30 September 2016
I don’t usually take to this blog to have a rant, but Stylist Columnist Lucy Mangan’s most recent display of prejudice and downright lazy journalism just begs for it. I’m quite saddened really that Stylist would publish such a load of uninformed tosh. In case you didn’t catch it, you can find the article here.
I really thought we were beginning to move away from some of the stigma surrounding sex work. And here Lucy Mangan is, having most likely never spoken to an actual high class London escort in her life, stating that we are ‘substantially more likely to be attacked, raped, or murdered’ while at work.
Let’s just examine this first point for a moment shall we? When I was working as an independent escort, and certainly now I run an agency, security checks are absolutely vital, stringent and as secure as they can be. How many of Lucy Mangan’s mates do a full security screen on the blokes they meet off Tinder? Because I can bet they don’t even know their full names. And yet escorts are apparently leaving themselves with no ‘chances of empowering or protecting themselves’ and have ‘nothing but their saleable flesh’. I can’t speak for street workers, but how likely is it do you reckon, that a client, in a high-end London hotel, where his ID is recorded at reception (verified by myself), is going to murder someone? Not very, I’d say.
Mangan makes the (gross) assumption that the majority of prostitutes have been led into the industry by ‘poverty, abuse, exploitation, home lives that lead to escape in drink or drug addiction, running away, vulnerability, one bad boyfriend, the need to feed yourself and your children’.
As someone who has never been abused or exploited, poverty stricken, or addicted to drink and drugs, and does not come from a ‘war-torn country’ as is later suggested (unless something quite significant happened in Britain while I was in the loo) I would wager that this is rarely true. It also isn't true for the ladies I have on my books, many of whom have been educated at the top universities in the country, are accomplished, educated, and lead lives unblighted by exploitation and suffering. Mangan would know this if she bothered to do a little research before sounding off, but then such is her self-importance. Any bad journalist can hash out a load of unschooled stereotypes.
Her lack of knowledge is typified when she makes the assumption that sex work is still criminalised (it’s legal in the UK, with the exception of running a brothel and soliciting) and states that an ‘estimated 10% of the male population still (ab)use’ high class London escorts. I can’t recall ever being abused by a client. I have, however, been treated with a lot less respect by boyfriends, or anyone else I’ve slept with ‘for free’. Some women sleep with multiple strangers they’ll never see again, boast ‘equality’, wearing their feminist views as a badge of honour, and then look down at escorts because they’ve done the same. The difference being that high-end escorts value themselves enough to put a price on it. They are not without ‘confidence or agency’ like Mangan suggests. They don’t hand it out for free to the guy they stumbled home from the pub with.
People need to open their minds to what sex work is actually about. There are no typical escorts. There are no typical clients. It is the stigma that Mangan promotes, that she protests isn’t the problem, that stops escorts from being safe because many are too afraid to speak out. Such is society’s largely misinformed assumptions.