A lot of people consider sex work to be one of the oldest professions, and, according to anthropologists, it did exist in many primitive societies. But despite thousands of years to grapple with and understand the practice, sex work is still viewed in incredibly black and white terms and uneducated assumptions guide modern discourse.
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Then she will want to check out your profile on the company website and LinkedIn. She is a madam, but for the electronic era. And the fact that her business exists at all offers a key insight into the future of trust and jobs in the technology-driven 21st century.
Mid-range prostitution is a relatively new market, enabled by technology. Before the internet, it was hard for escorts to find customers: They had to either walk the streets searching for customers the lower end of the marketrely on word-of-mouth, or work with agencies. The internet changed all that.
Don t trust these hookers
Soon after Craigslist launched inUS escorts quickly started marketing directly to customers online. This newfound ability to advertise on the internet grew the market, said Cunningham, because more women and men could work independently. Today, sex workers can promote their own services on multiple websites with hundreds of other competitors. This system means customers enjoy more discretion and a wider selection, while giving workers access to millions of potential customers, all over the world, from the dignity and safety of their own homes, while retaining their autonomy and earnings.
Agencies make up a much smaller share of the market, says Cunningham.
Still, agencies have one remaining edge over independent sex work: They reduce risk. This is the market opportunity Rita has spotted. Once the bill comes, clients might turn violent, or turn out to be cops.
Sex workers have created the perfect method for keeping people honest online
Rita represents sex workers who offer BDSM in addition to sex. She estimates that only one in four potential customers ultimately passes.
But the screening is her main value-add. Escorts can screen for themselves, and many do. But a third party like Rita can be more objective and efficient, and has an incentive to protect the customer. Across industries, any entrepreneur in need of cash can be tempted to lower their standards and regret it later.
And small-business owners commonly find it overwhelming to do tedious due-diligence tasks on top of providing actual goods and services.
Sex work is no different. Cunningham notes that several other third-party screeners for sex work exist. Rita is addressing a problem that every business, both legal and illegal, has.
My 25 years as a prostitute
Before the internet, more commerce occurred locally—customers knew their merchants or service providers and went back to them repeatedly. As technology has expanded our transactional networks, it must also offer new ways of building trust and reputation. Online reviews—of anything from restaurants to handymen—are the trust conspicuous example of this.
But reviews are not always reliable; referrals also play a key role. In fact, the higher the stakes, the more important the referral. The same is true for people engaging in crime. There are two-way reviews—by both the client and service provider—on escort websites, just as there on Uber or Airbnb. But these escorts still require at least two references from other escorts before hooker on a new client, Cunningham said.
That means first-time clients are often out of luck. The only Don is to find a less fussy, lower-range escort, and work up the reference chain.
To get the best, you have to get a reputation as a good customer. Rita protects her sex workers from abuse with her screening. She helps well-to-do johns get the trust of service they want because she trains new providers in BDSM, sits in on their first few sessions, and offers constructive feedback. Everybody wins. Every time technology shakes up how we work, we worry that humans Don lose their livelihoods.
This time it seems even worse than before because smarter technology can now do tasks that once required human intelligence. But Harvard economist Larry Katz speculates that these who will thrive in the modern economy hooker be the ones who can pair technology with particularly human interpersonal skills that no machine can replicate.
Specialists in trust and mediation are a prime example of this. She says she has developed an intuition for acceptable customers, and that she picks up vital information from the tenor of the interaction.
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Today, in a much bigger digital market, those trust-building services are needed more than ever. They just need to be recast in a way that capitalizes on what made them valuable in the first place. These are some of our most ambitious editorial projects.
From our Series. By Allison Schrager Reporter.
Published July 17, Last updated on July 20, This article is more than 2 years old. me up. Update your browser for the best experience.