World of male sex workers explored in new book

Published: November 18, 2014

Original Article:

Sex work is an industry primarily associated with women. When male sex workers are thought about, it’s usually through the prism of health studies or debate around the legality of their behaviour; they become statistics, or shadowy carriers of disease. Media reports focus on street workers lurking around public toilet blocks, perpetuating stereotypes of reckless, preying behaviour.

The idea young, attractive men might choose to work as escorts because they find it enjoyable, it pays well, and introduces them to people and places they might otherwise never experience is, for many, hard to comprehend.  But a new book, Male Sex Work and Society, edited by Australian academics Victor Minichiello and John Scott, seeks to disband the many misapprehensions surrounding male sex workers, the clients they serve and the industry in which they work.

This paradox led to a conception of male sex workers as pathological and irrational – they’re straight but they have sex with men, so they must be mad. Their clients, on the other hand, were regarded as perverts coercing innocent men into unsavory acts. This changed in the 1980s with the arrival of gay liberation and HIV, says Scott. "All of a sudden, you start to have sex workers saying: ‘I have sex with men and I’m gay’." But it’s taken the social sciences a while to catch up; it’s not until fairly recently that a more liberal understanding of sexual identity has been adopted. Rather than sexuality being viewed as a fixed and immovable, it is now recognised as highly fluid throughout the life course.

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