Male Prostitution: The Ignored Existence!

Male Prostitution | Ignored Existence | 26th October 2022 | Virtual Wire

 

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Forget sellers for a moment. Tell me, "Who are these consumers, among us? Uncontrollable lust or other pleas?"

In Classical Economics there was a saying called Say's Law, i.e., "Supply creates its own demand" that got rejected by mainstream economics when Sir John Maynard Keynes suggested that it actually demands that create supply in his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). And like all the other markets, this principle is also applicable in the market of sex. There have been a lot of talks about female prostitution, so much so that whenever we hear the word "prostitute" our brain starts to create a portrait of a half-naked woman with excessive makeup, standing in front of brothels and calling customers and so on.


But when we add the word "male" to it, our brain gets confused and creates a blurry or no portrait. But, it certainly doesn't mean that male prostitutes don't exist. They do but we just don't have enough information about them. Maybe the ratio is too discriminating, the number of women associated with this profession is significantly larger than men. Maybe, it's one of those only professions where more women are employed than men. Let's talk about these minorities. Why do they join this industry? How are their experience and many more?


Statistics and Data

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Although it's hard to get the actual data about prostitution because of many reasons like variation in definition and being corner zoned by the whole economy, luckily few efforts were made to find it out.

  • According to estimations, among the 40-42 million prostitutes in the world, 8-8.42 million are men.

  • The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange published a report that claims, "50% of the 100,000 children trafficked for sex are boys".

  • In a report published by Delancey Street Foundation, the average age of males joining prostitution is 14 years and leaving prostitution is 25 years.

  • In 2013 ten European countries reported an HIV prevalence among male sex workers of 8.9 % to the UN General Assembly Special Session.

In a recent study conducted by Australian professors Victor Minichiello and John Scott, researchers identified approximately 325,000 online profiles of male escorts around the world, among which 100000 were unique and these profiles were predominantly located in South and Central America (44%) and North America (43%). Mexico(where sex work is legal) topped the list followed by the United States, Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom in order. 57% of websites served men to men, 11% served men to women and 10% served men to couples. Researcher John Scott noted, “The average price worldwide seems to be $200 an hour, but it can be thousands of dollars for a weekend, especially among the international male escorts.” But, after the agency’s cut, their take dropped to $110 an hour. Many reported getting tips in addition to the base rate, though, which increased their salary by as much as 25 per cent.


History

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Male prostitution isn't certainly a new fascination. It has been there for centuries.

  • In Italy during 1600, young men often participated in sex with rich and older benefactors. This activity was supported by their parents too. Back then, society didn't look down upon these guys as it was not a so-called immoral task.

  • "kabuki wakashu" is a Japanese term that was used for actors who turned into prostitutes. This trend originated in the 17th century. Back then, even Buddhist and samurai warriors used to get engaged in sexual activities with their young apprentices.

  • The term "barracks prostitution" got popular in the 18th century. It refers to the soldiers who sold sexual services to other male clients.

  • John Saul, also known as Jack Saul, and Dublin Jack, was a well-known Irish prostitute who got featured as a character in two works of pornographic literature of the period. His biography has also been published and featured on television.

  • During the Great Depression of the 1930s, male (often transvestite) prostitutes, also known as hustlers or "fairies" became very so famous that many hustler bars and brothels opened and thrived.

Reasons for Male Prostitution

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There are many reasons, some of which are quite similar to female prostitution. The most common reasons are stated as getting trafficked and financial hardships. Naive adolescents find prostitution an attractive yet easy way to earn money. For example, consider those guys who go to Berlin


Types of Male prostitutes

Based on the workplace, male prostitutes can be classified as:

  • Street Prostitutes.

  • Home Prostitutes.

  • Gigolo.

Based on the nature of the service, they can be classified as:

  • Outcasts: They are impoverished and work on a daily basis. Typically, these people have substance abuse problems and use the money for drugs and alcohol. Often, they use drugs before the encounter and afterwards to help them feel numb or forget what they did.

