Let’s get one thing clear before we set off down the historically dense world of escorting services; let’s have a look at what an escort is exactly. In most circumstances, an escort is deemed to be an ‘upper class prostitute’ that delivers intimate services in exchange for money or other benefits. Escorts may or may not be involved in any sexual activities with whomever hired them, and usually aren’t. Even so, whatever is decided between whoever is involved, there remains the demand for this service—so let’s all respectfully tuck away our judgements for the duration of this article, please and thank you.
Now, to go back in time when the act of exchanging pleasure for goods came about, in some form or another this is arguably one of the world’s oldest businesses. To put that time into perspective, we’re talking thousands and thousands of years. It seems that civilisation and prostitution actually hold hands.
Sumerians, which were located in Mesopotamia (a historical region of western Asia situated within the Tigris and Euphrates river system) was the first known complex civilisation that developed the first city-states around 4000 Before the Common Era (BCE). They also worshiped a goddess called Ishtar. According to their beliefs, this was the goddess of love and war who was born a virgin each day and, as the day went on, would then transform into a ‘whore’ by evening—the root of this word means desire.
The historian Herodotus who is estimated to have lived between 490 to 425 Before Christ (BC), wrote of the ‘ugliest custom’ in Babylon, which was the widespread practice of prostitution in the Temple of Ishtar. All women in the country were required to sit in the temple and expose themselves to a stranger in return for money.
Over the years, many cultures are believed to have taken part in similarly nefarious activities—the Persians on the Black Sea and tribes from Sicily to Thebes also indulged. There are about a dozen passages in the Old Testament that revolve around Qadeshes, which is a word for female and male cult practitioners. The Bible calls them “lemans” or “catamites.”
In ancient times, women wearing garish makeup and yellow shawls advertised their charms at the foot of Acropolis, Athens. There were also ‘flute girls’ that offered to play their aulos, an ancient Greek wind instrument, for their customers before offering a little extra. Rome’s street prostitutes charged what was then four aces, the equivalent of about 10 euros or 14 dollars now. There was a famous call girl called Messalina, who went on to become empress after marrying the Emperor Claudis.
Some academics shush the history and claim it to be false, others disagree boldly even in the midst of religious feuds, but to avoid going into this, we will fast forward and discuss what happened next. At that time, marriage had nothing to do with love, it was a business arrangement between two families. Thus, in a sense, prostitution was legal and socially accepted.
There were two types of sensual services in most cultures around the fourth century BC. There was a ‘pornê’ who offered her pleasures behind closed doors, and there were the ‘hetaira’, who other than offered sex, also entertained guests with poetry, music or dance. They went far beyond sexual desires, they offered a deeper intimacy and experience. Because of this, hetairas were a luxury only the wealthy could afford. That’s when escorts appeared.
Many websites are now referring to Babylon as a link to the history of escorts and how it all began. Escort Babylon, one of the most fashion online platforms using the term ‘Babylon’ reviews escorts and their agencies all around the world, from Detroit in the US and Auckland in New Zealand to London, UK.
In London, Babylon Girls uses the same reference to hint what sort of services the agency offers.
Without forgetting acknowledgement towards a dark history of abuse, on all levels, that continues to run vulnerably in parallel to this subject, the world of escorts also has another side to it. The term escort means to accompany another. An escort is then simply a temporary companion.
We could question if then we are not all escorts, but not all by profession—the space in between these two escortions is where the miscommunication adding to societal problems lie. Like anything, a lack of a willingness to understand beyond our own beliefs (taught or otherwise) breeds fear and thereon damnation.
In the age of digital social platforms, humans are lacking touch and companionship that was once a daily prescription, especially within the western world. Civilisations lived together, hence creating civilisations in the first place. Now we can live apart from each other while still being part of a civilisation, and yet there is a fundamental yearning for closeness that we have not yet out-evolved, and biologically may not for many generations.
The speculative engagement of hiring or working as an escort has not become less of an occurrence, however the controversy that surrounds it has increased with societal pressures behind belonging within a system, whether that be marriage, religion or image. Is this changing?
Cultural views around the process of finding companionship have been blurred thanks to the internet. Without applying ourselves as escorts of some sort intentionally, we do give to receive something of value to us in return on a daily basis. Some dating apps for example have the sole purpose of finding sex for sex in return voluntarily.
Erotic emphasis overshadows many other important images, but this is an invitation to dissect and understand human thirst. Generally, time holds on to the necessary and choice is fundamental. Let’s try to keep that in mind then, shall we?
Now more than ever, thanks to the leaps in technological experiences over the past few years, it’s taking just a click and a whirr of a machine to float our sex lives to new and unchartered heights. There is no shame in a sex game, actually—they can be pretty fun. Unlike real games where someone loses and the other wins, sexual games can have two (or more) winners. Well, you would hope so, anyway. Before you shun the idea of the various external sexual advancers we will soon go into, let’s have a run through the past to remind ourselves of just how much there is to celebrate in our outwardly sexual lives today, shall we?
