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Supply and Desire: Sexuality and the Sex Industry in the 21st Century...

Decriminalising Britain's 4bn sex industry would increase protection of women. By Dr Catherine Hakim

Link Here 31st August 2015

New evidence from international sex surveys show large and continuing differences between male and female perspectives on sexuality in all cultures. Male sexual desire is manifested at least twice as often as female desire, and men would like to have sex twice as often as women. This gap in sexual desire between men and women is growing over time and cannot be dismissed as an out-dated patriarchal myth as argued by some feminists.

The sexual deficit among (heterosexual) men helps to explain many puzzles, including why men are the principal customers for commercial sexual entertainments of all kinds. It is no surprise that sex workers (male and female) cater to men almost exclusively. Male demand for sex invariably outstrips female demand.

Demand for commercial sex is therefore inevitable and the sex industry is likely to continue to flourish in the 21st century. Not only does male demand for sexual activity greatly outstrip non-commercial female supply, but economic growth, globalisation and the Internet facilitate access to the world's oldest profession.

Several factors suggest that the male sex deficit will not disappear, and might even grow in the 21st century. Women's increasing economic independence allows them to withdraw from sexual markets and relationships that they perceive to offer unfair bargains, especially if they already have enough children or do not want any. Changes in national sex ratios towards a numerical surplus of men helps women to reset the rules in their own favour in developed societies.

A key objection to the sex industry is that it damages women and that the presence of porn, lap-dancing and prostitution in a country promotes rape and other violence against women. However, although there are too few rigorous studies to draw definitive conclusions, all the available evidence points in the direction of prostitution and erotic entertainments having no noxious psychological or social effects, and they may even help to reduce sexual crime rates.

In many countries, including Britain, it is perfectly legal to sell sexual services; however any third-party involvement is illegal. The aim is to prevent exploitation by pimps or madams. The effect is to criminalise the industry and brothels, to prevent girls working together in a flat for their mutual protection, to prevent anyone from lawfully supplying services to a sex worker or even rent a flat to them.

The commercial sex industry is impervious to prohibitions and cannot be eliminated. Countries that criminalise buyers (such as Sweden) simply push demand abroad to countries with a more sex-positive culture. Policies that criminalise sellers directly, or criminalise third parties who supply them with services, simply push the sex industry underground, increasing risks for sex workers. The sex industry is estimated to be worth over four billion pounds to the British economy. It should be completely decriminalised.



Why Some Women Pay For Sex...

Initial findings from UK research

Link Here28th May 2015

British women are paying for sexual services because they want great sex, are too busy for relationships or do not want to have a conventional relationship.

These are the initial findings of a new study which has been launched into women who buy sexual services.

The study, led by Dr Sarah Kingston of Lancaster University, and co-led by Dr Natalie Hammond at Manchester Metropolitan University, will potentially be one of the most in-depth analyses of the subject ever undertaken in the UK.

Researchers have spoken to 21 escorts in the UK who are paid for their sexual services. Now they want to speak to their female clients to find out more about the experiences of women who pay for sex. Their early findings reveal that women who pay for sex come from all backgrounds and ages, although there is a common trend that women are in their thirties and forties.

Dr Kingston, a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University, has research interests in the sex industry, policy and law. She explained:

We have made some fascinating early findings, but we still have much work to do. We are seeking to explore motivations and experiences of women who book escorts; who and where they buy sex from and to explore how physical and sexual safety is negotiated.

The study involves interviewing men, women, transgendered and transsexual people who sell sexual services to women, as well as women who purchase sexual services.

We still want to speak to women who buy sexual services. This will be completely confidential and they will not be identified in any way. Phone and Skype interviews have been popular so far, and we are flexible on methods. Speaking directly with women will provide us with a valuable insight into how and why they engage in this activity.

The research team explained:

Some of our participants say most of the women who buy sex are professional people, some of whom may simply want pleasurable sexual experiences. Paying an escort is described as a way of ensuring discretion, as opposed to other ways of securing sexual encounters.

