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GW Researcher Finds One-Third of Escort Service Clients Want a Relationship With Their Provider

August 15, 2012


WASHINGTON - A recent study co-authored by a George Washington University professor discovered that an estimated one-third of clients of indoor sex workers wish to have a personal relationship with their provider.

Professor of Sociology Ronald Weitzer from GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Science and his co-author Christine Milrod reviewed 2,442 postings on a popular online forum where patrons of escorts anonymously discussed their interactions and experiences with sex workers and commercial sex. Drs. Weitzer and Milrod’s article was recently published in Men and Masculinities, a journal geared toward the evolving roles and perceptions of men across society.

What Dr. Weitzer found was “a spectrum of experiences, ranging from counterfeit intimacy to an authentic emotional bond between the two parties.”

“In our data, approximately one-third of the 2,442 postings contained discussions of emotional intimacy in client-provider relationships,” said Dr. Weitzer. “A significant portion of these clients discover, at some point, that they want some emotional connection in addition to the sexual component.”

The paper also explores the changes in sexual commerce in recent decades, specifically mentioning “the girlfriend experience,” or GFE, that some prostitutes offer in which the encounters between client and worker take on a quasi-dating character.

In the GFE, the authors write, “Sex remains part of the service but it is coupled with mutual sharing, support, and companionship. . .This type of sexual commerce offers intangible benefits that mirror unpaid relationships—except that the amity and intimacy are paid for.”

The website used in the research, TheEroticReview, receives between 250,000 and 300,000 unique visitors daily and contains more than 800,000 reviews and the contact information of 75,000 to 100,000 providers. The data for the study titled “The Intimacy Prism: Emotion Management among the Clients of Escorts” was collected between May 2006 and July 2011.

The Columbian College
Established in 1821 in the heart of the nation’s capital, The George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences is the largest of GW’s academic units. It encompasses the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and more than 40 departments and programs for undergraduate, graduate and professional studies. The Columbian College provides the foundation for GW’s commitment to the liberal arts and a broad education for all students. An internationally recognized faculty and active partnerships with prestigious research institutions place Columbian College at the forefront in advancing policy, enhancing culture and transforming lives through research and discovery.

The George Washington University
In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

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