Sex Work

Men Aren't Paying For Sex Anymore Because the Internet Makes Free Sex Easy


Credit: Foter CC BY SA

Paying for sex may become a thing of the past, and the Internet could be the cause. A nationally representative survey suggests that the percentage of men who pay money for sex, or get paid, is at its lowest point on record.

The numbers come from the General Social Survey (GSS), a massive, decades-long project of the independent National Opinion Research Center (NORC). The Los Angeles Times reports some of the most interesting facts:

In a string of surveys between 1991 and 1996, nearly 17% of men said they had ever paid for or received payment for sex; that fell to 13.2% between 2006 and 2012. Last year, that number hit the lowest point since the question was first asked — 9.1% — though statisticians caution the unusually small number could be a fluke.

The survey drew no distinction between buying and selling sex, but men are widely assumed to be customers far more often than they are sellers.

The numbers seem to be shifting with the generations: Older men are much more likely to say they have bought or sold sex at some point in their lives. Younger men, in turn, have been less likely to report doing so than men of the same ages a few decades ago.


The sweeping survey, funded principally by the National Science Foundation, has questioned more than 57,000 Americans since 1972. Nearly 11,000 men have answered the question about paying or being paid for sex since it was first asked in 1991.

The question is: Why? A range of possibilities exist, from fear of AIDS to changing dynamics in the military. Another possibility the Times points to is that the Internet makes it so easy to get off for free.

The scale and scope of online dating and the niche-conducive culture of the web make finding sexual partners easier than ever. As BuzzFeed points out, "ugly schmucks," diaper-fetishists, and even people with mullets have their own Web sites to find like-minded mates.

For those not into commitment to other people, the Internet's endless terabytes of free, instantaneously accessible pornography satisfies the appetite. As an added bonus, statistics have shown for years that there is a correlation between the rise of porn and the fall of sexual crimes.

Although most Americans have a negative outlook about our collective moral well-being, as Nick Gillespie suggests in "Society is Coarser But Better," the growing ubiquity of porn (and the relaxing of other taboos) is a pretty good trade-off for a society in which "youth violence, sex, and drug use are all trending down." The GSS data indicates something even better. Consenting adults do not need to make a trade-off; The goods they want simply became more freely available.

NEXT: Study: Recent Immigrants to the UK Make Net Contribution to Public Finances

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    1. Please someone help me;)

  2. Three cheers to the Internet for bringing horny men and slutty women together, without the bother of money changing hands!

    Hip hip hooray!

    Hip hip hooray!

    Hip hip hooray!

    1. No, this is bad – GDP is going to go down.

      1. Stand by for the hooker mandate.

  3. Sex is like pizza–even when it’s bad, you still have to pay for it.

    1. Get better at sex, then you’ll get both for free.

      1. You probably still have to pay for something: dinner, drinks, etc.

        1. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

          1. After seeing some of my disaster food preparation, a friend asked me if I would consider trading food for sex. I told her, “Maybe! How much food you got?”

        2. Get betterer.

          1. That might work for the second, or subsequent encounters. But it’s hard to demonstrate sexual prowess when cruising the net or sitting at a bar.

            The flip side of that is that those truly just seeking sex are going to avoid second (etc) encounters for fear of the woman developing expectations.

    2. Is deep dish like banging a fat chick?

      1. Deep dish is like banging a fat donkey.

        1. Got it.

          What about thin crust? Cute face with bony ass, or are we looking at another animal?

          1. What about thin crust?

            She should have washed her face way before then.

        2. Deep dish is like banging a fat donkey.

          I thought you said you didn’t like deep dish? Which is it?

    3. Oh, so free pizza night at the college bar is like free sex night at the college bar?

      1. If memory serves, they are the same night.

  4. So those ads saying that women in my zip code want to have sex with me…they’re true?

    1. Absolutely. The question is if you want to have sex with those particular women.

    2. So those ads saying that women in my zip code want to have sex with me…they’re true?

      Technically true … you’re unlikely to meet those women through the site running the ad, but an entire zip code is enough to have hundreds if not thousands of women willing to have sex with you. As always, the trick is finding said women.

