Others paint a dimmer portrait of johns, believing they are typically driven by chauvinistic motives, such as a desire to dominate and control women. A similar debate rages among experts about the morality of prostitution itself [ see box on page 63 ]. Of course, the simplest explanation for men buying sex is that they like it. After all, people are generally willing to pay for activities they enjoy as much as they do sex. On the other hand, a man can usually get sex for free in the context of an ordinary intimate relationship.
So why pay good money for it, especially given the social and health risks of having sex with a prostitute? Are all johns so unappealing that they cannot get sex any other way? Most researchers do not think so.
Johns come from all socioeconomic classes, according to culture researcher Sabine Grenz of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. They may be stockbrokers, truck drivers, teachers, priests or law-enforcement officials. Many are married with children.
Nor are these men defined by obvious personality problems. In a survey published in psychologist Dieter Kleiber of the Free University of Berlin had some johns fill out the Freiburg Personality Inventory and found no particular abnormalities. The only correlations he found applied to risk taking and unprotected sex.
For example, the men who demanded sex without condoms tended to score higher on aggression, and married and well-to-do customers practiced unprotected sex more frequently than others did. The research underscores the diversity of the men who pay for sex. Accordingly, these individuals seek prostitutes for varied reasons. Some of them may indeed be driven purely by sexual impulse.
In a study of johns sponsored by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, sociologist Udo Gerheim of the University of Bremen, Germany, found that many of these men are either sexually frustrated because they are not getting satisfying sex elsewhere or hedonists who want to live out their erotic fantasies in a red-light setting.
Many men feel freer to experiment within the context of commercial sex than with their wives or girlfriends, enabling them to expand their sexual range and to experience greater sexual fulfillment.
Yet some researchers have identified emotional and psychological motivations among the men who purchase sex. Gerheim spotted a type of romantic john who imagines that he is having a genuine relationship with a prostitute based on mutual trust. Kleiber also saw a romantic streak in many of his interviewees.
These men, Kleiber explains, seem to be pursuing the ideal of love in a fee-for-service setting. They portray these relationships as intimate despite their commercial nature and limited scope, he adds.
The behavior of male customers during their encounters with prostitutes also may suggest that they seek a social connection outside of coitus. According to Kleiber's study, more than two thirds of devotees used the services of a particular prostitute more than 50 times. One in four had sex with the same prostitute more than times. But why would a man turn to a prostitute—as opposed to a girlfriend, wife or other consensual female lover—to satisfy his need for a social bond?
One reason may be that real relationships with women are risky and complicated, features that men do not always want and cannot always handle. Prostitutes are far less exacting than girlfriends and wives and may even be soothing to the psyche. That is, an ordinary female date might reject a man or happen to be tired, distant or not in the mood. In contrast, sex workers generally accept their customers unconditionally and offer intimacy on demand, whatever their true feelings, says gender researcher Gunda Schumann, who co-authored a book on the psychology of prostitution.
In this view, ordinary men buy sex to deal with their psychological insecurities as well as their sexual needs. The idea that sex with a prostitute can be therapeutic dates back thousands of years. In the Epic of Gilgamesh , a poem from ancient Mesopotamia, Enkidu—a friend of the king who is half wild—is civilized by having sex with a whore. The tale portrays the prostitute as sacred because she sacrifices herself to the man to cleanse him of destructive inner forces.
Other researchers disagree that prostitutes serve as a balm for the woes of essentially normal men. These are men, she says, whose sexual desire is switched on by not having to care about the prostitute as a human being—the opposite of the intimacy hypothesis. 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.
Research published in found that the numbers of men who pay for sex had doubled in a decade. 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.
I interviewed 12 of the men, and found it a fascinating experience. To a third person it looks like we're in love. 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.
If she enjoys it I would feel cheated. But they still continued to visit them. More than half admitted that they either knew or believed that a majority of women in prostitution were lured, tricked or trafficked.
Another said that he had "seen women with bruises, cuts and eastern European accents in locations where lots of trafficked women and girls are". She told me she had been tricked. I had sex with her and she seemed fine with the sex. She asked me to help her, but I said there was little I could do. She might have been lying to me. One of the most interesting findings was that many believed men would "need" to rape if they could not pay for sex on demand.
One told me, "Sometimes you might rape someone: Half of the interviewees had bought sex outside of the UK, mostly in Amsterdam, and visiting an area where prostitution is legal or openly advertised had given them a renewed dedication to buying sex when they returned to the UK.
Almost half said that they first paid for sex when they were below the age of Maybe he wanted to make sure we weren't gay. We went to a brothel.18 Jun Last week, I told a reader seeking sex advice to "never, ever – ever! – go the prostitution route. He had been given the "green light" from his wife. 25 Nov Although the relationship occurred before Whittingdale was made a minister (he says he ended it But why do men visit escorts, and is it just about the sex itself? . Maria: What's the appeal of having sex with a prostitute?. 29 Mar I am single, professional, have had long-term relationships in the past, . Men who see prostitutes for reasons other than just sex — and there.
Deep down, I don't like the idea of being with used goods. I don't get embarrassed about coming here. My mates know about it; they come too. I don't tell my girlfriend because it's different with women. Anyway, it's none of their business. It'll be the same when I'm married. Dominic, 39, builder In a way, I think this helps my marriage. Sometimes my wife doesn't want to have sex. It could start an argument. But I come here and that's it - we don't have an argument. Edward, 44, truck driver I've been coming to parlours off and on for the past 20 years.
I don't go to a different girl every time. If I have one I like, I stay with her. I don't know what it is about the girl I usually see here that attracts me. She's nothing like my wife. She's younger and smaller, and she does different things without whingeing.
