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Ashford, C (2009) ‘Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect: Time to Re-evaluate the Criminal Law?’, Journal of Criminal Law 73(3) 258

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  1. 1. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect: Time to Re-evaluate the Criminal Law? Chris Ashford* Abstract The criminal law relating to sex work was last modified in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Three years later in January 2006 the UK government published a ‘prostitution strategy’ that set out four core aims: challenge the view that street prostitution is inevitable and here to stay; achieve an overall reduction in street prostitution; improve the safety and quality of life of communities affected by prostitution, including those directly involved in street sex markets, and finally, to reduce all forms of commercial sexual exploitation. This framework prima facie failed to take into account both the issue of male sex work and also the Internet effect upon sex work. This article seeks to examine the intersection of techno- logy and male for male sex work and reviews both the criminal law and UK policy framework in that context. Keywords Sex work; Prostitution; Internet; Technology; Cyber- prostitution It is common to start any piece relating to sex work or prostitution1 by referring to it as ‘the oldest profession’ or perhaps more controversially as a ‘crime without victim’2 . Yet the debate around prostitution3 is all too often dominated by traditional categorisations of sex work4 , be it street- based, brothel or ‘call girl’. With a few notable exceptions,5 the subject of * Senior Lecturer in Law, Faculty of Business and Law, University of Sunderland; e-mail chris.ashford@sunderland.ac.uk. An earlier version of this article was presented to the Joint Annual Meetings of the Law and Society Association and the Canadian Law and Society Association at Montreal, Canada in May 2008. The author is grateful to all those present for their insightful and constructive comments. 1 This article will primarily use the term ‘sex work’ rather than prostitution due to the connotations attached to prostitution. Nonetheless, the term is being used in the same legal sense as prostitution as defined within s. 51(2) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003: ‘“prostitute” means a person (A) who, on at least one occasion and whether or not compelled to do so, offers or provides sexual services to another person in return for payment or a promise of payment to A or a third person’. 2 T. Thomas, Sex Crime: Sex Offending and Society, 2nd edn (Willan Publishing: Cullompton, 2005) 11. 3 See J. O’Connell Davidson, Prostitution, Power and Freedom (Polity: Cambridge, 1998). 4 On the origins of the term ‘sex work’, see C. Leigh, ‘Inventing Sex Work’ in J. Nagle (ed.), Whores and Other Feminists (Routledge: New York, 1997). 5 See, e.g., B. B. Chatterjee, ‘Pixels, Pimps and Prostitutes: Human Rights and the Cyber-Sex Trade’ in M. Klang and A. Murray (eds), Human Rights in the Digital Age (GlassHouse Press: London, 2005); D. M. Hughes, The Internet and Sex Industries: Partners in Global Sexual Exploitation’ (2000) 19(1) Technology and Society Magazine 35; and K. Sharp and S. Earle, ‘Cyberpunters and Cyberwhores: Prostitution on the Internet’ in Y. Jewkes (ed.), Dot.cons: Crime, Deviance and Identity on the Internet (Willan Publishing: Cullompton, 2003). 258 The Journal of Criminal Law (2009) 73 JCL 258–280 doi:1350/jcla.2009.73.3.573
  2. 2. ‘cyber-prostitution’ and the impact of the Internet on sex work and the criminal law has been under-discussed whilst that literature which has examined this phenomenon appears dominated by a gendered view of sex work in which women are cast as ‘victims’ and men as the ‘op- pressors’. The subject of male sex work in the Internet context and particularly of same-sex male sex work6 remains under-researched. This article seeks to consider, through an examination of 562 escort profiles on a well-known same-sex social networking website, the current legal and political approach to sex work within England and Wales. It will do so within a pro-sex work feminist framework,7 questioning the focus of current government strategy and seeks to shed some light on the little examined intersection of same-sex male sex work and the Information Society. As recently as December 2007, Harriet Harman, the UK Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women called for a ‘ban’ on prostitution during an interview on the BBC’s Today Programme,8 asking listeners: ‘do we think in the 21st century it’s right that women should be in a sex trade or do we think this is exploitation and it should be banned?’. She went on to state: ‘We’ve got to stop the demand side or we’ll never be able to protect girls’. Throughout the interview Harman continued to construct prostitution as a highly gendered practice with clear power differentials. The men were cast as the dominant force in an exploitative male/female relationship. Henderson has noted that prostitution has become narrowly defined and the comparatively scant focus on male same-sex prostitution9 within the academic discourse has been attributable to buggery historic- ally being a capital offence itself.10 When, in the 1950s, the Wolfenden 6 The subject of males who engage in heterosexual or bisexual acts is also under discussed but there has been some research conducted into this area over the last 40 years. See, e.g., J. Sandford, Prostitutes (Martin Secker & Warburg: London, 1975) 169–79. 7 A term utilised by Vanwesenbeek and followed by Koken et al. See I. Vanwesenbeek, ‘Another Decade of Social Scientific Work on Sex Work: A Review of Research 1990–2000’ (2001) 12 Annual Review of Sex Research 242; and A. Koken, D. S. Bimbi, J. T. Parsons and P. N. Haltkins, ‘The Experience of Stigma in the Lives of Male Internet Escorts’ (2004) 16(1) Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality 13. For a theoretical overview of contemporary sex work, see R. Weitzer, ‘New Directions in Research on Prostitution’ (2005) 43(4/5) Crime, Law & Social Change 211. 8 Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 20 December 2007, 07.50. 9 Foucault has noted that in Ancient Greek culture it was the male who may have prostituted himself who would suffer civic and political disqualification. Such a man would be debarred from holding any magistracy in the city or abroad, nor could he serve as a herald or ambassador: M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 2: The Use of Pleasure (Penguin: London, 1992) 217–18. 10 For a more general historical discussion, see T. Henderson, Disorderly Women in Eighteenth-Century London (Pearson Education: Harlow, 1999) 3. For a further historical analysis of these issues, see P. Bartley, Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England 1860–1914 (Routledge: London, 2000); F. Finnegan, Poverty and Prostitution: A Study of Victorian Prostitutes in York (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1979); L. Mahood, The Magdalenes: Prostitution in the Nineteenth Century (Routledge: London, 1990); P.McHugh, Prostitution and Victorian Social Reform (Croom Helm: London, 1980); and J. R. Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1982). For a historical consideration of male prostitution, see J. Weeks, ‘Inverts, Perverts and Mary-Annes: Male Prostitution Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 259
  3. 3. Committee considered the vexing issues of homosexuality and prostitu- tion they did so at a time when homosexuality was illegal11 and thus it is perhaps understandable that the Committee only considered female prostitution.12 Nonetheless, it was their subsequent report, the Wolfen- den Report, that can be seen as providing the contemporary framework in which sex work law and policy has been made. That report stated in a much-quoted paragraph: We clearly recognise that the laws of any society must be acceptable to the general moral sense of the community if they are to be respected and enforced. But we are not charged to enter into matters of private moral conduct except in so far as they directly affect the public good; nor does our commission extend to assessing the teaching of theology, sociology or psychology on these matters, though on many points we have found their conclusions very relevant to our thinking.13 The Committee was arguing that the focus of the criminal law should be to intervene only where it ‘directly’ affects not the public, but the public good. This would perhaps suggest that street-based sex work, and the high visibility of those women was far more ‘offensive’ than a woman working out of the public’s gaze and consciousness. Quite literally, out of sight, out of mind. It is therefore not sex work per se that is legally objectionable, but rather the acts associated with it. This is a position that continues to dominate today in sexual offences law beyond sex work, notably in relation to public sex offences.14 and the Regulation of Homosexuality in England in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century’ in M. B. Duberman, M. Vicinus and G. Chauncey, Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past (Penguin: London, 1991). 