Sep 26 2016 What Does It Mean to Be A Hobbyist? Part 2Category: General     04:10PM   0

Shortly after publishing What Does It Mean to Be A Hobbyist? Part 1, I received the following message from a contemplative gentleman:

I was somewhat startled by your blog post regarding "hobbyists".  I never knew some felt it carried a negative connotation.  I consider myself a hobbyist, and, thank God, I do not recall a single time I ever treated a provider with anything other than the utmost respect.

Was it possible that I'd spilled the beans about the way many providers, but not clients or hobbyists themselves, use the term? Was I giving away little-known escort secrets?

I believe a more accurate assessment is that usage of the term "hobbyist" in a derogatory fashion has simply become more commonplace recently; the negative connotation seems to be growing. It is an example of industry meaning-making in action, reflecting shifts in attitudes over time.

Back in 2010, Jenny DeMilo described the difference between clients and hobbyists like this:

Now there’s nothing wrong with being a steady reviewer but when you mix that with a constant hooker message board presence you get, 'the hobbyist'. One who not only writes a review for everything but think hes an authority on all things hooker related. A hobbyist loves to tell hookers how to run their business as if someone who shells out cash for sex knows what its like to be on the other side of the fence. They dont, but they will tell you how to do everything from to market your business to how to suck a dick.

In 2013, Harlotry published an article on sex worker vocabulary that included this account:

'Hobbyist' is probably the one slang word that I’ve heard in almost every sex work situation I’ve ever worked in... The term is probably so prevalent because hobbyists are all terrible, terrible people. It’s not just that they are so sickeningly proud of paying ladies for their attentions, it’s that so often they use their power as upstanding members of sites like The Erotic Review to coerce extras out of new girls, or girls looking to build their reputations.

In 2015, Vice published an article on sex worker review forums, which naturally referenced the term:

...this has spawned a new and polarizing type of client, commonly referred to as a 'hobbyist,' who gets a kick out of constantly 'trying out' and reviewing new girls. 'That term did not come around until these message boards came around,' Libertine says. 'These guys, it's kind of like a flavor of the month thing, they see who is getting a lot of reviews, who's new.' These hobbyists then write up their own assessments, which, according to the women, tend to be the most sensationalist types of reviews—something that many sex workers don't appreciate.

Similar use is even present in the UK, shown in this 2016 interview:

There have been clients who smell pretty bad too but I make everyone shower before we get down to it. Probably the worst thing to happen are hobbyist guys. They're men who treat visiting sex workers as a kind of sport. They're generally offensive, rude and derogatory. They prey on younger women who are new to the profession, use their naivety against them, consider any woman working at this for longer than a few months as ‘used up’. They can be very aggressive and reek of that whole misogynist alpha male beta male thing and think that their money makes them special.

What these examples tell us is that for quite some time, the meaning of the term "hobbyist" has been shifting. Once used by gentleman to communicate that being purveyors of erotic services was no different than having proclivities towards any other hobby, it is now used to describe a type of client; one that can either be tolerated by ladies for his financial utiity, rebuked by ladies for reasons that go without saying, or strive to avoid being identified as such.

The notion of existence through opposition (think Symbolic Interaction)--that is, something coming into being on account of what it isn't rather than what it is--is something I believe we take for granted in our highly individualistic society, largely due to the pervasiveness of focus on the self. This case of contested terminology and meaning provides an example in that there is no such concept as a "non-hobbyist." We may try to use existing concepts such as client, date, gentleman, or suitor to describe was a hobbyist is not, but these are all poor approximations.

Perhaps the next evolution of erotic vocabulary will include a term to that end. In the meantime, I am brainstorming the follow-up to this blog post, which will expand on the nature and characteristics of this 'non-hobbyist.'

XoXo,

Eva


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