and confident gait that turns breasts into beacons of life. The thongs draw attention not only to the natural peach shape of the female rear, but affirm the wearer’s many hours of fitness and discipline. Creamy, moisturized skin, long playful eye lashes, full lips brought to a shine and topped off by a crown of hair that tumbles and falls in waves…waves of free spirited sexual freedom.
When I could regain my powers of speech, I tipped one of the dancers and asked her to join us at our table. Other members of my group were already getting dances; I wanted one too, but not just to titillate the men around me (not that I would have noticed). Once the dance began, I was entranced by the way she slowly dragged her manicured fingertips down my exposed arms, her body gliding up and down mine as if she were as light as air, and her hands ever-so-discreetly making their way for a moment or two to the sides of my breasts – I was aware of nothing but her. Our group enjoyed the club until late, then we left. That in some ways was the best part; I had the high of experiencing female sexuality without having to cultivate an emotional connection that I was neither ready for nor could make room for in my life.
Writing about that was the fun part, but now it gets thorny: Many years later and some relationships later, I discovered heterosexuality. It affirmed both my feminism and my lesbianism; the dynamics of heterosexual romances are simply incompatible with the way I live my life. My work requires me to spend long hours in solitude thinking, researching and writing. I am married to my ideas, and so am simply unsuitable as a mate in any sort of conventional heterosexual relationship. Ultimately, I realized I longed for only one aspect of them: being fucked with a penis. With age, my needs for privacy had grown; hence, affairs with colleagues were out of the question. People love to gossip, especially about themselves. Male friends to whom I felt close enough to ask for sex, grew attached no matter how clear I made it that I was not able of reciprocating the same sort of love they felt. Lacking feminine tact or any ability for small talk, the bar scene for straights proved even less inviting than the one for lesbians, and for whatever reason I could never convince myself I felt any chemistry with strangers under those circumstances.
Several months after the end of a long relationship, people who knew me less well were prone to ask if I had started seeing anyone yet (as if there were a social norm about remaining single too long). Or worse, my lack of interest in dating seemed to indicate to armchair psychologists that I was not “healed” or over my last mate. In reality, though, I was relieved to be single again, as it allowed me to focus on artistic projects which I had abandoned; I had been so busy maintaining a relationship out of obligation that I had lost sight of my own intellectual ambitions.
In due time however, I craved the sexual touch of another person. A few times a month I would get a massage at a nearby Thai parlor which (as far as I knew) was not in the business of providing sexual services; most of the masseuses were petite older women who had studied their craft, and I always left feeling as though my body had been put back in order. Nothing more, nothing less. At one visit however, the masseur was a young man I took as gay. The massage was excellent, but he worked my entire body (including the groin area) in such a way that when I returned home, I did something I rarely needed to do after a massage: masturbate. Basking in the relaxation of my own bed alone, it occurred to me, why didn’t such a service exist as an outcall. I must be horribly dumb after an orgasm, because there is a world full of male prostitutes – albeit one that caters nearly entirely to gay men. After a quick internet search, however, I found one company that made a ham-fisted point of reminding anyone on the site that it was strictly a “Straight Elite Male Companions For Women” operation.
I made the call.
Two hours and a six hundred dollar charge to my credit card later, “Anthony” appeared. He was wholesome looking in a countrified way: lean, slightly muscular and sans tattoos and piercings (which was refreshing having been over exposed to such in the LGBT scene). I was nervous, but he made me feel very at ease; he knew what to do and when do it. And when it was over, I gave him a cash tip and spent a very relaxing evening in bed reading. I had experienced sexual release without any of the complications, drudgery or expense of being in a romantic pairing.
Would I hire an escort again? Certainly. The only thing that keeps me from doing so are the rates, but what escorts do is worth the price. With a professional, I am spared tedious discussions about sexual histories: I want to fuck, not be probed by a nurse practitioner. The boundaries, both mine and the sex worker’s, are clearly drawn. I am not burdening others by dragging around a fuck partner whose name everyone is expected to remember or who needs a special term. (Referring to someone as girl/boy friend at my age seems ludicrous and “lover” implies I’m a 65 year old gay man — I might be someday but will save my gender issues for another guest column if you so allow.) Sex workers understand discretion so I am allowed my privacy, something the “friends with benefits/selfie” era lacks, with or without the NSA. Finally, I do not have pretend to be seeking “romance” when all I am interested in is sex.
Yours in freedom,