Do Prostitutes Really Choose To Sell Themselves?

If a prostitute isn’t being forced to sell herself, then it’s easy to assume she chose to sell herself. Indeed, individualistic societies assume that people have the freedom of choice in life (neoliberalism, the dominant economic ideology, masks its exploitative agenda by using the notion of ‘freedom’). Thus, when someone makes a mistake, the individual is blamed for causing his or her mishap. In Sociological terms, one’s own assertion of power is referred to as agency. Most sociologists argue that one’s agency  is influenced by numerous societal factors/expectations. A prostitute choosing to sell herself is not solely her choice, but rather the outcome of her social circumstances.

Yet it is not surprising how people assume that ‘high-class’ prostitutes make the choice to sell themselves.  This mentality judges everything on the surface, but it fails at  discovering the experiences that preceded it. My ex, for instance, felt I had total agency (power) over my decisions. He didn’t realize I was severely addicted to selling myself, nor that my unique lifestyle had shaped me irreversibly. I didn’t realize it myself back then, as I thought the sex industry left me unscathed. Once the veil is stained.. the stain will remain forever.

At large, society ignores the factors that places stigmatized people in ‘dysfunctional,’ helpless positions. Did they choose to be neglected? Did they choose to be sexually or physically abused, or to have alcoholic parents? This mentality ignores the inequalities that exist in this ‘functional’ structure of society. How can we expect people with different experiences to all act, think and feel the same? It’s unrealistic.

I read a great article by an author named Nekome, read here , titled, How Prostitution Chose Me. The woman gives a great example of how her personal agency was limited by her personal experiences. She was lured to the sex industry. “When real alternatives do not exist, it looks like people are making bad choices. What are the basic rights that all women and children should have so that they never have to make the “choice” to prostitute?” Again, what are the alternatives for a woman who has sold herself? Even if she stops she will still be haunted by her addiction. As well, she has to conceal her past in public settings, and may believe she is a’ bad’ person for her past, which causes emotional distress. When someone is so emotionally damaged inside, is it easy for that person to integrate back into ‘normal’ society and pretend everything is ‘normal?’ Not at all.

Our life circumstances greatly influence our emotions, and thus emotions influence the choices we make. This assumption bothers me: “Why can’t prostitutes work NORMAL jobs and work HARD like the rest of people in society?” I got into prostitution because I couldn’t function in ‘normal’ workplaces. Prior to entering prostitution, I had extreme depression. I tried to work a normal job, but my emotional problems lead to social phobia and anxiety, and thus I could not commit to the linear schedule. Financial strains and pressures from family to succeed increased my depression. Prostitution lured me in, because I could work when I want (at my own leisure).

In my personal experience, it’s so hard to go back to a normal job. I have tried a few times to quit the sex industry and work at a normal job. The problem was not just the adjustment of making less money, but it was lack of commonality with ‘normal’ people. I had to hide everything, all of my personal experiences that defined me. I feared of being rejected or condemned. Often, I avoided making friendships because I hated pretending to be ‘normal.’ So, I ended up being introverted, and I would get depressed as a result. The depression affected my ability to show up at the job, and thus I lost motivation.  Then I reverted back into what I know best: selling myself. Prostitution allowed me to essentially survive while dealing with emotional issues. I could work when my mood was good, and of course retreat when I was feeling depressed. That was how I survived (on the surface).

Prostitutes become ‘poisoned’ once they know that plenty of men are willing to pay large amounts of money for sex. Now, it could be a positive thing, but sadly the modern sex industry is drowned in exploitation. My own experiences are blessed in comparison to the majority — most other escorts are doing this purely for money, and not deriving any pleasure. Thus, they become addicts, and the addiction dictates them. Now, for me, even though I can enjoy aspects, I still endure the pain of being condemned by wider society. It’s easy to assume that I, living in a ‘lavish’ lifestyle, feel content and complete. The reality is I often feel empty, lost and insignificant. It doesn’t help that I hide my emotional problems, and I portrayed myself as emotionally stable and confident. Once, I truly believed I was ‘normal’ too, but now I realize ‘normal’ women do not have the same experiences as I. In my own experience, I want to emphasize that having sex for money is not the problem, nor are clients the problem — rather, it’s the exploitative nature of state regulations and how that subsequently influences society to hate, degrade, silence and neglect prostitutes.

