Escorting and prostitution have been around since the dawn of time – or since the dawn of humanity, at least. Sex work has a long and coloured past, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down so we’re taking a look at the history behind one of the most lucrative business types.

The word ‘prostitute’ originally came from Latin and has been carried through multiple languages, still existing in modern day Western society. However, since the 1970s sex workers and activists reject the term prostitute and use ‘sex worker’ as a blanket term – although not all escorts are prostitutes, as prostitution refers mostly to the sale of sex. When it comes to escorts, you’re actually paying for their time rather than the sexual act or acts.

Escorting and prostitution have occurred throughout history in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages and right up to the present day, with it even being a prominent feature in biblical stories. It hasn’t always been as suave as it is now, of course, but many references to the act of paying for sex and sexual acts, as well as time spent together, have been found in historical paintings, writing and pottery.

Naturally, prostitution itself gave way to wanting someone to spend time with, someone to have on your arm or take out to dinner: it became about friendship and counselling more than dirty motel-room hook ups. Escorting is the classy daughter of prostitution: not something just for a quick fix, escorts can often have long-term clients who take advantage of their multiple services.

It also quickly became about income: with society coming to value designer labels and fast cars, having the finer things in life grew in importance. Whereas prostitution seemed to be about rolls of notes that didn’t last long, escorting soon became a way to pay the bills and spoil yourself with jewellery, the latest gadgets and more. It remains that way: escorts can charge more than prostitutes as their services are much wider and more interesting, as well as a lot safer – so you’re getting what you pay for.

Escort agencies quickly realised they could get around the law, too, by advertising their service as arranging meetings between escorts and clients – whatever happened during that meeting, between the two consenting adults, was only between the two consenting adults. That way, if things go wrong and laws are broken, the agency can claim they had no idea about what was really going on. Escorting involves skirting around the various laws, of course, but it always has done.

Sex work has changed since the Ancient Greeks engaged in it, but essentially it will always remain the same: the desire to spend time with people, to socialise or be counselled or have sex, will never go away. Escorts provide a safe, easy and enjoyable way to fulfil that desire without the traditional seediness that comes alongside prostitution – and while history hasn’t always been kind to the sex work industry, it lives on.

The history of escorting

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