What Sex Workers Do: Associations Between the Exchange of Sexual Services for Payment and Sexual Activities

Isabelle Johansson, Michael A. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
640 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This study investigates people’s associations between the exchange of sexual services for payment and different sexual activities. Sex work entails a range of activities, from in person services to online performances. To date, no study has asked about the activities individuals associate with the exchange of sexual services for payment. The relationship between the exchange of sexual services for payment and specific activities is an important area for inquiry, as there exists considerable variance in people’s views on sex work and associations are impacted by a range of attitudes. Using an original survey involving a substantial sample size of adults in the U.S. (n = 1,034), respondents are asked their level of association between the exchange of sexual services for payment and seven activities: pornographic photos, pornographic videos, webcamming, erotic dancing, erotic massages, oral sex, and sexual intercourse. The results reveal that respondents are more likely to associate the exchange of sexual services for payment with activities requiring in person and physical contact between sex workers and clients than non-physical activities. In addition, we find that conservatives are more likely to associate the exchange of sexual services for payment with non-physical activities than liberals. Moreover, we find that people who view the exchange of sexual services for payment as acceptable are more likely to recognize a broader range of activities as associated with such exchanges than are those who hold more negative attitudes. Views on acceptability are more important than are previous experiences of paying for sexual services. Our findings offer valuable insights for policymakers, researchers, and advocates seeking a comprehensive grasp of the complexities surrounding sex work in contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSexuality and Culture
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023-Oct-10

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Health Sciences (303)

Keywords

  • Sex work
  • Prostitution
  • Sex industry/trade
  • Sexual activities
  • Attitudes

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