Another woman wrote her experience as being a high-class prostitute:For a great part of 1992 I lived in a beautiful apartment on Capitol Hill. I drove my expensive car. I bought lovely clothes and traveled extensively out of the country. For the first time in my 20 years as an adult woman, I paid my own way. There was no need to worry about affording my rent, my phone bill, all the debts one accumulates simply by living month to month. I felt invincible. And I was miserable to the core. I hated myself because I hated my life All the things I came to possess meant nothing. I could not face myself in the mirror. Working in prostitution lost my soul.Survivor interviewed by Debra Boyer, Lynn Chapman and Brent Marshall in Survival Sex in King County: Helping Women Out (1993), King County Women’s Advisory Board, Northwest Resource Associates, Seattle. (Taken from website: Here)

She depicts it well. ‘High-Class’ prostitutes are living a ‘lavish’ facade, but underneath there is a lot of pain (and if the pain isn’t shown, then it is likely being numbed). How can one explain that a woman, who essentially has ‘everything,’ can feel totally isolated and miserable?  But what is everything? These ideal values (materials, beauty, wealth, and power) promoted by Western societies are a big MYTH, a LIE (it’s BS!). I acquired all these things that society told me will make me happy and wholesome (and more acceptable), but it did the exact opposite. It made me more individualistic, which pushed me further from happiness. And worse, it made me neglect the simple treasures of life (love).


Filed under Dealing with Depression, Emotional Aspects Related to Escorting

18 responses to “Do Prostitutes Really Choose To Sell Themselves?

  1. Akbar

    Cant really explain here, but somethings sadden you immensely and to the core, even though you have nothing to relate to or have no personal gain or loss (even for a man who often sees difficult human situations). The immense sadness nearly transforms into a feeling of helplessness. This is the dilemma with every sensitive human being in the world. I pray to my creator, and he knows my said and unsaid prayers.

  2. Akbar

    @kipje1993, it gives me an immense pleasure to find that you have an insight, a major necessary step in addressing any problem. You are aware that a problem genuinely exists and you recognize its true and realistic dimensions. Half the success you have already achieved. I understand it is difficult and that is why you are here seeking advice, otherwise you wont be here. Here comes the role of collective social and peer support, by guiding you, encouraging you in making right decisions and helping you at every step to achieve your goal. You can always get back to me for advice and support whenever you find it necessary, you will always be welcome. You may have my email address from the blog.

  3. kipje1993

    I find this a very enlightening. I was a self – employed escort once, but luckily I managed to stay away. However, this is very hard.
    Especially when I feel dysfunctional and hopeless, such as this moment. I find it hard to not go back. I was forced to quit my job due to extreme stress and panic attacks. I’m young and I should be able to do a ‘normal job’. However, I always had a hard time to fit in to act ‘normal’. This made me become depressive over time. Sometimes I’m happy, but overall, I’m not very happy. I feel like I’m trapped. I’m 22 years old but I can’t find a passion in life.
    During the time I sold sex, I felt great often. I had respectful clients so I was blessed. However, the burden of lying and a double life made me really unhappy. As a consequence I fell into a depression. I worked at “regular jobs’, but there, I felt just as miserable.
    I try to find passion and perseverance in my life. If not…I’m afraid of falling back in a depression. I don’t want to start escorting again. Not because I find it a bad thing. But I know the burden of sex work all to well.

