In the movie Buying Sex the industry of escorts and prostitution are closely looked at. But, when they talk about the Sex industry, they are mainly talking about the women in the industry. In “The Political Economy of Sexual Labor,” it says that one-third of the sex market include male sex workers. Still, we rarely hear of them.
In this documentary, the main focus is to spotlight the abuse that female workers experience at the hand of men because sex work is looked down upon, and often violence against prostitutes is not dealt with. The main point of the documentary is to bring safety to the sex workers, but once again the sex workers focused on were women. While women are the dominating gender in the sex industry, men are also very prevalent.
The link above is an article that a man wrote describing his experience as a male escort. As an escort, he offered “the boyfriend experience,” meaning he was a warm body for a woman to take places and cuddle with. As he said, sex is almost never guaranteed and when it happens it is not planned. This situation for male sex workers is almost the complete opposite for women. When a woman sex worker is hired it is almost never about the relationship and mostly about the physical sexual activity. From the online article,
“A man hires a woman for sex and other things. A woman (the majority of the time) hires a man for the other things…and if sex happens, it happens.”
In Buying Sex, one of the commentators say that the wives of these men who buy sex should be complimented because instead of just walking out of the marriage, they are willing to spend money to “fix” their broken love life. For men buying sex, they are just trying to fix a broken situation. But when women buy sex, they are desperate and couldn’t get any person on their own. This projection of morality is skewed between the genders, and I believe that this should be fixed.
Morality directly reflects the beliefs of society. In our society we constantly give excuses for the wrong doings of men, and instead shift the blame towards the victims. This idea of “slut shaming” is why women sex workers are seen as disposable while the men sex workers are seen as “boyfriends” who would never just have sex with a woman for money (unless she was disabled then he would take pity on her— see article above). For men, they just can’t be seen as a body: they have to have value other than that, so it is almost morally wrong for them to just be purchased for sex. The woman should be interested in “dating” him, and then maybe having sex.
In my opinion, sex work is sex work. Whether you hire someone for physical sex, or something more intimate and relational, it is all the same. Just because you are a sex worker or hire one doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person. What makes you a less of a person is discriminating and committing crimes against these workers. I believe that prostitution should looked at more on the legal side, because I believe certain aspects of it could be beneficial to society. Like the film mentions, a lot of people have admitted that if it were legal then they would try it. Not all of prostitution is bad like the media describes. Yes, some women are coerced or even forced into the industry but those who went willing enjoy the lives that they are living. For some, prostitution is just another form of sexual subjectivity, a way for them to experience pleasure while trying to own their identity. What ends up happening, unfortunately, is these people are attacked for doing what feels sexually right for them. All because society’s morals tell them that it is wrong.
The double standard that is established between men and women in this industry is appalling. While they are doing the same thing, one is made excuses for, and the other is persecuted. By attacking one side and telling them that what they are doing is wrong, it is forcing them into secret. When they are in hiding it is dangerous for them because if something does go wrong and they need help they are hesitant to report it because they might be punished for it. According to wearecherished.com, 73% of female prostitutes are raped at least 5 times. But how many times are these reported? Almost never because they are afraid the crime done to them isn’t as important as the work they do.
I have a couple questions for the readers: Why do you think there is such a difference in the way male/female/transgender sex workers are treated? Does it have only to do with the morality of society, or is it more stereotypical bias?
What should be done about sex working? Should it be legalized like the film discusses? Would legalizing prostitution cut down on the incredible amount of sexual assaults that sex workers experience?