11 For a consideration of homosexuality in 1950s Britain, see P. Wildeblood, Against the Law (Weidenfield & Nicolson: London, 1999). This position was ultimately changed with the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 which legalised homosexuality between consenting male adults aged over 21 provided the sexual acts took place in private. 12 Home Office, Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (Home Office: London, 1957) 79–114. For a discussion of sex work in the post-Wolfenden period, see R. Matthews, ‘Beyond Wolfenden? Prostitution, Politics and the Law’ in R. Matthews and J. Young (eds), Confronting Crime (Sage: London, 1986). 13 Home Office, above n. 12 at 9. 14 See, more generally, C. Ashford, ‘Sexuality, Public Space and the Criminal Law: The Cottaging Phenomenon’ (2007) 71 JCL 506 and P. Johnson, ‘Ordinary Folk and Cottaging: Law, Morality and Public Sex’ (2007) 34(4) Journal of Law and Society 520. An exception to this is the subject of sadomasochism in which the act continues to be criminalised regardless of the proximity to the wider public. The subject of consent has been much discussed in this context and applied to numerous scenarios. See, e.g., B. Livings, ‘A Different Ball Game—Why the Nature of Consent in Contact Sports Undermines a Unitary Approach’ (2007) 71 JCL 534. In the case of R v Keeble (John Robert) [2001] EWCA Crim 1764, Silber J, quoting the judge at first instance states: ‘In my view Mr Keeble represents at a high risk of physical harm to vulnerable women, who chose to contact him about a dominant submissive/submissive or sadomasochistic relationship. He took advantage of women who were vulnerable through age or circumstances and inflicted violence on them albeit in two of the three cases with their consent. He accepts that he was passionate when he was involved in sadomasochism. I find it difficult to accept that he can walk away from this activity as easily as he says, and that his life can be as easily separated into unrelated aspects as he suggests. I feel that there is something of himself in the sadomasochistic practices. The extent of the injury to Ms L, and the extent of the beating administered to Ms P are causes for concern; as is the The Journal of Criminal Law 260
  4. 4. Post-Wolfenden scholarship has largely constructed sex workers as female victims. Sheila Jeffreys does not get beyond the first paragraph of her acknowledgements in the text ‘The Idea of Prostitution’ before stating: I have considered for twenty years that men’s abuse of women in prostitu- tion lies at the very core of the oppression of women.15 Jeffreys later moves on to consider the subject of homosexuality and prostitution, again constructing her analysis in gendered terms in which individuals take on the role of the female victim in a clearly defined unequal power relationship. Barnett similarly remarks: Conceptually, prostitution is closely allied with pornography. Both involve the core idea of women as nothing more than sexual objects for use by men, and thus uphold the patriarchal power of man over subordinate women.16 Phoenix also notes the gendered view of prostitution and comments: Based on decades of empirical research, the last 30 years have seen a concerted effort by feminist scholars and campaigners to bring pressure on successive governments to address the vulnerability faced by women in prostitution.17 Yet, within the legal context of England and Wales, such a focus has been at the detriment of male sex work. Even within the current government’s policy framework there is an absence of consideration of male sex work. Male for male sex work has been consistently viewed as being not of concern to the UK government. The comparative ‘acceptability’ of male for male sex work has also been supported by queer theorists such as Califia who notes that ‘sex work is also one of the ways that young queer men can survive when they move to the big city. Ads from “male models and masseurs” and phone-sex daddies fund a lot of queer periodicals’18 . Despite this, Califia also comments that there has been little by way of commensurate political focus in the USA. This traditional gendered view of sex work is also reflected in ritual- istic aspects of society. Califia further considers the role of the ‘stag’ or act of sticking pins into the breast of a 16 year old in a car by the roadside in a remote place.’ This follows the much discussed judgment in R v Brown [1994] 1 AC 212 in which Lord Templeman stated: ‘Society is entitled and bound to protect itself against a cult of violence. Pleasure derived from the infliction of pain is an evil thing. Cruelty is uncivilised. I would answer the certified question in the negative and dismiss the appeals of the appellants against conviction.’ See, more generally, S. Edwards, ‘No Defence for a Sado-masochistic Libido’ (1993) 14 NLJ 406 and C. F. Stychin, Law’s Desire: Sexuality and the Limits of Justice (Routledge: London, 1995) 117–39. 15 S. Jeffreys, The Idea of Prostitution (Spinfex Press: North Melbourne, 1997) vii. 16 H. Barnett, Introduction to Feminist Jurisprudence (Cavendish Publishing: London, 1998) 315. 17 J. Phoenix, ‘Regulating Prostitution: Controlling Women’s Lives’ in F. Heidensohn (ed.), Gender and Justice: New Concepts and Approaches (Willan Publishing: Cullompton, 2006) 76. 18 P. Califia, Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex, 2nd edn (Cleis Press: San Francisco, 2000) 131. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 261
  5. 5. ‘bachelor’ party in this regard. The female sex worker is often one element of that party.19 For Califia it is the stigmatisation of sex work that prevents it being applied to other ritualistic moments in our society. Califia suggests that ‘a visit with an especially desirable and skilled sex worker would probably make a great gift for grandma when she came out of mourning for her deceased husband. A pregnant wife could thank her husband for being so supportive and patient by giving him a week- end with the girl or boy of his dreams’.20 Yet, our Western post-industrial society has, as Gore Vidal has noted, a monogamous construct of society at its very heart in which ‘all our natural instincts are carefully perverted from birth’, suggesting ‘it is no wonder that we tend to be, if not all of us serial killers, killers of our own true nature’.21 Until quite recently and until the Sexual Offences Act 2003,22 this gendered view of sex work was enshrined in law. This originates in the case of R v De Munck23 and the interpretation that ‘prostitution is proved if it be shown that a woman offers her body commonly for lewdness for payment in return’.24 In the subsequent case of DPP v Bull25 it was held that the term ‘common prostitute’ only applied to female prostitutes.26 This stagnant gendered view of sex work is accompanied by a failure to recognise fully the evolving impact that the ‘Information Society’27 is having upon sex work. Moreover, as Castells has noted, technology 19 Above n. 18 at 265. 20 Ibid. at 266. 21 G. Vidal, Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings (Cleis Press: San Francisco, 1999) 182. 22 See Sched. 1. This legislation amended the Sexual Offences Act 1956, the Street Offences Act 1959 and Sexual Offences Act 1985 so as to be gender neutral. This contrasts with the approach taken by the Council of Europe which generally continues to take a female dominated focus to the subject of sex work. See Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Council of Europe, Warsaw, 2005), available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dg2/ trafficking/campaign/Docs/Convntn/CETS197_en.asp#TopOfPage, accessed 17 April 2009. The Council explained this focus in a press release published in January 2008 which stated: ‘Every year, more than 600,000 people are sold in Europe. They are the victims of international criminals. More than 80 percent of them are girls and women, and 70 percent of them are forced into sexual servitude’, available at: http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/NewsManager/EMB_NewsManagerView.asp?ID=3555, accessed 17 April 2009. Interestingly Resolution 1579 (2007) accepts the concept of ‘voluntary prostitution’ and states that Council of Europe states should refrain ‘from criminalising and penalising prostitutes and developing programmes to assist prostitutes to leave the profession should they wish to do so’ (11.3.1), available at: http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/ERES1579.htm, accessed 17 April 2009. See, more generally, S. Egan, ‘Protecting the Victims of Trafficking: Problems and Prospects’ (2008) European Human Rights Law Review 106. 23 [1918] 1 KB 635. 24 Ibid., per Darling J. 25 [1995] QB 88. For further discussion, see A. Diduck and W. Wilson, ‘Prostitutes and Persons’ (1997) 24 Journal of Law and Society 504. 26 ‘The term “common prostitute” is ordinarily regarded as applying to a woman and, importantly, it seems improbable that Parliament intended to create a new male offence which was but subtly different from the extant section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956’: DPP v Bull [1995] QB 88, per Mann LJ. The repeal of this term had formed part of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007/8 but those clauses were ultimately dropped from the Act. 27 See, more generally, C. Walker, D. Wall and Y. Akdeniz, ‘The Internet, Law and Society’ in Y. Akdeniz, C. Walker and D. Wall (eds), The Internet, Law and Society (Pearson Education: Harlow, 2000). The Journal of Criminal Law 262
