22 May 2015 12:02

British women are paying for sexual services because they want great sex, are too busy for relationships or do not want to have a conventional relationship.

These are the initial findings of a new study which has been launched into women who buy sexual services.

The study, led by Dr Sarah Kingston of Lancaster University, and co-led by Dr Natalie Hammond at Manchester Metropolitan University, will potentially be one of the most in-depth analyses of the subject ever undertaken in the UK.

Researchers have spoken to 21 escorts in the UK who are paid for their sexual services. Now they want to speak to their female clients to find out more about the experiences of women who pay for sex.

Their early findings reveal that women who pay for sex come from all backgrounds and ages, although there is a common trend that women are in their thirties and forties.

Escorts indicate that some of their female clientele may not want, or have the time for, a relationship. Researchers have also found that some women pay for sexual services while in a relationship, for excitement and to spice up their love lives with existing partners.

The study has also discovered that some women who pay for sex take control of the situation, asserting their sexual desires in advance while others prefer a more natural unfolding of events, starting with a drink or massage first.

Dr Kingston, a Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University, has research interests in the sex industry, policy and law.

She explained: “We have made some fascinating early findings, but we still have much work to do. We are seeking to explore motivations and experiences of women who book escorts; who and where they buy sex from and to explore how physical and sexual safety is negotiated.

“The study involves interviewing men, women, transgendered and transsexual people who sell sexual services to women, as well as women who purchase sexual services.

“We still want to speak to women who buy sexual services. This will be completely confidential and they will not be identified in any way. Phone and Skype interviews have been popular so far, and we are flexible on methods. Speaking directly with women will provide us with a valuable insight into how and why they engage in this activity.

The team explained: “Some of our participants say most of the women who buy sex are professional people, some of whom may simply want pleasurable sexual experiences. Paying an escort is described as a way of ensuring discretion, as opposed to other ways of securing sexual encounters.

“In some instances women were very specific about the services they required. This came across in some interviews with escorts who had one-to-one bookings with women. Escorts relay how women with specific requests email their expectations ahead of meeting.

“However, some women also pay for more than just sexual intercourse, they might go for a drink or meal with their chosen escort before progressing onto sexual contact – which some escorts describe as the ‘boyfriend experience’.

“It is also evident that women purchase sexual services as part of a couple. The majority of the escorts interviewed see couples, stating they are booked for regular excitement and fun, or simply for a relationship treat. In couples, some men appeared more nervous than their female partner”.  

The study is funded by the British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust.

To take part in the research visit www.womenwhobuysex.org, or email Dr Sarah Kingston or (s.kingston@lancaster.ac.uk) or Scarlett Redman (s.redman@lancaster.ac.uk).