As some may know (See: Poly Map
), I and others believe there is some crossover between the categories of Polyamory, Swinging and Sex Work. I recently read an article that I think solidifies these connections indirectly, while also making the case that Sex Work should be decriminalized in more countries for the good of everyone.
I'm Canadian, so my slant will be more on the Canadian side of things, but I do include an research paper published in the United Kingdom as well. I'll start with that...
The research paper involves 50 sex worker clients, and can be seen here in PDF format:
It brings up various aspects of concerning sex workers and their clients. I found that some of its points regarding emotional intimacy were quite interesting, as many people seem to think that emotional intimacy can't be involved in sex work. I understand that some sex workers do indeed like to distance themselves emotionally from their clients and that some clients also want to distance themselves emotionally from the sex workers they frequent, and that some may see this as a good thing, just as some believe that there should be a certain distance between other professionals and their clients, such as doctors, dentists, etc. This being said, the study makes it clear that not everyone feels this way. In its conclusion, it brings up how the current laws are detrimental to society as a whole.
The study was done and is specifically geared for the United Kingdom, but I think that many of the points raised are universal. Here are some excerpts that I thought were particularly interesting:
It has been identified that some men are attracted to the temporal relationship available through commercial sex because of the lack of emotional attachment, the ability to suspend ‘normal’ expectations of the male sex role and the type of relationship that is free from societal norms and rituals (Atchison et al., 1998).
However, regulars were less inclined to be motivated by these features of commercial sex, but instead sought out sex workers with whom they could develop a more in-depth and holistic type of relationship
The ‘girlfriend experience’, which usually involves kissing, caressing and other sensual acts (rather than brief sex acts), is sought by many men,
and is met with triumph and congratulations on message boards when a clien reveals he experienced the ‘GFE’. Contrasts were made between the commercial sexual experience where men experience sex workers as emotionally distant during the sex acts, to other experiences of ‘natural’ chemistry and sensual curiosity:
If it’s a situation where it develops quite sexually naturally, then you sort of explore each other’s bodies. But if it’s where for obvious reasons the girl is just doing a job and isn’t sort of connected, it is cold … If you’re not getting much of a response from the girl then you feel bad. (Craig, 38, sales, singles)
Page 414 (Conclusion):
Commerce is but a manifestation of the more general exchanges that occur
within human sexual and intimate relationships. Some systems refuse to endorse sex and commerce as a legitimate relationship that should be facilitated, protected or even acknowledged. Other systems take a serious position on the social role of commercial sex and the ordinary characteristics of the relationships, preferring to provide an avenue where these relationships can be established with minimal harm and destruction. The relationships between sex workers and clients can be nurturing, respectful and mutual. This experience of the commercial relationship can
enhance the quality of life of men who buy sex (see Sanders, 2007b) whilst at the same time provide sex workers with safe customers who will not breach the contract through sexual misconduct, financial exploitation (e.g. not paying), abusive language, or aggressive behaviour. A system that recognizes the emotional consumption that is integral to some forms of commercial sex and the possibilities for emotional mutuality between sex worker and client could be a framework that distils negative images of women as disposable victims and clients as unruly sexual beasts to be controlled. The current climate of criminalizing men who buy sex
(Brooks Gordon, 2005) and the impetus to block a regulated indoor market
(Sanders, 2007a) prevent policy intervening to reinforce the male client role as an accountable active participant who has responsibilities to himself, the sex worker, other sexual partners and a wider responsibility to respect women in all areas of society. Policy designed to manage sex work markets should be informed by evidence that understands the micro-relationships that form commercial sex alongside the fluidity of male and female sexualities.