Monday, December 18, 2006

Naming,defining,pointing the finger, marketing, misrepresentation and semantics

The following website talks about the term retronym which refers to the new words that we all increasingly encounter, which describes items with a completeness heretofore unecessary.

Is there a difference between a prostitute,escort,courtesan,paid,elite or luxury companion?

This seems to be an ongoing debate on the messageboards, and escort and client blogs.

I think that there are expectations and assumptions attached to the terms used.

So far this is what I have picked up.

There is very little difference between an escort and courtesan.A courtesan is supposed to see fewer clients than an escort but is not exclusive.

A prostitute provides private time ie sex and nothing more, is incall and provides hourly bookings. A prostitute is payment by service.

An escort provides private and social time.An escort is outcall only.
Some believe that if you do not provide a six hour minimum, then you are not an escort.An escort is payment by time spent.

What I find interesting about some of these arguments, is that a lot of women that I know in the industry provide hourly, and multiple hour bookings. So they are prostitutes and escorts, in this case.

I believe that an escort can be a courtesan, and use the two on my site, and know a number of women who do.

There are those who argue, that if you do hourly bookings, then you are not an escort or courtesan.Interesting, having read the biographies of Veronica Franco, Harriette Wilson, Cora Pearls and Catherine Wilson, there was no indication that the men who saw them, had a time limit. Men came to see them for short and long periods of time, and visited them at home,ie incall.

Did that take away how they were perceived by others?

There are arguments that state that you cannot define yourself as a courtesan,as that is only something that can be given to you by your clients.

Prostitution is exchange for sex for money whichever way you look at it. I do not know how to break it to the people who are really hung up on definitions, but in a court of law, what you call yourself , would not make a difference.You will go down with everyone else.

Most clients,punters,johns,suitors,gents, and joe public, whatever you want to call them, believe there is no distinction.

I do not deny that there are upper and lower ends to the industry. My understanding is with an escort or courtesan the assumption is that you will be with a woman who is socially skilled,well read, intelligent, knows how to conduct herself in public, would not embarass you at a restaurant, could pass as a girlfriend with your colleagues,who is skilled at massaging your ego, and someone who you would be quite happy to introduce to your mother!

My understanding is that in brothels, and with streetworkers, there is a variation in the services/experiences that are offered.

I remember reading a review recently where a client booked a high class companion. This is up there as the worst review this year, that I have come across. He spent a fair amount for an overnight with this classy companion. What happened that evening was far below his expectations. She got terribly drunk, aggressive and loud at the restaurant. He had to coax her out, back to the hotel. She fell asleep on arrival, and when he woke up in the morning, she had wet the bed!

Is this how one behaves at this level? Her idea of being a classy companion was at complete odds with what her client wanted or expected.

Okay, I know a number of women who are glamourous, intelligent,well presented and from their reviews provide an excellent service/experience, who charge high prices. This was just an example. There is good and bad at every level.

I recognise that there are negative connotations with the words prostitute,hooker and whore. We know what images are portrayed in the media.

I do not know of anyone who uses the word prostitute on their site. Maybe hooker and whore on adultwork and craiglist, but then I imagine you attract a certain type of client with that terminology.

Does it really matter what someone is called?

Can anyone tell you how to define yourself?

What gives them that right?

Who are these so called authorities who tells us how we should define ourselves out there?

If you are comfortable in your own skin, does it really matter how you are perceived by others?

What title do you use or choose to use?

Have a good week.

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Well, here is the States, prostitution is illegal, which is one good reason why women who advertise their services avoid using it.

The term escort is therefore used to give the impression that women are not providing sex for money, but that they are available for dinner dates, a day at the races, a weekend in the Bahamas, or whatever else they can think of. Dream on, ladies!

Now, it may be that some men will be taken in by these ads and actually agree to pay a girl something like $300 per hour to sit across the table from him in an expensive restaurant eating expensive food that he pays for.

Sure there are some very wealthy men, and people like professional athletes who have loads of money and zero social skills who will probably hire dinner companions by the container load.

But in the vast majority of cases, escorts are hired for one hour, or even half hour engagemens in which sex is the only thing on the menu.

A courtesan is an escort with a thesaurus who thinks she can get more money out of johns than other escorts in her market.

A whore is an escort on speed. She can be rented by the minute.

I use the word prostitute on my blog when writing about women in the Dominican Republic, mainly for the sake of clarity. Actually most chicas do not regard themselves as a "puta" just because they accept a gift from a date so as to be able to feed their children. They do not see it as money for sex, because they would be quite willing to accept the money without the sex!

Once I did meet a girl who unabashedly described herself as a "puta". She said she believed in calling a spade a spade, and I liked her a lot. You can read about her on my blog.

