A man can rent someone “better” than you

// 19 March 2008

There’s a totally gross article by Minette Marrin in The Times this week about the world’s oldest profession.

Minette Marrin is not my favourite journalist in the world for reasons completely unrelated to feminism: a few years ago she wrote a piece in The Times about fox hunting, in which she denounced the “ritualistic slaughters” practised by Jews and Muslims, drawing parallels with fox hunting and claiming that it was only political correctness that stopped people from speaking out against Kosher and Halal traditions. I wrote a VERY angry letter, which The Times to their credit printed, but evidently Marrin is still writing for them, and writing some pretty vile stuff at that:

Right up and down the scale, a man can rent a girl a great deal better and more cooperative than the woman he lives with. She will be probably be much more sexually experienced and more accomplished than most wives too. In plain English, or so I am told by perfectly nice men, prostitutes tend to be better at it. They tend to be younger and more energetic. They are also prepared to do things which her indoors might draw the line at.

[my emphasis]


This whole article seems to rely on two assumptions:

  • Men have an inalienable right to sex
  • Women can’t “satisfy” their husbands

    As Kate Atkins from Guilford says:

    Where do women feature in all of this? I am sorry to remind you of this, but women like sex too! I know, shocking isn’t it? And I, for one, resent Marrin’s representation of all wives resembling dowdy, Laura Ashley-wearing house frous, hindering their husbands’ “would-be-installing-a-sex-swing-in-the-guestroom-if-you-weren’t-in-the-way” tendencies

  • Comments From You

    Jennifer // Posted 19 March 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Thirdly, it doesn’t seem that Marrin has actually bothered to do any research into prostitution or talk to any prostitutes. She seems to assume they are all beautiful young women having the time of their lives.

    Of course, why would she look into that side of things anyway when she assumes men are entitled to it without question?

    Bekah // Posted 19 March 2008 at 2:55 pm

    “would-be-installing-a-sex-swing-in-the-guestroom-if-you-weren’t-in-the-way” tendencies

    Made my day!

    chem_fem // Posted 19 March 2008 at 2:58 pm

    There is also the assumption that men are only (or at least are more) satisfied when sex is on their terms, and it is a service that should be carried out for them and around only their needs, rather than an act that two people enjoy in each other.

    That so many people think that prostitution is just about paying money for sex rather than buying the control and service of a woman, that is entirely geared around only the customer, strikes me as typical of how sex in general is still seen today.

    Samara // Posted 19 March 2008 at 3:12 pm

    What exactly is a “sex swing” anyway? It sounds like fun…!

    Lindsey // Posted 19 March 2008 at 3:23 pm

    So men need sex but women are boring in bed? Or is that just women over the age of 25 who you’ve been married to for god knows how long? And what about the prostitutes themselves – aren’t they first and foremost women – I wonder where their sex drive comes from?

    This woman makes me angry. I also disagree with the assumption that sleeping with a prostitutes is better than having an affair with your friend. If a man confesses as affair there is emotion involved, there is guilt and an apology and a serious reassessment of the relationship. If he sleeps with a prostitute it is assumed that you will accept it as normal, as his right, and that you shouldn’t be offended by his flagrant lack of respect for you. Also, if the woman involved was my friend, although her betrayal would hurt me, I could at least appreciate why he loved her because I would love her too. I guess the difference in that sense is that he would have been attracted to her, rather than so turned off by me that he had to pay for services elsewhere.

    Laura // Posted 19 March 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I’d much rather my partner engaged in mutually consenting and mutually desired sex with my best friend than potentially rape a woman who, aside from the money, has no desire to have sex with him.

    Marin disgusts me, she always has.

    EBaezaChavez // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Actually I’d rather my husband talked to me about any perceived deficiencies in our relationship without running off to get some elsewhere, either with my best friend or a prostitute. Am I alone in thinking— it is incredibly hard for a WOMAN to stay faithful? Men aren’t the only ones with high sex drives or appetites for adventure.

    The whole concept of monogamy within marriage was invented by a patriarchical system (and was/is frequently enforced with violence) so women get the sharp ends of both sticks. Be the good and faithful little wife and your husband will run off to buy sex elsewhere, but if you are sexually liberated you will be looked down on. It is a totally false, crappy dichotomy.

    Marrin also disgusts me. I marvel that people will actually pay someone for writing such tripe.

    Anne Onne // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:00 pm

    ‘She will be probably be much more sexually experienced and more accomplished than most wives too.’

