The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791, grants many rights and privileges to its citizens, including the right to express one’s opinions and thoughts freely. The founding fathers had fought bravely against opposition from England in order to replace foreign tyranny with its domestic variety. They fought well, and today tyranny is alive and well in the so-called “free world”. There is hardly anyone as aware of this fact as escorts and everyone else in the adult entertainment industry.
Even though the first amendment right to freedom of speech clearly grants people the right to hold and express their opinions without interference, escorts are still limited by society’s undue judgment about what is appropriate to discuss and what is not. Escorts who speak out about the industry, sex workers’ rights or anything else associated with their professions are labeled in derogatory ways and fiercely discouraged from voicing their thoughts. So, even though the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to free speech, it comes with the potential for punishment, damnation and rejection. It’s somewhat ironic that the one nation in the world who has the broadest and most allowing laws concerning freedom of speech is actually one of the most small minded when it comes to allowing diversity of opinion and expression of it.
One might ask how can a country that grants the right of free speech to individuals actually work to restrict and discourage its implementation. It’s very simple; when ideas of the individuals conflict with society’s morals or adopted standards, free speech is no longer a welcome element in the community. As escorts embrace their freedom of speech rights and speak out about their careers, they face serious consequences such as legal punishment, imprisonment, exclusion from society, pity, judgment and slander. And, while the current enforcers of the Constitution are empowered by law to fight against these unfair and undue consequences, it all seems to get swept under the carpet, because escorts are not important enough to hold value in society.
As this nation was founded, it was built by individuals who did what they had to do to survive, worked hard, developed new and better ways of doing things and took hold of prosperous opportunities. This included being impacted by women who worked as companions, prostitutes and courtesans. They made their livings through their close relationships with the men of the era, and, reportedly, many founding fathers were regular customers. It is doubtful that the founding fathers ever derived the freedom of speech with the intention of it being controlled by society’s accepted standards of right and wrong. (Plus, it’s unlikely they ever suspected that the world would be so conservative that a man couldn’t seek out some affection in exchange for a little coin.)
Escorts and their colleagues are hushed into silence, discouraged from speaking freely about their careers or from defending themselves openly. If they speak publicly about their roles, they are subjected to unfair and unrealistic morality checks, assumed to be carrying several sexually-transmitted infections, thought to be mentally unstable, suspected of being victims of sexual or physical abuse and simply expected to be openly promiscuous. Society is afraid to hear of their stories, exploits or anything else, for fear that “it” might rub off on them.
As a result, escorts are forced into hiding, despite this wonderful thing called freedom of speech all Americans are supposed to have. They must live secret lives and, even, hide their true professions from their loved ones. Friends and family members of escorts rarely know about what they do for a living, because escorts are afraid to lose their love and support.
Escorts keep their careers private in order to protect their incomes. If the public were to discover their true ways of earning money, it is possible that efforts would be made to thwart their success. One of the main reasons escorts enter the industry, according to insiders, is the amount of money that can be made. Unlike other jobs, escorting is a career that allows a woman to put herself at the top of the pay ranges, breaking through that glass ceiling once and for all. Escorts can set their own hours, schedules and rates. They establish personal boundaries and create their own ways of conducting business with clients. However, America, the land of the free, the home of the entrepreneurial spirit, would like to put the kabosh on certain careers, like escorting, because they don’t mesh well with the current social fabric. No regard is given to the fact that women have finally broken through barriers to achieve equality with men in a career industry. The naysayers and critics are too busy waggling their fingers at escorts and telling them about how immoral they are.
Even more important to them than their incomes, escorts keep mum about their careers in order to retain their freedom. Solicitation and prostitution are illegal in most places in the U.S. If an escort is found to be guilty of committing either of these crimes, she faces strict penalties including hefty fines or jail or prison time. The threat of spending your life behind bars, away from your family and friends, is terrifying. And, although escorts are doing nothing illegal, public perception of what their intentions might be can prosecute them quickly, with very little evidence to support any case.
