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Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?

A perspective from someone who knows what she’s talking about

Now I have found my own Allie....

In an earlier post, I ponder whether prostitution is evolutionarily familiar or evolutionarily novel and whether men try to impress prostitutes. My musing was prompted by an anecdote from Superfreakonomics. A venture capitalist in Chicago attends one of Steve Levitt's lectures. Later on the same night, he has a "date" with a $300/hour prostitute named Allie. The venture capitalist notices a copy of Freakonomics in Allie's apartment, and mentions that he has just attended a lecture given by one of the coauthors of the book, in an apparent attempt to impress Allie. In Levitt and Dubner's words, "The male instinct to impress the female is apparently strong even when the sex is already bought and paid for."

After her encounter with the venture capitalist, Allie contacted Levitt, which is why Levitt knows about the encounter. Allie and Levitt met in person a few days later, strictly for the purpose of academic research (or at least so says Levitt), they have become friends, and Levitt even invited Allie to give a guest lecture in the "Economics of Crime" course that he teaches at the University of Chicago. Several students afterwards commented to Levitt that Allie's lecture was the single-best lecture that they had attended in all their years at the University of Chicago, "which is both a firm testament to Allie's insights and a brutal indictment of Levitt and the other professors." (The Department of Economics at Chicago is the best economics department in the world and has produced more Nobel laureates than any other single department.)

Meanwhile, back at the Scientific Fundamentalist blog, my earlier post caught the attention of a retired prostitute named Maggie. She contacted me out of the blue (just like Allie contacted Levitt out of the blue) and corrected some misconceptions that I had about prostitution. She saw right through me and correctly surmised that I had no personal experience or knowledge of prostitution. Essentially, I didn't know what I was talking about. Maggie very politely pointed out some of my misconceptions. Since I cannot really say it any better than she did in her initial email message to me, I'll quote her message here.

This [my distinction between prostitutes and "ordinary women"] presumes that prostitutes are fundamentally different from what I call "amateurs," which we aren't; your assumption seems to be based on the fallacies that 1) prostitutes provide a consistent level of service no matter how we're treated; and 2) to a man, all sex is good sex. While the second statement may certainly be true of some men, especially those who patronize streetwalkers, it isn't by any stretch of the imagination true of most; the average client of a $300/hour hooker (which was exactly what I charged) wants a good, quality "girlfriend experience" (GFE), which will be much more likely if he treats his "date" like a lady. Most escorts who are treated as though they're "bought and paid for" will try to complete the act as quickly as possible and get such a client out the door. Furthermore, in my experience, the typical client enjoys the illusion that a beautiful woman wants to spend time with him, even if he intellectually knows she is there for the money. I guarantee you that the majority of my clients tried their utmost to impress me, even to the point of bringing me gifts, flowers, and the like.

Another mistake that I made, which Maggie implicitly points out in her message above, is to treat all of prostitution (and all prostitutes) as one monolithic and undifferentiated entity. It appears that educated and intelligent (and, yes, very expensive) call girls like Allie and Maggie are very, very different from common streetwalkers and $2 hookers in the bushes. I almost get the impression, both from reading about Allie and other prostitutes in Superfreakonomics and from communicating with Maggie, that high-class prostitutes like Allie and Maggie have more in common with college professors, corporate executives, or poets than with the more affordable and visible members of their profession.

So the answer to the earlier question "Do men try to impress prostitutes?" appears decidedly Yes. Prostitution is evolutionarily familiar, because mating is evolutionarily familiar and prostitutes (at least the classy ones) are no different from other women, whom men also have to pay – not in cash payments but in dinners and movies, gifts, flowers, chocolates, and motor oil – if they wanted to impress them enough to have sex with them.

Of course, this does not answer the question of why more intelligent men are more likely to have had sex with a prostitute. But Maggie has an idea.

Intelligent men are less likely to believe in silly propaganda against us, and less likely to have the kind of fragile masculine ego which would be wounded by "having to pay for it." The intelligent man knows that "free tail is the most expensive kind," and can make the reasonable and pragmatic decision to spend his money on a "sure thing" rather than chasing women whose price and quality are uncertain.

Anyway, I have learned so much from Maggie as Levitt has from Allie. I would highly recommend my readers to check out her blog The Honest Courtesan. As you will see, Maggie and I share a lot in common, including our shared disdain for modern feminism (or what Maggie calls "neofeminism"). This is what she says.

What is a Neofeminist?

If you read this site for any length of time you will encounter the term "neofeminist." This is my own coinage, because I refuse to apply the term "feminist" to a sort of twisted male chauvinist who believes that women are not good enough as we are and should therefore strive to think, act, work and look as much like men as possible. This is in sharp contrast to "archeofeminists" like myself, who recognize that women are just fine as we are and would in fact be weakened by becoming more like men.

As long-time readers of this blog know, this is exactly what I have always maintained. Unlike modern feminists (or neofeminists), Maggie and I know that women are not inferior versions of men.

About the Author
Satoshi Kanazawa

Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at LSE and the coauthor (with the late Alan S. Miller) of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters.