Does basic instinct = basic right? The honest courtesan’s view

Does basic instinct = basic right? The honest courtesan’s view

Following on from Ben Davies’ recent article on relationships, we received a flurry of emails, comments and posts on the subject of paying for sex. At Disability Horizons, we thought we’d explore the issue a little further! Maggie McNeill, from New Orleans, is a retired prostitute who is the author of the popular blog The Honest Courtesan. She kindly shares her thought provoking views on the subject and some personal experiences of serving disabled clients.

We live in an age where, despite the fact that many people argue that even marriage is a basic human right, it’s somehow “controversial” to declare that sex is. The reason for this is simple:  there are certain people who, because of their own anti-sex agenda, want to pretend that the male sex drive does not represent a need but rather only a want.  The distinction is crucial:  society is a lot more understanding of people making extraordinary (and even quasi-legal) efforts to obtain things which are necessary than things which they merely desire, and if sex is a need then men are justified in using fair, non-coercive means to obtain it even if those means make prudes uncomfortable.

I’m speaking, of course, about prostitution, and you might say I’m something of an expert because in addition to having worked as a New Orleans call girl for seven years, I’ve made an extensive study of the practices, problems, history, lore and philosophy of prostitution. This study has revealed that through most of human history, harlotry was accepted as not merely a fact but a necessity; even the medieval Church recognized that prostitutes provided a necessary outlet for male sexual demand, which always exceeds the readily-available female supply. And, though rulers in various times and places tried to control it (as rulers want to do with everything), up until just over a century ago nobody was crazy enough to actually advocate abolishing it.

But in the late 19th century the idea arose that Man was “perfectible”, that males and females should be held to the same (middle-class Anglo-Saxon Christian) standards of sexual morality, and that prostitutes were the “victims” of lecherous men. This was the “social purity” movement, which resulted in a wave of new laws against sex (especially prostitution and homosexuality), alcohol and other “vices”. And though those laws have since largely eroded in much of the civilized world they were never fully repealed in the United States, and in the past decade a coalition of conservative Christians and radical feminists have expended considerable effort in renewing and strengthening those laws via political lobbying and the dissemination of propaganda intended to sell the average voter on the 19th-century stereotype of the “prostitute as victim of male exploitation”.

This is bad enough for able-bodied men, many of whom have non-commercial options, but it’s not always true for men with disabilities; due to many factors (including basic prejudice), prostitutes represent the only practical, dependable choice for many disabled men, especially those whose disabilities are severe.  Yet in the United States that choice is criminalized, and there are those who wish to prohibit it to all men everywhere, regardless of their need.

In my years as an escort, I had many disabled clients. One local gentleman had been in a terrible car accident which had left him partially paralyzed and dependent on a colostomy; his settlement allowed him enough to live frugally and see a different girl every few weeks. Because he was fond of variety I didn’t see him often, but he called so regularly that most experienced girls like myself ended up visiting every few months, and though a few disliked seeing him because he was rough (due to lack of full movement control), most others didn’t treat him differently from any other client. Another paralyzed man was a visitor to town who wanted a beautiful lady to spend the evening with him and show him the sights; in contrast to the accident victim this man’s funds were quite limited, but I told my business partner to let me run overtime because I sensed how much he needed our time together. He really was a very nice man and quite pleasant company, but so dreadfully in need of a woman that it almost broke my heart. I still remember how he explored my body with trembling hands, like a teenage boy alone with a girl for the first time.

Calls with disabled men are often much more difficult than those with non-disabled men; an epileptic client, for instance, warned me that when he climaxed he might have a seizure, and I’ve had clients with cerebral palsy who shook so badly it was almost like one. But such appointments can also be much more rewarding. My first blind client asked if he could feel my face; after running his fingers over its lines he broke into a smile and said, “Oh, you’re so beautiful!”. Then his hands ran over my body, feeling its contours, and he complimented the beauty of my shape as he had that of my face. What other men could tell with a glance he had to discover laboriously by touch and it somehow made it all the more special for that reason. Another client was deaf and couldn’t speak, and I had to communicate with him by writing; most of the call was conducted in absolute silence, with the two of us indicating things to each other by pantomime since I don’t know sign language. Still another had been badly burned in a house-fire as a child, and though his scarring was terrible to behold and his growth had been stunted, he was intelligent and sensitive, and truly appreciative of my company. He had never been with a woman before, so I made sure I showed him what it should be like.

