Sex Work for the Middle Classes

Sex Work for the Middle Classes

Elizabeth Bernstein
Sexualities October 2007 vol. 10 no. 4473-488


Drawing from fieldwork and interviews with middle-class sex workers, this essay considers the relationship between the class-privileged women and men who are increasingly finding their way into sex work and more generalized patterns of economic restructuring. How has the emergence of new communications technologies transformed the meaning and experience of sexual commerce for sex workers and their customers? What is the connection between the new `respectability’ of sexual commerce and the new classes of individuals who now participate in commercial sexual transactions? This essay concludes by exploring some of the key transformations that are occurring within middle-class commercial sexual encounters, including the emergence of `bounded authenticity’ (an authentic, yet bounded, interpersonal connection) as a particularly desirable and sought-after sexual commodity.


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