Imagine how things were only twenty odd years ago. Most homes had a modem or dial up connection, that infuriatingly slow ‘beebaabeee’ sound squealing with the effort to stream out your internet’s display. Watching porn was exasperatingly tedious back then—which presented a challenge, completed by only the very brave people that could go into a store to ask for an adult magazine or rent an X-rated DVD, even if you managed to sneak in a cheeky home mail delivery—most would still feel like they had a ‘I’m doing something very embarrassing’ sign stuck onto their foreheads.
Now, praise be the existence of broadband internet, which is available in developed and undeveloped countries for a fraction of the price it was back then, and means that millions of people have access to porn (yes, among other educational, inspirational and useful information, of course). Because of this, as a global culture we have more or less become pretty used to sex and sexual fantasy being part of life. Thankfully. It is no longer deemed embarrassing or wrong to tell someone that you touch yourself and like it, it’s actually seen as quite healthy.
Believe it or not, humans have been using sex toys for an extraordinarily long time, about 28,000 years to give you an idea. However, there have been slight misunderstandings in the modern world that led many of us astray from the core of human sexuality, more specifically the female orgasm.
Many civilisations have known of and invested in, in some way, the importance of sexual pleasure for both genders. This history runs fascinatingly deep, so find a read further when you can. For now, we’re going to go into western medicine, where the female and male’s orgasm was considered necessary for the procreation of children. The idea was based on the fact that all sexual organs were like a man’s, and that the female’s organs were simply ‘inverted’ and the male was in reverse. This led to a part of history many of us are quite familiar with, as it frankly used to legitimse rape—because if a woman could get pregnant even with forced sex, she must have enjoyed it.
In the 1800s it was believed that female sexual tension was ‘hysteria’ or a ‘wandering womb’, a nervous condition that drove women insane and required a pelvic massage to relieve it. To turn a leaf on the story though, this was what led to the invention of the vibrator, even if it did take some time until we started seeing vibrators as more than a remedy.
The 1940s came along and finally the world realised that women masturbated, and the female orgasm was born (publically, anyway). Sweeping through to the 60s, knowledge empowered us—the scientific team Masters and Johnson produced their in-depth studies showing that orgasms reached by vaginal or clitoral stimulation could be reached many, many times. The 2000s crawled along, and now we’re talking! Sexual pleasure for all had firmly established itself. It took us long enough, and it’s safe to say that the dildo has come an incredibly long way since the days of stone and antler horn.
Innovations took us through different materials, textures, shapes. Dildos, kegel balls, vibrators, air blowers, you name it, all in the name of self pleasure! Now, it’s also far more common than not for sex toys to be used with other people.
Many are looking to add a little spice to their sex life, be that with the help of a savvy bit of sex tech, through a game that you and your partner bring into your intimate bubble or dressing up into role play, double dares, playing cards. And now, sexual simulations are here to play with us too. This can be seen as a positive or a negative. The fact of the matter is, sexual simulation seems just as pleasurably valid as in person sexual stimulation.
Many porn sites offer crisp and clear quality and varying content, but until recently we’ve been passive viewers. With the rise of VR technology, we don’t necessarily have to feel like we are anymore. VR headsets aren’t exactly mainstream yet but they are easier to get hold of a pair without a hefty price tag. And they’re an excellent choice for many triple-A games out there, but also the X-rated industry.
Technological innovation within the realms of sex is at a defining crossroad for future generations, it’s changing the way we express intimacy and love, and also how we see and relate to ourselves and others. Sex is fundamental, and the collaboration between it and interactive tech, such as being able to watch and move within a porn scene or play in an X-rated game, has birthed what is soon to be the next era of sexual experience, but is it making sex more fun?
Sexual experience is no longer restricted by the limitations of the human body. Other than the good old bare yourselves naked and get to it, which is obviously great, there are also more interactive and external options with your sexual partner: strip poker to start you off, or a sexy truth or dare card pack, or a karma sutra dice—all of these options accelerate the communication between you. They have the potential to build confidence and trust, you become a team playing for the same side, and what more do you want really?
Sexual arousal is a combination of all our senses, a desire driven by what one sees, hears, smells, and feels. Toss a sex toy into the mix, and together you have super powers. It is simply a sensory extension. The idea of which isn’t exactly new either as we now know, but what also came from this was the rise in cybersex, an action developed since even the very first telegraphs were sent, or love messages encoded into Morse code, and hello the internet. Cybersex is still connection, sex-based chats gave us a whole new meaning to anonymous self-expression.
However, the use of the internet and VR products focus on the path to orgasm, which depletes the richness of our sensory palettes. With this being said, it allows us to let loose, release, live out or wildest fantasies—which, if we can detach ourselves from can only lead to a positive when you do have sex in real life, because there are double the senses to be aware of and take advantage of.
With all of this being said, the evolution of sex tech has undoubtably made sex more interesting, and arguably, this has made it more fun too. There is much more to be analysed in all of this, but to leave you with a thought—technological advancements of any kind are not slowing down, so why not take advantage of the benefits it can give? Just like sexual positions evolved over time, it was uncomfortable and potentially scary to suddenly be physically stretched or flipped into places you weren’t used to, and look at it now, it’s fun!