200 clients, 35,000 euros: journalist, I became an escort for the purposes of an investigation
Soisic Belin investigated online prostitution for 1 years by becoming an escort herself. She made it a shocking book on sex work in France, which also sheds light on a varied and, alas, sometimes violent clientele. Since the release of the book, she has been subjected to cyber harassment of bewildering ferocity.Advertisement
TW Warning, this testimony contains accounts of sexual violence and harassment which can be disturbing.
"I embarked on this immersion because first of all, it is a type of journalism that I particularly like. And then because the people I had met, who were sex workers, did not have necessarily want to tell me everything about their job.And I found it also normal, in a journalistic work, to go to the end of things and therefore to become an escort myself.
This work on escorting was part of what I call a triptych on sex work. Since I started with the pink phone, I did escorting and I also got interested in porn. My first experience as an escort, I am very intimidated. I went to a cafe just before the meeting, I had a few cocktails just to relax. I go to this meeting a little backwards and I talk a lot. I try to save as much time as possible so as not to "go to the pan" and in the end, not much will happen, sexually speaking. But we will have discussed a lot. He confided in me a lot and I won €400.
My strangest or most offbeat date is “Monsieur Trampoline”. His virility, in fact, was linked to this strength he had to maintain a woman on her abs for 45 minutes non-stop.
The worst date is with the one I call “Monsieur Citron”. This gentleman who seemed rather nice, even if he had made it clear to me that he wanted a relationship of domination, but very very soft. He was violent from the start. As soon as we entered the hotel room... This gentleman calls himself a policeman, finally he tells me that he works in the police since at the end of the appointment, I ended up in the emergency room because this gentleman went beyond what was recorded in the service. That is to say, he had prepared a fruit platter and he inserted some lemons into my vagina against my will, which I had to have removed. And there, the question of the limits arises in a paid sexual relationship. When can we say no? When do we have to repay a certain part of the sum that was recorded at the start? Because in the end, we don't want to go to the end of the meeting. When can we talk about rape when you are a sex worker?
It raises all these questions in fact... I haven't gone to file a complaint yet because I really made a dissociation for this book. I intend to file a complaint since this is not normal and it must not happen to other people. But in my opinion, this gentleman is accustomed to this kind of practice since he told me during the appointment. He had already done it with other people who succeeded in a very natural way in giving birth to lemons.
Of all the customers, there is still a small percentage of unpleasant or violent people. Violent, there were really very few. Afterwards, there is not only physical violence, there is also sometimes moral violence. They have the impression that by going to see a prostitute, a sex worker, it goes up the social ladder, they have the impression of being superior to this woman. And sometimes, disrespect is much more violent than the rest.
I think prostitution should be legalized and regulated. The state should take charge of that because I don't think prostitution will disappear like that overnight. I think we have to protect these people who have chosen to do this job and really save those for whom it is torture and who do not want to do this job.
Since the release of the book and a first video for Konbini, I have been the victim of cyber-harassment. They are mostly packs of young men, who harass you, who collect your personal data. Phones, emails, contact details of your relatives, my parents, my mother for example, who received messages. I obviously had to close all my social networks when I am a journalist and it is also part of my job to publish my articles. But that's the point of cyberbullying. It's to make it so that you can't talk anymore, to make it so that you don't want to leave your house anymore.
Except that in fact, even at home, you continue to be harassed because these people are not outside. They're with you all the time, they're with you on your phone, they're with you when you wake up in the morning and you have I don't know how many notifications, friend requests. And there, you are called a “big whore”. Fat whore because you have done an immersion in sex work, fat whore because you are a journalist and because you talk. Fat whore because you are a woman and you talk about sexuality. Big bitch because you have a sexuality quite simply. Fat bitch because you say what these men don't want to hear. Fat bitch because they actually don't want to talk to you. They just want to pour out their hate.
I think what drove the pack crazy was coming across porn videos that are part of my job that I hope to get back to someday. And so, they had the impression of revealing a truth and they wanted to discredit my work since I had not yet made a speech about my work in the porn industry.
There's a documentary that came out on cyberbullying called #SalePute by Myriam Leroy and in that documentary, Lauren Bastide says that: "Cyberbullying is a bit like rape culture". They say that a woman, she finally looked for it because she had political ideas. I have the impression of really having it very, very, very well sought since I am somewhat the equivalent of the young woman in the mini-skirt who walks in the street at night, precisely so that we come rape her.
Do I have something to say to my cyberstalkers? It's a good question. I admit that I would like to be able to truly exchange with them, but I am afraid of finding myself faced with a wall. So, if some really want to discuss and there is a real exchange that is possible. A peaceful exchange, why not? Otherwise, I admit that all I have to do is file a complaint, like many women who are cyber-harassed today.
The day I became escort 2.0, by Soisic Belin, Albin Michel editions.