So this sex work thing is largely an economic phenomenon then

More than 70% of UK sex workers have previously worked in healthcare, education or charities, while more than a third hold university degrees, according to one of the largest surveys of the industry ever undertaken.

The academic research, carried out by Leeds University and funded by the Wellcome Trust, also reveals the pressures that lead people to enter the sex industry, with one respondent saying she could not keep up her mortgage repayments while earning £50 a day as an NHS care assistant.

The study of 240 sex workers – including 196 women, 28 men and 12 transgender people – focused on those who were not trafficked or coerced into selling sex but had chosen to do so, and most worked from within premises rather than on the streets.

Of those surveyed, 172 (71%) had previously worked in health, social care, education, childcare or charities. The second most common former area of employment was retail, with 81 people (33.7%) having worked in the industry.

Not that the usual suspects will take a blind bit of notice of this. People feel they don’t have enough money, they go and do something they may or may not like doing but they want the money more than they dislike that action.

And the difference between this and any other job is what?

33 thoughts on “So this sex work thing is largely an economic phenomenon then”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    I agree with the general idea, but does the backgrounds quoted prove much?

    Of those surveyed, 172 (71%) had previously worked in health, social care, education, childcare or charities. The second most common former area of employment was retail, with 81 people (33.7%) having worked in the industry.

    That is, they are mainly women. Who used to have jobs in the female-dominated areas, just like the rest of the female population. Not sure what that proves, but it could be compatible with a lot of things.

    The worrying claim is a third had university degrees. Sounds less educated than average to me but you would have to adjust for age.

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    “The worrying claim is a third had university degrees. Sounds less educated than average to me”
    Isn’t the alternate career choice for graduates asking if “you want fries with that?”

  3. Philip Scott Thomas

    …240 sex workers – including 196 women, 28 men and 12 transgender people…

    And the other four were what?

  4. PST>

    Midgender, perhaps? It’s an odd set, because ‘women’ and ‘men’ refer to sex, not gender, while ‘transgender’ is obviously a reference to gender.

    I really can’t think of a simple change one could make to that sentence, since even if we go for ‘transsexual’ rather than ‘transgender’ – the words, your choice of services is your own business – we’d still have to find four more for the total. Even if there is such a thing as ‘neuter’ in humans, I really can’t see a lot of space for that in the particular field of employment under discussion.

  5. bloke (not) in spain

    Just an observation, but if you get your moral horror hangups out the way; health, social care, education, childcare or charities, retail, whoring are all people-facing jobs. All in the same sector. Skills transference. What would you expect?

  6. I think it was Chris Rock who said “How come every stripper I meet is working her way through college? We must have the best educated hookers in the world!”

    Anyway, it’s good to finally get an answer on what people will do with the useless degrees that they’ve been railroaded into getting at enormous costs. I’m not sure it was the desired outcome, though.

    And yes, a lot of sex workers do a bit on the side a few hours per week to supplement their normal income. I know of an estate agent in a Russia who does a bit on the side, and a TS Thai who works for a studio in London as a makeup artist but puts out for some extra cash. I’m sure it’s been like this since the dawn of time.

  7. Just an observation, but if you get your moral horror hangups out the way; health, social care, education, childcare or charities, retail, whoring are all people-facing jobs. All in the same sector. Skills transference. What would you expect?

    Plus in many instances it involves f*cking paying customers hard in the arse, which explains the TS angle.

  8. bloke (not) in spain

    Is the number discrepancy in the survey a surprise? It’s been put together by non-moonlighting graduates.
    Now hookers tend to be very good at arithmetic. Particularly counting.

  9. Healthcare, education and charities together make up 71%. And then we discuss what common factors draw together these disparate activities and the sex industry.
    What is the combined total for zookeepers and opticians I wonder?

  10. Does the choice of degree have much to do with it?

    I’d have gladly swapped shagging for a living over the long hours, tedium and general aggravation of the junior lawyer days. Even for a pay cut.

  11. @ PST

    One of the 4 – Daisy, from mid Wales – explained how she had had no regrets about what had been a life changing opportunity.

