Interviewing men who buy sex
Jess McCabe // 17 January 2010
I’ve started, but not finished reading the London report – I’m not sure whether the rest of the results have been published yet.
I’ve cut and paste this section about the attitudes to rape among the men interviewed in full:
4.7 Rape myth acceptance, prostitution myth acceptance and hostile masculinity
The association between these men’s acceptance of myths about prostitution and their acceptance of myths about rape was statistically reliable (r = 0.23, p = .024). The more accepting they were of prostitution, the more likely they were to also accept cultural myths about rape such as “Women say no but they really mean yes” or “A woman who dresses provocatively is asking to be raped.” The notion that prostitutes are “un-rape-able” was a common belief among the men in this sample. Twenty-five per
cent told us that the very concept of raping a prostitute or call girl was “ridiculous.”
Nearly one-half of the buyers stated that rape happens because men get sexually carried away (47%) or their sex drive gets “out of control” (48%). Sixteen per cent stated that they would rape a woman if they could be assured that they would not be caught.
Acknowledging their sexually coercive behaviours with non-prostitute women, 37% told us that they had tricked non-prostituting women into having sex by lying to them.
Twenty-four per cent asserted that the concept of rape simply does not apply to women in prostitution. Twenty-seven per cent of our interviewees explained that once he pays, the customer is entitled to engage in any act he chooses with the woman he buys. Forty-seven per cent of these London men expressed the view to a greater or lesser degree that women did not always have certain rights during prostitution.
Seventeen per cent of the men agreed that half of the time or less frequently prostitutes
have certain rights during the prostitution encounter. Another 22% of these interviewees expressed 60- 80% agreement with the statement “women have certain rights in prostitution”. These findings suggest that at various times during prostitution, many of the men who buy women for sex think that the women they buy have no rights in the interaction.
As Kinnell (2008) argues, such men believe that “buying sex entitles them to do anything they want” (p264) or that paying “gave them the right to inflict any kind of assault they chose” (p86).
Writing for the Guardian, Julie Bindel recounted some interviews she carried out as part of the research:
I felt compassion for Alex. No one had shown him how to form a bond with another human being and he was searching for something that commercial sex was never going to provide.
But another of the interviewees left me feeling concerned. Darren was young, good-looking and bright; I asked him how often he thought the women he paid enjoyed the sex. “I don’t want them to get any pleasure,” he told me. “I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated.” I asked if he felt prostitutes were different to other women. “The fact that they’re prepared to do that job where others won’t, even when they’re skint, means there’s some capability inside them that permits them to do it and not be disgusted,” he said. He seemed full of a festering, potentially explosive misogyny.
When asked what would end prostitution, one interviewee laughed and said, “Kill all the girls.” Paul told me that it would take “all the men to be locked up”. But most of them told the researchers that they would be easily deterred if the current laws were implemented. Fines, public exposure, employers being informed, being issued with an Asbo or the risk of a criminal record would stop most of the men from continuing to pay for sex. Discovering the women were trafficked, pimped or otherwise coerced would appear not to be so effective. Almost half said they believed that most women in prostitution are victims of pimps (“the pimp does the psychological raping of the woman,” explained one). But they still continued to visit them.