Becoming a prostitute, an escort or a call girl used to mean standing on a seedy street corner suggestively as cars drove by. But a recent profile by The Daily Beast is revealing how women walking the street or being run through pimps is a disappearing part of the profession thanks to the Internet.
In its feature on how the Web is changing conduct of prostitution, The Daily Beast highlights the stories of two woman and how the Internet has allowed them to not only choose prostitution for themselves but gives them the tools to manage their own clients and even take deposits ahead of time using PayPal.
The Daily Beast describes this form of prostitution as "the silent majority" -- those who use online classified sites, like Craigslist and the Backpage.com, to find and manage their own part-time work while also keeping it private. Craigslist is a site that is credited by some for changing the marketplace for prostitution before it chose to remove erotic listings from its website in 2010. It was then that the Backpage picked up where Craigslist left off. With sites like these making trysts more discrete and transactions faster, The Daily Beast points out that women entering prostitution are younger and more educated than ever before:
“When you take the profile of Internet prostitutes versus street prostitutes, you find there’s more education, and that more work temporarily, then exit,” says Scott Cunningham, an economist at Baylor University who has studied the impact of the Internet on prostitution markets. “They also are also significantly less likely to work for a pimp.”
The Daily Beast meets with 23-year-old "Brittany" at a Holiday Inn in New Jersey waiting for the first of her three clients for the day that will earn her nearly $2,000. In this video interview, "Brittany," who began selling sex three years ago, says she makes about $12,000 per month, using it to pay college tuition and bills while the rest goes into savings. The video also includes a recording of the first few minutes of one of "Brittany's" meetings:
"It's fun. You have to like it though. I feel like you can't do this unless you legitimately like it, if that makes sense," she said.
At the end of the video, "Brittany" says she missed out on lunch and the nice day outside, but she's going to spend her evening at home, watching TV and will go to bed.
"I had a long day," she said.
Even with the ease of prostituting oneself through the Internet and enjoying the money she brings in, "Brittany" told The Daily Beast she would "never recommend this to anyone."
“Girls, young girls, should find something else to do… Like if my sister asked me about it, I’d be like: ‘No way. There’s no way you’re doing this,'" she said.
The Daily Beast reports anti-sex trafficking advocates speaking out against this movement of websites facilitating prostitution and how even if the women are technically older than children and are not necessarily being coerced, it's still traumatic.
“In the last week I’ve had calls out for women, one 18 and one 19 ... They both had incredible trauma on their bodies from the experiences they had with johns," Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS-NY, an organization that helps rehabilitate abused sex workers, said to The Daily Beast. "They aren’t 12, but they’re teenagers still.”
The Daily Beast also interviewed "Iris," a 19-year-old prostitute who said she is not mentally scarred and "doesn't feel hurt" because she has sex for money. Listen to "Iris" talk about how entered into prostitution through Craigslist (Warning: Strong language):
Read more details about how the Internet is revolutionizing the prostitution industry on The Daily Beast here.