    Whose fault is it, exactly that the man would feel uneasy seriously dating women who had lots of sexual experience, and expect their partner to lie abou it if they did? It’s now the woman’s fault if she’s not sexually experienced enough because he deliberately chose to date only sexually inexperienced women to make himself feel like a stud? The hell? Sorry, cowboy, you’ve got nobody to blame if you say you ‘prefer virgins’ or ‘wouldn’t marry an easy girl’ and then feel sorry for yourself that your virgin didn’t magically transform into a slut in the boudoir.So no sympathy here.

    ‘a man can rent a girl a great deal better and more cooperative than the woman he lives with…They are also prepared to do things which her indoors might draw the line at.’

    Basically, unless a woman agrees to do anything a man says, she’s not worth shagging. It’s funny how even int hat small except the idea comes up twice (hence I just cut out the stuff between). I’m guessing this is what it really comes down to. A prostitute needs the money, and will not often be in a position to be able to refuse to do something asked of her, unless she feels very strongly about it. Marin is saying that prostitutes are better because they are easier to coerce into having some kind of sex the man’s wife might feel unfonfortable with. I’m guessing the kind of sex the man sees as degrading, and the wife sees as degrading. That doens’t mean it IS degrading, but if a woman feels a man wants to degrade her by asking for something because he knows she won’t really enjoy or want it, it becomes degrading in that case.

    ‘I am told by perfectly nice men, prostitutes tend to be better at it. They tend to be younger and more energetic. ‘ Because all prostitutes look and act like they’ve come straight out of a corss between a ‘Carry On’ film and a porn movie. Because the men they’re being coerced to have sex with are natrually also so young and energetic and good in bed…right?

    You’re right, all this comes down to is ‘Men should get whatever they want, whether it hurts others, and no matter how unreasonable or childish their whims.

    You didn’t mention the author’s assertion that a woman who don’t stay with and forgive a spouse who potentially coerced a prostitute to sleep with them ‘puts her pride before her family. ‘ Nice. So women who don’t forgive cheating that their husband had sworn not to do are proud, but men who think its their god-given right to sleep with any woman regardless of commitments they chose to make are right? How is putting your family in the spotlight or hurting your partner by cheating acdeptable, but a woman who leaves a cheating spouse not? I understand a woman may have many good reasons to stay and work at a marriage if she wishes, but that in no way means she’d be wrong to leave.

    (I think I’m beginning to love this comment option. :D)

    Alex Corwin // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I’m not sure what I find more depressing and anger inducing, the article itself, or the number of comments calling it insightful or spot on (notable mostly from men but also some from women who seem to have accepted their husbands visiting prostitutes!) and worst of all “Minette, you should be prime minister, I can guarantee you’d get 50% of the vote :)”

    Dear God if that happens I’m moving far far away.

    Oh and Ray from Boston makes the cracking point that “Women who dislike having sex with their husband usually also have some mental problems worth investigating ”

    Of course, if a woman is not enjoying sex, it must be her messed up brain, not that her husband/ boyfriend/ partner isn’t meeting her needs, oh no, all men are perfect in bed!

    fenris // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Every so often I promise myself that I won’t read these articles for the sake of my blood pressure but no, I always end up peeking…

    I knew it would feature the word “moralistic”, and lo… These traditionalist types like to stick that one in. I’m sure she thinks she’s being all very progressive and such but really, this seems like a rather old-fashioned view. At least I flipping well hope so.

    She really doesn’t seem to have thought this through very well. Her primary point (other than that men should pretty much be allowed to do (er, pun not intended) whatever they want) seems to be that prostitution is necessary to preserve marriages, but she seems to have completely bypassed the part where in order to keep a marriage/LTR ticking over, one must ACTUALLY PUT SOME EFFORT IN. Yes, I’m talking to you blokes as well! I don’t see how a man having sex with another party does much to improve his relationship with his wife… talk about avoiding the issue. Maybe his wife would be “more cooperative” (ew) if he was less of an uninspiring, selfish git when it comes to sex. Doesn’t seem to have crossed Marrin’s mind, that one…

    Also, I had to snort at the “riddled with ambition” bit… why is it always the case that an ambition in women is looked upon as some kind of ailment?

    Lucy // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:11 pm

    It is so upsetting that a woman can perpetuate the idea that a man has an innate right to constant access to female flesh. Are we not humans to?

