SOC 2390 Lecture Notes - Body Painting, Male Prostitution

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29 Jan 2013
Prostitution is the sale of sexual services (of oneself or another) for money or goods and without
emotional attachment. More broadly defined, prostitution refers to any industry in which one’s body is
bought, sold, or traded for sexual use and abuse. According to this definition, systems of prostitution
include pornography, live sex shows, peep shows, international sex slavery, and prostitution as narrowly
• The vast majority of prostitutes around the globe are women and children. A certain amount of male
prostitution does exist, although most boys and men in the sex industry engage in sexual encounters
with other men.
• Not all prostitutes are alike—life experiences, family backgrounds, years of formal education, locales
of operation, types of customers, and methods of doing business vary widely. Nevertheless, sociologists
have identified five levels or tiers of prostitution:
1) Escorts or call girls/call boys are considered the upper echelon in prostitution because they tend to
earn higher fees and have more selectivity in their working conditions and customers than do other
prostitutes. They typically have more years of formal education, they tend to dress conservatively, and
most of them do not think of themselves as prostitutes.
2) Bar girls/bar boys are hustlers, strippers, and table dancers who engage in prostitution on the side.
People in this tier work out of night clubs, bars, and strip joints primarily. Most hustlers are not paid by
the bar but earn their livelihood by negotiating sexual favors with potential customers, who often are
lonely and want someone to talk to as well as to have sex with.
3) House girls work in brothels (houses of prostitution) run by a madam or a pimp who collects up to half
of the fees earned by the women. Customers choose “dates” from women lined up in a parlor or
receiving room. House prostitutes are not allowed to turn down a customer. Since prostitution is illegal
in most states, houses of prostitution typically operate as body-painting studios, massage parlors, or
other businesses.
4) Streetwalkers are prostitutes who publicly solicit customers and charge by the “trick.” Most street
prostitutes work a specific location and defend it from other prostitutes. Streetwalkers derive status and
some degree of protection from their pimps; however, researchers have also documented the
exploitative and sometimes violent nature of the pimp-prostitute relationship.
5) The very bottom tier of prostitution is occupied by women who are addicted to crack cocaine and
engage in crack-for-sex exchanges. Researchers have found that many crack-addicted women perform
unprotected oral sex on men in crack houses in exchange for crack.
Prostitution in the United States
• Estimates of the number of prostitutes in the United States range from 100,000 to more than 500,000,
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