Male escorting, safety and national ugly mugs: Queering policy and practice on the reporting of crimes against sex workers

Alex Bryce*, Rosie Campbell, Jane Pitcher, Mary Laing, Adele Irving

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Male sex work embodies varied practices in a plethora of spaces. Men work as escorts, porn stars, in fetish and BDSM,1 as ‘rent boys’, from brothels, via the internet, in public sex environments and in a multiplicity of private spaces. Some men see female clients and couples, while others service male and trans* clients. Male sex workers often have complex relationships with their working and non-working sexualities and sexual practices. Despite the diversity of the male sex industry, men are often absent in discourse

and debate in sex work research, policy and practice (Sanders et al. 2009; Whowell 2010). In policy, violence against sex workers is considered a ‘gendered’ act, with men constructed either as pimps, abusive clients or traffickers. Rarely are they considered sex workers, labourers or victims (Gaffney 2007; Whowell 2010). This chapter draws on case studies and monitoring data from the UK

Network of Sex Work Projects (UKNSWP)2 ‘National Ugly Mugs’ (NUM) scheme – a national reporting mechanism for crimes committed against sex workers – in order to explore the role of gender-nuanced and queer perspectives in challenging myths around male sex work and violence. The queer analytical framework used seeks to de-centre the heteronormative framework through which sex work and violence against sex workers is commonly constructed, and offers an alternative to radical feminist perspectives which arguably perpetuate gendered readings of sex work and violence (Weitzer 2005). It also seeks to question the limitations of a heterosexist framework when seeking to understand and respond to the needs of male and trans* sex workers in the context of violence. The chapter first outlines the conceptual landscape exploring male sex work and the invisibility of male sex work in policy and practice debates. This is followed by a discussion of the value of the NUM scheme for male sex workers. Finally, it considers the potential barriers that male sex workers face to reporting work-related incidents and the utility of a queered perspective for understanding these issues.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQueer Sex Work
EditorsMary Laing, Katy Pilcher, Nicola Smith
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780203761960
ISBN (Print)9780415704557, 9781138288539
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Crime and Society
PublisherTaylor & Francis


Dive into the research topics of 'Male escorting, safety and national ugly mugs: Queering policy and practice on the reporting of crimes against sex workers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this