In some instances women were very specific about the services they required. This came across in some interviews with escorts who had one-to-one bookings with women. Escorts relay how women with specific requests email their expectations ahead of meeting.

However, some women also pay for more than just sexual intercourse, they might go for a drink or meal with their chosen escort before progressing onto sexual contact, which some escorts describe as the 'boyfriend experience'.

It is also evident that women purchase sexual services as part of a couple. The majority of the escorts interviewed see couples, stating they are booked for regular excitement and fun, or simply for a relationship treat. In couples, some men appeared more nervous than their female partner.



Update: Intuitively Obvious but Politically Unacceptable...

Research shows that STDs and rapes significantly decreased whilst indoor prostitution was legal in Rhode Island

Link Here27th July 2014
Full story: Prostitution in Rhode Island...Indoor prostitution criminalised
Decriminalizing Indoor Prostitution: Implications for Sexual Violence and Public Health

by Scott Cunningham (Baylor University) and Manisha Shah (UCLA School of Public Affairs; NBER)

July 17, 2014

Abstract :

Most governments in the world including the United States prohibit prostitution. Given these types of laws rarely change and are fairly uniform across regions, our knowledge about the impact of decriminalizing sex work is largely conjectural. We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide the first causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, rape offenses, and sexually transmitted infection outcomes. Not surprisingly, we find that decriminalization increased the size of the indoor market. However, we also find that decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population. Our synthetic control model finds 824 fewer reported rape offenses (31 percent decrease) and 1,035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea (39 percent decrease) from 2004 to 2009.

Researches explain further in interview

See  article from

The inadvertent legalization of prostitution in Rhode Island after legislators tinkered with state laws wasn't made public until 2003, when police in Providence raided two massage parlors under a program they dubbed Operation Rubdown. The defendant prostitutes hired Michael Kiselica as their attorney, and it was through his legal research that the women were acquitted at trial when the legal status of indoor prostitution came to light--and within two years, that legality was well-known across the state, if not New England in its entirety. After debating the issue for several years, lawmakers finally revamped the law in 2009 to make indoor prostitution illegal once again.

The decriminalized paid sexual activity turned out to have unexpected benefits, as the researchers found. Shah said during an interview:

A lot of the literature on sex markets has focused on disease transmission because in a lot of places, we worry that sex markets are places where you have the spread of sexually transmitted infections from sex workers to the general adult population So we said, let's look at gonorrhea [which] is one of these STIs which is really associated with risky heterosexual markets. We were able to get good data from the CDC and one of the first things we find is that post-2003, post-decriminalization of indoor prostitution, we're finding decreases in gonorrhea incidence among the population of heterosexual men, and that's big finding number one.

There's a lot of data suggesting that indoor sex work is a lot safer than street work, in that people tend to use condoms more, disease prevalence is lower, and one thing we find is that post-2003, women are a lot less likely to engage in anal sex, which is the riskiest type of sex one can have, and they're much more likely to be using condoms [and] providing oral sex with condoms, so it looks like their behavior is getting safer post-decriminalization. You also have all these new entrants into the market, and you have this supply increase. A lot of the new entrants tend to be lower risk, so when you change a sexual network, even if more people are having sex, if you're infusing safer people into that network, there's possibilities for disease incidents to actually decrease.

The researchers also found that reports of rape decreased nearly one-third from pre-legalization figures. While Shah and Cunningham could come to no clear conclusions why sexual violence decreased, they had a couple of theories:

We hypothesize that these sex workers are probably more likely to report rape after indoor sex work has been decriminalized than they were before, Shah noted. There's another hypothesis, that there's these men that might substitute between rape and prostitution, and we do find a pretty significant correlation between men who both admit to seeing prostitutes and men who admit to raping, and so one potential hypothesis is when these markets grow, with supply increasing and prices decreasing, there might be some men on the margin where, if 'all of a sudden I can buy sex a lot cheaper than I could buy it before, maybe I'm going to be more likely to go to see a prostitute rather than raping.'



The Girl Friend Experience...