  12. One successful Lothario I knew, as part of his pickup routine when otherwise failing, offered to pay for it. He did this to all targets, usually attractive women, married or not, at normal, respectable social functions. According to him women generally don’t mind such offer and often seem flattered. His observation seems to support the popularity of young attractive college students as Sugar Babies.

  13. “And the difference between this and any other job is what?”

    Per the feministas, the vagina is sacred, whereas if a man uses, and perhaps injures, his body to earn money, well, that’s the natural order, right?

    Some dude ought write “the muscle monologues” except we all think “the vagina monologues” was self indulgent crapola.

  14. bloke (not) in spain

    Sorry Tex. That story sounds highly fictional. I wouldn’t even recommend asking the professionals before they’ve opened negotiations. “What do you think I am! A PROSTITUTE!?!?” may sound odd coming from the lips of an obvious prepago but you’ve just hit her right where she lives. Mind the claws.

  15. “including 196 women, 28 men and 12 transgender people” – seems to me odd proportions, 5% tg ? 12% men?

    I’d a thunk it 97% women at least in the real world, but then perhaps that only shows how little i know.

  16. @bloke (not)
    Tiz absolutely true. He’s dead now, presumably from natural causes at an old age, but he was a very fun guy, an architect by very successful profession (he owned his own 6-place plane bought new, a beach condo on a beach where Farrah Fawcett went – I never saw her though, & a boat) and certainly a salesman by any definition. As an old rich bloke in Florida, so not in Spain either, he always had much younger & very pretty girlfriends & live-ins. He did spend a lot $ cuz his ex-wife constantly filed to get more $ than her generous court-ordered stipend. He was a joy to party with.

    I think it was him (but could have been another salesman) who said: “There are no problems, only opportunities.”

  17. bloke (not) in spain

    What one needs at a time like this is a little research, Mr Bonk.
    Voila!
    A well known internet resource carries 125,685 ads for sexual related matters.
    Using their search facility & specifying two parameters:
    Female
    Escort.
    Returned 9631 ads in that category
    Using:
    Male
    Escort
    Returned 9631
    Refining the males by specifying three parameters:
    Male
    Escort
    Straight
    Returned 6600

    Caveats:
    The females figures may be enhanced by some female escorts advertising once as an individual & again in a duo or escort service ad.
    Some of the males may be advertising as both straight & gay with different profiles to capture both markets, but there were only 159 gay male ads.*
    Entirely possible there are male/straight ads which are simply the optimistic angling for a bit of nookie without interest of earning.

    Not what you thought you knew?

    *Interesting. One would think there were more. Of course, it’s possible that sector of the market has its own sites but logic says; in an oversupplied market, providers will take all opportunities to attract customers. It’s not a pay-to-advertise pay-to-view site. The money’s made in responding to ads & peripheral services.
    Maybe the actual demand for rent-boys – outside our political class & the officers of certain banks – is somewhat mythical.

  18. bloke (not) in spain

    Correction to above:
    Female/Escort return was 18,586 not 9631

    Trouble with correlating one’s research results on a fag packet. i should apply for a grant like everybody else.

  19. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke (not) in spain – “Interesting. One would think there were more. Of course, it’s possible that sector of the market has its own sites but logic says; in an oversupplied market, providers will take all opportunities to attract customers.”

    There is a strong demand in the Gay communities that I know of for men who look and act straight. Someone saying in an ad that they are straight don’t make ’em straight. Did you check a few to see if they only took female clients?

    “Maybe the actual demand for rent-boys – outside our political class & the officers of certain banks – is somewhat mythical.”

    In my somewhat limited – and strictly second hand – experience of the Gay community, all Gay men end up with rent boys if only because Gay men are such Body Fascists and don’t like the fat and middle aged. Which is what all Gay men turn into in the end.

    I do not believe in the existence of male heterosexual prostitutes outside the Caribbean and parts of Africa.

