Why Do Men Buy Sex?

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Why Do Men Buy Sex?
The guys who buy it aren't who you think. Nor are their reasons for doing so.

The interesting thing is that's what happened in this one case—which could be one of many—is that we decide that anything that’s not the idea that sex should happen in a heterosexual relationship, with your wife, for reproduction, seems to of a deviant nature. There's a benchmark about what sex is for that seems to be pervading.

So it's not that a man who seeks this out is necessarily a sexual deviant?

That's my experience. Lots of married men will buy sex. They don't want to get out of their marriage. It's about wanting to have a private sex life. A bit of their life that is a time out… and it's not about being a teacher or a policeman or a senator.

What percentage of the population seeks this out?

It's different in most countries. In the UK it's 30% who will buy sex at some point in their life.

And we're not talking pornography?

No, literally buying commercial sex. This concept of buying sex is interesting—we have this lapdancing club in the UK; it's a very accepted part of the nighttime economy. And yet we have this strong anti-prostitution thing. It's this weird hypocrisy. Certain kinds of sexual consumption are okay. We've got real contradictions around sexual consumption.

So, should we legalize prostitution or not?

It's impossible to eradicate any entrenched aspect of human nature. The more you have stuff going underground, the more dangerous it is, the more victimization you see. I think legal brothels are a good idea. The toleration zones in Amsterdam, those areas of the street where women can go safely. There's definitely clear evidence that in those zones there's very little violence. I think we need a legitimate sex industry. We need to grow up about it, really.

What would you say to a wife who is, arguably, a victim of this?

This is a really interesting thing. If you look at all of the sex scandals—that have mainly happened in America—you have this whole dialogue about the wife. This "stand by your man" syndrome. Often in reality the women is aware that the man is having some other sort of sex life. It may be about how they live their lives separately. As long as it doesn't come back to the doorstep, for example.

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