Talk:Call girl

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Sex workers or prostitutes?[edit]

There's a small edit war going on regarding whether call girls are better referred to as sex workers or prostitutes. It would be good if we could move the discussion here. This is the discussion so far (taken from the edit summaries):

Jim Michael: prostitute is more precise - they're not strippers, cam girls etc. - so why be vague?
Beyond My Ken: "æ" is no more or less precise than "sex worker"
Jim Michael: yes it is - a prostitute is a type of sex worker - like a physicist is a type of scientist - it's better and more accurate to describe Richard Feynman as a physicist than as a scientist

Polly Tunnel (talk) 17:38, 15 April 2016 (UTC)

Both terms are vague and imprecise. The problem with "prostitute" is that in common usage it encompasses a lot of other attributes than merely engaging in sex acts with a client in exchange for money. That is, the term has undergone pejoration in comparison with the criminal law sense that I think is being argued here. Thus, while it's a correct term in one sense of the word, it's inappropriate in another, probably more common sense. To use Jim Michael's analogy, while it would be more accurate to describe Richard Feynman as a physicist than a scientist, it would probably not be right to describe him as a string theorist, even if his work is important in string theory and he had done work on string theory at one point in his life. Despite its imprecision, I would support "sex worker" as providing a direct link up to the general occupational field that this is part of. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 18:01, 15 April 2016 (UTC)
Call girls are a type of prostitute, who in turn are a type of sex worker. Why use a less precise term? What are the other attributes that in common usage you say are applied to prostitutes that aren't applied to sex workers?
No-one's saying that Feynman's work was limited to string theory, but it was all within physics, so we say he's a physicist rather than a scientist. If a person is a singer only, we'd say he's a singer rather than use broader terms like musician or entertainer. We describe a Braeburn as a type of apple rather than a type of fruit. Jim Michael (talk) 18:50, 15 April 2016 (UTC)
I suspect this has been discussed at length before somewhere on WP and consensus reached, but I've no idea where to find the results. It has implications for multiple WP articles referring to prostitution and sex work. My interest is in getting consistency of usage across WP. I notice the following:
  • The prostitution article says "Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual relations in exchange for payment… A person who works in this field is called a prostitute, and is a kind of sex worker."
  • Wiktionary describes prostitution as "Engaging in sexual activity with another person in exchange for compensation, such as money or other valuable goods."
  • The sex worker article says "A sex worker is a person who is employed in the sex industry. The term is used in reference to all those in all areas of the sex industry including those who provide direct sexual services as well as the staff of such industries… Thus, although the term sex worker is sometimes viewed as a synonym or euphemism for prostitute, it is more general."
  • Wiktionary describes sex work as "Any job in which sex or eroticism is involved, especially prostitution or pornography."
  • WP has many articles called "Prostitution in…" about the selling of sex. There is only one article called "Sex work in…". It is Sex Work in Nepal which redirects to Prostitution in Nepal.
  • The Sex Work Task Force covers the selling of sex as well as many other sex-related commercial activities.
  • The stripper article refers to stripping as a type of sex work, and refers to prostitution as another aspect of the sex industry.
  • The lap dance article refers to lap dancing as possibly a type of sex work and talks of legal attempts to define it as prostitution being unsuccessful.
  • The phone sex article describes phone sex as sex work and says "phone sex should not be confused with prostitution".
  • Wiktionary describes a call girl as "A female prostitute who is hired by telephone."
The definition of call girl in this article should be that of a seller of sex but not of other sex-related activities. While a call girl may sell these, that is not an intrinsic part of being a call girl. To be consistent with the rest of WP and Wiktionary we may say that a call girl is a type of prostitute or a type of sex worker. Whichever we use, we need to qualify it by what type she is. If we say prostitute, we will need to qualify it with gender and method of advertising. If we say sex worker, we will need to qualify it with both of these and also with the fact that she sells sex rather than does some other form of sex work. The current formulation uses "sex worker" but does not give the last qualifier, making it possible that she is a stripper who visits people's homes. Our options for the definition are twofold. Either we say "A call girl or female escort is a prostitute…" or we say "A call girl or female escort is a sex worker who engages in sexual activity in exchange for payment…". Since the former is shorter I have modified the article to that form. If there are any supporters for the longer form, please discuss below. Polly Tunnel (talk) 15:20, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Per WP:BRD, the article remains in the status quo ante ("sex worker") while discussion is ongoing, not the reverse. BMK (talk) 15:52, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Whoops, sorry. Thanks BMK. You're quite right. I didn't check back far enough and thought that the "status quo ante" was "prostitute" rather than "sex worker". Polly Tunnel (talk) 16:22, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