      1. Maybe you could try a billboard.

  5. The internet has done so many amazing things. It’s gotten people laid more easily. It’s disseminated information (by which I mean tons of porn). It’s allowed furries and Bronies to get together and tell each other that they’re not freaks. And it’s allowed Warty to hunt for victims in a vastly more efficient manner.

    The internet is truly a wonder. It even lets NutraSweet post appalling stories. We should be thankful every day for it.

    1. The internet has also let people watch Michael Bay movies without paying for them.

      1. Yes, a gift and a curse.

      2. Good point. The internet should be destroyed.

        1. There is a small silver lining. Bay is incrementally hurt each time someone watches his movies for free, rather than paying for them. Granted, this is a disgusting reality, that people willingly watch his films, yet there are greater horrors. Well, I think there might be.

          Anyway, before the Internet, such mass denial of cash wasn’t possible.

          1. The minuscule pain that Bay feels from people watching his movies without paying pales in comparison to the damage done by the greater dissemination of his evil. You, sir, have your priorities completely wrong. Which is what I would expect from a lawyer.

            1. He won’t even practice space law until he gets an office on Mars.

            2. I’m just looking for some way that Bay suffers. He’s rich, because people pay money to watch his movies. And he gets to make more, because people pay money to watch his movies. So, what we need, is to cut out the part about people paying money to watch his movies.

        2. Maybe if we sent some deep sea drillers into space with nukes…

          1. The internet isn’t in space. It’s a series of tubes. We need to send in deep sea drillers into tubes with nukes.

            1. The space elevator will fix that.

              1. Not if Pro Lib keeps refusing to help out with it!

            2. Copyright that. Ben Affleck is going to need a comeback vehicle after Batman bombs, and Bay will somehow have a $1B blockbuster budget for summer 2015.

              1. I bet they can afford a pretty sweet Mario costume for that kind of scratch.

    2. I have asked this before and probably got an answer…and promptly forgot.

      Why again do we have a running gag about warty being a monstrous rapist?

        1. Doesn’t the gag get in his way?

      1. After Warty ate Steve Smith someone had to take over.

  6. A nationally representative survey suggests that the percentage of men who pay money for sex, or get paid, is at its lowest point on record.

    Great, so now someone’s going to suggest subsidising sex workers.

    as Nick Gillespie suggests in “Society is Coarser But Better,”

    But less free-er.

    1. Re: Paul,

      Great, so now someone’s going to suggest subsidising sex workers.

      Or to unionize them.

      1. But since they are independent professionals, that would be an anti-trust violation.

      2. That I don’t have a problem with.

        1. Seriously, I think that prostitution is one area where a (libertarian friendly, i.e. completely voluntary) union could be effective and beneficial.

          1. Never heard of COYOTE?

            Kevin R

      3. Just as long as you don’t get serviced based on seniority.

  7. I am going to let one of you brave souls go to jezebel and find out what the feminists think of this. By brave, of course, I mean masochistic.

    1. If they could just post it into an already dead thread…

    2. They should be celebrating, right, since this will create less demand for trafficked women.

      1. Of course they should, if they were honest, but they are not. They are professional grievance mongerers always finding another angle to everything to justify a bitch.

        I am guessing it will be something about devaluing women.

    3. I went. I come back empty-handed.

      I usually only go when someone posts a link. How the hell can you find anything on that site?

    4. Commenters keep talking about Jezebel as though it were the ne plus ultra of feminist extremism. If only they knew about the radfems who dismiss the Jezzies as funfems.

      1. Its the internets. The crazy is always deeper.

      2. Jezebel is the fun, irreverent feminist site. The serious ones are just fucking depressing.

    5. Speaking of Jezzies, has anyone been brave enough to see what they think of those rape proof panties? I’m curious as to whether they are using the “tell boys to not rape” argument against this, too?

  8. I think one factor is increasing fastidiousness on the part of men, arising from social changes in men’s occupations and upbringing.

