Male Sex Work and Society: Review

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[BOOKS]

Male Sex Work and Society
Edited by Victor Minichiello and John Scott
Harrington Park Press

Cover.MSW&S

This book is a wide-ranging, scholarly consideration of male sex work. The volume editors and their contributors have set themselves a difficult task indeed: Male sex work does not have that much of a written record, never having excited the concern of politicians, reformers, or even artists as has sex work by women. Of course, male sex work has been similarly stigmatized and is mostly illegal, so workers have been understandably circumspect. An added difficulty for today’s researcher is that sex work is increasingly arranged over the Internet, not in red light districts or other public spaces, lessening its visibility.

The contributors to this volume, many academic researchers in fields such as psychology, anthropology, and public health, are scupulous in backing up assertions with reference to the established literature or through their own fieldwork. The book discusses historical contexts, business aspects, social issues, and male sex work in various societies around the world. In a number of chapters, the authors relay the first-hand comments of sex workers themselves, giving readers a unique view of their experiences and perspectives. Historically, and today, male sex work occurs overwhelmingly between men, so this book should be of interest to those concerned with HIV transmission between men who have sex with men. There is no one section on HIV, but this subject does come up in a chapter on public health and in a number of the other chapters, mainly in discussions of condom use. Safer sex practices emerge as the norm, but reasons workers may choose not to follow them are discussed as well. The book’s editors and contributors have, happily, written in a very readable style without academic jargon or forays into theory. Thus, Male Sex Work and Society is accessible to any who might be interested in the topic. This book is a valuable resource on an elusive topic.

—Reviewed by Nancy Ellegate

Nancy Ellegate is a sometime book reviewer for A&U.