Escorts in the media
A while ago, Society Service was approached by market research institute ‘Regioplan’. They conducted a survey concerning the social standing of (legal) sex workers. We always gladly respond to requests like these, because they can objectively inform you on the ‘relax industry’. Lots of our high class escorts contacted the institute on themselves. In 2015, Regioplan published its findings (in Dutch). The final report hardly got any media attention. Remarkable, because the media always have a lot to tell us about prostitution. These publications often covers just the two extremes in our business: the prostitute who is forced to work and on the other hand de glamorous world of the high class escorts.
These two totally different groups represent just a small part of the sex workers in The Netherlands. The estimate is that less than two percent of the sex workers is a high class escort and that the percentage of prostitutes that is forced to do their job is about seven to ten percent. At least twentythousand women (ánd men) who are working in the sex industry do not fall into one of these categories, but we almost never see a publication on these ladies and gentleman. This problem was addressed before by Marieke de Ridder (Soa Aids Netherlands), and published in Binnenlands Bestuur and republished by Elsevier.
There are more sex workers than just high class escorts
The survey mentioned is amongst the most comprehensive ever published on this line of business in The Netherlands. Therefore we were really astonished to read what journalist Renate van der Zee wrote in national newspaper NRC Handelsblad. She described the survey as ‘dubious’ and ‘totally not representative’. In our view the journalist fixated just on the earlier mentioned seven to ten percent ‘forced prostitutes’. But, as said, there are far mor sex workers than just high class escorts and ‘forced prostitutes’. Regioplan also had an opinion about it.
Prostitution is just a job
Of course Society Service likes the attention of the press. We take every opportunity to proclaim that to us prostitution is a natural part of society. But we feel that most publications which unilateral highlights ‘forced prostitution’ stigmatize the many sex workers who enjoy their work. It contributes to the prejudices the are confronted with, and to the social isolation they get into. It is the main reason why too many ladies and gentlemen who earn their money with sex refuse to cooperate with surveys as the one mentioned above and keep their work a secret to their environment.
The media let you believe that working in the sex industry is something to be ashamed of. Publicists like Renate van der Zee, Karina Schaapman and Jojanne van den Berge say they care about the wellbeing of prostitutes. In practice it turns out that the stigma on sex workers remains. The stigma on sex workers came into existance through not-sex workers; it’s about time to break this image with stories on the ‘average’ sex worker. Sex also is a genuine ‘trade’. They are normal people who, just like you and me, choose a job they enjoy and which pays the bills.