  6. 6. offers the opportunity to distribute the power of information through- out the entire realm of human activity’.28 Nonetheless, there is emerging recognition of the role that the Internet is increasingly taking within sex work.29 This shift in the operation of sex work also enables researchers, through online observation to witness the proliferation of male sex work.30 In turn, this raises significant questions about the current UK government strategy designed to tackle sex work. Whilst there has been an emergent body of literature in the USA concerning the Internet and sex work,31 there has only been limited developments in the UK.32 The US-based website ‘Craigslist’ has been used by sex workers to promote their services, but has also been utilised by law enforcement agencies to mount ‘sting’ operations in which the police raid and arrests sex work locations.33 More generally, the area of male sex work is one that has received relatively little academic attention until the last 10 years or so34 and Morrison and Whitehead have regarded the work that has been con- ducted as ‘myopic’ focusing on prostitution and safer sex.35 Male sex work can take the form of sex workers offering sexual services to clients of the same gender or to those who alternatively or additionally offer sexual services to members of a different gender. When the UK Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman, announced that she would like to ‘ban prostitution’, Scorer argued that she ‘opened a cultural hornet’s nest’, adding that whilst people may ‘claim to decry the evils of prostitution’ they are less keen to use the criminal law against the customer.36 Harman could perhaps be forgiven for her focus upon ‘women’ as sex workers as this focus has a long history. Between 921 and 939 the English and Danish kings, Edward and Guthrum, decreed that 28 M. Castells, The Internet Galaxy (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2002) 1. 29 C. Ashford, ‘Sex Work in Cyberspace: Who Pays the Price? (2008) 17(1) Information & Communications Technology Law 37; D. M. Hughes, ‘The Internet and Sex Industries: Partners in Global Sexual Exploitation’ (2000) 19(1) IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 35. Hughes has focused upon the globalisation of sex work arguing that it furthers the exploitation of women and children. Here, even in the context of technology, the ‘traditional’ gendered view of sex work is offered. 30 See, more generally, A. D. DiMarco and H. DiMarco, ‘Investigating Cybersociety: A Consideration of the Ethical and Practical Issues Surrounding Online Research in Chat Rooms’ in Y. Jewkes (ed.), Dot.cons: Crime, Deviance and Identity on the Internet (Willan Publishing: Cullompton, 2003). 31 See, e.g., M. Hemmingson, ‘Cyber-Hookers AKA Providers: Off the Street and onto Craigslist’ (2008), SSRN, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_ id=1084415, accessed 17 April 2009. 32 Ashford, above n. 29. 33 See, e.g., S. G. Green, ‘Prostitution Sting Leads to 104 Arrests’ The Seattle Times 16 November 2006; A. Herdy, ‘Craigslist Prostitution Sting’ (2006) 9 NEWS, http:// www.9news.com/news/investigative/article.aspx?storyid=57265, accessed 17 April 2009 and ‘Oldest Profession, Newest Technology’ (2007) 54 (41) Long Island Business News 12. 34 J. Browne and V. Minichiello, ‘Research Directions in Male Sex Work’ (1996) 31(4) Journal of Homosexuality 29. 35 T. G. Morrison and B. W. Whitehead, ‘“It’s a Business Doing Pleasure with You”: An Interdisciplinary Reader on Male Sex Work’ (2007) 53(1/2) Journal of Homosexuality 1. 36 R. Scorer, ‘Zero Tolerance’ (2008) 158 NLJ 50. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 263
  7. 7. ‘horcwenan’ were to be banished or ‘utterly destroyed’. Whilst the word is taken to mean prostitutes, it has no straightforward modern transla- tion. All that is certain is that the term has a feminine construction.37 Our gendered and heteronormative construction of sex work has deep historical roots. O’Neill, in her sexual exploitation literature review, which formed part of the Setting the Boundaries White Paper38 concluded that further evidence needed to be conducted on the specific experiences of boys and young men involved in prostitution and ‘off street’ prostitution. It is the author’s hope that this article goes some way towards that goal. More- over, this article seeks to consider the intersection of male for male sex work and the Internet in the wider context of current government policy. Sex work in the UK As a matter of English law, prostitution is not illegal. Rather than absolute prohibition, English law has focused upon regulating specific nuisances associated with sex work. McLeod has further noted that the enactment of the Street Offences Act 1959 was not to ‘eradicate prostitu- tion’, but rather to deal with its ‘nuisance value’.39 Invariably, these ‘nuisances’ tend to be those that are visible40 . Consequently s. 46 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 criminalises the placing of an advert for prostitution. Yet, this is aimed at a specific advert—an advert placed in a public phone booth. This offence has origins prior to the massification of mobile telephony, when a series of small advertisements featuring seductive young women would be placed in phone boxes so as to entice men to ring.41 Call boxes in central London and other major urban areas still carry such advertisements. In addition, English law has also focused upon third parties who may have benefited from prostitution, the visible benefactors, rather than target- ing the sex workers themselves.42 37 Henderson, above n. 10. 38 M. O’Neill, ‘Literature Review of Research on Offences of Sexual Exploitation’ in Setting the Boundaries: Reforming the Law on Sex Offences, vol. 2 (Home Office: London, 2000) 188. 39 E. McLeod, Women Working: Prostitution Now (Croom Helm: London, 1982) 20. 40 Legislation designed to address ‘anti-social behaviour’ has also been applied to prostitution again reflecting this ‘nuisance’ focus of law. See, e.g., Potter v Chief Constable of Lancashire [2003] EWHC 2272 (Admin). See, more generally, A. Keogh, ‘The Oldest Profession or an Age-old Injustice?’ (2004) 154 NLJ 1350. 41 Though s. 56(2)(a) of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 does specify that this offence would apply whether the person advertising their ‘services’ is male or female. 42 See the Sexual Offences Act 1956, ss 33–36 in relation to brothels, the Sexual Offences Act 1985, s. 1 in relation to ‘kerb-crawling’ (associated with street-based offences) and ‘loitering or soliciting for purposes of prostitution’, and the Street Offences Act 1959, s. 57, street-based sex work. The ‘exploitative’ offences of living on the earnings of prostitution (s. 30(1)), causing or inciting prostitution (s. 52) and controlling prostitution (s. 53) are contained within the Sexual Offences Act 2003. See, e.g., R v McFarlane [1994] 2 WLR 494 and R v Massey [2007] All ER (D) 295. The Journal of Criminal Law 264
