Buying Sex: Men and the Marketplace

  • Julia Laite
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


The lack of male clients in contemporary and historical studies of commercial sex is not surprising when it is seen as symptomatic of the double standard of sexual morality, the pervasive attitude that held women solely responsible for the moral, legal and medical consequences of commercial sex contracts. ‘The prostitute’s client appears to have been neglected by students of prostitution in favour of the woman,’ was sociologist Rosalind Wilkinson’s understated comment. ‘This continual avoidance of half the subject may explain the divergent views which exist concerning the function of prostitution as a social phenomenon.’1 Even today, the purchase of sex, understood as part of a more generalized biological male need for sex at all costs (literal and figurative), remains largely naturalized, uninterrogated and ahistorical.


Police Officer Venereal Disease Ordinary Citizen Sexual Double Standard Metropolitan Police 
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  1. 7.
    T.C.N Gibbens, ‘The Clients of Prostitutes’, The Alison Neilans Memorial Lecture VI (London: Josephine Butler Society, 1962), p. 3.Google Scholar
  2. 29.
    Raphael Samuel, East End Underworld: Chapters in the Life of Arthur Harding (London: 1981), pp. 110–11Google Scholar
  3. 34.
    Ian Gibson, The Erotomaniac: The Secret Life of Henry Spencer Ashbee (London, 2002); Mason, Victorian Sexuality, pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  4. 36.
    Taylor Croft, The Cloven Hoof: A Study of Contemporary London Vice (London, 1932), p. 17.Google Scholar
  5. 59.
    C.H. Rolph, ‘The Oldest Problem’, The New Statesmen and Nation, 17 May 1947.Google Scholar

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© Julia Laite 2012

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  • Julia Laite

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