Shock horror! researchers find that many customers of sex workers seek a girl friend experience

Link Here20th September 2012

The Hobbyist and the Girlfriend Experience: Behaviors and Preferences of Male Customers of Internet Sexual Service Providers


This study provides descriptive information about the background characteristics, sexual preferences, attitudes, and motives of men (N = 584) who locate and contract with female Internet Sexual Service Providers (ISSP) for paid sex acts through a prostitute review site on the Web. The questionnaire-based findings showed these men preferred the girlfriend experience or GFE over all other personal qualities and behaviors. The study contributes to our understanding of a rapidly emerging category of men who seek sexual services on-line and their desire for mutuality and excitement in a provider who is willing to replicate some aspects of a conventional, non-remunerative romantic relationship.

The present study provides information on the sexual behavior, motives, and characteristics of a highly elusive population of regular clients of prostitutes who consider themselves hobbyists. These men are part of an on-line community based around prostitute review websites in which clients post reviews of their experiences and also communicate on-line with Internet Sexual Service Providers (ISSP) i.e. prostitutes who advertise their sexual services on-line. Hobbyists share information within a forum of insiders and often come to know one another by user names or aliases. In contrast to customers seeking prostitutes on the street, the risk of arrest is extremely low. Although the sample of 584 men who participated in the present study may not be representative of the majority of prostitution customers, it provides insight into a growing subculture of men who solicit indoor prostitutes almost solely by using the Internet. Our study yields a constellation of findings indicating that many of these customers of ISSP seek a girlfriend experience, popularly abbreviated GFE, in which their interactions with providers mirror those often found in conventional non-remunerative sexual relationships.


8th September

Like Clockwork...

Swiss study finds that regulation is the key to reducing problems associated with sex work
Link Here

Eva Buschi, a professor at the School of Social Work of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, interviewed managers of sex establishments for a study entitled Violence in the Sex Business and concluded that lack of regulation was a major problem for both sex workers and the establishments themselves.

In other businesses workers get contracts, in which the tasks to be performed, the price and how long they should take are clearly laid down. In the sex business today this is mostly not the case, she told

One problem is that managers of sex establishments are afraid of falling foul of the law forbidding the promotion of prostitution, she explained.

But the study shows that violence is a daily reality in the business. It occurs among customers, between the managers and the workers, and among the workers themselves. However, the managers of the businesses often downplay the issue. They tend to see their main problem as social stigmatisation.

Given that the legal sex business generates a turnover put at 3.5 billion Swiss Francs ($4.4 billion) per year, Buschi says it should be approached pragmatically, ensuring that workers are given the best possible conditions.

If sex work is professionalised, it will help destigmatise the work, and be easier to draw a divide between legal and illegal sex providers, the study says. Both owners and clients will find it harder to put pressure on the workers, and that in turn will give them extra protection and make it easier to confront problems. The greater the pressure on sex workers, the greater the danger that they will, for example, accept a drunken client or agree to perform their services without a condom.

The authorities in Nidau in canton Bern have already introduced conditions for granting permits to would-be sex establishments. The move was regarded as a possible model for the rest of the country.

The managers of the establishments have to guarantee that the women are declared as sex workers and not as tourists, and that they are in the country legally. They must give the women information leaflets in their own languages about their rights and duties -- including that they must declare their earnings to the tax authorities. Nor must the managers charge excessive prices for rooms or slap on unreasonable extra charges. In addition, the local advisory centre must be given unlimited access to the sex workers.

The police can make unannounced visits to check that the rules are being followed.


23rd January


Challenging the paper correlating sexual assault in Camden with lap dancing
Link Here

The impact of adult entertainment on rape statistics in Camden: a re-analysis. by Brooke L Magnanti, PhD.


A 2003 report [by the anti-prostitution campaigners of Lilith] on the impact of lap-dancing clubs on sexual assault in Camden, London had significant influence on the perception of the contribution of adult entertainment to crime statistics. In spite of mathematical corrections to the statistics in the report, its original conclusions are still widely reported in both academic and mass media.

