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Lies About Prostitution - 4) Johns Are Misogynistic and Violent

The clients of prostitutes are mostly sexually frustrated men

Man out of focus looking at the legs of a prostitute
Shutterstock Photo ID 732310720 by Dzelat

The stereotype of the john

The stigma of prostitution extends to their clients, even more so after the Nordic Model for persecuting prostitution focused law enforcement on johns and pimps.

The stereotype of the john is a man who is lonely, antisocial, misogynistic, unable to form romantic relationships, and prone to physical violence and rape.

It is hard to know to what extent this image correspond to reality, because research studies on men who buy sex are even more scarce than those studying sex workers. The few studies I could find usually focus on the treatment of sex workers by their clients and on behaviors that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases like avoiding condom use (Schei and Stigum, 2010; Jones et al., 2015), rather than on the johns themselves and their motives.

Prostitution customers are sexually frustrated men

The best study I could find (Deogan et al., 2021) was a randomized survey of 6048 Swedish men, using data from a population-based survey of both genders. It included men 16-84 years old.

It found that 9.5% of the men had ever paid for sex, which is comparable to what was found in studies in Norway, 13% (Schei and Stigum, 2010), and Britain, 11% (Jones et al., 2015). Only 0.26% of the men said that they had purchased sex within the last year.

Men younger than 29 were less likely to had bought sex, although this is likely a confound of the question - obviously, they had less time for having “ever” bought sex than older men. Otherwise, there was little correlation of buying sex with age, educational level and income. If anything, men of lower education and income were slightly more likely to buy sex.

The study found that men who bought sex were dissatisfied with their sex lives, had less sex that they wanted, viewed more porn, and looked for sex partners online.

This is hardly surprising. It shows that men buy sex because they are sexually frustrated and cannot get sex otherwise.

It also suggest that men who are less educated, have less income and are older buy sex because they find it harder to date women.

Rape myth acceptance

Another study (Klein et al., 2009) used the Burt’s Rape Myth Acceptance Scale in men who had been arrested for soliciting prostitutes in British Columbia.

It found that rape myth acceptance was lower in older and more educated men; and also in men who viewed more porn, wanted more frequent sex, and believed that purchasing sex is a problem. Rape myth acceptance correlated positively with sexual conservatism, sexual violence and coercion, and social desirability.

This indicates that beliefs that reinforce rape and sexual violence are not related to porn use or sexual desire, but to conservative views of sex.

Sex Work benefits disabled people

A topic that is rarely discussed is that sex work can provide relief for the sexual desire and loneliness of disabled people. In fact, in Victoria, Australia, people with disabilities are entitled to hire a sex worker and have the National Disability Insurance Service (NDIS) pay for it.

In Norway, men who pay for sex are more likely to be on a disability pension (Schei and Stigum, 2010).

Conclusions

These studies show that the clients of prostitution are most sexually frustrated men who have trouble finding sexual partners. Johns are no more inclined to rape or sexual violence than other men. However, criminalization of prostitution make sex workers vulnerable to attacks by those clients that are so inclined.

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