You ladies can call yourselves anything you like, as long as your customers can figure out what you are. It would be a pity to lose one-hour sex customers because they read your ads and believe that you are only a dinner companion.
Hi James,

Interesting views,lol. I must confess that I do not own a thesaurus.

As I said, some women do not do hourly bookings.

I have found that some of my clients have booked me for an hour,as a try and see, and then have booked me for dinner dates and overnights. They would not have taken the risk, otherwise.

I have to say, if I only did hourly bookings, I would go mad.
Well, let's use the example of garbage men (the guys who drive a truck and haul our rubbish away to the landfill). Here in the states, they like to use the term "sanitation worker", but at the end of the day, we all know they are garbage men.

In a world where we must work to live, people who work for a living should be respected (at least in some manner). Garbagemen, hookers and whores are all terms of disrespect, yet even when a certain occupation might not always occupy a respectful position in society, there are times where a truly respectful name is required.

If you read my blog, depending on my attitude in a certain post, I'll refer to ladies differently. Sometimes they ARE courtesans. Sometimes they are nasty hookers. Most days they are escorts, and often, they are "providers".

At the end of the day, it's all prostitution. But I think we generally have nicer names we can use to describe the people we associate with.
I do not think it matters what people call themselves, so long as everyone involved can admit to themselves (at the end of the day) that this is prostitution, and one is either a prostitute or a john.

We can use the term "sanitation worker" in daily life, as everyone who works for a living deserves to have a respectable name for what he/she does, but that sanitation worker IS a garbage man.

I think it's OK to use terms that are less derrogatory in referring to one's self. But for those ladies who will say "I am NOT a prostitute, I am a COURTESAN", i think they need to recognize what they are actually doing. It is prostitution.

I would not refer to you as a prostitute in everyday life, so long as you know that it is prostitution.
Nia, if I may offer my POV: few women in the business are strictly prostitutes or companions. These words should refer more to the type of an encounter and attitude, and most independent escorts are likely to have encounters of both types or mixed.

I suppose a street walker or a massage parlor girl who despises men she sees and views what she does as sex only is prostitute because such encounters do not have any intimacy. In my view, any woman who truly enjoys sex, and enjoys providing sex will bring a companionship aspect into every appointment, even if it's only half an hour.

On the other hand, sometimes sex is the main point of the meeting. But sometimes it isn't. For example, I had a client I only saw once while he was visiting. I spend the night as we discussed and ended up coming back for the second evening. We talked a lot before we met, and we talked even more during the meeting. We ended up sharing with each other things we haven't shared with anyone else. He let me into his soul, into a private circle of dreams, fears and desires that he couldn't expose to anybody else in his life. And same thing happened with me: he could read me really well and allowed me to share things I was afraid to share with anyone before.

Another example: a client who was stuck in a relationship dilemma of trying to make one of the most important choices of his life - divorce his wife for another woman. I have recently broken down with a man I loved. Somehow, we ended up spilling our guts to each other and crying in each others arms, and then walking in a park at night for several hours talking about life, approaches to it and choices.

In both those examples we had steamy sex. But pure physical sex was really the absolute last thing those encounters were about.

Once again, most meetings will be a combination of two aspects, but this proportion is up to the woman and how she chooses her clients/partners.

I want to have more meetings that are about more than simply sex. Hence I establish a minimum of several hours, talk a lot with the person before hand, and call myself a companion. Yet I still have a regular who comes in for two hours, pays me my 3-hour fee, we have sex and cuddle, and conversation is completely superficial. He is happy. I am not because I can't really relate to him. And once I have more security and more choice (I am still building my clientele), I will suggest we part ways because with him I have to pretend a bit. If I can't relate to a person at all, I turn a date down. Even if it means I will have no dates at all in 2-3n weeks.

In my view, that selectivity about clients and what happens during your time together is what a so-called courtesan or companion is supposed to be about. Of course, a lady who charges by the hour will most likely have a number of such relationships too. But she will also have a number of encounters that are mostly sex only, and with people she doesn't really like. This is her choice and her strategy, and whatever works for a particular woman is great. Some don't want to share any intimacy with clients and they would not even offer extended time engagements. Some want to have only intimacy and friendship, and they will accept 2-4 dates a month, but in all of them sex will be just garnish on the side.

It's all good as long as it's what you want. And a particular preference should never become an excuse to judge another person.
Some terms are just another word for something else. Most terms are clearly defined over the years, and perhaps with retronym, there should hardly be any arguments. But in logical discussion, if you understand set theory, it's hard not to use the word prostitution.

After my "research" on sales ranking of books, I think word games do matter. As there are many men and women on the borderline wanting to try. If you can take the negative connotations off your product, you can sell more books, or sell more of your time to word sensitive clients.

I agree,certain words have a sting to them. I am under no illusions about what I do.


Thank you for your comments.

I think that when people start to say X is not a companion,or escort or courtesan they attempt to pigeonhole.

