Client Power and the Sex Work Transaction: The Influence of Race, Class, and Sex Work Role in the Post-Apartheid Sex Work Industry

Vaughn, Michael Patrick. „Client Power and the Sex Work Transaction: The Influence of Race, Class, and Sex Work Role in the Post-Apartheid Sex Work Industry“. Sexuality & Culture, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09594-7.
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Abstract
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Systems of power influence client–sex worker interactions, in part, by shifting how actors perceive the interaction. In the present study, I argue that clients of sex workers determine appropriate behavior during the sex work transaction based on how they perceive the sex worker from whom they are purchasing services. Systems of power, such as race, socioeconomic status, and the local sex work status hierarchy, influence this perception. I present an analysis of national survey data on South African clients’ self-reported condom use and interview data on South African clients’ experiences while purchasing sex. Taking both data sets together, I find that clients characterize sex workers based on the sex workers’ perceived race, class, and the venue in which they work. Clients discussed perceiving the sex worker as a commodified object, one which ought to be used differently depending on their positionality. This perception manifest behaviorally when discussing sexual health risk and the appropriateness of violence against sex workers. Through this analysis, I demonstrate the utility of conceptualizing power along multiple levels of analysis (interpersonally and structurally) when studying decision-making in the sex work industry.

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