  8. 8. This focus upon visible forms of sex work is consistent with the historical approach of English law to the ‘nuisance’ of sex work. Histor- ically, ‘stews’ or brothels and street-based prostitution came under the close scrutiny of the law, with Edward II issuing a decree in 1310 stating that all brothels in London should be closed.43 Almost 700 years later, the focus of law remains the same. The contemporary approach of English law and its wider cultural context was born out of the Hart/Devlin debate and enshrined in the Wolfenden Report. The report included a significant focus upon street- based sex work in England and Wales;44 stating in recommendation 23 that the maximum penalty for street offences be increased and in recommendation 2445 that there should be a greater focus on social and medical support to street workers at an early stage. That report also argued its priorities were based on public concern that ‘the streets must be cleaned up’.46 This street-based approach was still reflected almost 50 years later in the government consultation document Paying the Price,47 and the sub- sequent report A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy48 represented a zero- tolerance approach to sex work and an agenda for ‘saving women’.49 Although the shift to a greater agency-led approach was welcomed by Matthews, he has argued that policy needs now to focus more upon off- street sex work which he argues ‘local authorities have turned a blind eye to . . . on the dubious assumption that because there are few public complaints or disturbances, there are no real problems associated with the expanding commercialized sex industry’.50 Scoular and O’Neill have been less welcoming of the strategy documents labelling them ‘opaque and contradictory’51 whilst others criticised the proposals for lacking sufficient reforming zeal.52 It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that when the government brought forward statutory proposals in the Crim- inal Justice and Immigration Bill they appeared similarly opaque and were ultimately dropped from the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008,53 leaving the future direction of law in this area unclear. 43 Henderson, above n. 10. 44 This is not an approach peculiar to England and Wales. A similar focus and prioritisation of street prostitution has been evident in the USA. See C. Leigh, ‘P.I.M.P (Prostitutes in Municipal Politics)’ in D. Bedfellows (ed.), Policing Public Sex (South End Press: Boston, 1996) 252. 45 Home Office, above n. 12 at 116. 46 Home Office, above n. 12 at 81. 47 Home Office, Paying the Price (Home Office: London, 2004). 48 Home Office, A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy and a Summary of Responses to Paying the Price (Home Office: London, 2006). 49 J. Scoular and M. O’Neill, ‘Regulating Prostitution: Social Inclusion, Responsibilization and the Politics of Prostitution Reform (2007) British Journal of Criminology 764. 50 R. Matthews, ‘Policing Prostitution: Ten Years On’ (2005) British Journal of Criminology 877. 51 Scoular and O’Neill, above n. 49. 52 See, e.g., J. Samiloff, ‘Street Reform Named Desire’ (2006) 156 NLJ 253. 53 For details of the proposals see, A. Murdie, ‘Rehabilitating Prostitutes: Proposals in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill’ (2007) 171 JP 860. For commentary on the 2008 proposals, see R. Scorer, ‘Zero Tolerance’ (2008) 158 NLJ 50 and A. Turner, ‘The Debate on Prostitution’ (2008) 172 JP 17. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 265
  9. 9. Gaydar and the technological revolution Over 50 years after Wolfenden the new medium of the Internet offers one possible remedy to the apparent desire of the 1957 and present-day public to ‘clean up’ the streets. One site in particular has become the focus of the online world for gay men in England and Wales—Gaydar. Gaydar54 is something of a phenomenon.55 QSoft Consulting, the company behind Gaydar.co.uk and its related URLs,56 states it currently has over 3.8 million members. This is an extraordinary number for a company first launched back in 1999 and which had 78,000 members back in November 2000,57 prompting Fountain to say of Gaydar in 2004: ‘previously, this much sex was available to you only if you were rich or powerful or famous’.58 Gaydar is just one example of the consequences of what Cooper has called ‘the Triple A Engine’.59 According to Cooper, the Internet offers a triad of access, affordability and anonymity and in doing so, the Internet acts as a powerful force in the area of sexuality. Searching for escorts and sex workers from home offers access to thousands of escorts across the country from one central location. People do not have to spend time, money and resources travelling around seeking out willing sex workers, rendering the use of the Inter- net for this purpose an affordable activity. There is the additional aspect of a perceived anonymity granted by the Internet. There is no risk you will be encountered driving into a red light district by disapproving friends, be seen entering a brothel by work colleagues or one’s own partner. In other respects, the advertisement nature of Gaydar profiles enables parallels to be drawn with the personal profiles and sex worker profiles offered in gay publications.60 The government’s own strategy on sex work, outlined in the 2006 report, A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy,61 has four stated aims: 54 The term comes from within the gay community and was the name for verbal and non-verbal behaviour that became associated with gay identity enabling others to use their ‘gaydar’ to recognise another individual as gay. Borrowing the term ‘radar’, gaydar supposes that gay men/lesbian women have an ‘in-built’ detector for those of a similar sexuality—a theory that does appear to have some evidence. See, more generally, C. L. Nichols, ‘Gaydar: Eye-Gaze as Identity Recognition Among Gay Men and Lesbians’ (2004) 8(1) Sexuality & Culture 60 and S. G. Shelp, ‘Gaydar: Visual Detection of Sexual Orientation among Gay and Straight Men’ (2002) 44(1) Journal of Homosexuality 1. 55 See, more generally, M. Clark, ‘All Penises are at Least Eight Inches, and Nobody is Ever Bald: Welcome to the Gay Men’s Online Dating Service’, New Statesman, 21 May 2001, 24. 56 Uniform Resource Locator or URL is the address of a website and often takes the following form: http://example.org/. 57 http://www.qsoft.co.uk/content/about_history.aspx, accessed 17 April 2009. 58 T. Fountain, ‘Sex at the Click of a Mouse’, New Statesman, 23 August 2004, 21. 59 A. Cooper, ‘Sexuality and the Internet: Surfing into the New Millennium’ (1998) 1(2) CyberPsychology & Behaviour 187. 60 See, more generally, K. Jay and A. Young, The Gay Report (Summit: New York, 1977). 61 Home Office, A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy and a Summary of Responses to Paying the Price (Home Office: London, 2006). See also Home Office, Paying the Price (Home Office: London, 2004). The Journal of Criminal Law 266
  10. 10. 1. challenge the view that street prostitution is inevitable and here to stay; 2. achieve an overall reduction in street prostitution; 3. improve the safety and quality of life of communities affected by prostitution, including those directly involved in street sex markets; 4. reduce all forms of commercial sexual exploitation. The embracing of the Internet may support the government in achieving many, if not all, of the above goals, although it is a long way from the ‘total ban’ advocated by Harman.62 The following section seeks to exam- ine all of the commercial escort profiles on the Gaydar website in England and Wales.63 The data were gathered in the course of three days in March 2008 and in contrast to those online male escort sites pre- viously studied,64 these profiles are one small part of the larger Gaydar community. Male-for-male sex work often has a physical proximity to other gay space venues whether it is sex workers outside bars or saunas/ bathhouses.65 It is noteworthy that a similarly symbiotic relationship exists in the online world. Regional distribution Gaydar enables users to search for what it terms ‘commercial pages’.66 These are in addition to the normal ‘member’ profiles, but follow the same template. This article does not examine the issue (if there is one) of those escorts who do not purchase a commercial profile from Gaydar and operate through a standard profile, until detected. Profiles may not include identifiable commercial elements, but sex workers may instead loiter within the Gaydar chat rooms and offer sexual services there. Essentially, it may well be that within cyberspace, as in the somatic world, there is a cultural divide between the ‘legitimate’ commercial escort and the ad hoc ‘illegitimate’ sex worker. The commercial profiles on Gaydar are divided up over 24 regions67 which had the following commercial pages as of May 2008:68 the actual number of ‘escort’ pages are given in Table 1 below and the number inclusive of other commercial pages are in brackets. A total of 562 Gaydar escort profiles were surveyed in the course of this research. This was a result of considering 776 profiles across Eng- land and Wales. As can be seen in Table 1, the escort profiles are not 62 Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 20 December 2007, 07.50. 63 Gaydar has a global reach with commercial profiles listed across the world. 64 M. V. Pruitt, ‘Online Boys: Male-for-Male Internet Escorts’ (2005) 38(3) Sociological Focus 189. 65 M. C. Clatts, ‘Ethnographic Observations of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Public: Toward an Ecology of Sexual Action’ in W. L. Leap (ed.), Public Sex/Gay Space (Columbia University Press: New York, 1999). 66 These may on occasion include hotels, online stores or other commercial operations that are not escort services. 67 It is interesting to note that some of these regions overlap, e.g. ‘England—North’ and ‘England—Manchester’. However, it is not the case that profiles will appear in both areas. 68 Other nations are similarly divided up for search purposes. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 267