    When my dad was in the Navy during the Korean War, when you got into port 80% of the guys would go to a whorehouse. The guys who didn’t go were actually suspect, if they were unmarried.

    But these were guys who grew up on farms slaughtering animals, or who lived in tenements in slums and saw hookers every day. I’m sure to those guys, a hooker was just a lot less gross than she would be to someone who grew up in a nice clean suburb and never got their hands dirty in their lives.

    I can’t fucking fathom going to a hooker, ever, because it’s just so fucking disgusting to fuck some chick some other guy fucked ten minutes ago. Let alone in some Third World hellhole whorehouse. The idea that it would be so common that if you didn’t go you were weird is doubly unfathomable to me. And that fastidiousness probably arises at least in part from the fact that I’m a suburban pussy white boy who lived in extremely clean and “pure” environments his whole life. The more people like me there are now, the lower that headline number will get.

    1. pussy. I bet you hate strippers and apple pie too.

    2. You can also have a lot more contact with your girl back home.

    3. That may be some element of it. How do we know that the men aren’t just turning to other *men*? Being on the DL is a lot easier now than it used to be as well.

      1. Because not that many men are gay. It might affect the numbers some, but not this drastically.

        1. I think it’s a bit deeper than you think. There’s a significant portion of dudes in the ‘burbs who get together to say, play cards or go to the gym and then get down to business.

          1. Its pretty consistently 5-8% of both men and women who identify as gay or bisexual. Assume that 50% are out, which I hope more than that are, that means that about 4% of the remaining heteronormative population are into their own kind. Even two generations ago, probably 1% of the population were known to be gay — my dad’s uncle moved to the islands and lived pretty openly with his partner in the 50s and 60s. So your best case was 4-7% of the population DL.

            1. I think your numbers are off. I’ve had sex with guys who self-identify as straight, but wanted to try a walk on the wild side just once (or more than once).

              A lot of guys craving variety who’ll put their dick into whatever they can find.

              1. Who you met at church and the gym and bars and restaurants? I mean, there’s some self-selection just by getting to the hookup discussion.

              2. Denial is certainly a factor given that being gay is still a cultural taboo in many places.

                Men being pigs is also a factor (NTTAWWT).

                And, of course, sexuality is a continuum, not a binary choice. But the continuum exists more in practice than in identification (among men).

        2. But there is a long history of straight men seeking one-time, furtive sexual encounters with gay men. That doesn’t make those men gay.

          The increased availability of women for hookups should cause that other behavior to become far less common.

          1. The increased availability of women for hookups should cause that other behavior to become far less common.

            Not necessarily. It just might mean those guys have even more straight sex than they otherwise would have had, while still slaking their curiosity once or twice.

          2. It does make them not straight.

            1. If you’re thinking that any act with another man makes them inherently not straight then that’s a judgement on your part that’s not supported by either sex researchers or tradition.

              “It’s ok to take the [sex act] from the [slur], just as long as you don’t [perform the same act which was just performed on you].”

              If they are thinking of a woman during the act, then it’s quite arguable that they are indeed straight. Also, men in prison, sailors, etc.

              Does using a fleshlight make you a rubbertarian?

            2. Also this is fascinating. Normally gay people are accused of trying to inflate the numbers of gay people in our society and here you have me using a narrow definition based on long-term behavior and preference, and a (presumably) straight person using an extremely broad definition based on any deviance whatsoever from the norm.


        3. I had a gay friend some years ago. I asked him once what the percentage was. I guessed half.

          He said ” Let me put it this way. You are the only 100% straight guy I have ever met.”

          He qualified that by saying that most arent actually gay, but they wont turn down a blowjob if he offers.

          I was stunned. For weeks after that I kept thinking…who did we know in common?

          1. Thanks for a better explanation than mine.

          2. But I do disagree with your friend’s definition of “straight”.

          3. That squares with the confused look I got from a guy who offered me a blowjob in the bathroom of a club when I declined.

            I was confused by his confusion.

    4. “Let alone in some Third World hellhole whorehouse.”

      My one and only trip was in LaPaz Bolivia in the mid-eighties. The JetSet Club. Not bad actually, but I never went back.