This paper presents a broader analysis of the impact of lap-dancing clubs by calculating accurate rates of incidence, analysing statistics from a longer time period, and comparing the results with crime rates in neighbouring boroughs of London. The rate of rape in Camden is lower than that in comparable boroughs, including ones with no such clubs. The overall trend for London boroughs, while higher than the national average, shows a decrease where national statistics are on the increase

Melon Farmers Comment

It is of course good to see the Lilith nonsense challenged, but it seems a pity that it takes pseudo science to demonstrate the bleedin' obvious.

Does anyone intuitively think, given a massively changing society, that anyone can correlate anything significant to a tiny percentage of the male population visiting lap dancing clubs. Surely this pails into insignificance compared with say demographic changes such as ageing populations, declining religion, cultural changes dues to European and South Asian immigration, economic changes, policing changes with the advent of CCTV, DNA, database surveillance, massively increased impact of the internet (with enough influence to decimate other branches of the adult industry), changes to patterns of alcohol consumption, declining influence of tobacco, and of course the certification of video nasties...the list is endless...

What are the chances that 'any' effects of a couple of lap dancing venues can be mathematically extracted from this fog of major societal influences?

I would guess somewhere in the ballpark of 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%


23rd October

A Sense of Community...

Research into web forums where contributors share their interest in prostitution
Link Here

The Internet has spawned a virtual subculture of customers who share information electronically about prostitution, according to a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University criminologist.

The research by MSU's Thomas Holt and Kristie Blevins of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte challenges the common perception that sex customers act alone and do not interact for fear of reprisal or scorn. The study appears in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.

Holt, assistant professor of criminal justice, said today's Web-savvy customers use the Internet to solicit prostitutes and to provide each other with warnings of prostitution hot zones and stings, which can hamper the efforts of law enforcement officials.

The growth of these deviant subcultures has made it more difficult for law enforcement, said Holt, who has helped police devise prostitution stings. On the other hand, it gives us a new opportunity to use the way the offenders communicate to better target their activities.

The study analyzed prostitution Web forums in 10 U.S. cities with the highest rates of prostitution arrests: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dayton, Elizabeth, Forth Worth,  Hartford, Inglewood, Las Vegas Memphis.

In the Web forums, customers provide detailed information on the location of sexual services on the streets and indoors, as well as ways to identify specific providers, information on costs and personal experiences with providers.

The open nature of the forums led the users to carefully disguise their discussions with a unique language, or argot, based largely on code and acronyms. This argot may help customers and sex workers to avoid legal sanctions and any social stigma associated with participating in the sex trade, the researchers said.

The study also said the customers place significant value on the notion that paid sexual encounters are normal and nondeviant. These Internet communities help these individuals justify their behavior, Holt said.


15th August

Safer Sex...

Research correlates violence against sex workers with criminalisation
Link Here

New evidence has been published which fundamentally undermines the government's arguments in favour of criminalising those who pay for sex.

The research comes from Vancouver, and was conducted by the University of British Colombia. It found a direct correlation between criminalisation and increased violence against sex workers.

Evidence from Vancouver and the UK shows that criminalisation reinforced stigma and facilitates violence against sex workers, a spokesperson for the International Union of Sex Workers told We know that the government's policies in the policing and crime bill although they are described as intending to protect vulnerable women, they will in fact increase the level of violence sex workers experience - both indoors and out.

The new research follows a damaging report from the respected Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which found the majority of the migrant workers in the UK sex industry were not forced or trafficked.

It also concluded that criminalising clients would not stop the sex industry and that it would be pushed underground, making it more difficult for migrants working in the UK sex industry to assert their rights in relation to both clients and employers.

Taken together, the research provides a devastating critique of the government's policy platform, which was based on an attempt to end the trafficking of women into the UK to work in the sex industry.

The Vancouver research found the factors causing a prevalence of violence could be stemmed by decriminalising the sex industry.

According to the report's author, Professor Kate Shannon, factors such as being forced to service clients in cars or public places, inability to access drug treatment and a prior assault by police all correlated with violence against female sex workers: The persistent relationship between enforcement of prostitution and drug use policies (e.g. confiscation of drug use paraphernalia without arrest, and enforced displacement to outlying areas) suggests that criminalisation may enhance the likelihood of violence against street-based female sex workers .

