Book review: Male Sex Work and Society, edited by Victor Minichiello and John Scott
“The male body has become an object of consumption, and as a result the idea of men selling their bodies for sex is becoming increasingly acceptable,” co-editor John Scott says of the new book Male Sex Work and Society.
The book, edited by Australian academics Victor Minichiello and John Scott, takes an in-depth peek at the lives of male sex workers from all around the world, offering a fascinating and complex portrait of the men’s daily experiences, the criticisms they face from both mainstream society and the gay community, and the way they’ve utilized the internet to build their businesses.
Minichiello and Scott studied more than 250 men in countries ranging from China to Australia to Germany to Brazil. They say their hope is to break down the stereotype that all male sex workers are “deviants” or “crazy,” and instead show that many of them are smart, rational people who have made a conscious decision to enter the sex industry.
Here are just some of the things Minichiello and Scott uncovered in their research:
Prostitution is a young person’s game.
Most male sex workers skew younger, usually between 20 to 30 years old. They tend to describe themselves as “fit” and “good-looking.” A large number of them call themselves “Jake,” and more often than not have brown hair and brown eyes.
“To succeed, these young men need to be skilled negotiators, small business operators, engaging conversationalists and fit, active and appealing,” Scott says.
Most clients are older, married men.
Clients tend to be predominantly middle-aged, married men who identify as “straight.”
“I discovered a side of my personality that I didn’t know existed,” one male client revealed in an interview. “And I discovered that I love to be sexually dominated by another man. For a long time, I was in relationships with women and had what I would call ‘traditional sex’, but somehow with time this stopped working for me.”
The majority of male sex workers are entrepreneurs.
“Street workers” represent very small portion of male sex workers. Some of the men work in brothels, though this requires paying brothel owners a commission. As a result, many of the men work independently.
Technology has revolutionized the sex industry.
Many male sex workers locate clients through various online escort sites and hookup apps.
“Technology has seen a huge shift in both male and female sex industries,” Scott says. “Mobile phones allowed the escort market to expand and enabled greater flexibility; street work began to vanish and sex workers came to rural areas for the first time.”
Sex workers are healthier than you might think.
In Australia, at least. Records show that the rates of STDs among the country’s sex workers are significantly lower than among the country’s general population.
So there you have it, folks. Male sex workers. They’re just like you.
Reviewed by Graham Gremore