The Economist ran a piece about the economics of prostitution that reads like it slipped by the Hivemind perimeter defense drones under cover of night. There’s so much RealTalk and UglyTruth it’s a wonder equalist foot soldiers haven’t converged on it to drown it in a vat of squid ink and sophistry.
FOR those seeking commercial sex in Berlin, Peppr, a new app, makes life easy. Type in a location and up pops a list of the nearest prostitutes, along with pictures, prices and physical particulars. Results can be filtered, and users can arrange a session for a €5-10 ($6.50-13) booking fee. It plans to expand to more cities. [...]
We have analysed 190,000 profiles of sex workers on an international review site. (Since it is active in America, it was not willing to be identified for this article. A disclaimer on the site says the contents are fictional; we make the assumption that they are informative all the same.) Each profile includes customers’ reviews of the worker’s physical characteristics, the services they offer and the price they charge.
The data go back as far as 1999. For each individual we have used the most recent information available, with prices corrected for inflation. Some of those featured may appear under more than one name, or also work through agencies. The data cover 84 cities in 12 countries, with the biggest number of workers being in America and most of the rest in big cities in other rich countries. As this site features only women, our analysis excludes male prostitutes (perhaps a fifth of the commercial-sex workforce). Almost all of those leaving reviews are men.
Lots of platitude-pummeling charts follow. First, the inflation-adjusted price of prostitution services has been going down.
The article offers several reasons why this might be so; however, I think the primary causes are shifting social norms and demand substitution (online porn, video gaming).
Meanwhile, broader social change may be reducing demand—and thus, prices. Free, no-strings-attached sex is far easier to find than in the past. Apps such as Tinder facilitate speedy hookups; websites such as Ashley Madison and Illicit Encounters, adulterous ones. Greater acceptance of premarital intercourse and easier divorce mean fewer frustrated single and married men turning to prostitutes.
Disincentives matter. When the public shame of stepping out on your wife is lessened, the motivation to do so increases. This is all part of a society morphing from a predominately K-selected one to an r-selected one.
Most services above and beyond the base vaginal rate (BVR, could be a band name) cost more, because they’re niche services and because women, even hardened whores, instinctively feel some sexual acts are more degrading than others. Funny, if unsurprising, findings:
Women take kissing very seriously. Kissing is a more intimate act for women than it is for men. If you want to kiss a whore you’ll pay more than if you want to poke her in the pooper. PUA haters who scoff at players getting “make-outs” that “don’t go anywhere”, take note.
Like most regular women, most whores would rather spit than swallow. What I don’t get are the johns who insist on paying for her to swallow. It could be a dominance move, but then a money shot to the face is more debasing.
“Multiple men”. The data was pulled for female hos only, so this category represents putatively straight men who get off on sharing a ho with another dude. It’s disturbing that the cuckoldry fetish appears to be on the rise in Western megalopolises. Could this self-annihilating, self-castrating psychological disorder be caused by a parasite?
As surprising as the cuck finding is, the highest price commanded by its inverse — one man, two women — is predictable. Men dig non-gay threesomes.
The next chart will make a million fatties and fug feminists sprout martyrdom stigmata on their marbled labia.
Appearance matters a great deal. The customers who reported encounters to the website we analysed clearly value the stereotypical features of Western beauty: women they describe as slim but not scrawny, or as having long blonde hair or full breasts, can charge the highest hourly rates (see chart 3). Hair that is bleached too unconvincingly to be described as blonde attracts a lower premium, but is still more marketable than any other colour. For those not naturally well endowed, breast implants may make economic sense: going from flat-chested to a D-cup increases hourly rates by approximately $40, meaning that at a typical price of $3,700, surgery could pay for itself after around 90 hours. The 12% share of women featured on the site who are described both as athletic, slim or thin, and as being at least a D-cup, suggests that quite a few have already taken this route.
Pop-a-boner quiz: What do men dig?
Feminist: They dig rubenesque feminists with short black hair and flat business-friendly chests.
Patriarchy: They dig slender, long-haired blondes with big round boobs.
(For those wondering, when men say they prefer “athletic” women, what they mean is they prefer toned slender women who don’t have cellulite. Or, “athletic” is a euphemism for “barely legal”.)
Where da white hos at?
(You’ll notice that the cities with a higher proportion of white men — NYC, London — have the greatest skew in prices between black and white whores. But even in majority-black cities like Atlanta white whores still command a price premium.)
We had too few data from other cities for a reliable breakdown by ethnicity. But Christine Chin of the American University in Washington, DC, has studied high-end transnational prostitutes in several countries. In Kuala Lumpur, she found, black women command very high rates and in Singapore, Vietnamese ones do. In Dubai, European women earn the most. What counts as exotic and therefore desirable varies from place to place, and depends on many factors, such as population flows.
Baby got lumps. I guess black hos could go to Kuala Lumpur and… Bueller? Bueller?
Yet a cost-of-living index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, our sister organisation, suggests that Tokyo is the most expensive city overall of the three. The apparent anomaly may be because escorts who appear on an English-language review site mostly cater to foreigners, who are not offered the more unusual—and expensive—services Japanese prostitutes provide for locals. These include the bubble baths and highly technical massages of Sopurando (“Soapland”), a red-light district in Tokyo, which can cost ¥60,000 ($600) for a session and involve intercourse (although that is not advertised).
The Japanese are weird, #3,187 in a series.
A degree appears to raise earnings in the sex industry just as it does in the wider labour market. A study by Scott Cunningham of Baylor University and Todd Kendall of Compass Lexecon, a consultancy, shows that among prostitutes who worked during a given week, graduates earned on average 31% more than non-graduates. More lucrative working patterns rather than higher hourly rates explained the difference.
Easily explained. Smart women are better at exploiting market niches, and smarts correlate with beauty (up to a point).
Although sex workers with degrees are less likely to work than others in any given week (suggesting that they are more likely to regard prostitution as a sideline), when they do work they see more clients and for longer. Their clients tend to be older men who seek longer sessions and intimacy, rather than a brief encounter.
Older men need testosterone replacement therapy so they don’t wind up emptying their wallets for pillow talk and a cuddle.
A mother in Scotland asks how other prostitutes juggle child care and selling sex, given that bookings are often made at short notice so babysitters are hard to arrange. Another contributor who is thinking of having children asks how much other women saved before taking time off to have a baby, and whether the new calls on their time meant they earned less after giving birth. One reply points out that prostitution is easier than many other jobs to combine with motherhood: it pays well enough to cover child-care costs, and can be fitted around school holidays, plays and sports days, and children’s illnesses.
A nation of whore mommies. Ah, but it’s genetics all the way down, so no big deal. Until it is.
A greater awareness may develop that not all sex workers are the victims of exploitation.
I remember reading a study from not too long ago that found most teen prostitutes get into the business volitionally. Kidnappings and sex trafficking are actually quite rare, especially in East Europe. Also, prostitution does have a damping effect on rape and sex assault rates. This isn’t necessarily an argument for decriminalizing prostitution, but it does suggest that the god of biomechanics likes to prank our moral codes.
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