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Why Would a Woman Pay for Sex?

Just because it’s not talked about doesn’t mean it’s not happening: Women, like men, are paying for sex. Here's why.

Just because it’s not talked about doesn’t mean it’s not happening: Women, like men, are paying for sex. Recent years ushered in the prominence of feminist sex shops and sex worker rights activism, causing women across the country to think about the sex industry in new ways.

Armed with expendable income and encouragement to claim their right to sexual pleasure, women could become consumers in a field previously reserved for men. However, the notion of a female client is not entirely new. Circa 1980s American Gigolo paved the way for the 2009 HBO series Hung, and Xaviera Hollander’s bestselling memoir of the ’70s, The Happy Hooker, describes several women who were regulars of her call girl agency.

The Aughties took a renewed interest in the apparent trends of women regularly watching online porn and visiting strip clubs with their boyfriends, but stopped short of delving into the world of solo ladies paying for sexual services. It’s time to take seriously the notion that women can patronize sex workers to satisfy their own desires, rather than cater to those of a male partner.

To be sure, women still use men to gain entry into the world of sex for sale. Some strip clubs still don’t allow women inside without male companions. And the phenomenon of women and men exploring the sex industry together, as couples, has become widespread enough to warrant categories on popular female escort advertising forums like and Datecheck, where providers can now specify whether or not they’re willing to see such a pair. Some escorts even list separate prices for couples on their personal websites or to add text assuring site visitors that they’re couple-friendly. Yet increasingly, escorts and courtesans throw in a line about their willingness to see single women as well.

Gigolo 2010

Courtesans, for those unfamiliar with the term, are modern day escorts who offer multi-hour or multi-day sessions to clients who want to enjoy a connection beyond the carnal, and they’re not just catering to men anymore. A small subculture of male courtesans has sprouted up online, complete with its own message board where clients can share reviews of their experiences and ask questions about potential dates. Alex Logan is one such working gentleman, and on his website he presents a succinct view of the forces at work in supporting his profession:

“As our society has evolved into a more egalitarian and a less judgmental one women have been afforded opportunities to explore dimensions that heretofore had been generally open only to men. It has become far more acceptable for a woman to wish to spend time with a quality gentleman without the complications of a commitment or a relationship.”

In a conversation via email, Logan cited the increased income and mobility of working women as important components in his own viability and that of his colleagues, all of whom refuse to see male clients.

Since it’s common knowledge that women can have sex anytime they want, misconceptions around female clients are easily anticipated: These women must be ugly, socially inept, or otherwise undesirable. However, the male escorts I spoke with were unanimous in rebutting such stereotypes. “These are beautiful girls; they’re not who you would think,” one explained, after mentioning he’d been contracted to pose as a boyfriend during public functions as well as to deflower a virgin in her early twenties.

Professional women seem to be the target demographic for many of these men. “[Such women often] do not have the time or energy to seek out [long-term] companions,” explains another paid companion, Miguel Rivas. Male escorts may also present a more physically attractive and in-shape package than usually offered at the local bar.

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