The findings support global calls to remove criminal sanctions targeting sex workers, Professor Shannon said.


1st May

Sex Economics...

Working girls' income
Link Here

Working girlsWhy is it that prostitution is so relatively well-paid?

It is documented that in diverse cultures and over many centuries, prostitutes have indeed made much more, sometimes several multiples more, than comparably (un)skilled women would make in more prosaic occupations. From medieval France and imperial Japan to present-day Los Angeles and Buddhist Thailand, this income differential has persisted, although its size depends on various factors.

Prostitution Diminishes Marriage Chances

Two economists, Lena Edlund of Columbia University and Evelyn Korn of Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tubingen, have published an intriguing paper, A Theory of Prostitution, see

Developing the consequences of their mathematical model, Edlund and Korn argue that the primary reason for the income differential is not the risk sometimes associated with the practice of prostitution but rather that prostitutes greatly diminish their chances for marriage by virtue of their occupation. Men generally don't want to marry (ex)prostitutes, and so women must be relatively well-compensated in order to forgo the opportunity to marry.

Employing market concepts, doing some calculus and assuming that "women sell and men buy," the authors also conclude that prostitution generally declines as men's incomes increase.

Wives and prostitutes are competing "commodities" (in the reductionist view of economists, that is), but wives are distinctly superior in that they can produce children that are socially recognized.

Thus, if men have more money, they tend to buy the superior good and, at least when wives and prostitutes come from the same pool of women, tend to buy (rent) the cheaper good less frequently.

More obvious perhaps is that prostitution generally declines in areas where women's incomes and opportunities are greater.

Putting these two tendencies together suggests that if one wishes to reduce prostitution, increasing the incomes of both men and women is likely to be more effective than imposing legal penalties.

Sex Ratios, Foreign Prostitutes and Cultural Factors

Another consequence of the authors' model is that a high ratio of men to women tends to increase prostitution's relative profitability (versus marriage).

If the surplus of men over women is temporary, say, because of war or upheaval, then the surplus usually leads to an even greater incentive to prostitution.

As permanent residents in a location, men are potential participants in both the marriage market and the sex markets, whereas if they're visitors, only the latter market is generally available and the supply of prostitutes and their incomes rise. The authors cite the example of modern sex tourism.

The model also predicts that how much a woman damages her chances to marry by becoming a prostitute depends on how likely it is that she'll be exposed as one.

The likelihood shrinks if the woman leaves home and migrates to a different part of the country or to a different country altogether. This would also explain why foreign prostitutes are likely to be cheaper than domestic ones.

More generally, the abundance of foreign prostitutes shouldn't come as a surprise. Immigrants generally have difficulty finding employment and, except at the high end of the scale, prostitution does not place much of a premium on language skills. As in other parts of the economy, globalization is controversial and is one reason the number of women trafficked for sexual purposes is exaggerated. (It is considerably smaller than the number of people trafficked for nonsexual labor.)

There are good reasons from academic studies to the sheer ubiquity of prostitutes to believe that trafficking is relatively isolated and that only a small fraction of prostitutes are coerced into prostitution.

One last prediction the model makes is that the income differential paid to prostitutes will rise with the status the culture accords wives.

That is, if wives are valued highly, would-be prostitutes are giving up a lot by becoming prostitutes and will require more money to do so. And if wives have few privileges, would-be prostitutes aren't giving up much to become prostitutes and thus need less inducement to do so.

Cultural tolerance, of course, is a determinant not only of the income differential but also of the number of women who become prostitutes. Compare, for example, Thailand and Afghanistan.

Bottom Line

Like any statistical model, this one ignores the diversity of real people and the complexities of love and pleasure, changing social mores, et cetera. Still, once all its equations have been solved, a simple fact remains: Most women enter prostitution for the money.

This being so, legalizing it, regulating it (strictly enforcing laws against pimping, child prostitution, public nuisance and so forth) and improving the economic prospects for women seem to me a greatly preferable approach to it than moralistic denunciation.

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