Male independent sex workers in the digital age

Teela Sanders, Jane Pitcher, Jane Scoular, Rosie Campbell, Stewart Cunningham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The digital revolution has profoundly affected most aspects of life in the industrialized world, including sex work. Today, sexual services are openly advertised online, and many interactions between sex workers and clients take place via the Internet. Indeed, Internet-enabled sex work is a significant sector of the economy in many developed nations. Through careful analysis of data derived from the largest survey ever attempted of online sex workers in the United Kingdom, a better understanding of how the Internet has affected sex work has emerged. The Internet has not only facilitated sexual connections of all kinds but also has significantly shaped the way male independent escorts conduct their business. Despite the manifest advantages of using the Internet in sex work—especially in reaching potential clients and in enabling sex workers to screen them for safety—there are also disadvantages, including time wasted online, increased competition, worries about possible exposure and harassment, and difficulties in securing payment for services rendered. Although male and female sex workers use technology to sell sexual services in similar ways, there are some notable differences. For example, male sex workers are less likely to report crimes to the police and less likely to utilize sex worker forums than female sex workers. These differences may reflect the fact that independent male escorts pursue their profession in greater isolation than female sex workers. Legislation recently enacted in the United States and proposed in the United Kingdom may have major implications for sex workers who use digital technologies. Male sex workers may be forced to advertise their services more discreetly and to use dating apps. Almost certainly, however, the sex industry will continue to exploit the potential of new technologies to advertise and provide its services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Male Sex Work, Culture and Society
EditorsJohn Scott, Christian Grov, Victor Minichiello
Place of PublicationOxon
Chapter17
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781000373059
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • male sex work
  • digital age
  • online sex workers

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