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I hope that sex workers and clients will be able to help with the following request and research. Knowing more about women who buy sex will not only increase our greater knowledge of the sex industry but it will help to challenge the prevailing orthodox mythology that is so damaging, that only men buy sex and that the majority providers of sexual services are women. These attitudes help to maintain and to perpetuate the story of women as only being sexually passive and more easily “sexual victims,” rather than as purchasers of sexual services and in doing so being as sexually active and as sexually aware as men.
For those of you who work in, or know people who work in the sex industry, it may come as no surprise that women pay for sexual services in the UK. These services can include sex acts, bondage, S&M, erotic massages, lap dancing and much more. Women buy sex on their own, in couples, as friends, in groups, ‘directly’ or ‘indirectly’ and from a range of people, whether heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or transsexual individuals. This can take place in a range of settings such as strip clubs, hotels, their own home, group sex parties amongst others. They also buy sexual services for a range of different reasons, for example they may be single and do not want a relationship, are too busy with their careers to establish or maintain a long-term relationship, or may want to experiment sexually with their partner by bringing an “uncomplicated” person into their sex lives. Women’s experiences as purchasers of sexual services are clearly diverse and broad.
Yet, when I’ve talked to people not involved in the sex industry and who know little about it, responses have ranged from “women don’t buy sex when they can get it for free” to sheer confusion and surprise that women would and could pay for sexual services. This absence of knowledge is evident in policy and politics that discuss the sex industry in gender neutral terms, yet only see men as the purchasers of sexual services. This is despite research which has documented how female sex buyers travel to destinations such as the Caribbean, Europe and Asia to purchase sex or engage in ‘Romance tourism’. In addition, a simple search on the internet returns numerous agencies and independent sex workers advertising sexual services for women. Clearly, as Harlots Parlour posted in its blog in 2010 “More research still has to be done”.
The ‘Women Who Buy Sexual Services in the UK’ project seeks to raise awareness of women’s experiences of buying sexual services and those who sell sexual services to women, as well as find out more about the varied experiences of women who buy sex. We are looking to speak to women who have bought or buy sexual services; on their own, in couples, with friends or at parties. We would also like to speak to people who sell or have sold sexual services to women.
To find out more about the project please follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/womenwhobuysex or Twitter #womenwhobuysex
We also have a dedicated website to the project http://www.womenwhobuysex.org