    • Akbar


      I would like to respond to your concerns from a physician’s and psychiatrists viewpoint as I often come across all sorts of patients (while you are waiting for a reply from escortdiary). Just remember that depression, anxiety and panic attacks do occur in all sorts of people, including even very rich and famous. You are lucky that you have managed to stay away from the escorting business with effort. The urge to return to sex business is a sort of temporary defense mechanism similar to compulsive shopping or eating etc. It might prove to be a temporary escape from the underlying endogenous depression but will never work for long. On the other hand the trade off in this line of job is tremendous, and the price that you are going to pay ultimately is not worth it. The dilemma with most young women like you is that when the realization comes, it is probably too late. My earnest and humble advice, if you trust me, is that you seek proper medical treatment for the depression and a family and peer support. I might also be able to guide you on treatment outline and objectives free of cost, as a good will gesture if you want. Come strong and resist the short term urge to find comfort in escorting. The final decision still rests with you but if you ever choose to resume escorting, do save a copy of this advice………some day later in life you might find it correct. One thing i must also try to make you comprehend is that it is not the social stigma or the society which you should be worried about as sex worker, it is you who will have to pay the price and you should be worried about yourself. Emptiness, Depression, Insignificance and lack of love……………..can you afford this price? Money would never be able to buy these for you.

      Dr. Akbar

      • kipje1993

        Thanks for your kind words. I agree with everything you say. Yet, it is difficult. I will see my psychiatrist tomorrow. I’ve know him for a long time and he knows about my secret.

  4. Sayuri/Aphrodite

    Dear escortdiary,

    I used to write as Aphrodite. I removed my blog because it literally drained the energy out of me. I know this post is written a while ago.
    But only now I realize what you mean to tell in this post.
    Especially this line sums it up so well. I can totally relate to it:
    “Why can’t prostitutes work NORMAL jobs and work HARD like the rest of people in society?” I got into prostitution because I couldn’t function in ‘normal’ workplaces. Prior to entering prostitution, I was had extreme depression. I tried to work a normal job, but my emotional problems lead to social phobia and anxiety, and thus I could not commit to the linear schedule.

    I’m very familiar with depression too. Years before the idea of prostitution entered my mind, this mind was influenced by depression, greed and materialism. Where do all these influences come from, I don’t know. But what I know is that prostitution was an easy way out for me, because I didn’t feel capable of doing another job and of course, ‘this need for money’ haunted me too. I had bad experiences while working ‘normal jobs’. Even the easiest of jobs seemed to difficult for me, while I was trying my absolute best.
    I know your depression many has/had other causes. Yet, I can now relate more with what you write.
    Prostitution chose me, as it chose you, in a certain way.
    I didn’t like people around me telling my work was insufficient, that everything I did was insufficient. Even the easiest of jobs….everything always went wrong. I always felt like an insufficient person, during the most parts of my life, unfortunately.

    You also write that it’s hard to go back doing a ‘normal job’ , because of your lack of commonality with other people. That’s something I can relate to.
    I never had many commonalities with most people I’ve encountered during my life. Mostly I often feel very weird, ‘insufficient’,
    I wonder if people (or women) who always had little commonality with other people are more susceptible to making these kind of choices. And again, as you state, there is no absolute freedom of choice.

    You also write:
    ‘These ideal values (materials, beauty, wealth, and power) promoted by Western societies are a big MYTH, a LIE (it’s BS!).’
    This line I refused to understand at first, because I’ve always been happy to live in a Western society.
    But now I grow older and need to find a way to life, I finally understand your contempt. Capitalist societies are very cruel to a lot of people….a LOT OF people. No wonder people seeks other ‘condemned’ ways trying to reach out to reigning values.

    I’m sorry if this comment is very unstructured.
    I’m looking forward to another post of yours.
    I hope you are well and I wish to you the strenght and faith to cope with your life.
    And as corny as it sounds, I miss the little correspondence we had.

  5. Lyla

    I know exactly what you mean, struggling with ‘normalcy’ in social environments. Especially in regards to employment beyond the sex industry once it has already left a permanent scar on your soul. I have been working at an erotic massage spa intermittently for the past 5 years. During those years i have attempted to work supplement jobs to instill a sense of commonality with others in hopes that i would feel less socially isolated. But i consistently found myself battling with anxiety/shame trying to suppress a side of my existence that others would undoubtedly shun if they attained this knowledge. I once believed the sex industry would leave me unscathed but i was naively mistaken–you can never fully remove the industry from those who once seemingly reveled in its many ‘benefits’. I have extensively searched the internet for insightful escorting experiences, and your blog has been the most helpful and interesting in my opinion. Thank you so much, i look forward to reading more of your posts. Xo 🙂

    • escortdiary

      Thank you so kindly Lyla,

      If only people realized how difficult the transition is, emotionally, from one realm into another. I like how you noted the desire to retain “commonality with others” by working a normal job — I think this is vitally important for any escort who realizes she will eventually need to work in other field.