  20. Sorry Tex. That story sounds highly fictional. I wouldn’t even recommend asking the professionals before they’ve opened negotiations. “What do you think I am! A PROSTITUTE!?!?” may sound odd coming from the lips of an obvious prepago but you’ve just hit her right where she lives. Mind the claws.

    Yup. I’ve found that hookers go absolutely fucking apeshit if you call them a hooker.

  21. Sex work is just that – work. It involves using your body.

    Well so do most trades.

    It should be treated as such, and sex workers should have the rights and obligations of pretty much any other profession.

  22. bloke (not) in spain

    A little anecdote for you TimN.
    I don’t think I’ve any secret, when I met the current Miss Right she was a working girl. There was a point early on in our extremely fraught relationship when I had the need to go look for her. Which inevitably meant going looking where working girls work. Where i did indeed chance upon Miss Right. And this resulted in the most almighty row in mostly high velocity Spanish.. Which started with me being accused of being “infiel”. Unfaithful. And continued for about 2 hours, with the clock running at an alarming p/h rate, circling back to the same theme.
    The core contention seeming to be that I was being unfaithful to her… with her.
    The reciprocity aspect of the situation never even occurred to her.

  23. bloke (not) in spain

    “I do not believe in the existence of male heterosexual prostitutes outside the Caribbean and parts of Africa.”
    As with many things, SMfS, reality trumps belief every time.

    And if you think about it, you can work out why.
    The essence of the transaction is the power lies with the person doing the paying. And there are women who will pay money to put themselves in the position where they’re indisputably calling the shots.

    The mistake’s thinking the “game” is solely about bumping bits. Even with it going on the male tab, it isn’t.

  24. BniS
    I think your research methodology is a little flawed and doesn’t support your argument very well. If you look at your data pool (125,000) and your results (<30,000) you can see how the vast majority of sex-related adverts fall outside your criteria. One reason for that might be that the word "female" might be used in ads a lot less than "girl" or "lady", and ads using those terms would be ignored in your search. Yes, the argument could also be applied to the word "male", but my own personal research (ahem) shows this is less prevalent.

    Another factor – you appear to assume that one ad = one sex worker, but we know that brothels can advertise themselves as an entity with the actual sex workers not shown individually. Aside from that, I suggest that such brothels are full of "girls", "ladies" and "mistresses", not "females" and so wouldn't be captured in your search.

    Tell you what, though… there are some nice pictures in those ads!

  25. bloke (not) in spain

    @Geoffers
    You’d have to know how the resource site works. It’s not searching for words used within ads. It’s searching what advertisers have classified their own ad & within ads, what services are offered, according to boxes ticked by advertiser.. If you want your thirst for pictures slaked or the phone number for a massage parlour, there’s ads for those as well. And a lot of other things. What 125K ads comprise.
    As the raison d’etre of the site is to source work for workers & there’s a certain amount of validation through payment for charged functions, it seems a much more robust research tool than a couple of sociology grads or SMfS’s belief system.
    Revealed preferences.

  26. Tim & the Bloke who’s not in Spain either:

    Tim, the Lothario story is true, but the Bloke’s response re his expected fem response was based upon his misunderstanding of the Lothario’s pitch. He approached attractive women with “woo” (essentially “you are so beautiful, I need you, I adore you, I must have you… – much cooler, more subtle, and with much experience), and the last “card” to try & close the deal, was (in effect, but again cooler), “You are so exceptional & rare & beautiful, I need you so badly I will do anything including paying you.” No one disliked this fun & cool guy.

    –tex

  27. The reciprocity aspect of the situation never even occurred to her

    One of the oddest things I found out about Thai hookers – not through personal experience, mind – was that they were insanely jealous, and would go apeshit if a one-off customer went with another working girl the next night. It just seemed to clobber their ego. Although naturally, they were free to lie and cheat with 3-4 different “boyfriends” as much as they liked. Weird.

    My own experience was in 2004 when I briefly dated an Uzbek former hooker in Dubai (it was no secret then). The main problem wasn’t that she was once a hooker, it was that she didn’t seem to be able to stop. It didn’t last long.

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