What they do is work, just like other types of work. Most jobs are a form of offering services to the highest bidder. I get paid by the hour to help people feel better about themselves as a life coach. What they do is not different from that. Most people are not lucky enough to have jobs that involve high levels of “shared energy, compassion, connection, and joy.” But that’s what they are offering and also get to experience for themselves.
You are focusing too much on the sex aspect and not enough on the human connection part. Any escort who has a good career is more than a hot body. I’ve had several tell me how they often have clients who mostly want to talk. They want to be seen and validated and understood. The patriarchal part of your outlook is thinking of sex as a special thing that should only be reserved for love and believing that the client is the one with the most power in the exchange, taking something from the poor woman.
Meanwhile, sex is a fundamental primal energy that has been used throughout history to celebrate aliveness and connection to something shared that is larger than us — humanity, divinity. In many, many ancient cultures, the sacred intimate was an honored and respected part of society; a way to interface with the goddess via her representative on earth. Patriarchy is what wiped that out. Don’t discount the value of the shared humanity and connection element.
Not every escort or client experiences that or experiences it every single time, but as far as I know, there are no perfect professions. The escort is always the one with the upper hand of power -unless abuse takes places, which would be less likely to occur if it were a legal profession. Saying to a woman, “I wish you wouldn’t do something you enjoy that makes you feel empowered and also earns you a good living” is pretty condescending.
My husband and I are polyamorous. We’ve had some bad dating experiences, and frankly don’t have bandwidth for drama at this point in our lives. So, instead we see a few favorite escorts. Everyone knows what the boundaries and expectations are — and we all have a great time with people whom we truly like and admire. Win-win-win!
Edit: “We laughed about it being a good old fashioned Roman orgy, but in truth, it was much better than that. It wasn’t mere hedonism, and yet, the whole point of the party was to have sex. This was sex as a celebration of life, as an expression of affection and of fun — just bodies in motion, giving and receiving pleasure. It wasn’t intended as a Vernal Equinox ritual, but it might as well have been.”