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The meaning of the purchase: desire, demand, and the commerce of sex by Elizabeth Bernstein

Feminists and other scholars have debated theoretically what exactly is being purchased in the prostitution transaction and whether sex can be “a service like any other”, but they have scarcely tackled these questions empirically. This article draws upon field observations of and interviews with male clients of commercial sex-workers and state agents entrusted with regulating them to probe the meanings given to different types of commercial sexual exchange. Manifested by client arrests and re-education, vehicle impoundment, stricter laws on underage prostitution and the possession of child pornography, recent state efforts to problematize male sexuality throughout the USA and Western Europe have been developed alongside an increasingly unbridled ethic of sexual consumption, as evidenced by soaring demand for pornography, strip clubs, lap-dancing, escorts, telephone sex and “sex tours” in developing countries. By situating commercial sexual exchange within the broader context of post-industrial transformations of culture and sexuality, we can begin to unravel this paradox.

The Meaning of the Purchase Desire, Demand, and the Commerce of Sex 1

The Meaning of the Purchase Desire, Demand, and the Commerce of Sex 2 

Related posts:

  1. What’s Wrong with Prostitution? What’s Right with Sex Work? Comparing Markets in Female Sexual Labor by Elizabeth Bernstein
  2. The Transformation of Sexual Commerce and Urban Space in San Francisco by Elizabeth Bernstein
  3. The Sexual Politics of the “New Abolitionism” by Elizabeth Bernstein
  4. Introduction to Special Issue: Sexual Commerce and the Global Flow of Bodies, Desires, and Social Policies by Elizabeth Bernstein
  5. Sex for the Middle Classes by Elizabeth Bernstein