    Laura // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Oh, I totally agree, EBaeza! I just meant that given the choice between the two…

    I also agree that monogamy is a patriarchal construct – it is based on the idea that we possess or belong to our partners, and I believe that jealousy is to some extent a product of this patriarchal model and thinking. Doesn’t stop me being jealous, but I do now recognise where much of those feelings come from.

    Cara // Posted 19 March 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I hate Marrin for reasons ABSOLUTELY related to feminism!

    Like her evil “why are you fretting about the rape conviction rate, it’s really 40% and anyway women shouldn’t get drunk and be alone with men, or what do they expect?” article (also in the Times, if anyone is interested they can find it online by looking under Minette Marin).

    Which demonstrates a lack of basic statistics and research knowledge, not to mention humanity.

    Frankly, I don’t even want to read this latest offering – I can all too well imagine what it contains. Heard it all before.

    I want to slap her. Women who hate other women and themselves make me sick. GRRRRR.

    Jennifer // Posted 19 March 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Anne Onne – please post that over in the comments section for the article at The Times!

    Perfectly argued. *fangirls*

    chem_fem // Posted 19 March 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Agree, Anne that (and lots of your other comments) was really well put.

    now stop the world I wanna get off.

    Feminist Avatar // Posted 19 March 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Why is ‘co-operative’ only a female characteristic? The wife should be co-operative- no such requirement for the husband.

    Anne Onne // Posted 19 March 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Jennifer, I might try, but my success rate (or that of anybody near feminist) on most newspaper article comment sections seems to be rather small. Funny how that works, eh?

    Fenris, lucky I have lower blood pressure, so they’re doing me a favour!

    And I agree that, if you want a monogamous relationship (or any relationship) you need to put effort in.

    But am I the only one wondering that if the relationship is so unsatisfying, what does the ‘cheating’ really solve? What’s the point of staying married, just for the sake of it if you don’t love and respect each other, and communicate? Tehse people supposedly are all for values and the sacredness of marriage, but they’re the ones insisting that staying in any marriage, no matter how bad, is more important than finding a good relationship you’re both happy in, or communication. I can’t help but feel that if marriage and monogamy are so improtant to you that you don’t want to divorce or talk about it, why would making it nothing but a cold formality whilst both do something else be better?

    I agree that monogamy has its basis in patriarchy (any kind of relationship does, because society has its roots in the patriarchy, and all relationships are founded by society), but if it floats your boat, I think it is possible to decrease the patriarchical elements of it and try to reclaim it for yourself. Granted, it’ll never be free of patriarchy, nothing really will, but it’s a start.

    Yunus Yakoub Islam // Posted 19 March 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I would advise Minette Marrin to seek out male friends who demonstrate a degree of emotional maturity, someone who views sex as a social act, and not simply a glorified wank!

    Seph // Posted 19 March 2008 at 10:43 pm

    I can’t think of words to describe the stupidity of this woman’s entire arguement, what’s her next article going to be “Why wearing a skirt is Asking for it really”?

    and I fail to see how any man who uses money to force an (often) desperate woman to perform degrading acts for his pleasure can be described as “perfectly nice”

    Beau Radley // Posted 20 March 2008 at 1:43 am

    I really don’t know what men Minette has been schmoozing with but I’d say she seems to have her head very far up a specific anatomical part of her body. These men seem to have the emotional maturity of 11 year olds. I’ve haven’t read her often but what I have read certainly is a tad on the Neanderthalish side though I may be demeaning the poor Neanderthals. I read the Times on line as I’m in the US. I find this throwback to the stone age writing quite unsettling and anger-producing. What a disservice she does not only to women but to men also. Why The Times hasn’t let her go is a mystery to me.

    Michelle // Posted 20 March 2008 at 11:13 am

    The Times really do employ some awful columnists. What really frustrates me about that, is that this message is getting across to 1000’s of readers, where’s the voices of feminists & prostitutes are ignored and as a result, the exploitative and harmful nature of the sex industry/relations between men and women goes unmentioned.

    Helen // Posted 25 April 2008 at 12:54 pm

    and yet she never asks if he is capable of satisfying his partner, or whether maybe the reason she won’t do anal is that ‘normal’ sex is really really painful, due to his complete incompetence in the bedroom. Just a thought.

    Have Your say

    To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

    Sign in to the F-Word

    Further Reading

    Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

    Write for us!

    Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

    • The F-Word on Twitter
    • The F-Word on Facebook
    • Our XML Feeds