Monday, 17 June 2013

Rant about Shopping for Sex

Last week I wrote that the public debate about issues that concern women’s physical agency such as abortion, rape, sexual assault and domestic violence could benefit from women actually speaking out more about their personal experiences – to remove the shame and permit us to understand the issues better.
There is an additional issue that belongs in the same category, but where I would actually like to encourage MEN to come forward and tell their stories.
This issue is prostitution.
I know some feminists are vehemently against prostitution, but I am first and foremost a liberal, so I think everyone has in principle the right to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt others.  That means that if somebody wants to sell her (or his) body for sexual services, then that is a choice for her, not me, to make. 
Prostitutes and their clients suffer from the same kind of stigma as women that have had abortions or been sexually assaulted.  Also, just like rape and abortion, prostitution is incredibly common – it is all around us.  While I may not know many prostitutes, I’m sure I know some of their clients.  I just don’t know they are clients of prostitutes, because it is not something they will admit to.  But why not?  There must be dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons to buy sex and most of them are probably not condemnable.  Why would a single man, or someone in an open relationship, not be allowed to buy sex if he wants to?  Even more understandably for some people, for example those suffering from certain types of physical disabilities or developmental or psychological problems, buying sex might be the only way to get any (for more details, see here for a dispassionate account or here for a more scandalised take on the issue).
So come on gentlemen: admit boldly if you’ve used the services of a prostitute and please explain why.  I won’t judge.  I would just like to understand.

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