Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Study: Why do men visit prostitutes?

Why men use prostitutes: The reasons why many men pay for sex are revealed in the interviews that make up a major new piece of research.
"I don't get anything out of sex with prostitutes except for a bad feeling," says Ben. An apparently average, thirtysomething, middle-class man, Ben had taken an extended lunchbreak from his job in advertising to talk about his experiences of buying sex. Shy and slightly nervous, he told me, "I am hoping that talking about it might help me work out why I do it."

Julie Bindel
I, too, was hoping to understand his motives better. Ben was one of 700 men interviewed for a major international research project seeking to uncover the reality about men who buy sex. The project spanned six countries. And of the 103 customers we spoke to in London -- where I was one of the researchers -- most were surprisingly keen to discuss their experiences.

The men didn't fall into obvious stereotypes. They were aged between 18 and 70 years old; they were white, black, Asian, eastern European; most were employed, and many were ­educated beyond [high]school level. In the main they were presentable, polite, with average-to-good social skills. Many were husbands and boyfriends; just over half were either married or in a relationship with a woman.
Man covering his face with his hands
Science: 700 men were interviewed for the research project, which aimed to find out why men solicit and buy sex (Christina Griffiths/Getty Images/Flickr RM).
Research published in 2005 found that the numbers of men who pay for sex had doubled in a decade. The ­authors attributed this rise to "a greater acceptability of commercial sexual contact," yet many of our ­interviewees told us that they felt ­intense guilt and shame about paying for sex.

"I'm not satisfied in my mind" was how one described his feelings after paying for sex. Another told me that he felt "disappointed -- what a waste of money," "lonely still," and "guilty about my relationship with my wife." In fact, many of the men were a mass of contradictions. Despite finding their experiences "unfulfilling, empty, terrible," they continued to visit prostitutes.
Prostitutes wait at a bar in a plush northern suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug 22, 2002
Call to legalize World Cup sex trade
I interviewed 12 of the men, and found it a fascinating experience. One told me about his experience of childhood cruelty and neglect and linked this to his inability to form close ­relationships with anyone, particularly women.

Alex admitted sex with ­prostitutes made him feel empty, but he had no idea how to get to know women "through the usual routes." When I asked him about his feelings ­towards the women he buys he said that, on the one hand, he wants ­prostitutes to get to know and like him. On the other hand, he is "not under ­delusions" that the encounters are anything like a real relationship. More

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