What escorting has taught me about men
IT'S no secret that when I was 37, I jumped ship from a 9 to 5 office life as a journalist, slipped into some stockings and suspenders, and became a high class escort.
If you've ever watched Billie Piper in A Secret Diary of a London Call Girl TV series, you'll see why. I was completely and utterly hooked to that show, Piper's character Belle, and the intrigue of escort life. That world fascinated me. It still does.
Obviously, it was a huge decision. I knew I would have to deal with uncomfortable things like stigma, judgment, WPT (What People Think), plus my mental health and safety.
But more than that, would I end up hating men? I really, really didn't want to hate men.
Now I can safely say, after seven or so years in the biz, the opposite is true.
Since becoming Samantha and spending hours and hours in hotel rooms listening to the woes of men, I didn't grow to hate them at all. I began to understand them. And with that, came compassion and a great deal of affection for them.
And while my escorting days are winding down, I hereby declare that becoming an escort made me love men even more than I had before.
It's not a popular opinion, is it, to say you love men these days?
I was a speaker at a feminism event a while back and was asked by a female member in the audience whether I feared for the future of young women in today's world. 'Absolutely not,' I replied. 'I'm more worried about young men.'
Women are fearless, strong and powerful (so we should be). Our voices are booming. But men?
I know men pretty well. Certainly more than most women. I say that with confidence. I've spent hours and hours, sometimes weeks with different types of men, and I've got to see a side of them a lot of women don't. I've seen a side to men that they wouldn't even show their best mates, let alone the women in their lives.
The men I was lucky enough to meet on my stiletto-wearing journey may have been fearless, strong and powerful to the outside world. but behind closed doors, a place they felt free from judgment, I saw - and heard - their vulnerabilities.
I heard their fears, their confusion. How they don't understand women, are too scared to open a door for a women these days, let alone approach women in a bar ("I don't want to be seen as harassing a woman if I ask her if she wants a drink").
I heard about their failings, their paralysing fear about not being able to provide. Their anxiety and depression, their bad diets, their health, but having no idea how, where or if they should get help. Would it be seen as weakness?
I could tell you about the big, powerful CEO who sobbed in my arms as he told me about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, something he had never told a single soul before.
Or the man whose wife had died, leaving him with four young children. "I don't even know how to boil an egg," he said through his tears.
Bad and evil men will always be bad and evil, but your average man battles self esteem and confidence issues, has no idea about women (and is usually scared of us), and bottles up their emotions so much that I am surprised they don't explode.
Hating men is a bit like hating a baby who cries on your long-haul flight. How can you hate them? They may frustrate, annoy, and drive you mad. But hate? They're actually pretty simple creatures. It actually astounds me how simple they are. Don't bother trying to over analyse men. Trust me on that.
And I say that with a smile. Because I can. Because I know men.
Samantha X is an author and columnist.