Regulation of the Male Sex Industry

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


As Thomas Crofts shows in this chapter, the regulation of male sex work has been closely bound up with changing conceptions of gender and sexuality. In this respect, male sex work is not dissimilar to female sex work. However, the reasons for regulating male sex work and the targets of regulation have been quite distinct. As we show in chapter 6 (“Clients of Male Sex Workers”), the client often has been associated with intergenerational sex between youth and older men, and homosexuality. However, there has been a recent shift in the regulation of sex work, resulting in its decriminalization in some jurisdictions. This weakening of controls and policing coincides with more liberal attitudes toward same-sex relations. Whereas there has been considerable debate over the regulation of female sex work, such debates are largely absent with regard to male sex work. Does this mean that power and control are less important in our understanding of male sex work? While there is a strong indication that many male sex workers enjoy what they do and that a career in male sex work should not be considered much different from other careers, there is also evidence that some male sex workers are vulnerable to exploitation and that there is great social diversity in the industry in terms of status and reward.

The decriminalization of sex work has placed more demands on sex workers. As the male sex industry is decriminalized and regulated by occupational controls such as income tax reporting, we have seen not only the professionalization of services provided by sex workers but also states dictating protocols and expectations for service delivery. At an informal level, there are high expectations that sex workers will provide quality services and interact with the public in a professional manner. At a formal level, decriminalization may in time require sex workers to be certified to meet health and workplace safety requirements. Technology also has made male sex work at once more visible and more open to informal and formal controls—for example, a sex worker who offers poor services can be shut down in a matter of a few hours through bad reviews. In this way, the market itself plays a greater role in regulating opportunities for male sex workers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMale Sex Work and Society
EditorsVictor Minichiello, John Scott
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherHarrington Park Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781939594037
ISBN (Print)9781939594006, 9781939594013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


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