Sex Workers and the Gay Community

A few years ago I gave a talk in Toronto and learned a new word: ”Comodification.” That is, a male client and a sex worker using each other as commodities. In other words, instead of mutual romance and even love, they are just having sex, and worse, money passes hands during this transaction. Gay men who routinely cruise the bars, the parks, the Internet or sex club, use this term to put down guys who pay for sex, and the men who accept it.
There are many reasons, from religious to sociological, for the prejudice, men have always had against female prostitutes. Though, the prejudice has not stop men from using them. However, I am referring here to two gay men who, for instance, meet each other in a park, have sex without as much as introducing themselves to each other, and moving to the next trick. On many Internet boards, one even finds specific requirements, like, “No chatting” or “blow-and- go.” The “no chatting,” has always puzzled me. Would it be O.K. to say, upon entering the premises, “Good evening, my name is John Doe,” or would that be considered “chatting”? Then there is the NSA – no strings attached. The NSA writer wants to make certain that when the encounter is over the romance is dead.
Using the services of male sex workers is not cheap but serves both parties well. First, the client can choose a man he is attracted to rather than be forced to pick up the only available person that evening, even if he doesn’t care for him. Second, physically he can do exactly what turns him on and what he considers safe. Third, he doesn’t have to waste many hours in a dark, sometimes dangerous, park, imbibe expensive alcoholic drinks, or spend a whole evening typing on the computer. The sex worker can refuse the assignation, turn down activities he is not comfortable with, and earn in one hour a sum he would not make in a day’s work.
Female sex workers have a much more problematic life. If they work the streets, they all too often have a pimp taking away most of the earnings and abusing them. If it comes to a physical confrontation with the client, females are the weaker sex and suffer the consequences. The most important disadvantage is the trafficking, that is, using a ruse to get a young woman to move to a foreign country, and then forcing her into prostitution.
Adult male sex workers have no pimps, are usually physically as powerful as their clients, if not more so, and are never trafficked from one country to another. Unlike females, male sex workers find it easy to enter and leave sex work whenever it suits them. “Fallen women” is a familiar, though old school expression. I have never heard the phrase “fallen men.” In fact, quite a few young men sell their bodies occasionally as a lark and, of course, to make some money.
Why then the opprobrium that so many gays have against male sex workers? For one, the male prostitute is tarred with the same brush as his female counterpart. Gay society has adopted many of the values and prejudices of the straights even when they do not apply to homosexual s. Young and proud males feel that they deserve to have free sex. When they grow older, the idea that they have to pay for if they want to get laid galls them.
Jealousy may also be involved. The client who pays for sex usually gets exactly what he wants, with a minimum waste of time, whereas the cruisers in any venue, have to make do with whatever is available to them on at a given time.
From its inception, the gay movement has advocated that persons can do with their own bodies whatever they want – even change their birth sex. Why, then, is there so much disdain against sex work if it is not coerced?


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