Why men pay for sex

Johns. Fascinating fellows who have long prompted the question: Why pay for sex?

Why indeed. Because they are losers who can’t get it for free, because they are sick and twisted and see human bodies as sex toys, or because they are severely disabled people who crave intimacy just like the rest of us – these are just some of the conclusions people draw about people who participate in prostitution.

But some opinions are fairer and more informed than others.

This is because there have been numerous studies aimed at answering this question which, at the very least, prompt rigorous investigation and academic discussion about an industry that has, er, well and truly ‘been around’...

Though it’s important to be mindful of authorship – we’re all familiar with that particularly loathsome dynamic that easily exists between lobbyists, scientists, and those devils known as The Media – and it’s true some studies are more scientific than others.

With that in mind, I bring you one of the newest and possibly more interesting bits of research into men’s motivations for engaging in – to use the vernacular – ‘remunerative sexual relations’.

Suggestively and succinctly entitled The Hobbyist and the Girlfriend Experience: Behaviors and Preferences of Male Customers of Internet Sexual Service Providers, the work is newly published in the American journal Deviant Behavior and comes from two experts credentialed in the field of prostitution and personal relationships.

And the conclusion basically finds most men surveyed preferred not to consider the women they ‘bought’ as “dirty whores” or bodies “for sexual release”.

Instead, the majority of the 584 male subjects paid for sex because they were looking for the “girlfriend experience or GFE over all other personal qualities and behaviours”.

How does that sit with your expectations?

Does it fit with your thoughts about why some people pay for sex?

If it jars, then you might be interested in the author’s disclaimer. Their subjects were members of a particular adult services forum, and they were all male – mostly white, middle-aged, educated married and earning six-figure salaries. In other words, they are not representative of every person who pays for sex (and I say person, because females hire sex workers too).

But still, it’s important to note these blokes weren’t conforming to the usual, negative John stereotypes. They were seeking an “idealized version of a girlfriend” in the women whose services they purchased, with ‘ideal’ seemingly meaning a woman who is up for sex, interested in his needs, not too emotionally demanding and cares to come when he “makes the effort to bring her there”.

I’m curious, how does this ideal fit in with the male readers of this blog? Is this what you want from women?

Furthermore, the researchers found these guys preferred good (pardon the moral deliberateness) old-fashioned “penile-vaginal coitus” to any other sex act. Not anal or oral or any other kind of freaky-deaky sex so commonly thought of as the kind men really want.

Again, I’m curious about how this finding fits in with the male readers of this blog.

I’m curious because I believe too many love and sex lives are lived in accordance with stereotypical assumptions that may not actually reflect people’s real needs, wants or desires. This is evidenced in common criticisms of partners or people in general such as “men just want to use a woman’s body” or “women should just act like porn stars” or (horrorfully) “sex doesn’t mean anything to anyone anymore”.

These kinds of assumptions are exactly that, assumptions. Yes, they are occasionally true, but they are not representative of some larger truth that should be accepted simply as ‘just the way things are’.

Clearly, we’ve only detailed one kind of sex exchange here. I know your comments will widen the discussion. But I would like to point out one idea raised in the report I believe can be broadly applied. That idea is simple: Sex and romance are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are often intrinsically interlinked. We should keep this in mind before decrying our age as the time when love died.

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kfeeney@fairfaxmedia.com.au

The story Why men pay for sex first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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