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Feminine capital, masculine interest


Ray Ekpu

Ray Ekpu

BREAKING News Number One: The National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) has identified 3,500 male prostitutes in Abuja. Breaking News Number Two: Sixty per cent of them are married. I had to call the Director General of NACA, Prof. John Idoko, to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the story. He confirmed that it is true and that there are also a few thousands of them in Lagos.

The news hit me like a bomb. Female sex workers, we know; gigolos we also know but who are these? A brand new set of businessmen without smart briefcases. This is a new day, a new dawn, an ugly new dawn, to confirm that what a woman can do a man can also do. And get paid for it.

Before now prostitution was gender-specific. It was a woman’s business. The woman was in a position to make feminine capital out of masculine interest by baring her bosom or part of it and her buttocks or part of it to generate an appropriate level of lascivious passion in the randy male. In other words, a prostitute was known as a woman who does the same thing for profit that other women do for pleasure. Society seemed, despite the official hypocrisy, to think that the prostitute was performing a valuable societal function. In fact, Napoleon is quoted to have said, “Prostitutes are a necessity. Without them men would assault respectable women in the streets.”

However, over the years the face of prostitution has changed. Some dynamism has been injected into it by technology especially the internet and the telephone, by the philosophy and sociology of today’s night clubbing business as a place with take-away potentials and the devaluation by youths of the concept of sex. Thrown into the bargain are several perversion condiments: multiple sex partners, multiple entry points, the licking of what was never licked before, the crude one night stand, the call girl phenomenon, the stripper as hooker and several other bizarre scenarios.

Now with the entry of men into the market as certified sex workers there is a level playing field and an awkward attempt at the democratisation of the sex business. Several countries have been turned on by the male prostitute syndrome. In China, it is estimated that there are between five and 10 million male sex workers who use hotels and massage parlours for the business. They call the sex trade “selling smiles.” In Japan, prostitutes prefer to see what they do euphemistically as “compensated dating.”

In Lebanon, it is called escort business and this is dominated by Syrians who fled from the war in their country. There is an estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon who can’t find jobs so they take to prostitution for survival. This has driven the price of sex southwards in Beirut.

In Australia, male prostitution is in an advanced stage of sophistication. Sex workers, men and women, are allowed to even advertise their wares or services in the yellow pages. However, they are not allowed to go explicit. They are also not allowed to show their nipples whether they are men or women. A man can also not talk about the size or structure of his organ. It is strictly forbidden.

America has, according to a publication called Details, recorded its first legal male sex worker in Nevada. He is a former member of the Marine Corps whose adopted name is “Markus.” He is 25. He was auditioned at Nevada’s Shady Lady Ranch for a chance to sell his body: He got the job. He describes himself as a “surrogate lover” and also sees himself as an “artist,” a “performer” and says that what he is doing is a craft. He says further: “I am an equal opportunity employer. I don’t discriminate based on race, colour, creed, ethnicity or skin tone.”

Wikipedia says that where male prostitution is strictly forbidden or is illegal the prostitutes prefer to use such euphemisms as escort, nude model, masseur. It states that there are actually some established male brothels in some cities where the women who want fun can go to.

The profile of male prostitutes all over the world seems to be identical. They are young, most of them under 30 years of age, they are fit and have well-toned bodies, the type of bodies you would see in body-building competitions or Mr. Nigeria Pageants. The interest seems to be on the solidity of their bodies, bodies that exude hyper-masculinity. They probably dress in a way that reveals their bulging biceps like basketball artists. They are certainly not very well educated considering that a first class honours degree is not quite relevant in this line of work. But they must be handsome and must dress well too. Above all they must have the staying power to make their customers want to come again and again.

There are also freelance male sex workers. These are male professional workers who are not well paid in their day jobs and they find the need to supplement their income with freelance prostitution at night. Some of these men come from the pool of gym instructors, call centre workers, night club workers; massage parlour workers and direct sales agents. Many of them operate social networking websites.

Who are their patrons? Rich businesswomen and professionals, married and unmarried. They are apparently not having a fulfilling sex life in their marriages or in their relationships and think that an occasional, no-strings attached fling can rejuvenate them. Just the same way older men, herein called sugar daddies patronise younger women, the older women herein called sugar mommies also prefer to patronise younger males. In this latter relationship, the younger boys are called in some cul tures “kept boys” or “boy toys.”

In these arrangements, there is a clear power imbalance between the parties. There are sharp differences in age, economic status and social station but sex is a leveling mechanism so the power dichotomy is irrelevant.

However, men who are in this business may not make as much money as women, no matter how handsome and strong they are. The reason is that there are a limited number of women who patronise them and the frequency is also limited. Secondly, women have learnt to adjust to the stigma because they have been practising for ages. That is why you can find them in every corner of major cities prancing around in bum shorts or ultra-micro mini skirts and blouses with spaghetti straps that leave nothing, almost nothing, to the imagination. Male sex workers still have a sense of shame and in the countries where they ply their trade no red light districts have been carved out yet for them. Even if that happens the women who patronise them would prefer a more discreet, less open, arrangement.

The other reason men may not make as much money as women is that a woman sex worker can handle as many as a dozen customers in a day because she does not exert considerable energy. She only has to, largely, make her vessel available and the man will do the bulk of the work. The male prostitute has to have a full erection to be able to please every customer that comes his way. Even if he takes erection-assisting medication there is still a limit to how far he can go.

Now with the entry of men into the market as certified sex workers there is a level playing field and an awkward attempt at the democratisation of the sex business

For the married male sex worker, the major motivation is money. He is not earning well in his regular work and his wife may not be earning a good income or any at all. So he feels the need to supplement the family’s income in addition to having fun. In this male prostitute setting, the woman gets some fun while the man gets some fund. But the man gets some fun as well so why is he paid for giving and getting fun? The reason goes back to the demand and supply equation in Economics. The men who are ready to do this job are in short supply and the number of bored, sex-starved but successful women is high. This logic works in the same way with female prostitutes. The man pays but both the payer and the payee have the fun. Demand and supply again.

Prostitution, male or female, is illegal in Nigeria. But the female sex workers are in all the major cities of Nigeria. Now the male prostitutes have arrived, complete with their tool kits, in Lagos and Abuja. The recruitment process is unknown but we can finger poverty and unemployment. These two desperate diseases can drive a man to look for a desperate cure. And that is why they are in town now.

Secondly, globalisation has changed the world in ways we never thought of many years ago. The intrusive impact of technology and various media forms have had severe lifestyle effects on developing countries, Nigeria not exempted. That is why homosexuality, bisexuality and lesbianism have become, even in this country, an adorable fad.

During the proceedings in the National Assembly on what should be the country’s attitude to these issues including same sex marriage there were quite a number of young men and women who went, unhooded, with placards to demand their rights as deviants. Before we know it the new businessmen in town, the male prostitutes, will spill out into the streets to ask that they be granted the right to be different.
Will they get it, No. So, where do we go from here? I don’t know.

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