chapter  1
12 Pages

Deconstructing sexuality and understanding the procurement of sex

In order to contextualise and gain insight into the procurement of sexual services, consideration of ‘sex’ and what that means is an important starting point for this volume. Sex can be understood through biological explanations such as natural urges and drivers, but as Kimmel and Plante (2004) note, sex is as much to do with how people interact with each other in a social context as with biology, and is informed by cultural assumptions. So men’s procurement of sex, whatever that may mean for each individual, may be as much if not more influenced by social values, norms and other desires as just by a desire to engage in the physical act of intercourse. As Gagnon and Simon suggest, ‘people become sexual in the same way they become everything else. Without much reflection they pick up directions from their social environment’ (1970: 2). Sexual behaviour can be argued to be a product of the interactions of our biological constitution and what we learn from our cultures. In other words, in part, people are socialised into sex and as gender is also constructed through socialisation processes (Shepherd 2009: 8), ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are intimately related but are not the same and must be distinguished. ‘Gender’ is a fluid term denoting a continuum ranging from feminine to masculine and is a socially and culturally constructed phenomenon (Garza-Mercer, 2006: 109), reflected in sayings such as ‘boys don’t cry’ or ‘that is not very lady-like’. ‘Sex’ refers to the ‘biological and physiological characteristics that differentiate males from females, e.g., sex chromosomes, hormone levels, testes, ovaries’ (Kauth, 2007: 15).