  11. 11. equally spread across the country. London, and notably Central London, dominates. Within the Gaydar interface additional regional locations exist for Northern Ireland, Scotland—Edinburgh, Scotland—Glasgow and Scotland—Rest although data from those categories has not been gathered for this survey as the focus here has been upon the law in England and Wales. The existence of this search mechanism enables greater dispersal of sex workers beyond major urban areas contributing to what Barry has termed the ‘industrialization of sex’.69 That is to say the Internet has the potential to allow for greater disbursement amongst men seeking other men for commercial sex transactions beyond the traditional ‘gay space’ to be found in major urban areas. Interestingly, the disbursement seen above seems to suggest a reflection of traditional disbursement patterns around the capital. Masseurs have generally been excluded as not constituting escorts except where reference is made to sexual services and in these instances they have been included within the escort data. Regionally, a range of profiles were excluded as indicated in Table 1. The profiles to be included in the sample needed to be an individual escort offering a somatic sexual encounter in exchange for money. In the Channel Islands a male escort directory and a builder were both ex- cluded. In the Birmingham region, a further male escort company was 69 Barry argues that in pre-industrial and early industrialising economies, the highest demand is to be found where men (she focuses upon female prostitution) congregate in large groups away from home and family, typically the military or business: K. Barry, The Prostitution of Sexuality (New York University Press: New York, 1995) 124. Table 1. Regional distribution Channel Islands 1 (3) England—Birmingham 12 (17) England—Bournemouth 0 (6) England—Brighton 10 (17) England—East Anglia 4 (5) England—Leeds 9 (12) England—Liverpool 2 (6) England—London—Central 304 (376) England—London—East 7 (10) England—London—General 93 (138) England—London—North 11 (13) England—London—South 20 (25) England—London—West 8 (12) England—Manchester 25 (35) England—Midlands 18 (30) England—Newcastle 0 (1) England—North 7 (17) England—South East 12 (18) England—South West 12 (27) Wales 7 (8) The Journal of Criminal Law 268
  12. 12. excluded, along with a webcam shower (guaranteed ‘cum shot’), a pornography website promotion and recruitment, another web per- former with his own website and a self-identified ‘professional’ masseur (no sexual content). In the Bournemouth region rejected profiles included a photo- grapher, two masseurs, a night club, personal trainer and hotel. In Brighton, a further two photographers were excluded along with a ‘body therapist’, a masseur who offered general body hygiene services, a therapist, two additional masseurs and a ‘holistic therapist’. East Anglia had excluded a masseur who also offers ‘webcam fun’, though given a charge of £40 is stated, this suggests posing/masturbating on camera. In Leeds, a beauty therapist (tanning, waxing, manicure) was excluded from the sample. However, the profile does have ‘Now available overnight’ and addresses this in the pricing section stating: ‘OVERNIGHT DELUXE TREATMENT . . . RELAXING SWEDISH BACK AND SHOULDER MASSAGE FOLLOWED BY A MICRODERMABRA- TION FACIAL ON THE EVENING AND THEN THE NEXT MORNING A UP-LIFTING SWEDISH BACK AND SHOULDER MASSAGE FOL- LOWED BY AND UP-LIFTING BEAUTY FACIAL £250’. This does raise questions about whether a sexual service is being offered, but because of the ambiguity, this profile has not been included in the escort data. Additionally, a masseur and a sauna were excluded. In Liverpool two holistic therapists were excluded along with an ‘elite sex group’ (restricted membership) and a sauna. Nearby Manchester had escort agency, masseur (naked him and you), designer underwear sales, two holistic therapists, two masseurs, two photographers and a sauna excluded. The Midlands had five masseurs excluded along with a masseur/ personal trainer, escort agency, two online stores, two personal trainers and a sauna. The city of Newcastle had a city-based store excluded. The more general North region had an anomaly in including a ‘stand- ard’ profile which stated it was looking for friends and may have demonstrated some confusion as to what commercial membership amounted to. Additional exclusions included three masseurs, an online store, stripper, two saunas, model recruiting and body shaving service. In South East England a solo cam show using MSN and Yahoo, a porn site, a further porn site with a recruitment element, a sauna/sex club, an additional Sauna and, finally, a wax and massage service were all excluded from the sample. In one instance, in the South West England region, a couple stated they only escorted together and that it was only a show. Their charges were 1 hour £180, 2 hours £300, 4 hours £550 and for overnight £700. Whilst not absolutely clear, their profile suggested they were simply to provide a live show, to compliment their online webcam show. As such they have not been included in the escort data. Three masseurs, all of which, as with the Manchester instance, included massage table photo- graphs together with numerous photographs of naked men receiving a massage (not explicitly sexual). A fourth masseur offered naked pictures of himself, but otherwise the profile was a professional non-sexual Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 269
  13. 13. masseur service. Another three masseurs were totally non-sexual, both in terms of profile imagery and the text provided. One profile also not counted was itself a mini agency featuring the profile of five ‘masseurs’, including one bisexual female. The profiles were clearly sexual referring to roles.70 Another profile featured six male escorts. As this study focuses upon individual profiles, both of these ‘group’ profiles have not been counted either as an individual profile or as a series of individual profiles. Other excluded profiles from South West England included an online underwear store, two model recruit- ment profiles, a sex club, sauna and apartment rental and finally a bar. The largest sample ‘region’ was London. In North London a holistic masseur and a sports masseur were excluded, whilst South London had two masseurs, a further masseur who offered a naked massage, a photographer and a complimentary therapist. East London featured a masseur, photographer and a beautician whilst West London featured popper sales via an online store, two non-sexual masseurs and a porno- graphic website promotion. The general London region included a PC repair profile, three profiles offering medical massage, 10 massage, and other exclusions included those offering aromatherapy/massage, a trainer/masseur, two holistic masseurs, website design, a pornography site/recruitment, life coach, six photographers, three pornography recruitment groups, a profile that promoted a pornography website, counselling, a corgi-registered plumber (who also does heating), lesbian and gay home exchange, three online sex toy stores, a ‘non-sexual escort’, personal trainer, decorator, removals, beautician, website promotion, stripper and a complementary therapist. Central London is the largest ‘region’ within commercial Gaydar and excluded profiles included four escort agencies, a ‘herbal erection pill’ purveyor, a webcam performer, a mobile waxing therapist, 34 masseurs, a sports masseur, six photographers, two counsellors, two therapists, two saunas, one profile which featured images of what were intended to be the profile owner’s penis. but beyond that the profile was non-sexual offering a range of services including ironing, dog walking, domestic cleaning and aromatherapy, two ‘used’ underwear sellers, a webcam performer, three pornography recruitment sites, an online clothing store, pornographic website promotion, two personal trainers, chiro- pody and waxing, two holiday apartments to rent, model recruitment, travel insurance, an environmental campaign group and one intriguing profile with merely an image of the sky as a picture and an absence of profile details, simply stating: ‘I sell my time to those willing and able to afford it. Time is our most precious commodity. When I sell my time it is for a purpose that we agree upon, this can literally be anything—there are few limits but they are strictly observed’. 70 ‘Top’ or ‘bottom’ that is to say the penetrator or the penetrated. Sometimes referred to as ‘active’ or ‘passive’. The Journal of Criminal Law 270
