You Should Be Paying Me

Why are men pretending to be sex workers online?

Lydia Caradonna

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Picture the scene: a dimly lit room taken up nearly entirely by a bed. I’m on my back, my legs spread, counting the ceiling tiles. I’m 22 years old, blonde, and often the subject of sexual harassment on the street. The man rubbing his stubble against my vulva is in his mid fifties, has terrible personal hygiene, and is not by any means conventionally attractive. Why am I enduring this torture, you ask? Well, it’s because he’s paying me.

About two minutes into having my genitals mauled at, I fake a porn-star orgasm just so he’ll stop touching me. Satisfied at his sex-god skills, glad that he is Not Like Other Clients and cares about me having Authentic Pleasure during our time together, the client says the words that I fear the most.

“You should be paying me!”

It’s not always there. But I see it, sometimes, the look in their eyes when they say that. It’s an idea, a fantasy: perhaps, like me, they could have mind blowing and totally, obviously, mutually enjoyable sexual intercourse with people and get paid for it? Sometimes it’s a passing fancy, but on some dark, dismal days I see the idea take flight in their mind.

And then I see it. The profile on Adultwork, the same one that booked my friends and I mere days ago. It has been switched from seeking services to offering. The client has uploaded a grainy picture of himself sweating in a rugby shirt with a beer in hand, and another of his grimy genitals over a stained duvet. His profile text has been filled with badly punctuated paragraphs about how much he likes eating pussy and how great he is at it. He doesn’t seem to understand that escort advertising boards are not slightly more taboo dating websites.

I cringe.

Is that my fault, I wonder? Did I instil that poor, foolish man with a bizarre confidence in his horrific oral skills? Is he now under the impression that not only is his tongue bearable, but it has monetary value? Should I have taken one for the team, perhaps, and endured it until he gave up? I have created a monster.

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Lydia Caradonna

Sex worker, “””journalist””” and activist from the UK! // Tweets at: @LydiaCaradonna // works with: @ukdecrimnow // argues with: the government