My vocation as a sex worker is also my profession, with which I have been earning my living for several years, and that, by the way, exclusively. My work as a touchable dominus with male and also female clients falls under the practice of prostitution – that is, the performance of sexual acts for payment.
If you read my column regularly, you might be wondering what kind of fetish today’s topic could be about. Role-playing between a shy law student and a stern professor? I’m afraid not. There’s a damn important reason why I can’t talk about the most beautiful forms of BDSM in my text today:
Some representatives of the SPD recently spoke out in favor of introducing the so-called Swedish model in Germany.
Effects of the Nordic model on sex workers
Since then, there has been a heated debate in society, politics, and the media about whether people in sex work benefit from the criminalization of their clients, because obviously, they aren’t doing sex work voluntarily anyway or because they are harmed (because their labor and basic rights are restricted). Parts of the CSU and, of course, the AfD are also behind the push from the ranks of the Social Democratic Party, which, according to its own platform, wants to stand up for civil rights, freedom and solidarity. A paradox without parallel.
If you ask sex workers themselves, the vast majority reject the Swedish model.
It’s easy to explain why: Such a law would prohibit the purchase of sexual services as well as any support for sex workers – even among themselves. All clients would be labeled as lawbreakers and would face prosecution if they made an appointment with me anyway.
In practice, this means that if a law similar to the Swedish ban on buying sex were to be introduced in Germany, it would be almost impossible for me to continue my work. The dire consequences of the Swedish legislation have been condemned by numerous human rights organizations. For example, the risk that sex workers will not find a landlord. That they may lose custody of minor children. That they are forced to expose themselves to high-risk situations and dangerous clients.
Even working together or joining professional associations is forbidden there – in this country any of us can become a member of the BesD e.V. network (even anonymously) and thus stand up for our rights.
If you work as a gay escort – or have worked as one in the past – and agree with what I am saying, please consider becoming a member of BesD e.V.
It’s still our right in Germany to network, help each other, and exchange ideas. And the more members we have, the more our voices count, and the more likely our concerns will be heard! You don’t have to be a sex worker to support us either – the association is a voluntary construct and is grateful for every donation, no matter how small, and reposting our posts on social media helps us immensely.
Nordic model and male sex work
As a society, we rarely talk about male prostitution. This is partly because female sex work is much more visible and women make up the majority of sex workers.
A small interjection: There are no reliable estimates of the number of people engaged in sex work – this is due to different systems of measurement (e.g., is someone who gets a blowjob for money once or twice a year already a prostitute?) Basically, most studies often leave out male, queer, and other-gender sex workers altogether.
Some studies, especially on experiences of violence, leave a lot to be desired in terms of scientific ethics, because Would you interview only a company’s complaint manager about customer satisfaction?
Many of the studies cited by opponents of prostitution are based on surveys of sex workers who have decided to change or leave prostitution. You can easily imagine how unrepresentative they are. What about all the sex workers who work happily and anonymously and never participate in surveys?
I’ve met over fifty male sex workers so far, including hustlers who offer their services on the street for relatively little money, and I haven’t seen a single case of involuntariness among them. But let me put the question to you, the gay community: How many of you know escorts or have been to escorts where you felt coerced, violated, or exploited? I’m sure there are, but are the masses? Certainly not.
Nordic model and stigma
On the other hand, for female and transgender sex workers, the stigma – the social ostracism – is largely removed by society. As a male prostitute, I am a minority within the minority, so to speak: when people find out about my profession, they tend to judge my work and myself very differently from my female colleagues in the studio.
For example, I have never had anyone try to question the voluntary nature of my work. The male sex worker – especially if he (also) has female clients – likes to be celebrated as a big stud, so the man is a hero.
When we add in the nasty, anal penetration, things look different.
While women who use a strap-on dildo on a man and take money for it can expect amused approval, the male sex worker is more likely to be pitied. Logically, he is forced to work with his own genitals and thus comes closer to the narrative of „selling one’s body“ that opponents of prostitution like to hurl at their female colleagues.
They ask whether the client to be penetrated is at least pretty, or whether something like that would at least match their own sexual orientation. Now comes the classic Viagra question that haunts me in every conversation.
All bullshit assessments, because I just like my job – period. If my circumstances had forced me to make a living as a handyman, I would have burned out. The often rude tone in the trades, combined with the physical stress and other working conditions, would have definitely driven me to burnout.
It can happen that you curse your job out of anger and frustration, especially after you have already changed jobs. Maybe one employer is really bad, but can the trades industry be blamed for making me bored with the trades? Is the whole industry bad because I find the activity harmful to me? No, everyone would probably say. But the stigma that my work is robbing me of my sanity and my clients are destroying my soul only applies to the professional field of prostitution. You have to look at things in context.
Male sex work in context
What if I told you that the man who targets male clients and penetrates them anally with his own penis is very often even heterosexual? What if I told you that the majority of these men, most of whom come from abroad, do this work very consciously and with serenity?
Even if you think, „He’s heterosexual, he shouldn’t have to do this,“ the people involved often have a completely different perspective than outsiders. I challenge all those who presume to condemn or „save“ sex workers to critically examine their prejudices.
Let’s take an abstract example: For how much money would you clean out an entire basement? For 200€? Probably not, unless you have a cleaning company. For 1,000€? Well, it could still get messy, and what about all those spiders? For 1,000,000€ you’ll probably run out and find your rubber boots – in the vein of: What do I care about a few spiders, with all that money? Maybe you’ll even bring the whole family so they can have a piece of the cake.
You can imagine a similar situation with foreign colleagues (e.g. Romanians, Bulgarians or Africans). The money earned here is an immeasurable treasure when brought back home.
I come from the German middle class, and there was never a financial need for me to do sex work of all things. But I feel damn good as a prostitute, I can put money aside and I love my job. If I have a bad day, I still go to work and just do my job. By the way, bad days were much more common in my previous jobs in marketing, especially since the advertising industry is sometimes exploited with a system.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are no problems in the sex work industry.
Cases of sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, and violence do occur in our industry, as they do in many others. But there are already laws in place to deal with this. This new law would only make it harder to find such crimes.
Why the Nordic model won’t help
In the vast majority of cases, the only way to reach and empower those affected by criminal activity is through long-term, trust-building, low-threshold assistance. These services need to be expanded and financially supported: More street work, more counseling, tips on how to get started, and help to change – anonymous and voluntary–- these are precisely the points where the German state should invest its energy.
Making sex work illegal and thus depriving thousands of men and women of their livelihood is the wrong way.
In fact, in my opinion, this profession is particularly suited for men (and women!) who are very sexual themselves, who can deal openly with their own and others‘ sexuality, and who know how to maintain their own emotional and physical boundaries.
I know many colleagues for whom sex work is the most attractive career field so far, and also some who find their personal fulfillment in it. But it is very likely that many more people are doing sex work for purely pragmatic reasons, simply because it is the best way for them to make enough money.
Just because a job is an absolute horror for some people -– possibly including you – doesn’t mean that others can’t do it voluntarily out of passion, economic pragmatism, or other personal reasons, right? Sex workers should not be judged, stigmatized, or even criminalized and put out of work by well-intentioned laws.
Something is only wrong if it doesn’t feel right. Period.
Want to talk to me about this issue? Do you have questions about how you can support us sex workers? Write to me at: email@example.com