The Myth Of The Passive Listener

One of the great clichés about prostitution is that many clients go to the girl to talk, and that she does essentially the same job as the psychotherapist, listening to them without judgment. Maybe she gives them good advice too, from her wealth of human experience. After all, a favourite recruiting ground is the nursing profession. Some working girls are very proud of being able to help men, and indirectly their wives, in this way. So far, all of this cliché happens to be entirely true.

The usual corollary, however, is entirely false; namely that working girls never talk about themselves. Some individuals do indeed play their cards very close to their chests, whereas others tell at any rate the more sympathetic clients all about their lives. Of these, some seem driven by a compulsion to justify their choices, while others kvetch about their colleagues, landlady, bureaucrat, boyfriend or whoever else is bugging them this week; it may even happen that on a given day the prostitute is too upset to function, and so the roles of comforter and consoled are reversed.

Another and related stereotype is the old “You can’t buy my thoughts” cliché. No doubt, but they are often given away for free. The moralist assumes that whenever a working girl tells a client something specific about herself, as for instance where she comes from, how old she is, whether she has a child or a cat, what music she likes to listen to, or what her real name is, this is all invariably a lie. But has this thesis ever been tested in any systematic manner, or is it merely an a priori axiom, motivated by the desire to see the girl as a pathological liar or the customer as infinitely gullible, or both?

A courteous client will often be given information that is verifiable: if a “real” name and age is given, it can be compared with a passport; if a home address is given, it can be written to and a reply received; if a university degree is invoked, the discipline can be discussed; if she has a day job, she will display competence in the field. And so forth. Any experienced and considerate punter can cite examples of being trusted with information that would be disastrous in the hands of a stalker or blackmailer. I know of a punter who on his first encounter with a street girl in Rome was not allowed to bring her into his hotel, so she took him home, not to a working flat, but to her real apartment; and on a return visit she cooked him dinner. I know of another punter who was given the real name of a girl who worked in the capital but came from a very conservative provincial community. He later visited nearby and found her mother’s name in the phone book. He is, of course, taking her secret to the grave. According to the mythology of wall-to-wall deceit and hostility, such a thing would be impossible.

Posted on January 20, 2012 at 11:17 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE NAME OF THE GAME, So This Is Science!

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