Prostitution in postindustrial societies such as the United States is experiencing dramatic reorganization – sex workers are no longer necessarily the poorest, most marginalized strata, but are instead coming from the more educated middle class. This demographic shift is intricately related to and reflective of a shift in the character of the variety of sexual labour being bought and sold from a quick and dirty sexual release to an authentic experience of sexual intimacy, eroticism, and desire. The unremarkable advertisement of sex workers as providing the girlfriend experience, in which women attempt to provide a level of intimacy typically ascribed to intimate interpersonal relationships, exemplifies a deliberate attempt to fill a growing niche market for the sale and purchase of sexual activity with a greater value than that of traditional prostitution – the additive qualities of intimacy, sensuality and eroticism – to a market of largely overworked professional men.
The rapid shift from public outdoor street prostitution to privatized indoor sex work is actively encouraged by political figures worldwide, who seek to clear regions of public exposure for inner-city gentrification, not necessarily to eradicate solicitation of the new sexual leisure activities. Sex work has experienced dramatic changes in its character in the last twenty years due to sometimes subtle yet highly influential structural mechanisms, such as the rise of post-industrialism and hence subsequent changes in socioeconomic patterns/ economic restructuring, which served to redefine the character of sex work; that redefinition has been termed bounded authenticity by sociologist Elizabeth Bernstein. Read the rest of this entry »