Men Who “Buy Sex” Commit More Crimes; Newsweek, Trafficking, and the Lie of Fabricated Sex Studies

by Thomas Roche on July 20, 2011

An old-school radical anti-porn, anti-prostitution activist known for criminal antics is in the news again, portraying a heavily biased anti-sex-work survey as science, when in fact it’s the same message Melissa Farley has been screaming her entire career. Sadly, press outlets like Newsweek, Reuters, Jezebel and the Sydney Morning Herald are taking the bait, ignoring the fact that their information comes from a dubious report by a biased organization putting out a press release on PR Newswire…which is a for-pay distribution service that features relatively little other than self-promoting garbage.

News outlets are treating the information like it’s from a scientist, or a social sciences organization, an objective source, or is based on anything like a real study. It’s not any of those things.

The “report” is really a series of prejudicial interpretations of a prejudiced in-person survey made by an openly biased researcher who has spent her entire career pushing this same point, summarizing “research” funded by an organization that has no earthly purpose other than to eliminate prostitution by any means possible.

The first author on the “report,” which was presented on July 15 at the meeting of the Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Melissa Farley, is probably most famous for claiming that callgirls are no less damaged by their experiences of sex work than street prostitutes. Farley also got arrested 13 times in the ’80s for defacing bookstore copies of Penthouse, incidentally, and her account of that incident appeared in an article entitled “Fighting Femicide in the United States: The Rampage Against Penthouse.”

Farley’s new piece of activism is a “report” – a survey being incorrectly called a “study” – that recruited 202 men to answer survey questions in person. About half of of the men “buy sex,” and the rest do not. “Buying sex” means, in Farley’s parlance, to frequent prostitutes; the use of the term “buy” is insulting. It’s a transparent attempt by Farley to conflate human trafficking with prostitution, and she’s been doing it her whole career.

But that equation is garbage; it’s meant to differentiate between non-sex services and sex…as a way of taking the agency out of women’s hands and placing it squarely in the hands of…who? Farley? No, damn it — men. Not to get too ’70s about it…but wasn’t that why I became a sensitive new age guy to begin with? So the women I knew could stop having their power taken away?

For what I hope will be the last time…but I know will not…get it straight: If you can “buy” sex from a sex worker, then you can “buy” therapy from a clinical psychologist or “buy” accounting from an accountant.

Sex is not a “thing,” it is a behavior — or, rather, a series of behaviors, with endless gray area as to where one behavior ends and the other begins.

If you can agree with me on only one thing in this post, I hope it’s that sex is not a “thing.”

Women are not “notches” that we guys put in our bedposts (or on the dashboards of our Chevelles). One does not “acquire” sex from a woman, and the very idea that one can is equivalent to the idea that a woman’s “virtue” is a finite quantity that can be taken away.

Farley knows this, but she also knows that you get better soundbites by claiming, explicitly, that slavery and prostitution are not just related, but are literally the same thing.

Seriously. She claims there is no difference, in the same way that Farley has claimed that there is no difference in the experience of the streetwalker and the experience of the call girl or brothel worker. That very concept is, frankly, insulting to anyone who’s ever been friends with a woman who walked the street.

But Farley feels a need to equate the trafficked juvenile in Thailand with the $500-an-hour call girl. In so doing, she’s engaging in the inexplicable cognitive disconnect that alienates so many otherwise right-thinking women in my generation from Feminism with a capital F; she’s convinced herself that by speaking of concrete social issues as if they were cultural abstractions, she can achieve an inconceivably impossible social agenda, as Andrea Dworkin did when she said that “all intercourse is rape”penetrative intercourse is, by its nature, violent.”

Therefore, Farley’s conclusions in the new “survey” should surprise no one. According to her highly biased claims, the men who “buy sex” have a greater predisposition to rape, less respect for women, and are more likely to have “committed crimes” than the men who do not buy sex.

Surveys, incidentally, are totally different than studies. Studies are formalized affairs that obtain concrete and measurable data, with steps taken to ensure that compared data sets are equivalent. In my opinion, social sciences surveys are worth nothing at all. They’re like marketing focus groups. They show a fantastic tendency to display interviewer bias.

