I have an article due out in March so just wanted to share the submission I pitched. I have tweeted about this before and received mixed responses, in part due to the fact I’ve not explained the methodology behind my madness but also because I imagine looking at the visual aspect of sex buyers can be somewhat confronting.
So, here is what I pitched. It forms the basis of an article and a forth coming book due out in March …
How do we visual depict men who pay for sex? Why is there a scholarly silence on the visual aspects of clients of sex workers despite men buying sexual services online since the mid-1990s. Why do we, as academics and visual artists rarely consider the photographic representations of men who pay for sex online? Why do men get to remain relatively unlooked at and unseen in the transaction of sex? In a digitally networked world where players in the sex industry construct visual narratives about themselves through the creation/construction of a self-image, my submission seeks to decontextualise these images by reaching into the circulation of these images on social media and grabbing visual fragments of the lives of men who pay for sex and then using these visual fragments to construct a visual landscape of sex buyers.
With this paper I seek to address the photographic imbalance in the visual representation of sex industry participants and seek to explore ways art and research can investigate, present and represent the photographic landscape of sex buyers. In this digital age of gendered experiences on social media, men, the sex buyers can lurk anonymously on the internet without suffering the same level of harsh critique as female sellers of sex.
My submission explores the connection between the photographic identity that sex buyers construct through their WhatsApp profile photographs, visibility, connectivity and men who seek sex online – the inter-connectivity of the photograph used to construct on identity on social media in their everyday life that is also used to arrange illicit sex in exchange for payment. Working with photographs collected through cyber-ethnographic methodologies my submission addresses the ways of re-imagining visual user-generated content of sex buyers to challenge the visual stereotype sex industry participants.