And, escorts are forced by the very nature of their business to limit the extent to which they speak about their careers, in order to protect their clients. Discretion is a key element to an escort’s successful career. She is not only protecting her own reputation and role in society, but she is also the keeper of her clients’ stature in the world. Most of an escort’s clients are perceived highly, filling powerful and respected roles in the community. If an escort lacks discretion and reveals, through her freedom of speech, that her clients are high-ranking officials, etc., they will be negatively affected though the same consequences an escort encounters. In addition to shame, they are the subject of harsh ridicule and judgment.
Because most people don’t give the first amendment rights even a second thought, it’s a strange concept that they really don’t apply to everyone. When considering all levels of diversity in this country, nearly every group has the right to speak out about issues important to them without fearing negative consequences. (There will always be racist and prejudiced people in the world who will judge; but most minority groups do not experience full societal oppression when they express their viewpoints.) The gay/lesbian community have strong voices; cultural groups express themselves clearly as they address pertinent issues to them; and, other subsets of society make their voices heard about subjects they care about (such as political groups, religious organizations and recreational hobbyist clubs). Rarely do any people in these groups experience any life-altering backlash from speaking their minds.
It is really unfortunate that one of the only nations in the world that encourages and fosters concepts of individuality puts limitations on people who choose to work in the escort or adult entertainment industries. The government and society, in general, are saying, “Freedom of speech is acceptable, just as long as it doesn’t offend uptight, straight-laced attitudes about how life should be.” People like to put their heads in the sand and pretend that people like escorts (the stereotypical kind) don’t exist. And, if escorts do exist, society doesn’t want to give them credit for being intelligent, capable and upstanding citizens. Their misconceived notions about them are preferred, so freedom of speech is further limited to avoid the truth.
Upsetting the balance is discouraged. Escorts and others like them are restricted through many forms of oppression from exercising their full rights granted to them by the Constitution. Escorts are restricted from being full citizens, much like the slaves were until they won their freedom. White, upper class citizens didn’t want to recognize that early black Americans had personal worth. Their abilities, talents and heritage were ignored, and black individuals were discouraged from discussing their lives with anyone outside of their direct circles. Escorts are also made to feel their stories or thoughts are unwelcome to most people, just as history pretells of other groups. They lack the freedom to speak freely, work openly and share with the world what they do for a living, due to the negative consequences that await them.
However, efforts to break this cycle are starting to evolve. Several mainstream television shows and documentaries have hit the airwaves that reveal bits and pieces about the escort lifestyle, albeit they are trite and somewhat stereotypical. A documentary, American Courtesans, is being hailed by escorts around the world as a worthy watch, but it is only getting slight attention from the media and general public.
Many support groups and political activist organizations are joining forces to lobby actively for sex workers’ rights and inform the public about the risks and dangers women experience through their professions. They are also fighting for STD research, AIDS prevention efforts and better healthcare for women. Their stories reveal strong, able women who are highly successful entrepreneurs, making incomes competitive with some of America’s top careers.
Over 200 years old, the rights prescribed in the U.S. Constitution are essential elements to life in America. However, it is clear that even though it and its amendments are supposed to apply to everyone, its reach is severely limited by society’s standards and ideals. Oppression is a form of tyranny, and escorts are the victims of this type of tyranny, simply by nature of their employment and the moral codes adopted by society.
In fact, escorts are often held prisoner by others’ right to freedom of speech. Because others can spout anything they want to about escorts, many women who work in the industry are left voiceless, knowing that they will be the victim of ridicule and criticism if they reveal their true identities. They are made into victims by the words of another, resulting in not only society placing limitations on them, but by also the freedom of speech, itself.
While it is certainly something to get miffed about, it is unlikely to change anytime soon. Escorts need to continue to have faith and pride in themselves, their careers and their own talents. They should take life one day at a time, attempting to avoid letting society’s ways get at them too much. The best way to survive in the business is to accept that discretion is the key to respect and acceptance. Embrace the fact that you know something that everyone else doesn’t, and let that be your shining star that leads you through your life. Maybe someday your world will be more open-minded and welcoming. But, until then remember it’s not nice to kiss and tell; be sure that you adhere to that rule in order to protect yourself and your clients.