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 And though those laws have since largely eroded in much of the civilized world they were never fully repealed in the United States, and in the past decade a coalition of conservative Christians and radical feminists have expended considerable effort in renewing and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.