Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name





Attitudes, Objectification, Sex work, Dexual agency, Dexualization, Women


C. Senn


K. Soucie




Current research suggests that women students may be increasingly turning to sex work to help finance their education due to increased economic demands. However, for this to be considered a viable work option, increased acceptance of student engagement in sex work is also necessary. To date, no research has examined empirically the influence of societal factors such as sexualization, objectification and the proliferation of digital technology as factors potentially increasing positive attitudes toward sex work. This exploratory study examined whether the type of sex work influenced young women’s attitudes and if the internalization of sexualization and objectification affected their attitudes. A sample of 150 women students was recruited to complete an online survey consisting of a battery of questionnaires and an embedded within-subjects experiment. The experiment examined attitudes toward five types of sex work varying from webcamming (completely internet-mediated) to street-level (completely direct). The findings suggest that when women can maintain a “distance” between themselves and the client during sex work through digital technology, it leads to more positive attitudes. Women also had negative attitudes towards the importance (evaluation) of sex work but had slightly more positive attitudes towards the strength (activity/potency) of sex work, and potentially, the women who engage in the work. Women’s attitudes were completely unrelated to internalized sexualization and objectification. As attitudes towards sex work were predominately negative, presumptions that social discourses influence young women’s attitudes to become positive, and therefore increase their likelihood of seeking out sex work cannot be supported. Future research should go beyond attitudes towards sex work and explore women’s financial distress and how the intersections of race, sexual identity, (dis)ability and other social locations influence their decisions to enter the sex industry and their experiences within it.