I believe what we offer is varied,as you point out.

I believe it does not take x number of hours with a client to define a companion.

I hear what you are saying about the elements that come into play with your clients.

However, I do not feel it is always about how you choose your partners.

In my experience, some clients that I have had short bookings with, that I had assumed would be wham bam guys, I have developed deep relationships with.

I do not set out by saying that I can only develop an intimate relationship over x amount of hours. I appreciate that this is the way that you work.

I am aware that this is the norm, however I have found that deep connections, no pun intended, can be made in minutes, that leave a lasting impression.

I agree with you, that a particular preference should never become an excuse to judge another person.

In my non escort related work, I have to develop relationships with people fairly quickly, and may develop some level of intimacy in a shorter time frame, rather than needing four to six hours to feel the same way. I suppose what I am trying to say to you, is that I feel time is not a major issue for me.

Nevertheless, seeing clients for half an hour, is not something that I could ever offer. Clearly I have my limits :)

I agree that some courtesans and companions are selective, but some are not. In the same way some escorts and brothel workers are selective, and some are not.


I agree, there are a number of men out there who are word sensitive, and will be attracted to a companion,escort,call girl, courtesan, by how they present themselves on their sites. The fantasy is created from the get go.
Nia, I agree about time. Sometimes you do develop a deep connection very quickly.

I sort of know both sides of the equation because my very first experience with the adult industry has been in a massage parlour. Yeah, I simply picked up Yellow Pages and called the agencies (it was a small town with only 3 listed agencies)... I had absolutely no idea anything else existed! And I actually stayed there for about 8 months, bringing connection and intimacy to encounters where it wasn't expected - or so a lot of clients told me. I only learned the term "GFE" a year after quitting, but except for kissing, that was exactly what I was intuitively striving for. So I know it is possible even in the scope of 1/2 hour ;)

But to me, it is a question of averages. And longer encounters, in my experience, are more likely to correlate with both sides' desire to find depth than shorter ones.
I think the word "duality" is appropriate here.

All girls involved are "prostitutes". But some are courtesans (to the exclusion of others). Some are streetwalkers (to the exclusion of others).

Some of us are "gentlemen" and some of us are "johns", but I suppose we're all punters at the end of the day.
Words ...

What's in a word?

I've been writing elsewhere today some comments on what one should call a woman who accepts payment for sex.

You do well Nia to turn the tables and hint at what one should call men who pay for sex (- between one in eight and one in eleven of the male population of the UK depending on the research you believe.)

I think though you are talking about more than appropriate vocabulary. I think you are talking about how you and other women accepting payment for sex perceive themselves.

It can be to do with self image. To see oneself as

- a prostitute?

- a street walker?

- a working girl?

- an escort?

- a courtesan?

- a sex worker?

There are few words that have a positive emphasis - courtesan comes over to me with the most positive impact.

But given that the media have so recently kept identifying murder victims as "prostitutes", "girls", "working girls", "street walkers" and "sex workers" rather than just "women" it seems that sex work continues to have a negative connotation despite the genuine sympathy and support that I think has come from the community at this difficult time.

Probably quite rightly there are also no positive names for men who pay for sex. "Client" is the most neutral and the one I suppose I like to use for myself - though I know that it hides a multitude of sins. Within the recent news "client" or "punter" has almost become synonymous with "potential murderer".

But back to vocabulary for women who offer sex for money.

"Courtesan" implies so much more in a delightful way that one would not expect from a "street walker" - though I read elsewhere today someone describing one of his best experiences as having been in a car with a woman he had picked up from the street.

Talk of "high class" and "low class" just confuses the issue. It is about men and women involved in paid sex wanting to feel better about what they are doing.

In the end it is all prostitution.

Perhaps it is time we tried to reclaim the word. It is just descriptive. The emotional connotations comes from those who use it. If those involved in this area reclaim it - then perhaps we can give it a newer more positive connotation.

Perhaps ...
'Prostitute' is such an emotive word. That one single word puts us below the rest of society, and yet it defines the woman who accepts money for personal services, no matter what those services may be.........

Escort. Pah. I hate that word. It glorifies and glamourises what we do. It can only apply to a percentage of working girls, the ones who actually are escorts. By definition that is someone who accompanies someone else to another place. No?

For me, the term sex worker or working girl will suffice. I would not use the term Courtesan because it cuts out a large chunk of my marketplace. I don't want to be choosy, I don't want dinner dates, or overnights. I don't want to go to the theatre. If I wish to do any of this I will do it in my private life, with family and friends.
I do not wish to be seen 'out and about' with men thank you. I prefer private liaisons in my apartment affording my client the utmost of discretion, and doubly so affording it to myself which is far more important.

However.. we are all prostitutes, and until the word itself is used in a non emotive way, it will always be a brick around our pretty necks.

Great subject Nia.

Sarah x
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