Marrying The Customer

I once saw a television programme about the legal brothels of Nevada, in which a madam pronounced that ex-prostitutes made the best wives. She did not explain why, nor did the journalist ask her what she meant; or perhaps she did, but the reasons ended on the cutting-room floor. I should very much like to know why the madam thought this. Would it be sexual expertise, or gratitude for getting out of the biz, hostessing skills; fidelity as a result of a “been there, done that” attitude to the variety of men; or perhaps something else entirely?

Many men are married to ex-prostitutes. Some of these men are even aware of the fact. If people find this surprising or incredible, it is probably due to some unconscious assumptions. First and foremost, prostitutes are not branded on the forehead. Most are short-timers or hold day jobs. It is true that working girls are stigmatised by almost everyone else, but in order to stigmatise members of a group you first need to know who they are. It is a lot easier for a sex worker to disguise her occupation than for a person of colour to “pass” in a racist society, and yet many such people have done exactly that.

We might expect, a priori, that some of the husbands don’t know and would be unable to take it if they did; that some don’t know but would be able to deal with it; and that some do know and don’t mind. The same applies to husbands of presently practicing prostitutes. One of the more outrageously false doctrines peddled by the radical feminists is that once a woman has sold sexual services, she can never enjoy love-making ever again. In actual fact, while some prostitutes are lesbians or frigid – and the frigidity can be either the effect or the cause of their occupation – most have boyfriends and husbands. Strategies for reconciling the two aspects of their lives vary. Some don’t kiss clients, or don’t have orgasms with them, whereas others do; presumably these latter define their primary relationship in non-sexual terms such as loyalty and caring.

That a man’s wife can sell sexual services all day without his realising it suggests one two or all of three things: that men are preternaturally dense, that women are preternaturally skilled at deceit, or merely that practice of the profession does not have nearly the impact on normal sexual function that know-it-all outsiders claim.

No editing of the CV or lying about sewing clubs is necessary when the husband is a former customer. How often does this happen? It is yet another tedious stereotype that men may frequent hookers but would not dream of marrying them. This is probably true for a great number; after all, there is a saying that what one pays a professional for is not to have sex but to leave afterwards. But it is also the case that some men fall in love with the girl. How could it be otherwise? La coeur a ses raisons…

Another stereotype is that no working girl could ever fall for or even become fond of a customer. If that were prohibited by the laws of nature, however, one might wonder why sex workers would need to admonish one another to keep their emotions out of it and to avoid involvement with clients. One does not repeatedly warn people against doing what they physically cannot do and so are in no danger of doing. The way human beings are constructed, good sex creates affectionate feelings, and anyone who denies that good commercial sex is possible either has little experience of it or is a lousy lover.

The film Pretty Woman made an artificial distinction between treating a woman “as a hooker” and “as a person”, when in fact there is no necessary contradiction. It is not always the customer who refuses to learn more about the provider and who keeps the transaction strictly business, this is what professionals themselves advise one another to do. But the film’s antimony may tell us quite a lot about how most Americans treat their hookers, or about how Hollywood thinks they should.

In the real world, some women give the lovelorn client the run-around like Odette; quite apart from any emotional hang-ups about commitment they may have, there may be sound economic reasons for keeping their options open. The artificiality of Pretty Woman resided not in the notion that a client and a sex worker could develop feelings for one another, but in the lack of a dilemma for the girl; more much common than being courted by a multimillionaire in a white limo is receiving a proposal from an ordinary man that would mean a reduced income – unless she has it both ways and continues her occupation on the sly. For others, this is not a problem; they may not be making so much, and are also getting older. And so, for example, we have large numbers of Thai wives in the west, most of whom are probably former bar-girls, and who have married customers. The deal is that he now supports her family back home, which is what she entered, or was sold into, the business to do in the first place. The precise mix of affection and convenience in such marriages is anyone’s guess, but then the same can be said of all unions. To my mind, the only question is whether the parties give good value or not.

Posted on February 24, 2012 at 12:25 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE NAME OF THE GAME, Belles Du Jour

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