Changing sexuality and the normalisation of male sex work

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Source: 
BioMed Central Public Health
Year: 
2015

A new public health context to understand male sex work

Researching male sex work offers insight into the sexual lives of men and women while developing a more realistic appreciation for the changing issues associated with male sex work. This type of research is important because it not only reflects a growing and diversifying consumer demand for male sex work, but also because it enables the construction of knowledge that is up-to-date with changing ideas around sex and sexualities.

This paper discusses a range of issues emerging in the male sex industry. Notably, globalisation and technology have contributed to the normalisation of male sex work and reshaped the landscape in which the male sex industry operates. As part of this discussion, they review STI and HIV rates among male sex workers at a global level, which are widely disparate and geographically contextual, with rates of HIV among male sex workers ranging from 0% in some areas to 50% in others. The Internet has reshaped the way that male sex workers and clients connect and has been identified as a useful space for safer sex messages and research that seeks out hidden or commonly excluded populations.

A global reality

This research reports how globalisation has provided the male sex industry with unprecedented visibility, especially in terms of cultural diversity. Increasingly, research on MSW has highlighted global nuances around expressions of masculinity, the social control of gendered deviance, and sexual practices.

Globalisation and MSW has also been explored with respect to ‘sex tourism’, which is typically thought of as the use of the tourism sector to facilitate commercial sexual relationships with local residents. In the past decade there has been interest in this topic from a variety of positions related to the male sex industry.

Sexual health and male sex workers

Although HIV and STIs are not issues unique to MSWs, they remain an important aspect of how we understand this population. It is necessary to recognise, however, that there is no static or uniform rate of HIV/STI infection among MSWs. We must also consider the cultural context of sex work, as markers of prevalence are globally quite varied. Methodologies, definitions of sex work, and broader norms around sexuality often confuse direct comparisons across the large body of work in this area.

This paper reports on a sample of recent work detailing HIV and, where available, STI epidemiology among MSWs, which has been organised (mainly) along continental lines.

The impact of Internet technologies

This paper reports how the expansion and availability of online technologies have assisted in the normalisation of MSW. Not only does the Internet provide unprecedented opportunity for public to access information on MSW but it can also make access to the male sex industry easier (and safer) for both clients and workers. Through the Internet, individuals can access the virtual world of MSW from the comfort of their living rooms and do so with a high degree of anonymity. These features not only foster discretion but they also provide a safer environment that is less affected by the risks of robbery, blackmail or violence so often associated with street sex work.

 

You can download this 21 page PDF document above. This resource is in English.

 

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