  • Part-timers: These people don’t do sex work every day. They just perform sexual activity acts when they want to be more comfortable. For example, they have to pay a bill or save up for a vacation. Often, they’re around 28 years old.

  • Insiders: These men grew up in the lifestyle, so they feel it’s an honourable occupation. A male prostitute might try another job but always comes back to prostitution because they like the work.

  • Liberationists: This group is homosexual, so prostitution allows them to realize and explore their fantasies. They often have high levels of education, have great connections with family, are highly positive, and have good self-esteem.

Experience of Male prostitutes

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Gathering information about male sex workers is a labour-intensive and time-consuming process. It requires building trust and an emotional relationship that needs fieldwork and outreach activities. They are never going to share their story unless they feel comfortable. But even after so much investment and effort, information can only be gathered from category I, i.e., Street Prostitutes. Home Prostitutes mostly reject to give any information about their profession and Brothels don't let people talk to their boys. The most common reasons for resorting to buying sex include fear of not being able to find other partners without paying them, attraction to adolescents, or having unsatisfying sex lives etc. Overall, the rent boy would fill the sexual or emotional void that the client is experiencing.


Donald West explains three different scenarios in which male clients may pay for a prostitute:

  • They are married men with unsatisfied or non-existent sex lives. They may be homosexual or purely unhappy in their current situation so they resort to commercial sex.

  • They are men who have healthy (heterosexual) marriages and homosexual experiences on the side, appearing to be bisexual.

  • They are non-married men who are closeted and scared of being found out or men that are openly gay and looking for more opportunities for sex.

These clients tend to request anal sex, but the most common services requested are mutual masturbation and oral sex. Female clients are relatively fewer in number. Most of them are rich and powerful women. Not only old but some young women who don’t want a committed relationship use such services. Most people see prostitution as an easy way to earn money but the cost involved with it is very high. There are so many risk factors, including:

  • Stigma – People frown upon a gigolo.

  • Criminal and legal risks – It’s illegal to be a male prostitute in the United States.

  • Physical abuse – They could be beaten or otherwise injured.

  • Health-related risks – This includes sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Family/friend rejection.

  • Gay-bashing.

  • Insecure income.

  • Emotional and mental anguish.

Sex workers are often not treated as humans. Clients torture them, rub burnt cigarettes on their skin, force them not to use condoms, threaten them about ceasing their job and so on.


Present Day Male Prostitution

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It's widely believed that male prostitutes can only be found in megacities, however, that's not true. They can be found anywhere, even on distant islands. The platforms they use to get customers to include:

  • Online: They use escort websites for advertising their services. One such website rentboy.com was taken down by the Department of Homeland Security. Since these websites face many legal issues, prostitutes nowadays use public platforms like Quora, Instagram, Facebook etc. too.

  • Clubs, Bars, and Streets: Large cities like Chicago, and Las Vegas have many brothels that offer male escorts but these places are considered risky in terms of safety and legal perspective for both the client and the rent boy.

  • Public toilets: Many male prostitutes work here to attract clients and not to get caught. It's anonymous and brief. Some clients even claim that they can’t orgasm if they’re not in a public toilet.

  • Sex Clubs and Bathhouses: Sometimes, it's been observed that male prostitutes work in sex clubs, adult bookstores, or gay bathhouses, but prostitution is often prohibited in these places. Known prostitutes get banned. Still, a male prostitute might be overlooked if business is good.

  • Male Brothels: This is the most preferable place for male escorts but there are only a few male brothels. In 2010, Switzerland opened its first brothel primarily for gay men that is still running. Recently many male brothels are thriving in Thailand.

