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Why men pay for sex

Date
Prostitute

Prostitute Photo: Kitty Hill

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

480 comments

  • for "normal" people i don't get it, paying or getting paid for sex and can only imagine it must be a extremely sad exchange.

    Commenter
    Victorious Painter
    Date and time
    September 12, 2012, 6:46AM
    • VP - one of my previous bosses use to pay for "it" (my boss was female)....she did it because she was extremely lonely and couldn't be bothered "getting out there"....she was 60 at the time.

      I believe sex can just be sex. When I was single, if I felt like sex, I'd just go out and find it....it didn't mean I wanted a relationship or to get married, it simply was what it was. However, when I was "interested/ready/whatever you want to call it" in being in a relationship, I placed more value on the person and the sex. Not using sex as a commodity or a weapon, but getting emotionally involved first.

      Commenter
      critter
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 10:05AM
    • I agree. When I was a young man, prostitutes were only for the desperate (or sometimes, for a kid seeking to lose his virginity to someone who knew what to do). Men who visited prostitutes tended not to boast about it. It was an admission of failure at 'normal' relationships or a failure to secure even so much as a one-night stand. The idea of having sex with someone who regarded it as just a transaction or job never attracted me. I note that seeking the services of prostitutes has become more accepted, even fashionable nowadays among men much younger than I am. My own views about it have not changed.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 10:18AM
    • It's pretty simple. No grief, no games, none of the cr*p that you have to go through when you pay for the services of a willing partner. I'm not talking about the broken down street walkers, I'm talking the well paid girls who are generally very good looking, very well presented and in exchange for money they are willing to share that with you.

      Where's the problem? By the time I've paid for dinner and everything else it works out roughly the same. And I don't have any of the aftermath hassles that women love to play, there's no chance of "oh dear, I'm pregnant so look forward to paying me for the next 18 years" or anything else.

      Simple and uncomplicated. Brilliant.

      If women didn't use sex as such a bargaining tool and simply enjoyed it as much as all the modern woman mantra says they are entitled to do prostitution would disappear overnight.

      Commenter
      Rob
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 11:02AM
    • Cmonn Rob we're not all like that.

      Commenter
      Sez80
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 11:13AM
    • I agree it is a very sad exchange.
      but for a single guy, it's stress free
      pay money, no strings attached, no carisma required

      Commenter
      single
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 11:28AM
    • @ Rob - spot on. If I was in another circumstance (i.e. my marriage failed) I would have no problems with it for those very reasons. It's no substitute for a loving relationship of course, but that's obviously not the point! It's about a no strings attached fantasy.

      Commenter
      Ben
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 11:51AM
    • @critter, you back in town?
      yes sex can just be sex, I disapprove when it’s just recreational and outside a relationship but I’m old fashion that way, what I find even more extreme thou is describing sex as a human need, such people typically are just trying to rationalise their actions, the all to common, if I decide I’m not getting what I believe sufficient at home then I’ll get it somewhere else, very common but not limited to married people using prostitutes.

      Commenter
      Victorious Painter
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 11:58AM
    • I am happily married and have never paid for sex (with a prostitute anyway!) - but I don't get the stigma attached to it. Providing it is not with migrants who may have been brought over as sex slaves, or the young, I don't see paying for sex as much different to going to a club, plying a woman with drinks all night and then having a one night stand with her. In fact, the former is more than likely to be safer and both parties know exactly what they are there for!

      Commenter
      Go Blues
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 12:07PM
    • All men pay for sex in one way or another.

      Whether you pay cash for an hourly rate. Or buy her dinner and ask her out and pretend to be interested in what she's saying and do this 3-4 times over forking out hundreds of dollars and a lot of time. Or whether you meet in a bar amongst a denizen of a lot of other competitors and manage to get her drunk enough to take home but because of the 69 effect (where even a 6 female can pick up a 9 male because men aren't that picky and it means you've got a choice of the 3 or the 4 because you're not 6'4" with broad shoulders) you end up having to settle a few registers below what you'd like. It's all paying for sex.

      Commenter
      Bender
      Date and time
      September 12, 2012, 12:13PM

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