Dr Brooke Magnanti: 'Scrubbing toilets was far more offensive than being a call girl'


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The Independent Culture

Readers of 'Belle de Jour' often thought I was cold I think part of that is a scientific detachment that came through in my writing, which was influenced by my scientific education. When I was anonymous [writing her "Diary of a London Call Girl" blog] people identified this trait and made the accusation that I must be a man. But I also heard from lots of sex workers who said, "This is true to my experience."

Working as an escort was pretty straightforward I started it after submitting my PhD; once you've gotten over the idea that it might be immoral, it becomes one of the many options [to earn money]. I've had bad jobs, such as scrubbing toilets, that other people would have more approval for but I've thought were far more offensive.

I got satisfaction from giving a client a good experience It's not just about dressing up and looking the part, it's about personality, friendliness; let's be frank, when someone pays for sex there's usually an emotional reason for that: they want to connect with people.

I'd be appalled if my husband had to discover something about me sexually from my books I'd feel I failed as a wife. That's a joke. He's read some of my books and watched the TV show, but he's very accepting, and one of the most laid-back people I know.

I wouldn't want to wake up tomorrow as a man I've come to appreciate that men are vulnerable in ways it's difficult to appreciate as a woman. For instance, I would feel secure walking into a crowded pub with a lot of large men. For me it's the perfect public place; well-lit and I'm not going to get raped. But it could be intimidating to a man who might be expecting a fight. For me it was a realisation that big men are often quietly walking around with a hyper-awareness of social situations that I'm totally unaware of.

Everyone assumes sexualisation of young people is damaging and then questions what are we going to do about it. But we have not nailed down whether it is causing problems in society. Is it actually causing young people to have sex earlier, or in different ways? The stats actually seem to suggest that teens in the UK are older when they first have sex than in the 1990s – before they had access to the internet and Rihanna on The X Factor.

It's a mystery to me why so many people say maths doesn't matter Not long ago I was helping my husband prepare for a maths test he had at work. His co-workers were saying, "You'll never use it again – like at school." And I asked, "When restaurant bills come, don't you check them? That's algebra and you use it all the time." There's an argument to be made that it's because maths wasn't made relevant to them at school; the way they are run drains the passion out of people.

Dr Brooke Magnanti, 36, is a research scientist and writer who, under the pen name Belle de Jour, published a blog about her experiences as a call girl. Her new book, 'The Sex Myth', is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £14.99