Major study reveals common misconceptions about sex workers

Major study reveals common misconceptions about sex workers

A study by academics from the universities of Birmingham and Lancaster has analysed data from more than 27,000 individuals advertising commercial sex services online.

The study found that more than a third of escorts self-identify as male or trans, and two-thirds of escorts advertise to women.

Less than half of escorts, whose ages range from 18 to 91, self-identify as straight, while four in five identify as white.

In addition, male escorts charge lower rates than female and trans escorts, and trans escorts are the most likely to charge very high rates.

The report says that “political debates about commercial sex frequently reproduce age-old sexist stereotypes that women are sexual objects and men are sexual subjects".

It says that the “Swedish model”, which would ban the purchase but not the sale of sexual services, depends upon outdated constructions of sex workers as ‘victimised women’ and their clients as ‘predatory men’.

Therefore it discourages calls for the UK to follow suit in criminalising purchase, but not sale.

Dr Nicola Smith, senior lecturer in political science at the University of Birmingham, said:

These figures underscore the need to challenge dominant prejudices about sex workers and their clients, which mask the complex reality of the sex industry today.

Debates about commercial sex need to move beyond outdated stereotypes that women are sex objects and men are sex predators – desire takes many forms, and the sex industry is no exception to this.

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