Exercising your rights in a country with bad laws

Preface: We live under bad laws

In the United States, we are living under bad laws — bad laws that have a whole bunch of far-reaching consequences for, well, pretty much everybody.

For companions and other sex workers, bad laws criminalize our labor — the way we earn money to put food on the table, pay our rent, clothe ourselves, and pay for other necessities. Bad laws make us susceptible to scammers, rapists and other predators. It also makes us second-class citizens — we pay taxes, but our criminalization means we are fearful of going to the police, lest we be further victimized. For example, if a client or anyone else were to rob us, assault us, or otherwise cheat or hurt us, we cannot go to the police without fear of being arrested, raped, or further victimized. Accordingly, we’ve cobbled together a community policing system via blacklists (AKA “bad date lists” accessible only to verified providers), whisper networks, and other jerry-rigged harm reduction strategies. 

For clients, prospective clients, and indeed anyone with normal and healthy human desires, bad laws have an equally detrimental effect. 

Bad laws embolden and empower bad people — pimps, traffickers, scammers, fake and dishonest “providers,” scammy ad sites, fake “agencies,” and so on — making it harder for responsible, honest person to find a legitimate, honest, consensual provider in the midst of all the noise. Bad laws force providers to use oblique and confusing language in our communications, making it harder for a client to find a provider who fits their needs and desires. Bad laws empower crooks, rapists, and predators that force legitimate, high-quality providers from the industry. 

Bad laws enable and empower bad people. Cheats, scoundrels, liars, and predators on all sides.

Bad laws chill speech, muddy the waters and create an environment of fear-mongering, confusion, distrust and paranoia. 

Bad laws make things much more difficult, expensive, risky, and time-consuming for honest people to find each other. 

Bad laws foster toxic attitudes toward our fellow adults — demonization, distrust, sexism, stereotyping, dehumanization, objectification, infantilization, paternalism.

Bad laws normalize, even encourage, violence against sex workers and clients alike. 

Bad laws deliver vulnerable or naive people directly into the hands of traffickers, pimps, rapists, extortionists and other bad actors.

Bad laws encourage the Othering of sex workers and the casting of clients as deviants or losers. 

Bad laws create an environment of misinformation, fear, intimidation and self-censorship.

Bad laws pit providers and clients against each other.

Bad laws elevate the voices of misogynists, anti-sex zealots, moralists, and hypocrites, silencing the voices of people with first-hand experience.

Bad laws encourage self-hatred on the part of providers and clients both.

Bad laws demonize normal and healthy desires.

Bad laws silence and control us.

Bad laws insult, dehumanize and infantilize us all.

Until providers and clients band together and realize we have a shared set of interests, I believe bad laws are here to stay.

Until that happens, it’s everyone for themselves.


Providers’ and clients’ rights and responsibilities

I set the backdrop of bad laws because bad laws create a significant portion of the animosity, confusion and chaos that reign in this industry (good, old-fashioned misogyny, predatory behavior, anti-sex attitudes and willful ignorance explain the rest, I reckon).

If you are a client or prospective client — I feel for you. I feel for you hard.

Bad laws affect you a whole lot. They open you up to scams, cheats, extortionists, fakers. They necessitate weird, euphemistic language on the part of providers (does anyone know what GFE actually means?). 

As a provider, I’m furious about this.

If I were a client, I’d be even more furious.

As a client/prospective client/adult human with normal adult desires: You’ve got the money and want a certain experience. This is America in 2019. Why is it so fucking difficult? And: Am I a bad person for being an adult with normal adult needs? And: What the hell do I have to do to find a decent, honest provider? And: It’s so easy to be burned. Do I even take the risk? 

Bad laws have created an unregulated, chaotic environment where providers and clients alike are totally and utterly confused about their rights and responsibilities. We are completely confused about what we each deserve, and what we are owed. It even muddies the waters around basic human rights, such as the right to give and revoke consent. 

Even smart and accomplished people get completely turned upside down. White is black, black is white. What to believe? Who to believe? We’re all making it up as we go along. We are susceptible to smooth-talking charlatans. We’re all just trying to stay clear-headed in a hall of mirrors. Good fucking luck.

As a provider, I’ve occasionally been cheated. And if you are a client, odds are you’ve been cheated, or bait-and-switched, or at least felt like you were. (I say “felt like you were” because there is lots of misinformation floating around about what clients are owed. Fact: In the U.S., hourly companions charge for our time and you are not owed any particular service or act whatsoever. The more you know! And if this makes you angry, don’t yell at us —  scream at your lawmakers for decrim.)

I have a vested interest in making sure that providers and clients both feel as happy and satisfied as possible, as often as possible. In a country with bad laws, this is — frankly — a pipe dream. In a country with bad laws, exercising your rights and responsibilities becomes a bizarre, cobbled-together exercise. 

I wondered, if both providers and clients had a bill of rights, what would it look like? 

So I took a stab at writing it.

Providers’ bill of rights

In summary: Providers (e.g. companions/escorts) have the right to bodily agency and to protect and conduct themselves as they please, as long as they are not misrepresenting themselves to potential and current clients. Providers have the right to give and revoke consent at any time. Providers have the right to operate free from violence, intimidation, harassment, threats, extortion, coercion, etc.

Providers have the responsibility to advertise and conduct themselves honestly, within the bounds of their professional persona. Providers have the responsibility to protect their clients’ privacy and discretion. Providers have the responsibility to disclose whether they use a third-party booker, agent or assistant.

