Marriage vs escort services

English novelist, journalist and feminist Angela Carter said in the Nights at the Circus

What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many?

The concept has been debated openly for several decades, if not for longer among more liberal minds in more intimate settings. The simple revelation that women enter into sexual relationships with men in exchange for items they value is certainly not a new one or one that is exclusive to the marriage covenant.

Through the years, women have encountered monetary benefits, status improvements, safety from harm, higher standards of living and easier lifestyles as advantages from their relationships with men who are able to offer certain favors in exchange. Typically, the relationships involve at least a sexual base, even if they do not evolve into an exchange that includes emotional, legal or other bonds.

However, in looking at ways that women trade themselves, there are many other aspects to the traits, abilities and favors that a woman may exchange with a man to better herself. Many women are expected to complete household chores and tasks in order to receive many of the benefits expected from a relationship with a man. For instance, in a marriage, a woman may concede to cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, dusting and keeping the dishes clean and put away among many other tasks in exchange for security, safety and a higher standard of living. Or, she may agree to exercise to maintain her looks and figure, be nice to the hubby’s boss so he can get ahead and behave a certain way to keep her man happy. As a result, he showers her with gifts, yearly trips and a nice home.

In other situations, an escort may exchange sexual favors, physical attractiveness, constant availability and a high level of discretion for the same things, distributed in a different way.

Bertrand Russell, British philosopher and social critic, observed in Marriage and Morals that

marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in a marriage than in prostitution.

He makes it sound as if for women there is no, has never been, and cannot be such thing as desired sex. Anyway. The question comes to mind whether a woman’s gift of herself and her abilities (sexual and non-sexual) are redeemed properly when entering into a relationship as opposed to her selling her time as an escort when she sees fit. Economists Lena Edlund and Evelyn Korn examined this same quandary through their A Theory of Prostitution, published in the “Journal of Political Economy” in 2002. After much research and calculation, an equation was derived to determine the answer to how viable it is for women to exchange their very essence for a promise of economic security and consistent emotional support through marriage.

However, further addressed in this examination was the child-bearing aspect. Edlund and Korn examined the exchange that results in a woman bearing a child for a man. The paper reduced this relationship to a business transaction that resulted in a man exchanging his items of worth for a child he was certain he sired and would have the opportunity to raise as his own. This arrangement, as described by Edlund and Korn, suggests that a man prostitutes himself for the privilege of being a father, among other opportunities.

Plenty of men prostitute themselves in relationships, as well. They are treated as sex objects and arm candy, used for their skills and talents, taken advantage of for their incomes, abilities to succeed in a career and to conceive a child. Mowing the yard, changing the oil, manscaping and showing up every day at the office are sacrifices they make in order to maintain a relationship with a woman whom they see as their sexual, intellectual or social superior or equal.

In reality, all relationships involve give and take. For a relationship to be established, each party must have something the other wants. It is up to the individuals involved to determine what a fair exchange will be. Escorts choose to sell their time and skip the drama. Many others who would reject the title of escort have admitted they married for money. Others choose to trade on different levels. A cynic can make any relationship seem dirty, inappropriate or seedy.

However, it comes down to one concept: What are you willing to give to get what you want—your entire independence, as in marriage, or a handful of dollars and no commitments whatsoever, as with escorts?