My wife won't do oral sex. Being with these girls does make you feel pretty good as a bloke, as a lover I suppose. It's just a good feeling, a good physical sexual feeling. And paying for it doesn't take any of that away. I suppose I do think of myself as a good lover and I reckon that both of us are getting something out of it, not just me.
I presume the women here would think that. Maybe some of them enjoy being with me, maybe some don't. I think I'd be able to tell if they didn't. Although I suppose it's only a job to them, isn't it? Could make it hard to tell. I'd hope the one I was with would enjoy it. She said she did. If I knew that she didn't like it, I wouldn't come back. Jack, 70, pensioner My wife is deceased and I still have some sexual urges, so about once a month I come and see Marnie.
She's a very sweet young lady. When my wife was alive, that was it for me. There were no other activities. I didn't look for it. The sex I have here is fairly ordinary. Nothing kinky - none of the things you read about. I don't know if Marnie physically enjoys what she does with me. If she enjoys some part of it or a portion of it, then it is more fulfilling for me. I also like to talk with her a little. Not a lot; I'm aware that my life is very boring to her, but I'm interested in her and I like to hear how things are for her.
Spiro, 36, public servant When you get to my age and you've been engaged two or three times, you realise it's a waste of time trying to be with women. It's cheaper this way. With a wife and kids you have to feed, clean and clothe them. It's not worth it. If I have a bit of free time, I come here about once a month - that's all. I have a different one every time, usually for just half an hour, just normal sex, that's all, nothing different. That means they give me a back rub, they give me oral sex and then they get on top and they have intercourse with me, and I have a good time.
But now it's getting like the women here think they can order me around, saying they won't do it without a condom. That was the final thing for me. Well, they're not my rules and I'm the only one who can protect me.
In the end I found one who will take a little bit more money instead of using a condom. They've all got their price. It might sound crazy, but this is really the only place where I feel I can be a man, the way men are supposed to be, without feeling guilty or that I'm a social misfit. Liam, 26, banking loans officer I would see a prostitute about once a month, sometimes more, depending on my own social life, which is pretty dull at the best of times.
This may sound horrible, but I consider sex to be a chore. The pleasure for me is more the back rub, because I can't do that myself. If I'm sexually frustrated, I can masturbate, it's no problem. But it's not all that much fun, is it? I mean, that is a chore, so it's preferable to be with someone else. As far as sex goes, I don't feel I've ever satisfied a girlfriend of mine, to be honest.
I wouldn't know anyway, I really wouldn't. I'm not familiar with biology in any sense. Some of the prostitutes I've been with have enjoyed it, though. I think they have. I guess the truth is that women frighten me.
Kevin, 43, business manager I'm not so much into being beaten or whipped or tied up, as wanting the woman to be the person who calls the shots, so to speak. I am in a relationship where we are equals, even sexually, although I'm the one who has to initiate sex. I don't know why women are like that, and to be honest, it can be a bit of a drag always having to be the one who seduces. Here, I know she wants it, because she is dictating the terms.
The difference to hooking up in a normal way is that you both know what the deal is and why you are here. No bullshit, straight talk. Her being experienced they have the technique, no painfully awkward moments and enthusiastic or her good acting about it. My sample size could be a lucky one. I always thought it would be really awkward. It is very clear this is a pay me, fuck you, have a nice day. Nobody is looking for anything serious obviously so nobody is deluded or getting tricked.
If you have the money and the right attitude, there is nothing wrong with it. If you do it wrong, you will have a couple of minutes of a blowjob followed by a few thrusts until you pop, with a jaded, disinterested woman. The difference between the two scenarios is largely your own attitude, and how much you are willing to pay. I have been seeing prostitutes for around 4 years. I am single, professional, have had long-term relationships in the past, but am in a stage in my life where I value career and travel over settling down.
I now have a confidence with women that I lacked before, and my primary goal with women I meet is friendship first and foremost, as I have enough sex to not be desperate for it. But there are downsides. It is easy to lose it and go all Caligula, but you soon realise that unlimited sexual indulgence is a poor substitute for real friendships. It can get expensive.
You will probably find yourself unable to talk about the experiences that you are having. I have never told anybody in real life about my secret life, so have had to internalize a lot. I think that some people are psychologically cut out for this sort of thing. Because I have short circuited the courting part of dating, I have had as much sex as a couple would over four years, but it happens to be with different women.
This feels normal to me, but I know that it freaks a lot of people out. On a whole, I would rate my experience as positive. It is great knowing that in any given city, I can find a certain type of woman who is up for a certain type of fun. On the other hand, I am starting to think more seriously about normal long term relationships again. Had sex with a prostitute when I was in Amsterdam. I was 19, getting antsy about cashing in my v-card so I wanted to get it done.
She could tell I was nervous and was really nice about the whole thing—She even did some stuff that would have cost extra. I am 70 years old very fit and very active. My wife has been an invalid for 4 years and sex is no longer a proposition.
After two years I decided to visit a lovely lady and the experience was anything but seedy. I found her to be intelligent, articulate and of course fantastic fun. I have been only with her for 18 months now on a regular basis, we have become the closest of friends and I must say I love her with a vengeance.
We are I suggest having an emotional affair. She is a married lady with married children and comes from a good family. Her husband knows what she does for work but has chosen to look the other way. The rest of her family and her social circle have no idea what she does. Of course, her husband has no idea of my relationship with his wife or even that I exist. I will never do anything to hurt her or her family and I am well aware that one day the relationship is likely to end.
For my part, I have made a friend for life and I look forward — like a teenager — to seeing her and to our daily telephone conversations.