The problem with the term "prostitute" is that it has undergone substantial pejoration in the English language. While the legal definition of "prostitution", which Wikipedia and Wiktionary both cling to, is merely a person who engages in a sex act with a person in exchange for money from that person, the common usage of the term "prostitute" carries many of the same implications as the word "whore" does now. Put more briefly, the term "prostitute" has come to refer primarily to stereotypical street prostitution. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 16:04, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

  1. Please could you cite evidence for your "common" meaning of "prostitute". Without this we are talking about your original research.
  2. Can you cite the reason for using this "common" meaning in WP rather than the traditional one.
  3. Are you proposing that all the other sex-work- and prostitution-articles in WP be modified to be consistent with this new definition? Are you offering to do all the modification work?
  4. Or are you suggesting that this article uses the "common" definition while all the others retain the traditional one? If so, then we will need to put in a note to that effect in this article so that it will be comprehensible to those who've read the other WP articles. How would you propose we phrase it?

Polly Tunnel (talk) 16:22, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

You miss the point. The word prostitute has a substantially different set of meanings and implications than the word prostitution. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 16:33, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
And before we get back to "this is OR because you cited no sources", the same applies to your own arguments. You've cited no reliable sources that the term is the right one either. Wikipedia and Wiktionary are not reliable sources for Wikipedia purposes. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 16:34, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
A prostitute is a person who engages in prostitution. What are these different meanings and implications you claim exist between the two? Prostitute is an accurate and widely understood term. Jim Michael (talk) 16:42, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
"Red is the color red" ignores all the various shades of red that are possible. Words have meanings, but they also have connotations. BMK (talk) 17:59, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

I don't know if I've come into this discussion too late and definitions have already been agreed? A lot of english words can have different meanings depending on how specific you want to be, for example 'dog' can mean the a member of the dog family (including wolves & foxes etc), a domesticated dog and most specifically a male domesticated dog. Words used in the sex trade can also have several meanings.

From my experiance in the industry, current UK usage:
Sex Worker: Generally anybody in the sex industry including webcammers, strippers etc. Specifically, the current 'pc' word for those who engage in prostitution.
Prostitute: Generally someone who engages in prostitution. Specifically a streetwalker.
Call Girl: Vitrually obsolete term. Most call themselves escorts.
Escort: Someone who sells sex indoors and advertises in papers or on the internet (or an agency/parlour does on their behalf). Not usually applied to girls in 'walk in' establishments such as Soho walk-ups.
Streetwalker: Someone who gets customers by soliciting outside
John B123 (talk) 21:53, 9 October 2017 (UTC)

I disagree that prostitute usually means streetwalker, although many people view them as typical prostitutes, simply because they're the most visible and are covered disproportionately by the media. Only a small minority of today's prostitutes work the streets.
Call girl is a less-commonly used term in the UK, but isn't obsolete and is still widely understood. It is still a commonly-used term in some countries.
There are a small number of non-sexual escorts, who accompany their clients to events and act as a trophy partner, arm candy etc. to impress other people at the event.
Call girls are a type of prostitute. Prostitutes are a type of sex worker. Jim Michael (talk) 13:20, 3 December 2017 (UTC)
The latter part of my post was in regard to current usage with the UK sex industry and was intended to be informative for those taking point in this discussion, it was not a general overview of public opinion or usage, or even to common vocabulary used by the media.
It has already been brought into this discussion: Wiktionary describes a call girl as "A female prostitute who is hired by telephone." As most "call girls" use the internet more than telephone for booking, then the use of "call girl" is generally inaccurate, the more commonly used term "escort" is more appropriate. This is borne out by Escort agency being called that rather than "call girl agency".
Getting back to the original topic: "whether call girls are better referred to as sex workers or prostitutes". It entirely depends on context. In the article Sex work it would cause confusion to call call girls/escorts/prostitutes sex workers. In the article prostitution, confusion would be caused calling them all prostitutes. In any of the Prostitution in ... articles, prostitute or sex worker probably doesn't need further clarification (its an article about prostitution not striptease etc) so would be acceptable. It's a similar situation to say the colour carmine, in normal use we'd call it red but when we need to be more specific we call it carmine. In other circumstances, such as carmine coloured glass, we might just refer to it as coloured glass. There is no one size fits all answer to the original question. --John B123 (talk) 17:08, 3 December 2017 (UTC)
Call girl agency has never been in common usage. Many call girls/escorts don't work for an agency, and this article isn't limited to those who do, so that's not relevant to the matter in question on this article. What advantage is there in referring to them by the vague term sex workers, rather than the more accurate & well-known term prostitutes? Jim Michael (talk) 04:25, 20 April 2019 (UTC)