Why Men Use Prostitutes [sic]

There is a disturbing piece in the ‘most read’ column of the Guardian website today (at no. 2 in fact). It concerns some research conducted by Eaves, a London-based charity that supports vulnerable women. They interviewed 103 men in London about their ‘use’ of prostitutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it makes harrowing reading in places, for example…

…another of the interviewees left me feeling concerned. Darren was young, good-looking and bright; I asked him how often he thought the women he paid enjoyed the sex. “I don’t want them to get any pleasure,” he told me. “I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” I asked if he felt prostitutes were different to other women. “The fact that they’re prepared to do that job where others won’t, even when they’re skint, means there’s some capability inside them that permits them to do it and not be disgusted,” he said. He seemed full of a festering, potentially explosive misogyny.

When asked what would end prostitution, one interviewee laughed and said, “Kill all the girls.” Paul told me that it would take “all the men to be locked up”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect from a philosophical point of view is captured in this passage…

many believed men would “need” to rape if they could not pay for sex on demand. One told me, “Sometimes you might rape someone: you can go to a prostitute instead.” Another put it like this: “A desperate man who wants sex so bad, he needs sex to be relieved. He might rape.” I concluded from this that it’s not feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and myself who are responsible for the idea that all men are potential rapists – it’s sometimes men themselves.

Note that the full report is also accessible here.

21 thoughts on “Why Men Use Prostitutes [sic]

  1. How come victims are always responsible for their situations due to their “free will” whereas the perps of society are not? In the second case their “unfree will” makes them free of culpability. Why do we, as a society, allow these incongruous forms of reason to prevail?

  2. The second quoted passage is also curious in light of this, from the study:

    “More than one-half of the interviewees confirmed they were in a relationship at the time they used women in prostitution. This contradicts the common misperception that men buy sex because they are lonely or have no partners.”

    Are the men who hold that view about a rape-diverting function of prostitution merely registering the common misperception, or do they mean something (even) more sinister?

  3. I read that study. It is pretty frightening. At one point many of the interviewees admit they knew or believed the prostitute they were seeing was trafficked. And they went ahead anyway, even though they believed she was not there of her own free will. One was explicitly asked for help by the woman, and said there was nothing he could do. Scary.

  4. I agree that there alot of men have a difficult time controlling their sexual urges which leads them to rape women. A man in the article below explained that he had uncontrollable sexual desires until he was castrated. After his testicals were removed he no longer had any sexual urges. He explained that being castrated was like “draining the gasoline from a car that was hardwired to crash.”


  5. Rob, I fear you are absolutely correct about the “something more sinister.” I may be biased because of SES, ghettoization and all the rest, but I’ve had coffee with escorts, exotic dancers and homeless people, and I’m telling you as somebody with one foot in the world of the impoverished and one in the world of academia that prostitution is the ugliest side of the “glass ceiling” in a world that can’t overcome its tendency to perpetuate income disparities. Just the other day I had to fight off a crazy drunk who kept grabbing me and asking me if I was a whore and a crackhead because I had the gall to hitchhike to a job interview in another city where my prospects for legitimate work are better.

    I’ve heard the story so many times. Girl loses income/parental support, girl looks for something better, girl meets trick, girl rakes in a few thousand dollars/euros a week, trick/dealer/pimp/social worker/crooked politician assumes girl is addicted/defective “human refuse” and rapes, abuses or exploits her. Girl turns to drugs to cope. Girl dies of an overdose or a violent attack. Far more often, it’s simple economic necessity that comes first. The drugs and the pimps (or drug dealers that exploit addiction–a different kind of “pimp”) come after the woman identifies herself as a sex worker.

    Tragically, a woman who refuses to take the marriage option as a way out of economic hardship is viewed as somehow “defective”. Whether she’s a bona fide sex worker or not, many men react with a “finders, keepers” attitude toward a woman that they view as “discarded property”. This includes overt sexual harassment up to and including rape.

    Luckily, the “finders keepers” attitude toward their “pets” will often end when a woman retaliates with like violence. The last thing a creep wants to deal with is a “rabid kitty”. If the average trick is anything like the average internet stalker, or the roughly 2% of men that get creepy when they pick me up hitchhiking, they don’t want to risk trading their privilege for an aggravated assault or murder charge.

