Male escorts… They’re just like you.
A new study by the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training has unearthed the top 13 career concerns for male escorts, and the results have some researchers very surprised.
The study, conducted in 2013, surveyed 418 men from Rentboy.com, one of the largest websites for male escorts in the world. Going into it, researchers assumed HIV/AIDS prevention would rank at #1. It turns out, they were wrong. The top concern for the male escorts surveyed was branding. More specifically, how to brand themselves effectively in today’s competitive marketplace, and how to attract the right clients.
“A lot of current research on male escorts has focused on HIV risk and looked at ways to help men stop being escorts,” Dr. Christian Grov, one of the study’s authors, says in a statement. “The assumption has always been that, because male escorts exchange sex for money, they are in dire need of safer sex training.”
He continues: “Instead, we found that over 70% reported using a condom with their last client and that services such as ‘Attracting the right client and keeping them,’ or learning how to navigate the legality of escorting, outranked being trained in how to negotiate safer sex with clients.”
HIV/AIDS prevention didn’t even crack the list’s top 10. It came in a #12.
“This suggests that both researchers and providers really need to rethink how we are going to approach the topic of escorting,” says Grov.
Hawk Kinkaid, President and founder of HOOK, and organization that provides services and advocacy for men who work in the sex industry, agreed: “Instead of trying to ‘save’ these men from being escorts and assuming HIV prevention is their chief interest, perhaps we really should be trying understand motivations for escorting and the intrinsic benefits men receive from being escorts.”
Of course, this is not to suggest everything’s coming up roses for all male escorts.
“It is important to remember that exchanging sexual services for money is highly stigmatized and there isn’t an organized physical community of male escorts,” said Grov. “Many of these men remain hidden among us.”
The study also found more than 2/3 of participants (69.7 percent) had not told a single family member about their profession, and a quarter had not told a single friend. And while 70 percent of participants reported using a condom with their last male client, 30 percent did not, suggesting there are areas for improvement.
Check out the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training’s list of top concerns below.