Prostitution Push and Pull: Male and Female Perspectives.

Ine Vanwesenbeeck, (2013) Prostitution Push and Pull: Male and Female Perspectives. Journal of
Sex Research 50:1, pages 11-16.


Smith, Grov, Seal, and McCall’s (2012) analysis, focusing on how
young men become, and stay, involved in male escorting, is a
welcome contribution to the still relatively thin male sex worker
literature. For this study group, notably supportive working
surroundings, effective coping strategies, and a growing sense of
“self-efficacy” eventually turn sex work into an increasingly
comfortable experience and viable moneymaking option. In this
commentary, I add some reflections from a broader perspective to
these insights. I also consider some evidence on the numbers of men
and women in sex work and make some observations on male versus
female positions related to push and pull factors, stigma, and the
experience of sex work.

Overall, it
seems fair to conclude that (most) male sex workers appear to
benefit from a somewhat more favorable balance between exploitation
and profit when compared to (most) female sex workers. One has only
to imagine the many ways in which the
qualification slut operates to know
that the stigma is harsher and more consequential for women. The
alternative stigma ofvictim is more often
applied to women as well. Women in sex work are subject to more
profound incomprehension, more often the object of political as
well as general (feminist) worry and concern, more often the target
of interventions of various kinds. Male sex workers seem to have
the better options to “simply be left alone and do their work,” a
desire that is voiced by many people in the sex business, or to
simply step out when one so wishes. However, under conditions of
illegality and repression, male sex workers suffer discrimination
and violence as well. They may be somewhat more likely to
experience self-determination, autonomy, and control in their work
and thus be somewhat less likely to have their health and
well-being seriously threatened, but they too experience stigma and
its vast social consequences. Therefore, rather than comparing male
and female push and pull toward sex work, it seems desirable to
work toward the realization of the human and worker rights of all
sex workers, male or female, so that at some point there will be
less pulling and pushing them about altogether.


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