“The Only Time He’d Ever Felt ‘Sexiness'”

Alice Robb presents new findings on why some disabled men pay for sex:

[Sociologist Kirsty] Liddiard interviewed 25 physically disabled men and women, recruited through ads on websites and in publications for people with disabilities. (The ads didn’t mention that she was studying sex work.) Of the 16 men included in the study, seven said they had at some point purchased sex from a female sex worker. (None of the women had ever paid for sex.) This is consistent with other research that suggests disabled men seek out prostitutes or “sex surrogates” at higher rates than non-disabled men.

In a 2005 survey carried out by the British magazine Disability Now, 22 percent of the 1,115 disabled male respondents admitted they had at some point paid for sex, and 37.6 percent said they’d at least considered it. (Only 1 percent of disabled women had hired a sex worker, though 16.2 percent had thought about it.) Researchers estimate that about 10 percent of all British men have ever visited a prostitute. …

[Liddiard] found that for many of the men, it was as much about demonstrating their independence as it was about the sex. For Harjit, a 23-year-old-student whose parents had moved into his university residence to care for him, making secret arrangements was as much an accomplishment as the sex itself. “From the excitable way such stories were told, it appeared that a lot of the ‘buzz’ … was as much from exercising agency, autonomy, control and independence as it was about experiencing sexual fulfilment, pleasure, and satisfaction,” wrote Liddiard.

Other men simply wanted to have an experience they believed they wouldn’t have otherwise. “I wish I could go out and meet someone, but it’s not that easy,” one man complained. “I can’t go into a nightclub and easily pull, although I have in certain circumstances, but I can’t do it easily,” said another. Mark, a 35-year-old Liddiard interviewed in person, said that his experience with a sex worker was the only time he’d ever felt “sexiness.”