      I did go to the pharm the next day and load up on Tetracycline. 300 mg 3x/day for 3 weeks.

      1. It is a shame I am too lazy to type much today. some pretty interesting side stories associated with that.

        1. Everyone hates a tease.

      2. If you walked down the street in broad daylight in pre-AIDS Olongapo, you would get your crotch rubbed by some young girl several times. Even most married guys would part with five bucks for a short time. Hang around late at night (like when you finish duty as Shore Patrol, cruising every bar in your assigned area)and it only cost a one-dollar meal.

    5. I can’t fucking fathom going to a hooker, ever, because it’s just so fucking disgusting to fuck some chick some other guy fucked ten minutes ago.

      There’s all kinds of hookers besides that. For a while there I was seeing a girl who was technically a hooker, except I was her only client, a chubby young Filipina who didn’t have a BF who wanted someone to bang the hell out of her once a week and give her some spending money.

      And then there’s my current GF, who in exchange for emotional intimacy and buying all the groceries and whatnot gives me hot sex pretty much whenever I want it, though she would emphatically deny that that is being a hooker.

      And there’s always the option of being a sugar daddy.

      1. There’s a difference between a long-term temp worker and hiring someone to clean your gutters once a year.

      2. ^This. I don’t believe for a second that less men are paying for sex, I think the internet has just helped enable a different way of going about it. And I say this as a woman who has never been a prostitute but who has met several men online, all of whom were upfront about wanting and being able to treat me to things – nice dinners, travel, occasional shopping trips, help with this or that, etc. And I know a lot of other women who have experienced the same so I doubt my experiences are out of the norm. In a way it’s become more of a barter system, but there is certainly a whole lot of paying going on, though not in a specific dollar amount for a specific sex act or amount of time.

    6. That is probably part of it, but I think part of it is easy access to high quality porn relieves a whole lot of a young guys need to just get off and so if he is going to invest time (and more importantly money) into a woman he’s going to want more than just an orgasm out of it.

      I could honestly see a lot of the guys I’ve known over the years being far more likely to pay a prostitute to come over and play XBox with them than to have sex with them

  9. …the percentage of men who pay money for sex, or get paid, is at its lowest point on record.


    1. Usually men pay for sex, regardless of who gets paid.

    2. Yeah. By other men.

      1. And not in the way you’d think. Just sayin’

        1. I’m trying to think of which way you would think I would think it would happen. But now I’m just confused.

          1. Sorry if I assumed wrongly.

            1. Well, I still have no idea what you assumed. But I promise I’m not bothered or offended in any case.


      We get payed with sex.

      fixed for you

    4. You, uh, need a different fist for that, man.

  10. As an added bonus, statistics have shown for years that there is a correlation between the rise of porn and the fall of sexual crimes.

    So images and videos that objectify women have a fairly good chance of lowering the actual objectification of women…and definitely do not increase the objectification of women.

    Jezebel readers will not be happy.

    1. Neither will the non-feminist, anti-porn brigades.

      1. Yeah, they really have a lot invested in the idea that porn promotes rape and other sexual misbehavior.

        1. Yes, it’s truly a bootleggers and baptists alliance, the feminists and the NFAPB’s.

    2. Are they ever?

    3. If you believe that, you must believe that advertising serves no purpose.

      1. You need to elaborate. I am not getting what you mean.

        I will take a stab at what maybe you are meaning.

        When one sees a coke ad he does not get his parched throat soothed.

        When one faps to porn he does cum.

        See the difference?

        One is attempting to raise awareness to your dissatisfaction the other satisfies it.

  11. This is great news. With demand dropping, prices should follow suit. I will take this up with my supplier negotiate a new rate. Thanks, for “news you can use”.

  12. I don’t do sex. I’m married.

  13. You don’t pay her for sex. You pay her to go the fuck away after.

  14. My thought is that pornography is the new sex.

  15. Men Aren’t Paying For Sex Anymore Because the Internet Makes Free Sex Easy

    Tony has turned that into getting paid for sex.

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