In detail: Providers have the right to:

  • Screen potential clients to their satisfaction
     

  • Dictate what information they require for screening, and request additional information from potential clients if they choose
     

  • Decline potential clients/dates for any reason or no reason
     

  • Ignore or decline in-session requests from clients for any reason or no reason (e.g. requests for services, outfits, photos, etc.), even if she has agreed to that same thing with the same client in the past (in other words: consent can be revoked at any time)
     

  • Ignore and/or delete correspondence that do not meet their requirements (e.g. initial messages must include all screening info; no explicit emails.)
     

  • Ignore or decline to answer a clients’ question for any reason or no reason (e.g. “what’s your real name,” “why won’t you see me,” “what’s your availability,” “are you coming to X city,” “where do you live?”)
     

  • Define their own rules and regulations, e.g. “Appointments must be booked X days in advance,” “I only work during these hours,” “I don’t accept phone calls,” “I require a deposit,” “I only offer outcalls to hotels,” “I have a minimum of X hours for appointments,” etc.)
     

  • Host clients in a safe and private space with no other parties present to witness the session and without being photographed, filmed or recorded, unless both parties have agreed to it.
     

  • Set their fees at whatever level they choose, without being bullied and coerced into lower fees or discounts by clients, pimps or others.
     

  • Choose what payment types they accept.
     

  • Work free of harassment, threats, intimidation, blackmail, outing, extortion, invasions of privacy, or violence from clients, fellow providers, and anyone else inside or outside the industry 
     

  • End or leave a session if they feel unsafe, threatened or disrespected
     

  • Define their own rules and regulations around giving references for clients they have seen
     

  • Receive and confirm their fee at the beginning of the session (e.g. count money).
     

  • Require a client shower at the beginning of the appointment.
     

  • Maintain a no-review policy, and decline to see clients who defy the policy.
     

  • Share a dangerous clients’ information with others (e.g. by adding it to a blacklist database) in order to keep other providers safe
     

  • Control their images, ad copy, website copy and other intellectual property, without it being stolen, scraped or used by others without consent.
     

Clients’ bill of rights

In summary: Clients have the right to privacy, discretion, and bodily autonomy. Clients have the right to give and revoke consent at any time. Clients have the right to honest advertisements from providers (within the bounds of discretion and the law).

Clients have the right to operate free from violence, intimidation, harassment, threats, upselling, etc.

Clients have the responsibility to protect their providers’ privacy, bodily autonomy, and ability to give or revoke consent at any time. Clients have the responsibility to conduct themselves honestly and transparently.

In detail: Clients have the right to:

  • Leave a session immediately (and deny payment) if the provider has misrepresented herself or her rates, e.g. she is not the same person in her photos or demands a higher fee than she has advertised (note: Offering “extras” for more money is currently the accepted practice in massage parlors and in countries such as New Zealand, but it’s inappropriate for a U.S. companion to do this, given that she is charging for her time and companionship only.)
     

  • Leave a session if you feel unsafe, threatened, uncomfortable or disrespected for any reason
     

  • Decide which providers you want to see, when, and for how long, without being guilted, coerced, manipulated, blackmailed or extorted by a provider or any of her agents, managers or associates
     

  • Expect full privacy and discretion, e.g. the provider will keep your contact info to herself and won’t leak it to other providers, the provider won’t share details of your time together unless both parties consent, etc.
     

  • Cancel and reschedule appointments in good faith as needed, as long as you abide by the provider’s written guidelines around scheduling, deposits and cancellation fees.
     

  • Decline to answer questions from a provider about your private life, marital status, and other matters that don’t have a direct bearing on the session
     

  • Pay the stated rate for the provider’s time, without being guilted or coerced into providing additional tips, gifts or perks (e.g. gift-giving and tipping should be voluntary)
     

  • Stay for the full allotted time you have paid for
     

  • Decline services or acts offered by the provider.
     

  • Have the provider’s undivided attention for the entire time you has booked (e.g. the provider shouldn’t text or answer phone calls during the session, beyond a quick safety check-in)
     

  • Live free of harassment, threats, intimidation, blackmail, outing, extortion, invasions of privacy, or violence from clients, fellow providers, and anyone else inside or outside the industry 
     

So, how’d I do? Did I leave any out? Do any of these seem unfair or contradictory?

Innate contradictions and the way forward

But here’s the thing: Since we are living under bad laws, a lot of these rights are already being violated. Our right to agency and bodily autonomy? Violated.

The right of providers and clients to operate free of intimidation and harassment? Violated.

However, I hope this list can act as a reality check for people on both sides of the equation in the current environment of confusion, intimidation and misinformation. Perhaps you had a lightbulb moment as you realized that you’ve put up with sub-par behavior from a provider or client in the past. I feel for you. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn, move on, and know that there are good people out there who will treat you with honesty and respect. Yes, it takes a little bit of work (and common sense) to find them. Yes, we all deserve better. Yes, bad laws disempower ethical actors.

Exercise your rights while fulfilling your responsibilities. This will, necessarily, be an ad hoc exercise. You need to figure out what exactly that looks like to you. I laid out my thoughts above — use them as a starting point.

Especially in a nation with bad laws, the onus is on you to protect yourself, and it’s in your best interest to act responsibly and to work with providers who act similarly. Please know that providers use businesslike, oblique or strict language because we have to — because we are trying to protect ourselves in a nation with bad laws. Find providers who are simpatico, who have an innate self-respect and respect for others; who fit your requirements and have an overall approach that dovetails with yours. Walk away from providers who let you down, disrespect you, give you an “off” feeling, or otherwise aren’t a match. 

***

This post was written by Shae Ashbury, a blonde NYC escort. Visit my booking form, gallery, patronage and details, and testimonials. If you found this post valuable, consider tipping me by emailing an Net-A-Porter or Etsy gift card to shaeashbury@protonmail.ch. Thank you for your support!

Shae Ashbury