Our Perception of Escorts

Jillian Hollander, owner of Cupid’s Escorts in Toronto, Canada, states that she runs a “high-end introduction service” for women. However, the government firmly disagree. Bill C-36, a new law proposed as the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, seeks to protect “vulnerable Canadians and communities from this inherently dangerous activity” according to Justice Minister Peter McKay. Understandably, Hollander disagrees with this, and there has been a strong outcry from the escorting industry pinning the government’s perception of escorting to be skewed and uninformed. Many disagree that escorts are in fact being victimised, arguing that the women in actuality are empowered by their work.

It has been this way for a long time now, and just reading a smorgasbord of testimonials and reports on escorting in recent years shows that the work is not victimisation and isn’t forced-upon the workers; quite simply, it is their choice. You may have heard stories on the recent trend of university students funding their studies with escorting – this work wasn’t thrust their way, they made the decision themselves. And when it boils down to the work at hand, many escorts decided to work in the industry because, quite simply, they enjoy sex. Eva Sless, a writer for Mama Mia, wrote a fantastic piece on the true empowerment of escorting work and why she does it (which can be found here). In anger of what she describes as “uninformed ignorance”, she expresses clearly just how much she loves her job, the incredible experiences she has spent with men, the high pay…and while she does come to terms with the negatives of sex work, coming to terms with the existence of a dark side, with rape and drug issues. But ultimately, the positives of the work, a job that both she and many others enjoy, a career choice for some and a short experience for others in need of some quick money, presents the escorting world as an industry not so seedy after all.

And so, back to the government issue. Bill C-36 aims to criminalise the escort industry, however it is easy to see why this bill can fail. As one of the oldest professions in the world, it’s highly doubtful that sex work will be damaged or stopped once the law, or if the law, goes into place; this has been seen in the governments failed attempts to crack down on online piracy with new laws, for example. For many girls this is a career, and to push escort work into a criminal nature would only put the girls in more danger, understandably. It would not only put their lives in danger far greater than before, but the escorts themselves likely won’t gain the same value of satisfaction and enjoyment that they gain today from the work. Jessica Lee, an established independent escort, knows it will not affect her business however. “Because I’m established, I’m not worried. I’m not going to stop being a sex worker. It’s like the gun thing — if you’re going to outlaw guns who’s going to carry them? Outlaws! The men who are more risk averse will stop and we’ll be left with the dregs of society. I feel bad for the girls on the street because that’s what they’re left with.”

Overall, the perception of escorts is certainly divided, and so the Canadian government’s Bill C-36 will remain to be a proposition and nothing more until a decision is finally reached. With strong arguments coming from both sides, emphasising the empowerment and benefits of working in escorting as well as the negatives that may come within the field, it would appear that even if it becomes new law to criminalise sex work and escorting, the government will not be able to put a stop to it, for bad or for good.