Male Prostitution in India

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A BBC report on Kolkata in India reveals that it's not just rich foreign women who prey on male prostitutes. Indian women of means are also getting into the act. It's common in cities like Bangalore, and Delhi. It's not an easy job to do in the absence of male brothels, gigolos after dusk look for prospective clients, mainly upper or middle-class and rich women who usually drive in their cars with dark tinted windows. This is what a rent boy who is the son of a bank worker and joined the sex trade after a short stint as an employee with a multi-national pharmaceutical firm in the capital, Delhi said to the reporters, "It is not all fun and games as people think. Just as female sex workers face violence and get cheated, we face such situations from time to time too, I have often not been paid by clients, and when I have protested, they have threatened me by telling the police that I tried to rape them. And there are clients who love to stub out burning cigarettes on our bodies. These days I have begun to charge for a cigarette burn – 500 rupees ($11) per stub,"


The United Nations report “Traditionalising male sex work in India” says that boys in the age group of 15 to 25 with a feminine demeanour migrate to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh from various states to perform what is called the ‘Launda naach.’ Launda dancers are predominantly effeminate men, dressed in women’s attire, who get hired by poor families to spice up several ceremonies as they cannot afford “more expensive” women dancers. These dancers predominantly belong to lower-middle-class and poor families in West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra while some hail from Nepal and Bangladesh. They are very vulnerable to sexual assault and physical torture like getting bitten or stabbed. Their probability of getting gang raped is very high. Resistance leads to more torture and even death. Even the filingrejectPolice rejects to file their complaint stating that prostitutes deserve to be raped and not believing that a man can get raped as well. A survey conducted by the placesSambhavana Society suggests that many teenagers consider it an easy way of earning pocket money that will help them gain financial stability and support their family and continue it for the sake of money. Pubs, massage centres, sauna hubs, and spas work as meeting places for the sex trade.

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“We exchange phone numbers and get called. Depending on the client’s demands, we check the escort’s availability and fix a price and place, the payment could go up to as high as Rs 1 lakh,” reveals Munna (name changed), a bisexual sex worker operating in Hyderabad. A male sex worker from Mumbai said, "These pages on Facebook or other social media are just congregational points for clients looking for pleasure. We only exchange contact details online. The real transaction happens offline after the payment has been made online." Plain-clothed men, who look just like any other bystander on the road, await their clients. Picked up by women who drive luxury cars, or cater to men looking for cheap sex, they live a clandestine life satisfying the needs of both sexes. The deals are usually fixed at shady, deserted areas, empty spaces behind buses, parks, metro rail construction sites, and railway stations. Most male masseurs are trafficked from rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and other states of India to work in the metros.


These people are mostly illiterate or semi-literate and have a tragic past of neglect, discrimination, and abuse. Another group of escorts are literate and charges more for their services. They usually operate in the city where they belong and make deals with high-profile clients. Some of them voluntarily participate in the commodification of masculinity and receive high amounts from their clients. Pimps even offer "NRI choice" to clients. Literally, a group of pimps stand in front of airports, railways and bus stoppages to find NRIs and approach them. A lot of them are homosexual or bisexual, forced into the trade by a lack of social acceptance. The myth that there's nothing called male prostitution sometimes helps them not to get arrested by the police. Most of these escorts get involved in other occupations in the daytime and completely transform themselves at night. It's hardly possible to guess their profession in the daytime.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) says there are over 20 million sex workers (predominantly female) in India. Approximately 35% of them enter the market when they are teenagers. "The law governing sex work – the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) considers trafficking, abduction, and forced sex work of any minor or adult (male or female) illegal. It treats rescued girls or women as victims and has provisions for providing them with shelter. But given that there is no accurate data on male sex work in India, it is tougher to protect male sex workers from violence or abuse”, adds an official. Most sex workers, whether male or female get trapped in sex work. But society still blames these victims. Even if someone joins prostitution willingly, it becomes very difficult to quit. They face a lot of blackmail. Even when they manage to get out of the trap somehow, society rejects them. People don't treat it as just a profession and leave this helping in the corner. As a result, their scars get deeper, they become more depressed, they don't get a normal job and end up either involved in criminal activities or ending their life.

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