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Cult Health Sex. 2015;17(7):810-24. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2015.1004197. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

Romancing the boundary: client masculinities in the Chinese sex industry.

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a Department of Sociology , University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong.


This paper draws on 24 in-depth interviews and 2 focus-group discussions conducted since 2012 with Hong Kong heterosexual men who buy sex in order to examine men's level of physical and emotional engagement with sex workers under two dominant sexual scripts in contemporary Hong Kong. Torn between companionate sexuality, with its companionate model of relationships, and recreational sexuality, with its promiscuous model of sexual pleasure, Hong Kong male clients seek to satisfy their sexual and affective needs through commercial sexual relationships. The term (meaning 'chicken worm', connoting a 'McSex' form of masculinity) refers to those men who seek impersonal sexual release with as many women as they wish, while the term (meaning 'sunken boat' and connoting a 'Titanic' form of masculinity) refers to those men who seek an intense level of emotional intimacy with sex workers. Between these two contrasting types, the majority of respondents fall into a form of 'bounded' masculinity characteristic of men who emphasise control and balance by seeking emotionally responsive women in a time-bound romance. By comparing clients' variations in the level of physical and emotional engagement with sex workers, this paper seeks to understand individual differences in client types and offers a new understanding of Chinese male sexuality and relationship formation, and the corresponding health risks (e.g., sexual, emotional) associated with each type.


Hong Kong; commercial sex; male clients; masculinity; sexual scripts

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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