Here's are two jolly little reads I came across this morning: a newspaper article and a scholarly study of why men use prostitutes. "Use," I think, is the operative word: many of the men interviewed for the study felt that prostitutes had few or no rights in the transaction, besides getting paid... And this even though most of the men are also aware of the violence, both physical and mental, used to coerce women into prostitution: "Of the men interviewed, 55% believed that a majority of women in prostitution were lured, tricked or trafficked."
Here's a paragraph in the study that really stood out for me:
Possibly to counter these feelings, men who buy sex are often committed to the idea that prostitution is an equal exchange of sex for money or goods. If, as many prostituted women have reported, prostitution is paid rape (Farley, Lynne and Cotton, 2005) then the payment itself (whether cash, food, housing, drugs) functions as the means of coercion to the sex in prostitution (MacKinnon, 2001, 2009). Against much empirical evidence a number of buyers insist that prostitutes truly enjoy the sex of prostitution. This highlights a major contradiction. While the buyer is often aware that it is his money and his purchase of her for sex that gives him the control while removing her autonomy and her dignity, he still seeks to convince himself that she both likes him and is sexually aroused by him. Perhaps this conviction is an attempt to reduce the cognitive dissonance of his sexual use of her under conditions he accurately perceives are not free or equal. Plumridge and colleagues (1997) pointed out buyers' firmly held but contradictory beliefs that on the one hand commercial sex is a mutually pleasurable exchange, and on the other hand that payment of money serves to remove his social and ethical obligations. Most interviewees said they assumed that to a greater or lesser extent, women in prostitution are sexually satisfied by the sex acts purchased by buyers. The interviewees believed that women in prostitution were satisfied by the sex of prostitution 46% of the time. One man argued that women who were "professional prostitutes" all like sex. Another said, "A normal woman is never as highly sexed as a prostitute. It would be wrong." Generally, the literature indicates that women are not sexually aroused by prostitution, and that after extended periods of time servicing hundreds of men, prostitution damages or destroys much of their own sexuality (Barry, 1995; Funari, 1997; Giobbe, 1991; Hoigard and Finstad, 1986; Raymond et al., 2002).