  14. 14. Finally, Wales had one masseur profile excluded from the sample. It was striking in considering these excluded profiles together with the content of the final 562 sampled profiles that there was a conflation of sex-related ‘industries’, particularly the pornography industry, whether it be recruiting people, promoting websites and pornography publishers or, as was often the case, escorts who performed in pornography and also worked as escorts. This appears to be one of a number of areas that Agustin71 has argued form part of a wider field encapsulated in the term ‘commercial sex’, including all commercial goods and services of an erotic and sexual kind. Although not considered in this article due to the limits of space, this area is worthy of further examination. The excluded profiles detailed above also reveal a wider commercial environment in which the sexual co-exist with the non-sexual, perhaps further lending a veil of legitim- acy to the commercial sex profiles. A range of categories were examined as part of the survey so as to build up an impression of what these profiles focused upon, how they appeared, how they presented themselves and if there was any con- scious acknowledgement of the law. An earlier small survey72 identified female escorts as offering complex, sometimes maternal projections of themselves, in one case providing a recipe for Parkin cake. That study and a further study by Holt and Blevins73 drew upon discussion boards enabling an examination of the interaction between sex worker and client which may create an evolving image of the sex worker. In contrast this study concentrates upon fixed data that sex workers present through their profiles. Within that mapping, this survey therefore con- sidered the previously speculated about74 category of penis size. An area of increased legal intrusion is the subject of ‘safe’ sex75 and although a public policy intrusion along the lines of R v Brown76 has not yet been put in place, the passing of the Criminal Justice and Immigra- tion Act 2008 suggests this proactive policy focus remains in the van- guard.77 This category was therefore also surveyed as it may form an important element in defining policy and subsequent law. 71 L. M. Agustin, ‘The Cultural Study of Commercial Sex’ (2005) 8(5) Sexualities 618. 72 Ashford, above n. 29. 73 T. J. Holt and K. R. Blevins, ‘Examining Sex Work from the Client’s Perspective: Assessing Johns Using On-line Data’ (2007) 28(4) Deviant Behaviour 333. 74 Clark, above n. 55. 75 S. Cooper and A. Reed, ‘Informed Consent and the Transmission of Sexual Disease: Dadson Revivified’ (2007) 71 JCL 461. 76 [1994] 1 AC 212. 77 Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 introduces new offences relating to the possession of ‘extreme’ pornographic images, causing outcry within the BDSM (bondage, domination and sadomasochism, see below n. 83) community. The original Bill also contained numerous measures on prostitution which included the removal of the term ‘common prostitute’ along with reforming the street offences so as to increase the emphasis on rehabilitation. The Internet aspect was not included and ultimately all of the prostitution clauses were removed from the Bill due to expressed concerns. See B. Brooks-Gordon, ‘The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill and Prostitution Law Reform’ (2008) 3 Archbold News 4. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 271
  15. 15. The question of whether further contact details were provided enabled some understanding of how the Gaydar element worked—that is to say, did it serve to meet all communication needs or is it essentially an advertisement, akin to the telephone booth adverts discussed above? Similarly, data on pricing enabled a picture of the phenomena to be formed. Penis size Almost 99 per cent of respondents included information as to their penis size indicating that it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a key detail on the profiles. Previous literature that has studied online profiles and Gaydar in particular has focused the idea that in cyberspace ‘all penises are at least 9 inches long’. Yet such information has been based on anecdotal evidence and not empirical data. Gaydar does not require the profile to state a numerical penis measurement, but rather self-identify as one of five categories (see Table 2 below). In the study, 86 per cent of profiles surveyed stated they have a large (57 per cent) or extra large (29 per cent) penis. Of the 562 escort profiles surveyed not a single one stated that he had a small penis, though this may be accounted for by those profiles that chose not to complete this section despite clearly offering a sexual service. However, that category accounts for just 1 per cent of respondents as does another possible category, ‘rather not say’. An ‘average’ penis size was the smallest size anyone appeared to be prepared to state, accounting for 13 per cent of responses. One East London escort profile is particularly noteworthy. He cat- egorised himself as ‘large’ but also added: ‘PS: Down bellow [sic] I'm probably in the lower range of “large” but my clients do tend to come back. I have other photos’. The escort appears visibly trapped between the worry that he will not attract clients if he is merely ‘average’ and the fear that client’s expectations may be overly raised. Instances of safe sex Whilst it has been noted that male sex workers are more likely to use condoms during sex with clients, but less likely to use condoms with Table 2. Penis size Categories Totals % Extra large 161 29 Large 320 57 Average 73 13 Small 0 0 Rather not say 3 1 Not completed 5 1 TOTAL 562 100 The Journal of Criminal Law 272
  16. 16. non-paying partners,78 Parsons et al.79 also note that is unclear whether escorts, in the Internet context, follow this same pattern. Whilst this research was not focused upon those specific patterns of safe sex prac- tice, it was interested in the safe sex projections of the Gaydar escorts. Epidemiologists are also increasingly concerned with the role of technology in health promotion and the prevention of sexually trans- mitted infections80 thus making an inclusion of sex work important in any policy-focused research. For the male escorts themselves, this cat- egory also proved important with 92 per cent of profiles completing the safe sex category. The Gaydar template offers five options including ‘Always’, ‘Some- times’, ‘Never’, ‘Needs discussion’ and ‘Rather not say’. In addition, profile owners have the option of not completing the box at all and these are represented by the ‘Not completed’ figures below. The figures in- dicate (see Table 3 above) that an overwhelming majority of profiles, 90 per cent, state that they always have safe sex. One profile owner stated he ‘always’ had safe sex, but included a photograph of anal penetration without a condom being worn; a practice referred to as ‘barebacking’. Interestingly, he explained the presence of the photograph on his profile by stating that he did have unprotected sex with his boyfriend and that was who the photograph was taken with. This may have been the result of inquiries from potential punters requesting bareback sex, enticed by the image. Whatever the case, the escort apparently placed value in including a barebacking picture on his profile. From a legal standpoint, a form of self-regulation supported by HIV charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust running outreach projects 78 See, e.g., C. S. Estcourt, C. Marks, R. Rohrsheim, A. M. Johnson, B. Donavan and A. Mindel, ‘HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Risk Behaviours in Male Commercial Sex Workers in Sydney’ (2000) 76(4) Sexually Transmitted Infections 294; F. Hickson, P. Weatherburn, J. Hows and P. Davis, ‘Selling Safer Sex: Male Masseurs and Escorts in the UK’ in P. Aggleton (ed.), Foundations for the Future (Taylor and Francis: London, 1994) and R. R. Pleak and H. F. Meyer-Bahlburg, ‘Sexual Behaviour and AIDS Knowledge of Young Male Prostitutes in Manhattan’ (1990) 27(4) Journal of Sex Research 557. 79 J. T. Parsons, D. Bimbi and P. N. Halkitis, ‘Sexual Compulsivity Among Gay/ Bisexual Male Escorts Who Advertise on the Internet’ (2001) 8(2) Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 101. 80 See, e.g., M. Mcfarlane, R. Kachur, J. D. Klausner, E. Roland and M. Cohen, ‘Internet-based Health Promotion and Disease Control in the 8 Cities: Successes, Barriers and Future Plans’ (2005) 32(10) Sexually Transmitted Diseases S60. Table 3. Safe sex Options/Not completed Totals % Always 505 90 Sometimes 9 2 Never 2 0 Needs discussion 2 0 Rather not say 12 2 Not completed 32 6 TOTAL 562 100 Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 273
  17. 17. through Gaydar seems to have created an environment in which the vast majority of escorts insist, at least in this initial phase, upon safe sex. Where a profile might state ‘Sometimes’, ‘Needs discussion’ or ‘Rather not say’, reference to HIV/AIDS is absent. In fact, no profile that has a response other than ‘Always’ referred to HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, one profile did refer to ‘raw only’ with a raft of images depicting scenes of bareback sex, yet even then there was no mention of HIV.81 In other instances the profiles were fetish focused, whether BDSM82 activities or others, such as foot worship/trainer worship. The accuracy of these statements may be easier to ascertain if the site utilised a feedback mechanism which Soothill83 has noted can be seen on some escort sites and discussion boards and Sharp and Earle have highlighted the Punter- net84 website. Non-sexual service statement Earlier research with female sex workers highlighted the apparent com- monality of a ‘disclaimer’ statement,85 a phrase that indicated that no moneys were being exchanged for sex. Rather, the commercial trans- action was for time only. A common form of wording goes as follows: Money exchanged in legal adult personal services is simply for time and companionship anything else that takes place is a matter of personal choice between two or more consulting adults of legal age. Anything implied or inferred within these pages is not to be taken as inducement for payment for anything other than time. In this survey, just 6 per cent of escort profiles (Table 4 below) included a non-sexual service statement. This may therefore indicate that far from being sexual escorts, these individuals are escorts in the non- sexual sense. However, the nature of the filtering of profiles that took place, illustrated in Table 1 above, is that all those in this sample were escorts apparently engaging in sexual activities. Thus, this is a statement that appears to be more about legitimising their actions and apparently placing them and any agency or pimp outside the law. Profiles that reveal that they are engaging in sexual activities may act as incriminating evidence if multi-profile escorts can be found to be 81 Again, the motivation behind this is unclear. A spate of English cases over the last five years that has focused upon criminalising HIV transmission may have contributed to this silence. In English law, this currently revolves around the idea of ‘recklessness’, where a partner may have unwittingly been infected by HIV because the other partner was ‘reckless’: see R v Dica [2004] EWCA Crim 1103, [2004] QB 1257, R v Konzani [2005] EWCA Crim 706, [2005] 2 Cr App R 14 and Cooper and Reed, above n. 76. For a more general consideration of barebacking online, see G. W. Dowsett, H. Williams, A. Ventuneac and A. Carballo-Dieguez, ‘“Taking it Like a Man”: Masculinity and Barebacking Online’ (2008) 11(1/2) Sexualities 121. 82 A general term for activities including bondage, discipline/dominance, submission and sadism/masochism. 83 K. Soothill, ‘Parlour Games: The Value of an Internet Site Providing Punters’ Views of Massage Parlours’ (2004) 77 Police Journal 43. 84 K. Sharp and S. Earle, ‘Cyberpunters and Cyberwhores: Prostitution on the Internet’ in Y. Jewkes (ed.), Dot.cons: Crime, Deviance and Identity on the Internet (Willan Publishing: Cullompton, 2003). 85 Ashford, above n. 29. The Journal of Criminal Law 274
  18. 18. operating from the same premises as this would constitute a brothel under English law and thus come under the scrutiny of the law. None- theless, this did not apparently seem of concern to those escorts surveyed. If anything, the presence of these statements may reveal an aware- ness of the virtual presence of the law and a fear that it may impact upon their activities. The overwhelming lack of such a statement on these web pages suggests a confidence on behalf of these male escorts that what they are doing is legally acceptable, or beyond the focus of the law. Provision of additional contact details As can be seen from Table 5 below, 85 per cent of the profiles surveyed included additional contact details, typically a mobile phone number. Whilst the Internet has enabled a new interface, the escorts appear to still seek to ‘screen’ clients through the use of the telephone as has been traditionally the case.86 The existence of these mechanisms may suggest escorts who are taking precautionary measures to manage their safety and a distrust of purely text-based communication. 86 Davies and Simpson (1990) quoted in V. Minichiello et al., ‘Male Sex Workers in Three Australian Cities: Socio-demographic and Sex Work Characteristics’ (2001) 42(1) Journal of Homosexuality, 29. Table 4. Non-sexual service statement Y N %Y %N Channel Islands 1 0 100 0 England—Birmingham 2 10 17 83 England—Bournemouth 0 0 0 0 England—Brighton 0 10 0 100 England—East Anglia 0 4 0 100 England—Leeds 1 8 11 89 England—Liverpool 0 2 0 100 England—London—Central 8 296 3 97 England—London—East 0 7 0 100 England—London—General 6 87 6 94 England—London—North 0 11 0 100 England—London—South 2 18 10 90 England—London—West 1 7 13 88 England—Manchester 1 24 4 96 England—Midlands 3 15 17 83 England—Newcastle 0 0 0 0 England—North 0 7 0 100 England—South East 1 11 8 92 England—South West 4 8 33 67 Wales 3 4 43 57 TOTAL 33 529 % 6 94 Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 275
  19. 19. A previous study by Castle and Lee87 considered 76 escort sites drawn from the USA, UK, Australia and Europe and found that escorts pre- ferred to receive contact via a call or e-mail (46%) rather than purely e-mail (4%) and 24% stated call only. These findings are reflected in those stated above based on the commercial Gaydar profiles in which 85% of profiles did utilise additional communication mechanisms. Service prices given Perhaps somewhat surprisingly given the central nature of it, the price is not commonly given.88 In fact, pricing details are given on just 34 per cent of profiles (see Table 6 below). This contrasts with the findings of Castle and Lee89 which found the price was given in 79 per cent of profiles surveyed. Nonetheless, it was interesting to note that there was often a degree of regional harmonisation of pricing which may be a product of the Internet element and the additional ‘market’ factor that it creates. In the Birmingham region, the typical pricing structure was £90 for one hour, £160 for two hours and £250 for three hours. The lowest 87 T. Castle and J. Lee, ‘Ordering Sex in Cyberspace: A Content Analysis of Escort Websites’ (2008) 11(1) International Journal of Cultural Studies 107. 88 For a detailed consideration of sex work pricing within the UK, see P. G. Moffatt and S. A. Peters, ‘Pricing Personal Services: An Empirical Study of Earnings in the UK Prostitution Industry’ (2004) 51(5) Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 675. 89 Castle and Lee, above n. 88. Table 5. Additional communication mechanisms Y N %Y %N Channel Islands 0 1 0 100 England—Birmingham 11 1 92 8 England—Bournemouth 0 0 0 0 England—Brighton 9 1 90 10 England—East Anglia 2 2 50 50 England—Leeds 7 2 78 22 England—Liverpool 1 1 50 50 England—London—Central 269 35 88 12 England—London—East 6 1 86 14 England—London—General 73 20 78 22 England—London—North 8 3 73 27 England—London—South 15 5 75 25 England—London—West 4 4 50 50 England—Manchester 23 2 92 8 England—Midlands 15 3 83 17 England—Newcastle 0 0 0 0 England—North 5 2 71 29 England—South East 10 2 83 17 England—South West 10 2 83 17 Wales 7 0 100 0 TOTAL 475 87 % 85 15 The Journal of Criminal Law 276
  20. 20. amount charged was £70 for one hour though overnight rates varied considerably, ranging from £350 to £550. In the Brighton area there were much fewer instances of prices being given, but where they were, these varied from £60 to £80 for one hour and increased dependent upon the travel required, rising to a consistent £100 per hour. In the East Anglia region there was a typical charge of £100 as the starting fee for one hour although the lowest rate was £90. All-night charges varied from £300 through to £400. Interestingly, in one in- stance, regular clients would get a discount. This is an example of escorts seeking to improve their own safety by creating a financial incentive to encourage reliable clients who they feel comfortable with and know they will get paid. The Leeds region generally started at £100 for one hour though the lowest rate was £70 in and £80 for an out call. The overnight rate varied from £325 to £400 and in one instance a weekend rate was given of £800. Across in the Pennines, in Liverpool, prices appeared to be similar but only one profile disclosed prices. These were £90 an hour (in) or £100 (out). The overnight rate was £450. In Central London the rate was typically £100 in or £120 out with overnight rates varying much more but generally around £500. The lowest hourly rate was £90 for a call (both in and out). The lowest overnight rate was £450 and the highest was £1,000. In East London Table 6. Service prices given Y N Y% N% Channel Islands 0 1 100 0 England—Birmingham 6 6 50 50 England—Bournemouth 0 0 0 0 England—Brighton 2 8 20 80 England—East Anglia 4 0 100 0 England—Leeds 6 3 67 33 England—Liverpool 1 1 50 50 England—London—Central 75 229 25 76 England—London—East 5 2 71 29 England—London—General 35 58 38 62 England—London—North 6 5 55 45 England—London—South 8 12 40 60 England—London—West 1 7 13 88 England—Manchester 12 13 48 52 England—Midlands 8 10 44 56 England—Newcastle 0 0 0 0 England—North 4 3 57 43 England—South East 8 4 67 33 England—South West 4 8 33 67 Wales 5 2 71 29 TOTAL 190 372 % 34 66 Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 277
  21. 21. rates were notably lower, typically £80 an hour and £400 overnight. The lowest hourly rate was £70 and the highest was £150. In ‘general’ London prices were typically £100 for an hour in or £120 out as in central London. Overnight rates varied but were typically £400. The lowest hourly rate was £60 (for 18–25-year-olds) and the highest was £200. The lowest overnight rate was £350 and the highest was £900. North London had a typical hourly rate of £120 with the lowest hourly rate £100 and the highest £120. The overnight rates varied slightly with the highest at £500 and the lowest at £400. Finally, for the London region, South London had a typical hourly rate of £100 hour with the highest hourly rate standing at £120 and the lowest £50, although it was a fetish profile. The overnight rate varied, typically being £500 which was also the highest and £450 was the lowest overnight rate. In Manchester rates varied considerably with no common rate. The lowest hourly rate was £60 and the highest was £95. Overnight rates similarly varied with the lowest standing at £300 and the highest at £500. This was also true of the ‘north’ region which had £80 as the lowest hourly rate and £100 as the highest. £300 was the most common overnight rate and the lowest whilst £500 was the highest. In the South East the typical rate was around £80 with the lowest rate at £75 an hour and the highest £110. Overnight rates were typically £500, which was also the highest and the lowest rate was £350. In the South West the rates varied considerably between the lowest hourly rate of £60 and the highest of £85. Overnight rates similarly varied between the lowest at £300 and the highest at £450. Conclusion As has been noted above, there is emerging academic scholarship in the USA, which is starting to address the subject of cyber-prostitution and the role of the Internet in facilitating prostitution. The most significant difference between the USA and UK experience is the underlying law. Whilst sex work in England and Wales is not illegal, many of the activities associated with prostitution are. All 50 states in the USA define prostitutes as criminals and, traditionally, as women, though this had begun to change by the early 1990s.90 In contrast, in the USA, prostitution laws make it a crime in most states to offer, agree to, or engage in a sexual act for financial reward.91 In Melbourne, Australia, the city sought to shift sex work away from street-based prostitution to regulated brothels.92 For Barnett, this is not an appropriate solution as the practical effect, she claims, is that the most 90 P. Alexander, ‘Bathhouses and Brothels: Symbolic Sites in Discourse and Practice’ in D. Bedfellows (ed.), Policing Public Sex (South End Press: Boston, 1996) 226. See more generally J. Kelly, ‘Nevada Vice’ (1993) 143 NLJ 948 and N. Lopez-Jones, ‘Legalising Brothels’ (1992) 142 NLJ 594. 91 The idea of financial reward as a motivator into sex work is explored in depth by McLeod, above n. 39. 92 This has not deterred all sex workers and there is still a strong street-based element: see ‘Sex in our City? Plenty Apparently’, The Age, 8 June 2003, available at http:// www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/06/07/1054700442113.html, accessed 18 April 2009. A recent guide to Melbourne also reflects this, stating that Grey Street in the St Kilda The Journal of Criminal Law 278
  22. 22. vulnerable prostitutes, who cannot gain admission to licensed brothels, are forced into criminal activity on the streets, or into illegal brothels.93 The findings of this article indicate a significant presence of escorts within the virtual gay community, sharing space in much the same way as sex workers may do in the somatic queer space of a club or bar. Eighty years ago, American sexologist, W. J. Robinson, commented: . . . it is fair to assume that [prostitution] will continue to persist in the future; but it will persist not because it always has; it will persist because it satisfies a definite and important biological need, and answers it in a way that no other present arrangement does.94 Though written in the 1920s, it is a view that still holds true today. Technology is supporting the continuous operation of sex work and promoting the growth of new sex industries in online pornography and online exhibitionism. Moreover, Koken et al.95 noted in their study published in 2004 that male sex workers who have sex with other men ‘operate at the unique intersection of two major taboos: engaging in homosexual activity and the illegal exchange of sex for money’. English culture, however, both legal and social, has changed dramatically over the last decade, rendering homosexuality much less of a taboo, which makes it different to society in the USA at the time of that Koken et al. were writing. It is perhaps therefore understandable that male-for-male sex work is not merely at the margins of the Internet, but can flourish on a ‘main- stream’ social networking site such as Gaydar, where users can find instant sexual encounters, an online masturbation exhibition, an escort and a plumber within the same virtual queer community. The growth in technology has not led to the decline of real-world sex in favour of virtual sex despite the predictions of some and the emer- gence of new technology platforms such as Second Life. Yet technology does offer the possibility to move sex away from the streets. Walker et al. noted that the Internet can transform ‘visible’ crime into ‘invisible’ crime96 and if the UK government intends to follow the Swedish model of transforming sex work into an ‘invisible’ practice, the Internet may be its greatest tool. If, however, the aim of the UK government is to stop sex work, the search must continue. It has not been the purpose of this article to contribute to the existing debates on whether the current legal position represents an over- extension of legal paternalism or offers important safety nets for those district is ‘still home to prostitutes, drug addicts and down-and-outs’: S. Townshend and G. Dunford, The Rough Guide to Melbourne (Rough Guides: London, 2005) 88. 93 Barnett, above n. 16 at 317. 94 W. J. Robinson, Prostitution, quoted in F. Henriques, Prostitution in Europe and the New World (MacGibbon & Kee: Rochester, 1963) 346. 95 Koken, Bimbi, Parsons and Haltkins, above n. 7. 96 D. Walker, D. Brock and T. R. Stuart, ‘Faceless-Orientated Policing: Traditional Policing Theories Are Not Adequate in a Cyber World’ (2006) 79(2) Police Journal 169. Male Sex Work and the Internet Effect 279
  23. 23. engaged in sex work.97 . However, that debate must take far more account of the emerging and complex issue of same-sex male sex work that is supported and offered through the Internet. This article does, however, in the Foucaudian sense, hope that ‘to- morrow sex will be good again’98 and that a new truth of sex work can be constructed by government and policy makers in which the old gendered concepts of sex work are abandoned in favour of a multitude of sex-work constructs, including the role of the Internet and male-for- male sex workers. 97 See V. E. Munro, ‘Dev’l-in Disguise?’ in V. E. Munro and C. F. Stychin (eds), Sexuality and the Law: Feminist Engagements (Routledge-Cavendish: Abingdon, 2007) 8–9. For an excellent example of feminist engagement with this area, see P. Kotiswaran, ‘Wives and Whores’ in V. E. Munro and C. F. Stychin (eds), Sexuality and the Law: Feminist Engagements (Routledge-Cavendish: Abingdon, 2007). 98 M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: The Will to Knowledge (Penguin: London, 1998) 7. The Journal of Criminal Law 280