      Wishing you well,


      • Akbar

        Dear Sahar, need to talk on this in detail whenever u find it comfortable and convenient. Best regards

  6. Hi there,
    I’ll write a comment on the base of my personal experience.
    That implies I agree with some points, but also that I disagree with some other statements you’ve made here. It’s just a matter of someone’s personal point of view.
    I agree with the statement: ‘A prostitute choosing to sell herself is not solely her choice, but rather the outcome of her social circumstances.’
    Yes, it’s an outcome of social circumstances. I share your experience of being not ‘suitable’ for doing a normal job.
    Even as a student, I feel I don’t feel I’m quite ‘the same’ as my fellow students. My education is quite sociable. And I’m sociable too, but not extraverted, rather introverted. And that’s where my feelings towards ‘the job’ differ.
    Plus, I’m doing it, because I feel I can express myself, in a sexual way, and not through small talk. I am a very sexual person (promiscuous, as you can say), and I enjoy most of my appointments.
    Plus, I never had sex out of love. So, I’m not disgusted by having sex without love. It’s always been my ‘sexual procedure’.
    If he respects my borders, is respectful towards me, and gives me the money, I’m happy.
    And I do like most of my clients.
    I don’t see myself as a victim, nor a potential surviver, because to me, there would be nothing I would have ‘survived’, And I feel no inherent shame about my profession even though society thinks I should have.
    (I’m a very godless person, but I’m far from bad. I really don’t see myself that way.)
    And odd to say this maybe, but I don’t have ‘sex for free’.
    It will always be a transaction. I see relationships as transactions.
    But… it’s not always a monetary transaction.
    I just said I’m promiscuous, but I’m only promiscous with men I trust.
    And I don’t trust people that easily.
    They have to gain my trust, step by step.
    And if they succeed, I will give them back respect, and sex, an intimicy. But love? I don’t know.

    ‘Even if she stops she will still be haunted by her addiction.’
    I’m afraid that’s applicable to me, also. I love a more lavish lifestyle, I’m a materialistic person.
    Even being only an everage prostitute, I still make more money than most students. I have to admit, the money is addictive.

    ‘How can one explain that a woman, who essentially has ‘everything,’ can feel totally isolated and miserable? But what is everything? These ideal values (materials, beauty, wealth, and power) promoted by Western societies are a big MYTH, a LIE (it’s BS!).’

    One can’t have everything of course. Life will never be ‘enough’ for people. If I quit, and started living a normal life,
    I would still hunger for the money, the lavish lifestyle (and the sex, in my case).
    In my case, I lived a quite solitary life before. (Maybe because I’m raised western style, and because I’m introverted)
    So there won’t be lots of people who will ‘miss’ me, as a ‘normal’ person.
    Although I will miss, them, because I genuinely like people, in general.

  7. Aziz

    In a previous job, one coworker had been a high-price escort who was offered that high paid job. Your statement: “I couldn’t function in ‘normal’ workplaces” really applied to her. It was really difficult to observe that because even though she was very friendly and approachable, she had that attitude that had worked for her as an escort but that didn’t serve her in the workplace. You referred to something similar in another post: “I no longer know how to act around men”. That girl had to deal with another problem which is jealousy of other women (she was highly desirable) and as a result she eventually had to quit.

    • escortdiary

      Thank you for sharing that. Yes, it’s very difficult to function in a ‘normal’ environment when one’s lifestyle is mainly secretive.

      There was a cafe I once frequented to study and write. There was a lady who worked there who was very sweet and nice, but I noticed one day she was no longer working there. I asked about her, and one of her co-workers told me in a very condescending way, “We found out she’s an escort on the side.” The way the co-worker expressed this ‘secret’ was in the tone of disgust. This example shows of how sex-work is viewed in mainstream opinion: disgust, hate and unacceptable.

