The crossover between Polyamory, Swinging and Sex work
As some may know (See: Poly Map), I and others believe there is some crossover between the categories of Polyamory, Swinging and Sex Work. I recently read an article that I think solidifies these connections indirectly, while also making the case that Sex Work should be decriminalized in more countries for the good of everyone.
I'm Canadian, so my slant will be more on the Canadian side of things, but I do include an research paper published in the United Kingdom as well. I'll start with that...
The research paper involves 50 sex worker clients, and can be seen here in PDF format:
It brings up various aspects of concerning sex workers and their clients. I found that some of its points regarding emotional intimacy were quite interesting, as many people seem to think that emotional intimacy can't be involved in sex work. I understand that some sex workers do indeed like to distance themselves emotionally from their clients and that some clients also want to distance themselves emotionally from the sex workers they frequent, and that some may see this as a good thing, just as some believe that there should be a certain distance between other professionals and their clients, such as doctors, dentists, etc. This being said, the study makes it clear that not everyone feels this way. In its conclusion, it brings up how the current laws are detrimental to society as a whole.
The study was done and is specifically geared for the United Kingdom, but I think that many of the points raised are universal. Here are some excerpts that I thought were particularly interesting:
It has been identified that some men are attracted to the temporal relationship available through commercial sex because of the lack of emotional attachment, the ability to suspend ‘normal’ expectations of the male sex role and the type of relationship that is free from societal norms and rituals (Atchison et al., 1998). However, regulars were less inclined to be motivated by these features of commercial sex, but instead sought out sex workers with whom they could develop a more in-depth and holistic type of relationship**
The ‘girlfriend experience’, which usually involves kissing, caressing and other sensual acts (rather than brief sex acts), is sought by many men, and is met with triumph and congratulations on message boards when a clien reveals he experienced the ‘GFE’. Contrasts were made between the commercial sexual experience where men experience sex workers as emotionally distant during the sex acts, to other experiences of ‘natural’ chemistry and sensual curiosity: If it’s a situation where it develops quite sexually naturally, then you sort of explore each other’s bodies. But if it’s where for obvious reasons the girl is just doing a job and isn’t sort of connected, it is cold … If you’re not getting much of a response from the girl then you feel bad. (Craig, 38, sales, singles)Page 414 (Conclusion):
Commerce is but a manifestation of the more general exchanges that occur within human sexual and intimate relationships. Some systems refuse to endorse sex and commerce as a legitimate relationship that should be facilitated, protected or even acknowledged. Other systems take a serious position on the social role of commercial sex and the ordinary characteristics of the relationships, preferring to provide an avenue where these relationships can be established with minimal harm and destruction. The relationships between sex workers and clients can be nurturing, respectful and mutual. This experience of the commercial relationship can enhance the quality of life of men who buy sex (see Sanders, 2007b) whilst at the same time provide sex workers with safe customers who will not breach the contract through sexual misconduct, financial exploitation (e.g. not paying), abusive language, or aggressive behaviour. A system that recognizes the emotional consumption that is integral to some forms of commercial sex and the possibilities for emotional mutuality between sex worker and client could be a framework that distils negative images of women as disposable victims and clients as unruly sexual beasts to be controlled. The current climate of criminalizing men who buy sex (Brooks Gordon, 2005) and the impetus to block a regulated indoor market (Sanders, 2007a) prevent policy intervening to reinforce the male client role as an accountable active participant who has responsibilities to himself, the sex worker, other sexual partners and a wider responsibility to respect women in all areas of society. Policy designed to manage sex work markets should be informed by evidence that understands the micro-relationships that form commercial sex alongside the fluidity of male and female sexualities.
This topic has been moved to the Fireplace because we don't believe it to be about polyamory.
The commercial nature of the relationship is what removes it from the realm of polyamory--if the relationship wouldn't have arisen without the commercial aspect and only continues because of the commerce, then it falls outside the purview of polyamory. (Some may argue that it does fall under the rubric of polyamory; for the purposes of this site, it does not.)
I took the subject of this thread over to another polyamorous forum and got a more receptive audience. I thought I'd share the link of the discussion taking place over there:
I haven`t read the whole survey/post yet. But, I am available to be interviewed if you wish.
I have been a long term john, in two different countries, and I have had full-blown (non-pay) relationships with about 4 sex workers, and about 20 times as much for pay.
I have recently felt unrequited feelings for a sex worker, that are making me slow down my 'mongering.'
Nevertheless, I still feel uninterested in traditional dating and the gender roles thereof. And, with few exceptions, women appear uninterested in dating me.
So, it`s been a heart-wrenching bind.
