According to Dr. Teela Sanders, a senior lecturer at the University of Leeds, and the author of Paying For Pleasure: Men Who Buy Sex, nearly one in three men will buy sex at some point in his life. . . and we're not talking porn. Below, Sanders offers some provocative ideas on why that's the case—and what you need to know about it.
What prompted you to write this book in particular?
Generally my area has been in the sex industry—my first book was about studying women working as escorts, looking at how they manage risk, the economic choices, and their decisions to work as sex laborers.
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The new book is the flip side: Men Who Buy Sex. I wanted to look at the myths around who these guys are, and the relationship they have with sex workers. And I wanted to dispel the idea that they’re all these dirty, seedy curb crawlers and look at what is going on in terms of sexual consumption.
Why did you choose to write this book now?
In Britain, we're trying to have this law that criminalizes men who buy sex. It's based on a Swedish model. There's this notion that the demand for sexual services is fueling human rights violations… I demystify all of that. This economic model is not demand-driven. We have a whole supply chain, and the majority of the supply chain is women making these economic decisions. There are women in the caring industry leaving professions like nursing and going into sexual labor type jobs because the benefits are higher. The pay is higher. Also students… a big trajectory of women who are students. That's a new thing in the UK because students have only recently had to pay for higher education.
So if not a dirty, seedy curb crawler, what does the typical guy who buys sex look like?