Good surveys are transparent about what questions were asked and how they were asked. They don’t have foregone conclusions established by the obvious bias of the lead author. They are not funded by organizations that have a stated goal of eliminating the behavior that they are asking questions about. And even good surveys are still just surveys. In the case of qualitative data — for instance, how well or sick chemotherapy patients are feeling — steps are taken to eliminate interviewer bias. There’s no question at all that such steps have not been taken here.

But still, plenty of news agencies think there’s some “interesting results” here, as if there were any results at all, other than Melissa Farley repeating the same histrionic, man-hating, anti-sex-work screed that she’s been howling since the ’80s.

Nah, don’t worry about the fact that the results come from one of the most virulent anti-sex-work, anti-porn activists who displays a rampant tendency to show lack of transparency in her survey procedures; why should you, when Newsweek sure didn’t? Newsweek’s piece was entitled The Growing Demand for Prostitution when they posted it — which you can see in the URL. But apparently somebody objected…so they changed the title to “The John Next Door.” Smart move, since their smokescreen of terror is based on a report that does not address whether there’s a rising incidence of prostitution. Here’s the madness:

The John Next Door

The men who buy sex are your neighbors and colleagues. A new study reveals how the burgeoning demand for porn and prostitutes is warping personal relationships and endangering women and girls.

Men of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds do it. Rich men do it, and poor men do it, in forms so varied and ubiquitous that they can be summoned at a moment’s notice.

And yet surprisingly little is known about the age-old practice of buying sex, long assumed to be inevitable. No one even knows what proportion of the male population does it; estimates range from 16 percent to 80 percent. “Ninety-nine percent of the research in this field has been done on prostitutes, and 1 percent has been done on johns,” says Melissa Farley, director of Prostitution Research and Education, a nonprofit organization that is a project of San Francisco Women’s Centers.

[Link.]

Does anyone else spot the disconnect there? “Men of all ages, races, religions and backgrounds do it,” “…in forms so varied and ubiquitous that they can be summoned in a moment’s notice,” (…) “And yet surprisingly little is known about the age-old practice of buying sex.” If it’s so common, how is it that “surprisingly little is known about it?” Or is it just that those who “know about it” aren’t important — because they’re not people?

But now Melissa Farley has talked to those inhuman monsters…and so “something is known.” It’s entered the great human mind: an understanding about what horrible misogynist thoughts these inhuman drooling beasts are experiencing when they buy sex. Previously, “nobody knew.”

That’s just one example of where Newsweek shows mind-boggling credulity. For instance, it underlines Farley’s dynamic in choosing two quotes from survey participants as the subtitle of the report:

One man in the study explained why he likes to buy prostitutes: “You can have a good time with the servitude,” he said.

A contrasting view was expressed by another man as the reason he doesn’t buy sex: “You’re supporting a system of degradation,” he said.

[Link.]

If this dualism seems familiar to you, it’s because it’s the same double standard women have been subjected to for the whole of human history. Are you the Madonna or the whore? Do you “buy sex,” or do you respect women?

If the implication that “most or nearly all men do this” but “nothing is known about it” also sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the Victorian split that feminism rightly objected to in social sciences, particularly in Freud and his followers. It’s just been turned around to face men. In one of his most egregiously sexist statements, Freud said:

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?”

Freud famously treated women as “other.” This was a way of shaming their desires and dehumanizing them. It was necessary for “someone” — Freud, or another male social scientist — to “understand these strange creatures” before that understanding could enter the body of human knowledge. That’s because, to Freud — as to many if not most male social scientists before feminism — women were not people.

And “men who buy sex” are not people to Farley…or, by extension, to Newsweek. Farley’s sold them a prize plucked from the jaws of woman-hating Victorian sexuality, having transposed the Madonna/whore and watcher/watched dichotomies onto the male experience.

Furthermore, that first sentence in the Newsweek piece is a whopper — the author has accidentally juxtaposed “do it,” meaning “buy sex,” and “they,” meaning “prostitutes.”

Newsweek‘s article calls prostitutes “it.”

