CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Feminists and other scholars have debated theoretically on what exactly is being purchased in the prostitution transaction and whether sex can be a service like any other, but they have scarcely tackled these questions empirically. This article draws upon field observations of and interviews with male clients of commercial sex-workers and public service staff responsible for regulating their activity to investigate the meanings given to different types of commercial sexual transactions. Client arrests and re-education, vehicle impoundment, stricter laws on underage prostitution and the possession of child pornography, reflect recent government efforts to problematize male sexuality throughout the USA and Western Europe. These efforts paradoxically parallel an increasingly unbridled ethics of sexual consumption, as evidenced by soaring demand for pornography, strip clubs, lap-dancing, escorts, telephone sex and sex tours in developing countries. By situating commercial sexual exchange within the broader context of post-industrial transformations of culture and sexuality, we can begin to unravel this paradox.


Elizabeth Bernstein
Françoise Wirth
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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