Sep 18 2016 What Does it Mean to Be A Hobbyist? Part 1Category: General     05:12PM   0

“When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”  --Steve Maraboli

Is there a difference between a "hobbyist" (or a "punter," if you're across the pond in the American motherland) and a non-hobbyist "client"? If so, what are the differences? How are they similar? Is it at all reasonable to differentiate based on terms that don't have universally agreed-upon meanings? This blog post will begin to address some of these questions, although there will be much remaining for later musings.

The research for my 2nd Master's degree was grounded in Social Identity Theory, so I'm of the mind that labels are more than just linguistic utterances. The labels we use--both those we choose for ourselves, and those that are ascribed to us by others--are shorthand for patterned beliefs, behaviors, ideologies, and philosophies. Because labels are based on patterns rather than absolute attributes, there will always be plenty of people who appear outside the normal bell curve for the labels they use, or those that are used about them. It's an imprecise attempt to coordinate our social interactions with some reasonable expectation of accuracy, based on the patterns rather than on the total spread (that which includes all the deviations from the norm). It is from this logic that my opinions proceed on the topic of "hobbyists."

First, a couple of points. 1) Not all men on review boards such as TER are hobbyists. Some might only hire a sexworker once or twice, and some may see ladies regularly but only write one or two reviews. These are not hobbyists. Being labeled a hobbyist is about mentality, not behavior alone. 2) Men who avoid review culture are not inherently non-hobbyists; that is, it is possible to have a hobbyist mentality without participating in review culture. 3) The number of escorts, courtesans, call-girls, or companions a gentleman sees, or the frequency at which he sees them, does not inherently determine whether or not he is a hobbyist. His attitude about the ladies he sees, however, does.

In my opinion, the defining characteristic of a hobbyist is the feeling (and often expression) of entitlement: The belief that the exchange of money for time renders a provider's opinion, desires, or boundaries inconsequential. This can manifest in many ways, from subtle comments or actions to over-the-top trolling.

One of the problematic beliefs associated with a hobbyist mentality is the conflation of quantity with authenticity. Contrary to the opinion of a hobbyist interviewed by Vice, authenticity is not necessarily dependent on the number of clients a sexworker has seen. I believe this is true of both low-volume providers like myself, as well as escorts who sees clients full time. Are there some ladies who tire of the industry and "just go through the motions"? Absolutely, without question. To be honest and fair, I might even concede that it's fairly common. But to ascribe this simply to the number of clients she has seen, rather than a complex interaction between her personality, life circumstances, and social interactions is preposterous. I wouldn't say that a guy turns into a "hit it and quit it" man automatically after a specific threshold of partners, because such a claim ignores a multitude of factors that contribute to the sorts of connection he's looking for at any particular time. A hobbyist doesn't understand this.

Pulling from the same interview, we see the sort of logic that underlies the hobbyist's entitlement: the belief that "women are almost defenceless against men with money." On this argument, I also grant a bit of latitude. Would women work in this industry if we weren't being paid? I certainly don't know anybody who would, but the same is true of women (or men) in just about any profession I can think of. Welcome to capitalism. However, also thanks to capitalism, women have more opportunities than ever to make money for themselves, significantly decreasing the necessity of an entrepreneurial or otherwise successful women to rely on a man to sustain her livilihood (welcome to neoliberalism). For many women in erotic service industries, there is more than enough demand to work, precluding the need to sacrifice "defenses" for the a sake of money. This is especially true of independent companions who are able to leverage the internet for their own professionalization. (As in previous blogs, I want to emphasize that unfortunately this is not the reality for all sexworkers, but  a privileged position not equally accessible to all. For some women, making ends meet does require participating in activities they would otherwise not choose to participate in. I believe this problem is perpetuated by the sort of entitlement mentality that I've been discussing here.)

To be continued...




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