To be sure, not all prostitutes will accept disabled customers; so many such clients don’t even mention a disability because they’re afraid of being turned down. But in my experience, few call girls will refuse these men; it certainly isn’t just the money, because a successful escort can afford to be picky and I’ve turned clients down for far less serious reasons than paraplegia. No, I think the main reason most truly professional girls readily accept disabled men is that we take our profession seriously enough to realize that it would be wrong and unethical to refuse a paying customer who does not merely want our company but desperately needs it.

By Maggie McNeill

Maggie McNeill is the founder and author of the blog The Honest Courtesan.

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  • Shane

    Maggie,
    I appreciate your honest assessment of the situation. Having a form of Muscular Dystrophy and using a motorized wheelchair, I can honestly say it is very difficult for disabled men/women to find companionship with a female/male AND have that companionship include sexual activity. Luckily, I was able to find love and get married. But there were very long stretches of being alone that I can understand why people with disabilities reach out for human touch. I think the only reason I never called for an escort is because i was afraid of rejection by an escort.
    Although the U.S. may look unfavorable on escort services, I believe in some cases the results are favorable. As long as the escort has an outlook like yourself and the disabled person is truly seeking the ability to express their love (not lust). Then it becomes an eye opening experiencing for the escort into humanity and a much needed moment in the disabled person’s life of acceptance and understanding
    Thanks so much for sharing Maggie!
    Shane

  • LizzyR

    A really thought provoking article. The topic of sex and disability is something that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet; everyone should feel unashamed talking about this delicate subject or sharing thair needs and desires.

    Article like this will hopefully allow those facing dillemas or issues, to feel as though they aren’t in a minority. Thank you Disability Horizons for giving people a platform to share their views. I hope more people do.

  • I run the Outsiders for disabled people to have fun and find partners as well as the TLC-Trust.org.uk for disabled men and women to access responsible sex workers. I just wrote a really long message and it seemed not to go, so I am just sending the short one, to see if it will go, and then I’ll decide whether to repeat all my message or not!

    • disabilityhorizons

      Hi Tuppy! Sorry that your initial message didn’t work. Feel free to try submitting it again, or before hitting the submit button you can email the comment to disabilityhorizons@gmail.com and we can post it for you.

  • disabilityhorizons

    ***Posted by Dr Tuppy Owens***

    I love this article, and am pleased to see the subject discussed. I set up Outsiders 33 years ago in the UK for disabled men and women to enjoy life more and find partners, and it’s been thriving ever since. Our disabled members tell us what they dream of and what they do. One blind man visits massage parlours in order to “see” women, by massaging them. He does not ask for a massage in return. Disabled women often say they would love to pay a man who knows what he is doing so she can discover what her body is capable of enjoying, but they rarely do. On the other hand, disabled men usually say they are only looking for love and affection, and then they hire a sex worker when they get too horny !
    About 10 years ago, I set up TLC-Trust.org.uk for disabled men and women to access responsible sex workers. The website is international but so far, we’ve been unable to get established outside the UK. The site has been pretty influential, and there will be no less that three conferences on the subject in England this year. One is for hospices (who have a lot of young men with Muscular Distrophy and not much longer to live); one for / about people with brain damage (some of who are sexually disinhibited as a result of their injury) and the third is at a University. I hope they will be able to get rid of the silly rules which stop disabled people who live in care, stay long term in hospitals or are away at college, officially invited sex workers into their room (although I always so, ask her to dress up like your aunty so that they won’t guess).

    It would be great if someone in the States could use our site to set up a service in the USA and you could call them another name (Tantric Body Workers is sometimes used here) so they don’t get busted. It really would not take much.

    By the way, I am a qualified sex therapist (London University) and not a sex worker although I totally admire them for what they do and Pru, a sex worker helps me to run the TLC. I answer the sex and disability helpline and run lots of projects.
    You can find me by emailing the address giving on our websites or trust@outsiders.org.uk.

  • Laura

    “…prostitutes represent the only practical, dependable choice endable choice”-plain wrong and I’m sick of hearing it.  There are non-prostitute women who have sex with disabled men.  I’m 1 of these and have been for years.  To say “only” is to purposely exclude the non-prostitute women who help these men also.  It’s unfair and wrong.  Non-prostitute women can also be practical and dependable in this area.  I prove this and other women do also who will also actually talk about how at least some disabled men can’t afford prostitutes (people on disability have very limited incomes) or don’t want to go that route.  Not all men can afford prostitutes (especially those on disability) and those who don’t want to see them deserve sex also.  Other options for these men shouldn’t be excluded from being talked about (by using words like “only”) and show favoritism and wilfully ignore ALL the options there are.