  8. it’s so interesting, for prostitutes are so shamed and indicted in society and yet socially sanctioned marriage is often a kind of prostitution, in which a woman gives of herself in exchange for economic security. People prostitute themselves in various ways day in and day out, yet not necessarily so straightforwardly as you are doing.
    My deepest feeling is that even though the sexual exchanges can feel so highly mechanized and “emotionless” that still you are exchanging parts of yourself. Men who come to you appear to be seeking sex but on some level of their being they are empty and they want to be filled. You fill them with a piece of yourself each time. That is the pain. And yet your capacity to do this gives you a heady power over them. A wife does the same for her husband, and often feels depleted, yet she also still feels needed, powerful, in control at times.
    I believe the shame, sadness and emptiness that you feel is the dark place where you have given away some of yourself and allowed yourself to be controlled by others. Some of the shame may be due to the projections of society about what is acceptable behavior. But it is clear to me that you know yourself well enough to know that on an inner level you are lovable, loved, acceptable, accepted, in the eyes of “god”.
    I perceive your consciousness as a pool that runs very deep. At the surface there is a reflection, the eyes of others, the atmosphere around you, the outward experiences. At the depths there is only immersion into the deep underwater of your truth.
    Blessings beautiful 🙂

    • escortdiary

      Thank you so much for sharing that. It’s really nice to know of another woman who is tuned with her sexuality. I have read your blog and your poetry. I feel sometimes you are saying the very words from my mouth. Very beautiful, deep and erotic indeed. I look forward to your future posts.

  9. Ivan

    Your life has been tough, i can feel your emotions as you describe them and i understand…But you are smart and still young.

    Don’t let your past define your life, you have many wounds inside your soul but you are capable of overcoming everything… Oh God i wish i could help you more.

    Look, you need to accept that you took a bad decision…I’m sorry, i know that it sounds like i don’t understand what you’ve been thru and what type of situation you were, and that im minimizing your pain and afflictions, and that im just like the rest who have used your body BUT NO AT ALL!!

    You chose a path, one that in the beginning seemed like fun and easy but you paid a price, and now you are starting to realize that even tho you achieved money and comfort this world left you empty inside…and that you have neglected your soul and emotional needs.

    Ask yourself what do i need to stop doing this? and by the by… you do NOT! need a man or a relationship…and let me be honest again, your relationship with the saudi guy… i wouldn’t call that love, cause if im in love with you, im gonna marry you cause i want to spend my life with a woman i love, not just a couple of years.

    Don’t choose men in the wrong places, im talking about your ex and the saudi guy…

    As always, Good Luck

  10. Ivan

    Hey you…=)

    First of all… What do you mean when you say that you were “pretending to be normal” you are normal sweetie, but in that case i think what you are trying to say is… You were out of your comfort zone and you had no idea how to interact with other people, you don’t have the social skills.

    Look first of all, i learn this a long time ago, i have a bunch of people i know and i can interact but FRIENDS? maybe like 2-3 thats it, i do NOT share the details of my personal life and im a “normal guy” i do NOT do drugs or even alcohol and when it comes to tobacco im alergic so….lol
    You NEED TO identify the people who you can trust your pain and glories, im not saying swallow everything and be emotionless but you need to know the moment, the person and the place.

    Now…We all have a choice, ALWAYS i know i know… You are addicted to money and maybe a couple more things like attention…makes sense, not judging you.
    But its not a physical addiction like an illegal drug… fat people are addicted to sugar or some people are addicted to coffee, yes its an addiction but you need to take the decision, cause YOU are hurting yourself.

    Just 1 thing… oh God, wealth is NOT a value and I’m not sure why you called it a value… same thing with beauty, just a DNA lottery, that’s not a value either.
    Values at least in my dictionary are emotional capabilities that you have or acquire, like wisdom, courage, perseverance, kindness etc etc

    Look you need to fin what makes you happy or what keeps you stable… i know what things i need to do to keep me balanced.
    I need to work out, yoga or lifting weights.
    i need to do something social, *doing something social for me can be making a stranger laugh or just text a friend
    I need to talk to a girl, right now I’m in a relationship so… its the same girl.

    Some people need to pray or go to church, some need to watch the news or read the paper i dont know….

    Ok this is too long…but always remember we all have choices, yeah if you stop selling your body is going to have an impact in your life, but i think is going to give you the peace you want.

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