Archive for November 8th, 2011

The stigma of the prostitute is the badge of her identity. That is why the client goes to her. If he wanted someone without a stigma, he’d go and screw the lady next door.  –  Camille Paglia

The psychological term for what is commonly called a “kink” or “perversion” is “paraphilia”.  Clinically speaking, mere sexual arousal by a thing does not rise to the level of a paraphilia; it only becomes one if the individual is distressed by the arousal or is unable to achieve sexual satisfaction without it.  So if you’re turned on by enemas, but not obsessed with them, and you’re able to achieve orgasm through intercourse, that doesn’t technically qualify as klismaphilia.  In more general sexological usage, though, the terms for the various paraphilias are used to describe those feelings and behaviors even when they aren’t pathological; the first draft of DSM-V proposes that the term “paraphilia” be used this way and “paraphiliac disorder” be used to describe a paraphilia that causes “distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others”, which seems like a reasonable distinction.  There are over 500 known paraphilias (you may be interested in this list of the more common ones) and some of them are quite obscure, so it’s possible that the syndrome I plan to discuss today already has another name.  But if that is the case I’ve never heard of it, so I’m going to coin and define a new sexological term:  eglimaphilia (literally, “love of crime”).

In my online readings and discussions of sex worker rights, I’ve run into a small group of whores and clients who state that they are not in favor of decriminalization.  Some prostitutes are concerned about registration or other onerous requirements of legalization, governmental interference, disproportionately high taxation and the like, or else they wrongly believe that legalization or decriminalization will encourage many women to enter the field  and thus deflate the price.  And some clients imagine a nationwide Nevada-style system and fear that independent escorts will largely vanish.  Some of these are realistic concerns and others are not, but they’re all based in practical considerations.  There is a certain group of clients, however, whose opposition to decriminalization has nothing to do with such concrete issues; these are the eglimaphiles, men for whom the chief turn-on of seeing a prostitute is the illegality of the act.

Though I usually agree with Camille Paglia, I think she generalizes far too much in today’s epigram; in my experience most clients don’t give a damn about the stigma, or they’re even repelled by it (such as the men who got angry when I referred to myself as a whore).  But her statement is certainly true for some clients, who are indeed looking for the feeling that they’re doing something “dirty” with a “bad girl”.  There are a number of paraphilias in which the thrill derives from the feeling of violation, transgression, etc; the most common example is probably the person who seeks sex in public places because he’s turned on by the possibility of being caught.  I think eglimaphilia is related to these, though more serious; mere “naughtiness” or harmless “sin” is not enough for the eglimaphile.  Rather, he is excited by the fact that by seeing a prostitute he is actually breaking a law with real and possibly serious consequences, and he opposes decriminalization or legalization because the thrill would be far less intoxicating for him were the act of hiring a whore to be a mere social transgression (assuming he’s married) rather than a legal one.

It’s easy to tell the eglimaphiles on a hooker board; they’re the ones who see girls, write reviews, and participate in discussions like everyone else until the subject of cops comes up, then they’ll emit some weird, self-loathing, badge-licking comments about how the police are right to bust escorts and clients because “we all know what we’re doing is wrong” or something like that.  In a way, eglimaphilia is the opposite of reaction formation (discussed in my column of one year ago today); in the latter external moralistic behavior results from suppressed sexual desires, while in the former external sexual behavior results from suppressed moralism.  And just as the neurotic suffering from reaction formation tends to secretly indulge his repressed passions, so I suspect does the eglimaphile occasionally surrender to his repressed sense of “morality” by phoning in anonymous tips to police or otherwise acting to “punish” the “criminals” that he himself patronizes and socializes with.  And if such a man is ever arrested, you can bet he’ll enthusiastically volunteer to rat out every single person about whom he knows anything in order to save his own worthless hide.

Prostitutes are by our nature accommodating to men’s sexual desires, and some specialize in catering to even the more unusual paraphilias.  But the wise professional should consider carefully before agreeing to see a man who has revealed eglimaphiliac tendencies; this is a person who thinks of her as a criminal, and who will probably not hesitate to betray her should the opportunity present itself.  For any cautious whore, indications of eglimaphilia should result in a free one-way ticket onto her DNS list.

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