Could This Dating App Slyly Reinvent Escorting?
Online dating has never been easy. With apps ranging from OkCupid to the more outwardly intentioned Thrinder, connecting strangers with one another has gotten as easy as swiping right on a profile or pressing “Send” on the picture-perfect dick pic. Although meeting someone serious online may be difficult, it’s relatively easy to find that special someone to have sex with for 30 minutes and never see again. The blowjob is easy, the relationship stuff–eh, not so much.
Technology has had the ability to grant individuals with endless quick fixes, depleting many once-important industries along its relentlessly powerful way. Now that getting off with someone (who shares a similar sexual urge and voluntarily agrees) can be easily checked off of our to-do lists, the question remains: does a market for escorting still exist?
From the looks of it, millennials, generally, will never have to pay for sex. Just like music and movies, sex is something viewed as a feature of life that’s also on-demand. Of course, there will always be men on sites like Seeking Arrangement who are on the search for their own student loan-ridden sugar baby in need of a helping hand; the exchange of cash for NSA companionship still wields power. However, escorting, an industry that has thrived exclusively on the open web, doesn’t seem to serve a purpose any longer as we transition our lives fully onto apps. And with hesitation from app stores to provide these type of services on their platforms, it seems like their approaching doomsday pretty fast.
Because you can snag company–casual or otherwise–on a diverse selection of applications, the likelihood of the oldest profession surviving without adapting to our app-driven world seems unlikely. Escorting services on the open web like Elegant Companion, in the end, may very well end up like your neighborhood Blockbuster: empty and growing mold, with a looming closed sign over it.
But, alas, meet Ohlala. As a German app that launched in New York a few months ago, it preaches of its “instant paid dating” which connects people in proximity with one another with, um, paid dates. Although on the app’s front page it explicitly notes that “escorts are not welcome,” when the app says “instant paid dating,” it’s pretty much lying to itself.
After logging onto Ohlala’s interface, a male user has the opportunity to put in a date request, which may detail his desires for the date. Here, he has the option to include how many hours he would like to spend out and the price he is willing to pay for his night’s company. Ohlala reinvented the industry, and in hand made it app-ready, by allowing the inquiry to remain public for just 21 minutes in order be accepted by a female user in the area before being vanishing into the void.
The app falls under some legal loophole wherein any escorting service would happen to land. Its “instant paid dating” scenarios are described in a way wherein men deposit money to secure dates with women in their area. There’s no going around it — escorting has found a way to market its industry (and possibility of sex) to millennials.
It’s unanimous that what happens during and after one’s date is a private matter; there is nowhere on the app’s interface wherein it states that a user is obligated to have sex with their date upon its completion. Although it is possible Ohlala has found a way to get millennials to pay for sex, it’s not so clear how successful it will actually be.
One thing is for sure, though: sex work will forever remain a thriving industry.
The thing with app-driven hookups is they’re oftentimes messy. A person who hit you up on Tinder may host dreams of the relationship’s longevity post-sex or even begin to develop feelings after an elongated cuddling sesh. And if you’re the person with unrequited feels, you’re simply SOL.
With sex work, including the services provided through escorting, these incongruous feelings and desires are aptly avoided. What Ohlala provides its users with is the ability to narrowly define an interaction, allowing both parties–regardless of their participation in sex–to have their emotional boundaries preemptively set on the table.
Ohlala is by far the first app of its kind to gravitate this immense amounts of press, but is definitely not alone in its ventures to reinvent and slyly legalize sex work. Once escorting is allowed to move beyond the open web and is able to be accessed readily in app stores, we will see a change in our cultural opinion of sex work. And once we’re able to bring the issues plaguing the hushed sex worker landscape to the forefront, the dehumanization of sex workers and the stigmatization of the biz will slowly fade away.
Images via Business Insider, The Verge
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