“This Is Me, This Is What I Am, I Am a Man”: The Masculinities of Men Who Pay for Sex with Women

Hammond, Natalie, and Jenny van Hooff. 2019. ‘“This Is Me, This Is What I Am, I Am a Man”: The Masculinities of Men Who Pay for Sex with Women’. The Journal of Sex Research 0 (0): 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2019.1644485.

This paper draws on theories of masculinity to explore men’s motivations for beginning and continuing to pay for sex with women. Based on in-depth interviews with 35 male clients of female sex workers in the UK during 2007/2008, our findings suggest that a desire to pay for sex is often entrenched in notions of hegemonic masculinity such as sex as a drive, or need for a variety of experiences and partners and is rationalized as an economic exchange. Yet, the men interviewed also expressed a need for intimacy, female friendship and conversation in a controlled environment, which challenged dominant masculine ideals. For participants, there was often an overlap between various motivational factors, and accounts were complicated by the anxieties and disappointments the men expressed about their non-commercial relationships and the intimacy and emotion frequently attached to encounters with sex workers. The pathologization of men who engage with paid sexual services fails to account for participants’ complex, diverse motivations, which should be understood in the context of other relationships and gender relations rather than as a distinct type of interaction. We find that the theory of hegemonic masculinity provides a useful but partial account of the range of behaviors and characteristics expressed in paid-for sex, which participants use to negotiate the expectations, ambivalences and disappointments of everyday life and relationships.

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