When reviews first came into being, I was initially supportive because I prided myself on being a companion that gentlemen would want to visit. Over time, however, my attitude towards reviews changed. As review boards went from being information-sharing to ego gratification, I began to understand that it was the act of reviewing, itself, that was the problem.
When a client reviews an engagement, he puts his mind into evaluation mode to determine an appointment’s service quality. This critical assessment is problematic because it diminishes the personability of an experience. Even when clients do not explicitly state that they are seeking “value for money” it is implied through the act of reviewing, thus making a personal experience a commodified transaction. When this happens, it has the potential to affect the interrelationships between clients and sex workers.
Before I proceed, it is important to state that I support verification systems to confirm the authenticity of sex workers. This verification would be limited to: “Companion X is friendly and safe to see.” Any information beyond that, moves into the realm of client subjectivity and arbitrary bias which has, far too often, been used as service coercion by hobbyists.
Although some people consider reviews to be innocuous, I respectfully disagree. The public nature of reviews inherently shapes both writers and readers. For client writers, the desire to be considered authoritative sources directly influences how they write reviews. There is an unspoken rule that a review is only considered legit if a client critiques at least one aspect of the engagement. This philosophy compels clients to scrutinize their appointments with a more critical eye, thus contributing to a culture of criticism that negatively impacts sex workers. It also leads to client dissatisfaction. Remember: negativity is self-fulfilling. If you seek it out, then that is what you will find. As such, by actively seeking out the worst in things, clients will miss out on the best of things.
Furthermore, I would be remiss if I did not caution that, in the worst case scenario, reviews are also influenced by a desire for entertainment. Because many clients thrive on the attention garnered from their reviews, they continually up the ante of service expectations in order to have juicier details to share with the online world. As the behavior of some clients becomes more provocative, it directly affects how they treat sex workers. This cannot be said enough: when you talk about something like a game, it is inevitable that you will treat it like a game.
Even true gentlemen clients who do not fall into the hobbyist trap, are still influenced by their writing of reviews. When a client goes into an engagement knowing that he will review it, there is the potential that he will disengage from the moment because he is thinking about how he will eventually write what he is currently experiencing. Through this preoccupation, the client loses the intimate ambience of a mutually-pleasurable experience.
Recently, there has been the suggestion on sex worker forums that reviews should be optional. This is a step forward from mandatory reviews; however, it does not address the fundamental problem that the act of reviewing harms sex workers. Although countless sex workers delisted from The Erotic Review, they could not escape the culture of commodification that permeated the industry. This is because the act of reviewing is bigger than one client or one sex worker; instead, it operates on a macro level by influencing the entire culture writ large. As such, the platform that hosts reviews does not matter, nor does having limitations on reviews. Because reviews cannot be divorced from their evaluative component, reviews, themselves, are the problem.
Regardless of a client’s original intentions, writing a review is a negative act that depersonalizes intimacy and turns the client/sex worker engagement into a transaction. Once an engagement becomes commodified, it not only dilutes the pleasure of the experience for both parties but it also has the potential to impact how many clients treat sex workers.
Because reviews are inherently commodifying, they will never empower sex workers. There is only one way to empower sex workers: review culture has to end.