I`d be prepared to answer any questions about the legal, economic, and emotional/psychological aspects of sex work, as well as practical aspects such as logistics, STDs concerns, etc. I have also spoken to many sex workers about the above, so I`ve been exposed to some of their perspectives.
Edit: I would also say that sex work is highly co-dependent upon the institution of marriage, but won`t say more for now.
Edit: It may also have none other than evolutionary/biological reasons for being, as well.
I`ll say it right here. And, having read the link you posted, Natja was making a similar point in your thread in that forum.
I do think prostitution is the outcome of social monogamy. Social monogamy requires that sex outside of marriage be had hidden from your partner. And, that is one of the biggest services prostitutes offer: privacy. It also requires that women be prudish (otherwise, how would she honor monogamous vows?), and self-entitled (men have to jump through numerous hoops to get the pussy) in order to be deemed desirable marriage material. Not exactly what makes a woman fun in bed...more demand created for hookers.
I also feel marriage to be a long-term, public, monogamous, sort of prostitution. It`s a parallel institution.
And, finally, if what many of the whores I`ve been with have said (as well as, surveys) is true, the vast majority of johns are married men.
Finally2, were it not for social monogamy, I would assume sex would be more widely available to men, and therefore prostitution would become redundant.
I pay because I don`t want to play the gender pursue, date, & marry game (which, is also paid). But I make no mistake about prostitution being a precarious substitute, for what I wish were polyamorous, reciprocal, non-pay relationships with women.
To that extent, I feel the prostitution/marriage complex is the biologically determined (the species still needs it more than individuals who think of child-rearing as secondary), and that full polyamorous reciprocity is none other than mutation.
Edit: I should say it`s encouraging to have this exchange with a thoughtful person who`s had similar experiences to mine. I am also encouraged by the fact that your threads seem to be given fair consideration in both polyamory forums. That is so much more than can be said for the hypocritical response you get in mainstream circles.
Do you have (a) partner(s)?
marriage v prostitution..good girl-bad girl!
we argue that women’s seemingly
consistent preference for men with access to wealth is not a
result of innate evolutionary programming, as the standard
model asserts, but simply a behavioral adaptation to a world
in which men control a disproportionate share of the world’s
resources. As we’ll explore in detail, before the advent of
agriculture a hundred centuries ago, women typically had as
much access to food, protection, and social support as did
men. We’ll see that upheavals in human societies resulting
from the shift to settled living in agricultural communities
brought radical changes to women’s ability to survive.
Suddenly, women lived in a world where they had to barter
their reproductive capacity for access to the resources and
protection they needed to survive. But these conditions are
very different from those in which our species had been
If you spend time with the primates closest to human beings,
you’ll see female chimps having intercourse dozens of times
per day, with most or all of the willing males, and rampant
bonobo group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and maintains
intricate social networks. Explore contemporary human
beings’ lust for particular kinds of pornography or our
notorious difficulties with long-term sexual monogamy and
you’ll soon stumble over relics of our hypersexual ancestors.
Our bodies echo the same story. The human male has testicles
far larger than any monogamous primate would ever need,
hanging vulnerably outside the body where cooler
temperatures help preserve stand-by sperm cells for multiple
ejaculations. He also sports the longest, thickest penis found
on any primate on the planet, as well as an embarrassing
tendency to reach orgasm too quickly. Women’s pendulous
breasts (utterly unnecessary for breastfeeding children),
impossible-to-ignore cries of delight (female copulatory
vocalization to the clipboard-carrying crowd), and capacity
for orgasm after orgasm all support this vision of prehistoric
promiscuity. Each of these points is a major snag in the
Once people were farming the same land season after season,
private property quickly replaced communal ownership as the
modus operandi in most societies. For nomadic foragers,
personal property—anything needing to be carried—is kept to
a minimum, for obvious reasons. There is little thought given
to who owns the land, or the fish in the river, or the clouds in
the sky. Men (and often, women) confront danger together.
An individual male’s parental investment, in other
words—the core element of the standard narrative—tends to
be diffuse in societies like those in which we evolved, not
directed toward one particular woman and her children, as the
conventional model insists.
The authors of Sex at Dawn argue that it was this transference from public to private property that created the desire for private, monogamous relationships as well.
I hadn't intended to participate here, but the ol' 'breasts are for sexual attraction' argument baits me every time.
For a perfectly rational, alternative explanation, check out Elaine Morgan's lovely book, _Descent of Woman_. She explores that theory that during the pleistocene, when the world was burning up, we survived by living in the water. Think on how difficult it would be for a baby to nurse from flat nipples if it were floating, face up, in the water. She explains lots of things that make a hell of a lot more sense from an evolutionary standpoint than the explanation of 'sexual attraction.'
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