The Role Males Play in the "Dating Game" With Street-Level Sex Workers

Oliver M. Pu-Folkes, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Most prostitution studies have focused on the sex workers with little attention given to the male clients who regularly and illegally purchase commercial sex on public streets. However, as one sex worker stated in an interview, "there wouldn't be a supply if there wasn't a demand". The purpose of this study was to learn more about the impression management techniques of the males who compose the street-level sex worker clients. Through field observations of a prostitution prone location in New York City, referred to as a "track" over the course of one year, conversations with sex workers, their clients, and prospective clients on the street and a combination of detailed semi-structured and unstructured interviews of thirty sex workers, eight typologies of the clients of street-level sex workers are fleshed out. The utilities of examining the conduct of prostitution clients are twofold: (1) law enforcdement initiatives against prostitution can direct more attention towards the demand end of this business; and (2) this study provides another example of the gender-based double standards in society that continue to exploit women as most law enforcement initiatives are focused on arresting the female sex worker and not her client.

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Updated 05/20/2006