    THAT is what causes men to rape–the same hard-wiring that causes other primate species to mount subordinate males, or kill a new mother’s offspring so lactation will end, triggering estrus and new opportunities for frigging. In human pecking orders, impoverished women just happen to be the easiest to peck. (Yeah, I’m drawing on the work of legitimate primatologists, but they’d probably be insulted or amused by my interpretation of their work. Somebody can slap my hand for being a sloppy academic later–I’m ranting right now.)

    If this person is in Andrea Dworkin’s camp, the research might be pandering to a “tougher laws for tricks AND sex workers” crowd, with whom I adamantly disagree. But, as I said on the sex trafficking panic post from a few months ago, it’s election time in the UK. Special Interest groups will be flooding the media with all kinds of studies geared to their particular funding requests. Judging from the reports of police “apathy” in that post, British cops know that assuming that tens of thousands of women are being “trafficked” in the UK is absurd BECAUSE of the industry’s violent and youth obsessed nature. It regulates itself according to supply and demand curves, like any other industry. Unlike manufactured goods, though, there is a lower limit to the price range that girls in wealthier nations will tolerate.

    I just hope that British cops don’t take such a laissez faire approach when girls are attacked by tricks who don’t know the difference between rape and using a quasi-consenting, warm, and well paid body to masturbate. And in Aileen Wuornos’ name, don’t make assumptions about poor/ghettoized/former dancers’/former escorts’ capacity for legitimate work. If you all want to protect these girls, then give them a way out that doesn’t involve a prison cell or a padded cell. Education, childcare, training and motivation to do “honest”(?) work… raise the glass ceiling already, and know the difference between real empowerment, and “Queen Bee” scapegoating that pretends to be “helpful” while it saves work for a**hole men by doing the exploiting for them!

    Do I need to compare these “Queen Bees” to the Prohibition ladies in the 1920’s and go on a big rant about the results of THAT little experiment? Yes, commodifying any urge to feel good will sometimes attract weirdos that can’t control themselves, but attempting to eliminate the industry altogether causes far worse social problems–including illegal smuggling.

  6. Men who are lonely and socially awkward with no outlets at all need to suffer in their loneliness until they hurt themselves, because horny single unwantable men are a danger and should be eliminated.

  7. Jon, are you being ironic or is that just the WEIRDEST attempt at trolling (outside of the Muslim-basher-pretending-to-be-an-Islamist-freak ploy) that I’ve ever seen?

  8. I just have an issue with how everyone dismisses men with no outlet and are lonely for physical intimacy with others but cannot find anyone…I am not saying it is a reason to victimize women, but then what becomes of such men…what do they do?…suicide? I even emailed a woman who ran an anti-prostitution website about this and while she did try to come up with an answer, nothing was really resolved; there’s not really anything online covering this topic. It’s as if everyone ignores that aspect because apparently everyone finds a mate no matter what I guess? Mentally disabled and/or socially awkward and/or emotionally DEtached people who never experience romantic love don’t exist? Everyone has a desire for physical intimacy with others (is it a need like hunger, or not?), but not everybody can find a partner…what becomes of those left out?

  9. What about the women who have their sexuality effected or destroyed by being in prostitution? What about their need for affection and intimacy? I was in prostitution when I was a teenager. I have not had an itimate relationship for years because I’ve developed deep trust and intimacy problems as a result. The fact that there are lonely, disabled, or socially awkward men is no reason to condone the sexual abuse and exploitation of women (many of whom end up in prostitution precisely because they’re vulnerable in the same or similar ways). It may seem harsh, but in my opinion the argument ends there. We should not privilege the supposed ‘needs’ and ‘rights’ of men above the human rights of women and girls who are abused and exploited in prostitution.

  10. I’m not saying that gives these men the right to victimize women; no one has the right to victimize anyone…I’m saying it’s wrong to ignore and dismiss those men instead of trying to address and fix that issue in some way…otherwise their emotional health will deteriorate. OR are you saying that in such cases, it’s men vs. women, and no matter what, SOMEbody gets hurt, so it might as well be the men? To take that idea to an extreme (as I did tongue-in-cheek earlier here), should those men be eliminated from society before they victimize women, since everyone has a sex drive but some are without an appropriate outlet, and therefore that presents a threat to society? And what about people who tell men to exercise “self control” until the right moment comes along…but then years and years go by turning into decades and still no right moment?

