Monday, December 1, 2008

Why Do Men Buy Sex?

This is an interesting article from this month's Scientific American Mind. So why DO men buy sex? I have no idea, and I'm not sure I have any better understanding after reading the article, but it's an interesting read nonetheless. I really don't to judge any man who does this, it's just outside my experience and understanding.

If you are a man who has purchased sex, I would love to hear from you in the comments -- post comments anonymously, please.

Why Do Men Buy Sex?

Some researchers say johns seek intimacy on demand; others believe these men typically want to use and dominate women

By Nikolas Westerhoff

Exclusive to iStockphoto

Key Concepts

  • In the U.S., police officers detained about 78,000 people in 2007 for prostitution-related crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Only about 10 percent of these arrests are of the sex patrons, who almost exclusively are men.
  • A considerable proportion of men worldwide buy sex from female prostitutes, with most estimates of lifetime prevalence ranging from 7 to 39 percent, depending on the country and study. Many experts argue that it is a male appetite—and not the choices of prostitutes—that fundamentally drives the sex trade.
  • Men’s motives for buying sex are hotly contested among researchers. Some believe the practice serves as a salve for common psychological afflictions, such as an unfulfilled craving for sex or romance. Others, meanwhile, paint a dimmer portrait of johns, believing they are driven by chauvinistic motives, such as a desire to dominate and control women.

Arthur is an alleged john, a man who patronizes prostitutes. After his arrest on September 5, 2008, a photograph of this 41-year-old appeared on the Web site of the Chicago Police Department. Arthur (not his real name) was far from the only person so branded on this Internet portal. Samuel, 59, and José, 34, (whose names were also changed to protect their privacy) were on this online pillory for a month after their September 5 arrests.

The apprehensions of Arthur, Samuel, José and many others represent the huge demand among males for prostitutes. In the U.S., police officers detained about 78,000 people in 2007 for prostitution-related crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Experts believe that about 10 percent of these arrests are of the sex patrons, almost all of whom are men.

Overall, an estimated 16 percent of men pay for sex in the U.S., according to a 2005 report by social work professor Sven-Axel Månsson of Malmö University in Sweden. And a study published in 2000 of 998 street prostitutes and 83 call girls in Los Angeles led by sociologist Janet Lever of California State University, Los Angeles, suggests that 28 percent of men who patronize prostitutes and nearly half of those who employ call girls buy sex regularly, with the rest being occasional customers.

The proportion of patrons seems to vary considerably by country and by study. Månsson reported that 14 percent of Dutch men have bought sex as compared with nearly 40 percent of men in Spain. (Prostitution is legal in both countries.)

And according to HYDRA, a Berlin-based organization that provides legal advice and other aid to prostitutes, up to three quarters of men in Germany, which also has legalized prostitution, have paid for sexual services. Meanwhile other estimates for Germany put the proportion far lower, at about one fifth. In Thailand, where prostitution is illegal but socially accepted, one study suggested that a whopping 95 percent of men have slept with a prostitute.

Whatever the numbers, the behavior is prevalent enough that psychologists cannot easily write it off as pathological. Rather men’s motives for buying sex are hotly contested among researchers. Some believe the practice serves as a salve for common psychological afflictions, such as an unfulfilled appetite for sex, love or romance. Others paint a dimmer ­portrait of johns, believing they are typically driven by chauvinistic motives, such as a desire to dominate and control ­women. A similar debate rages among experts about the morality of prostitution itself.

Basic Instinct
Of course, the simplest explanation for men buying sex is that they like it. After all, people are generally willing to pay for activities they enjoy as much as they do sex. On the other hand, a man can usually get sex for free in the context of an ordinary intimate relationship. So why pay good money for it, especially given the social and health risks of having sex with a prostitute? Are all johns so unappealing that they cannot get sex any other way?

Most researchers do not think so. Johns come from all socioeconomic classes, according to culture researcher Sabine Grenz of Humboldt University of Berlin. They may be stockbrokers, truck drivers, teachers, priests or law-enforcement officials. Many are married with children. “There are no social characteristics that basically distinguish johns from other men,” says Grenz, who published her interviews with a large number of johns in a 2005 book.

Nor are these men defined by obvious personality problems. In a survey published in 1994 psychologist Dieter Kleiber of the Free University of Berlin had some 600 johns fill out the Freiburg Personality Inventory and found no particular abnormalities. The only correlations he found applied to risk taking and unprotected sex. For example, the men who demanded sex without condoms tended to score higher on aggression, and married and well-to-do customers practiced unprotected sex more frequently than others did. “The more secure and orderly a man’s life is, the more he believes in his own invulnerability,” Kleiber concludes.

Read the rest of the article.

3 comments:

metaphysical pussy said...

You invited comments from men but i feel compelled to answer because I work as a provider and I have an opinion gained from my experience. I think they are not looking for dominance. at least not with me. They are often looking to relax and not have to initiate. To feel wanted, desired, appreciated and connection on all levels. That is a summary of 13 years in the industry.

WH said...

Hey MP,

Thanks for sharing your experience - I think it is more honest than some men might have been. And what you say confirms what I suspected to a certain degree.

If I can ask, at what level do you work? Street, brothel, escort?

Peace,
Bill

Anonymous said...

Not that I know very much about it, but a lot of people feel and are disconnected from others. It becomes the only viable option at times. It only seems natural.

If people weren't so self-conflicted, troubled, and barraged by cultural ideals, it probably wouldn't be so. But: