Media Sex Worker Stereotypes
The media loves working with cliches. It is so much easier for a dramatic writer to short cut with standardised types. Racism and sexism are no longer acceptable, but you can stereotype professions as much as you like. Just imagine how physicists must feel about The Big Bang Theory on TV! Journalists also love their stereotypes as it saves them from actually doing any research, fact checking or interviewing. You know, journalism. So let us look at some of the common media stereotypes about sex workers.
The first and possibly oldest is the tart with a heart. This was a staple of westerns. The brothel madam or the bar girl who deserts the baddie to help the good guy in the final reel. You know the type. The final and best Western version of that was in Blazing Saddles with Madeleine Stahl playing Lili von Shtupp. I am not going to say that prostitutes do not have hearts. I am just surprised that people are still surprised that sexy escorts are people too. But that is the thing about stereotypes. They are self sustaining. Accurate or not is not relevant. So let us move on to the next cliché – the child sex worker.
Do young girls get forced into prostitution? Unfortunately, yes. Do they work for brothels or escort agencies? Nope. Do escort agencies get asked for them? Yes. Very rarely and (in my experience) only by time wasters or people you would not take bookings from anyway. Guys who want to have sex with children are paedophiles. They do not contact escort agencies or go to conventional brothels. Because you know, escort agencies and brothels are, by definition, high profile. That is how they attract business. And the last things paedophiles want is high profile. Which then takes us to the staple of Hollywood thrillers such as The Equaliser with Denzel Washington. The trafficking victim.
I love the movie, but it is not reality as I know it. There are women who are trafficked and this is by far the most realistic and truthful when it comes to escort agencies, particularly if you include victims of the Romeo Scam.
Drug addict is the next stereotype. According to Hollywood and the press, the only reason anyone is ever a sex worker is so that they can feed their drug habit. Don't get me wrong, sex and drugs go together like, well, sex and drugs. And I guarantee every escort has been in the presence of a client doing drugs. And the majorette of escorts will have used drugs. But so will the majority of young women who are not escorts. The problem with drug addicts is that they make terrible escorts. I believe that a far greater percentage of street walkers are addicts. But they are bt far the smallest segment of the market, whatever you may have read.
The last standard is the secret academic, or the girl putting herself through University or post-graduate work. Think Secret Diary of A Call Girl or Season 1 of The West Wing. Or dozens of others. Hmm, I feel a bit ambiguous about this as I have a degree, an MSc and an MBA. So I am signing off now...