    Again, let me stress that I am NOT advocating anyone has the right to victimize anyone else. I am just saying that ignoring certain sexually frustrated men with no outlet (for intimacy with others, not just their own hand), is putting one’s head in the sand as to the demands for prostitution.

    It is for this reason that promiscuous women who are in control of their lives and sexuality, are independent, and consciously choose casual sex with multiple partners because THEY desire it just as a man would, are heroes to me. I wish more women were that way but it seems taboo in society. But even then you are usually out of luck if you are socially awkward and/or have a mental disability.

  11. Jon, it looks like you might be equivocating. Having never gone to a prostitute myself I might be wrong, but I don’t think men use [sic] prostitutes for companionship, emotional intimacy, and the other goods associated with close friendships.

  12. But *I* do from time to time, for lack of PHYSICAL intimacy…I don’t have intercourse with any, I cuddle in bed and trade massages (with “release”) and stuff like that, as that’s pretty much my only option for what I’m so very lonely for…but I guess I’m a freak because people with mental disabilities like me aren’t supposed to care about having any outlets? My regular social needs are usually okay, but I have a growing issue with people ignoring or dismissing anyone’s sexual needs, which I believe is a need to some extent, based on biology. I love cuddling in bed but the only time I have ever experienced that was with a prostitute.

    I don’t want to suppress women, I just want to find willing partners and it’s hard to find and years and years and decades and decades go by and nothingness except loneliness that builds up in me and I already see therapists for many years who increase meds for me but I’m still lonely for sexual contact with a partner where there is mutual interest or acceptance. Yes I have come across a prostitute who appeared to not be up for doing anything so after paying her I told her that it was her choice to do anything with me or not, and she opted to sleep in the hotel bed for the night instead, so I accepted her decision and let her do that. I figured it was the right thing to do, like a karma thing. Making sure the other person involved is not feeling bad is important to me; I want my partner to be into it too or at least neutral/okay with it. That’s why I wish I had promiscuous female friends. But it seems the few times I find such women, my lack of social skills and mental disability makes them go away, and I wind up feeling worse about myself.

    By the way I found this article by Googling articles of this topic, and see what others had to say about my specific argument.

  13. Thank you, I posted in that thread and looked around a few of the links, interesting to read.

    I just want to add that when I say I trade massages with prostitutes, it makes me happy to know that when I massage a woman it makes her feel good and pleasurable. I’d do it more with “regular” women but rarely any feel comfortable enough.

  14. Thanks for clarifying that, Jon. Every so often, people do come to this site and make comments like that claiming to be 100% serious. I appreciate your sarcasm, and I have no problem with men who respectfully enter into business agreements with sex workers.

    Our friend and fellow sex workers’ rights activist Stephen Paterson posted a link a few months ago that might just make your day. I thought it was a nice story.

    Go to the Search box, 4 green boxes down from the top right and type in “state run brothels”. I’d recommend reading the entire thread for context because it was such a good debate. Even the commenters that I disagreed with were extremely well informed and courteous. The link is through comment #35.

  15. Very interesting, both the findings and posts here – thank you.

    btw I live in a comparable situation as Jon.
    The only times I am in physical human-touch-contact (non-sexuell) is with when I pay a) my massage therapist and b) my beautician for a face treatment, usually once a month.

    It is 2+ yrs I am trying to find casual fuck-buddies via the web – to no avail, since I have very clear boundaries and criteria for such a sex-only commitment which men either do not want to understand (e.g. basic human rules of such a game) or have an obvious madonna-whore-complex – all visible by the 1st mail they send.
    And of course it’s usually androcentric, heteronormative sex they want which is not what I need.
    I am contemplating to becoming an escort but alas will be deemed to old by numbers not appearance.
    DIY it is for me ever since with the exceptions of a) and b)

    Cheerio, Lucia

  16. Jus because a female is being paid doesnt mean she isnt there to enjoy the experience as well. An escorts body is her temple and even though someone has paid to be with her, it still does not mean in any way that the person seeing the escort has any control over her at all.

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