New sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion in a dig­i­tal city

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SNITCH - AMY A HAR­RIS

T THE street­walker has al­ready y go gone from Syd­ney’s noc­tur­nal la land­scape — and it’s claimed br broth­els will soon fol­low.

So­cial me­dia, the dig­i­tal re rev­o­lu­tion and the smart phone ar are chang­ing sex work in NSW ju just as rad­i­cally as the lat­est inca can­ta­tion of fem­i­nism and the st state’s fa­mously re­laxed laws s go gov­ern­ing pros­ti­tu­tion.

NSW was the first ju­ris­dic- tio tion in the world to de­crim­i­nal- is ise adult sex work, be­gin­ning in 1979 w when some laws against stree­treet ba based sex work­ers were re­moved.

In 1995 fur­ther leg­is­la­tion saw m most as­pects of the NSW sex in­dustr try de­crim­i­nalised.

Trans­parency, the pro­tec­tion of w women, and the fight against or­gani nised crime and po­lice cor­rup­tion, dr drove the world-fa­mous laws.

But that was be­fore the iPhone, re re­vealed by Ap­ple in 2007, and the World Wide Web, which went live back in 1991.

Syd­ney male es­cort John Oh is a cl clas­sic ex­am­ple of NSW’s chang­ing se sex work — he’s one of a grow­ing num­ber of men who women pay to have sex with. “I think you can track th the in­crease (in women pay­ing for s sex) to the up­take of phones and ta­ble lets,” he said.

“All of a sud­den they al­lowed women to re­search in pri­vate rather than use the work or home com­puter and have that fear of be­ing caught out.

“That’s just some­thing they could never do be­fore.”

So­cial me­dia, the ex­plo­sion in es­cort “shop­ping” sites and a wide­spread ac­cep­tance of sex work as a vi­able oc­cu­pa­tion, and those re­laxed laws, has meant that Syd­ney is chal­leng­ing ci­ties like Am­s­ter­dam and Rio de Janeiro for the ti­tle of the world’s sex cap­i­tal, ac­cord­ing to UNSW fel­low and so­cial re­searcher Hil­lary Cald­well.

“Syd­ney is re­ally seen as the envy of the rest of the world,” said UNSW fel­low and so­cial re­searcher Cald­well, who has ded­i­cated her the­sis to the rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non of women pay­ing for sex with es­corts.

“It’s one of the few places where pros­ti­tu­tion is mostly le­gal, though there are still small ar­eas where re­stric­tions ap­ply.

“But is cer­tainly seen as a place that, in the past few years, has re­ally be­come one of the most pro­gres­sive and as a re­sult the in­dus­try has re­ally evolved.”

In the past decade the Har­bour City’s sex land­scape has mor­phed from one based solely around men pay­ing women for sex — sex-buy­ers glob­ally re­main 99 per cent male — to a di­verse mix of young, old, male and fe­male both buy­ing and sell­ing sex ser­vices in big­ger num­bers.

Women have be­come the fastest­grow­ing clien­tele in the sex mar­ket in NSW, their num­bers in­creas­ing around 100 per cent year-on-year since around 2013.

As a re­sult male es­corts are on the rise, with about 50 men cater­ing to women-only clients now reg­is­tered in NSW.

As well as in­creased ac­cess to on­line es­cort sites, Ms Cald­well puts this rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non down to what is known as “the fourth wave of fem­i­nism” — a so­cial shift which be­gan around 2013 and saw women be­com­ing more em­pow­ered via the in­ter­net.

“Some peo­ple re­fer to it as post­fem­i­nism … but ba­si­cally it saw women be­com­ing more and more em­pow­ered through shared ex­pe­ri­ences,” said Ms Cald­well, who has in­ter­viewed dozens of women who ad­mit to now pay­ing men for sex.

“But it’s not just the act of buy­ing sex that is sig­nif­i­cant, but the fact that women now know they can ini­ti­ate it, ask for what they want and know they don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to please any­one.”

For­mer es­cort and au­thor Sa­man­tha X now runs an agency spe­cial­isi ising in fe­male sex work­ers be be­tween 30 and 60 and said that br broth­els were “on the way out” th thanks to the smart­phone.

It en­ables sex work­ers to op­er­ate ei­ther in­di­vid­u­ally or in small gro groups from shared premises or ho ho­tels.

“There’s no need for street work an any­more, which I think is great,” sh she said.

“If you’re sell­ing sex you can jus just ar­range to meet some­one eit ei­ther at their place, or a ho­tel or wh wher­ever.”

The al­leged mur­der of Michae aela Dunn — who had been ad­verti ver­tis­ing on­line and work­ing out of an apart­ment on Clarence St in Syd­ney’s CBD, in Au­gust when she was at­tacked — reignited the topic of safety and in­de­pen­dent sex work in the dig­i­tal age.

Sev­eral es­corts claimed at the time that Dunn’s vi­o­lent death left them feel­ing “vul­ner­a­ble” and the risks of sex work came un­der much me­dia scru­tiny.

There were claims broth­els may in some cases ac­tu­ally pro­vide a safer en­vi­ron­ment.

“Women ob­vi­ously do have to be mind­ful all the time of their safety and a lot of that comes down to lis­ten­ing to their gut … be­cause things do hap­pen,” Sa­man­tha X said.

“Though far less than you would think. And I don’t think it is any worse than the risk as­so­ci­ated with go­ing on a Tin­der date or hav­ing a tradie over to your house.”

At­tacks on sex work­ers — while still a re­al­ity — are rel­a­tively un­com­mon, ac­cord­ing to Cameron Cox, who runs the Sex Work­ers Out­reach Pro­ject in NSW.

“At­tacks by clients aren’t com­mon at all,” Mr Cox said.

“But when it does hap­pen it gets a lot of me­dia at­ten­tion and peo­ple as­sume it hap­pens a lot.

“The prob­lem is the amount of gen­dered vi­o­lence that oc­curs in our so­ci­ety as a whole.

“The re­al­ity is women of all kinds face threats of vi­o­lence in their lives and as it stands 80 per cent of all sex work­ers are women.

“So un­for­tu­nately they cop their fair share but that’s a male vi­o­lence is­sue.”

The re­al­ity is women threats of all kinds face li ves of vi­o­lence in their Pr oject Worker’s O utreach Cameron C ox, S ex

Michaela Dunn Dunn, 24 24, was stabbed to death in an apart­ment on Clarence St in Syd­ney’s CBD.

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