Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Prostitution, violence and

So a Canadian study has found that “people who buy sex are no more violent than the general population, and any legislation about prostitution should not be based on the incorrect belief that all johns are abusive”, says a Simon Fraser University sociologist researching the subject.

Chris Atchison surveyed more than 1,000 johns between June 2008 and April 2009 for his controversial study, entitled Johns’ Voice.

Based on about 1,000 anonymous online responses and 24 in-depth interviews, Atchison concluded that johns do not appear to be any more aggressive than the rest of the population and should therefore not be painted as uniformly evil.

He said 1.9 per cent reported having hit, pushed or physically attacked a prostitute, one per cent reported having raped or sexually assaulted a prostitute and 1.7 per cent reported having robbed a prostitute.

“The question becomes, ‘How different are sex buyers from any other member of the population?'” said Atchison.

OK, the dankprofessor must have been pretty naïve- I didn’t know that people believed that men who patronized sex workers were more violent than men who did not.  I guess this is on the same level of the idea that pornography causes male viewers to go out and rape. Of course, everyone knows that pornography overwhelmingly causes men to stay home and masturbate.  But then again masturbation is a form of self-abuse.  So I guess one just can’t get away from the idea that sex is harmful to self and if not to self then to others.

But there is more as reported in the Vancouver Sun

The study drew strong criticism from some quarters.

“It’s an outrageous study and it really works towards normalizing sexual assault,” said Aurea Flynn of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter.

“I’m really angry about the emphasis on the compassion for johns that the study provides and I’m very concerned about its impact on the continued normalization of prostitution in Canada because I believe prostitution is violence against women.”

Flynn was particularly angered by what she called the demonizing of a marginalized population that is often forced into the sex trade due to a lack of options.

Atchison said 79.9 per cent of johns surveyed wanted prostitution legalized for “altruistic reasons,” such as to protect prostitutes with health and safety regulations.

But Flynn said: “I believe that is the johns wanting to protect themselves from contracting diseases, which they are very afraid of.

“If they really wanted to help women, they’d be fighting for better welfare rates, universal child care, universal education and job skills training.”

She believes the legalization of prostitution would increase human trafficking and the exploitation of women.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter — which defines prostitution itself as an act of violence — actively campaigns for its abolition.

And so it goes- prostitution is violence even though it be consensual sex. But what the dankprofessor has learned in this short blog posting is that money is the ultimate arbiter.  Consensual sex turns into violence if you add a financial component. The money does the talking. So the dankprofessor’s advice to men who want to play it safe- empty your pockets before engaging in any kind of sexual fraternization.

OK, one more note- Aurea Flynn of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter says she is really angry regarding the results of the study. She fears that people may become more empathetic toward johns.  As for my empathy, I can feel Ms. Flynn’s anger. I suggest she take her anger home and in the privacy of her home, she relax and try to get some relief.

January 19, 2010 - Posted by | consensual relationships, masturbation, prostitution, rape, sex, sex work, sexual politics


  1. Well put Barry – as usual.

    As for myself, never having been ‘in need’ for a prostitute, female or otherwise, this is just another illustration of how to demonise men in general, that they all are rapists and brutes, and of course that this sort of sex is even dirtier, and must be punished. Prostitution is a complex issue, since many engaging in that service are forced to do so against their will for many reasons, no doubt about that, but if anyone is providing their body on their own accord, as a mutual exchange of sex as a business, I highly doubt that any ‘John’ would be more of a threat than the average boyfriend and husband abusing their spouses right in their own home, without possible supervision from any ‘pimp’. I believe that domestic violence is far more serious than any that can erupt between a willing client and willing sex worker of both genders, though of course there have been attacks and even murders, but they take place between any other sex exchange group the same, if not much more frequently so.

    Many say violence against sex workers occurs because prostitution is kept illegal and the industry operates on the black market, though not in all countries. Others believe that legalising and regulating prostitution does not improve the situation, but instead makes it worse. In my own view, domestic abuse is the bigger problem, unless we go into the actual [global] sex slave trade, but I believe Emma Thompson is engaged in highlighting this much ignored crime in her current campaigns. But, if we were to talk the average prostitute/client situation, either organised in a brother, set up at any home, going on in the streets, or as high-class callboy/girl ‘escort’ service, many times people who visit a sex worker, they don’t even engage in sex, but want to exchange nothing more than words to talk about their problems, to gain a sense of, if only temporary, understanding and belonging they will not get at home. Men or women.

    Prostitution varies from country to country and its laws tackling it, or not, and in 2003 it was estimated that in Amsterdam, one woman in thirty-five was working as a prostitute, compared to one in three-hundred in London. In the US, fifteen percent of all men have paid for sex at least once in their life, and a number of reports over the last few decades have suggested that prostitution levels have fallen in sexually liberal countries, most likely because of the increased availability of non-commercial, non-marital sex, with your friends and or neighbours basically. The Netherlands and Germany and parts of Nevada have legalised prostitution to make it safer for both parties, without the stigma of being a crime ridden, dangerous and unhealthy business.

    This touches on the same problem of the unlawful sex law between a minor an adult, where both sides are punished for consenting despite the law not allowing one of them to actually do so – only to send down the adult into a hellhole prison and danger of being attacked, raped and whatnot, or of course to end up a rapist finally themselves or get brutalised even more, and that mostly at the hands of the guards. It’s all a viciously self-perpetuating lunacy fuelled by overzealous feminists and heavy-handed laws making it all only worse. Legalise something where there is a market for, and the chances of crime and violence are reduced drastically. As seen in these more intelligent countries.

    Comment by Novalis Lore | January 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. If less than 2% of johns are violent, then why do studies indicate that over 70% of prostitutes are victims of rape?

    I believe in legalizing prostitution, but the numbers aren’t adding up. I find it hard to believe that 1% of johns would represent the 70% of rapes that occur with prostitution.

    Comment by Nadya | January 27, 2010 | Reply

  3. I do not know where you got the 70% figure so I cannot assume it is valid. But for purposes of discussion I will assume validity.

    So if 70% of prostitutes were raped such does not necessarily mean they were raped by johns; rape by pimps certainly should be considered and the study may have been dealing with “ever raped”, if so rapes prior to involvement in prostitution would be included.

    In any case, it is quite possible that the 2% figure and the 70% figure are not incompatible. If a prostitute has 100 incidents of prostitution, 2% might mean that 2 out of the 100 johns were involved in rape while 98 were not. Of course, there are repeat customers which are not factored in. And the 2 out of 100 does not take into account that 30% were not raped. And tghe study reported that 1% not 2%
    of the johns reported sexually assaulting or raping a prostitute. And multiple rapes may be committed by one person.

    Also one should keep in mind that the study sample was heavily skewed and was based on self-reports.

    Comment by dankprofessor | January 27, 2010 | Reply

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