Simple mistake? Sure. But it’s still pretty telling. By turning her outrage on men, Farley is silencing women, the way upper-middle-class white feminists, and particularly feminist social scientists, have long been accused of doing. This isn’t anything even remotely resembling science; it’s a vendetta against male sexuality, cherry-picking the very worst examples as “horror stories” to create a pathology that includes all men, and any women who don’t think and behave exactly the way Farley wants them to think and behave.

Reuters does an even more half-assed job “reporting” on Farley’s “research,” in an article that’s been reprinted in many news outlets and cut and pasted frequently, probably because it’s got such a catchy and easy-to-understand headline:

Men Who Buy Sex Commit More Crimes, Report Says

Men who pay for sex are more likely than men who do not pay for sex to commit a variety of offenses including violent crimes against women, according to research conducted in the Boston area.

…Men who paid for sex were more likely to report having committed felonies and misdemeanors, including crimes related to violence against women and those related to substance abuse, assault and weapons, the study found.

The study was designed, among other things, to test attitudes of men who buy sex. It found that as a group, they share certain attitudes and behavioral tendencies different from their non-buying peers.

Almost three in four of the sex buyers reported they learned about sex from pornography, whereas only 54 percent of the non-buyers did so.

The two groups also held significantly different attitudes regarding whether prostitution was consenting sex or exploitation. Men who bought sex were significantly less empathetic toward women working as prostitutes.

Two thirds of both groups concluded most women prostitutes had been lured, tricked or trafficked into the work.

But sex buyers “seemed to justify their involvement in the sex industry by stating their belief … that women in prostitution were intrinsically different from non-prostituting women,” the study’s authors said.

[Link.]

It hurts my brain to think that someone at Reuters could have written, with a straight face, this line, emphasis mine:

The study was designed, among other things, to test attitudes of men who buy sex. It found that as a group, they share certain attitudes and behavioral tendencies different from their non-buying peers.

No, no, no, no, no!!! The study was most explicitly not designed to “test attitudes of men who buy sex.” It was designed to prove that they have objectionable attitudes toward women. Period! Pure and simple. Farley has been trying to do that in every way she can imagine and act on for her entire career. Her nonprofit Prostitution Research and Education does not do research or promulgate education; it seeks to eliminate all sex work through any means necessary. And this survey, conducted in Boston, was funded by the Hunt Alternatives Fund, a group that started in the ’80s with the goal of nuclear disarmament, through Hunt’s pet project Demand Abolition, which states on this landing page at Hunt:

Demand Abolition supports the movement to end modern-day slavery by combating the demand for illegal commercial sex in the US. By conducting and disseminating research, educating policymakers, providing technical assistance to criminal justice professionals, and convening key stakeholders, Demand Abolition is catalyzing systemic social change that reflects the dignity of all people.

The page redirects you to the new Demand Abolition page, which says:

Until we eliminate demand, the sexual enslavement of our society’s most vulnerable children, women, and even men will continue unabated.

At the landing page for its FAQ, Demand Abolition states:

In simple “question and answer” format, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has issued a clarion call to end prostitution and sex trafficking by criminalizing and penalizing buyers of sex.

Wait…Demand Abolition wants to “demand abolition”?

It wants to “criminalize” the buying of sex?

Are they joking? Buying sex is already illegal most places — and it also exists almost everywhere. But this group is actually claiming that it must be “criminalized”? How far out of the world we live in do you have to be before you can believe that prostitution hasn’t been criminalized?

The answer? You just have to be a radical anti-sex feminist, apparently…in which case male-dominated society looks like just one big blur…at least, that’s what I, as a man, take away. Equating a law enforcement structure that can’t manage to stamp out street prostitution with men who frequent call girls and politicians who don’t pass stronger laws is only possible if men aren’t people.

What’s more, places where sex work is most illegal (Saudi Arabia and other Sharia-governed states) are without exception where it’s most dysfunctional (e.g., trafficked women). The nations that have the harshest anti-prostitution laws are the places where there are the greatest social strictures against consensual sexual encounters between men and women. Those countries are also — and this isn’t an accident — the nations where there’s the greatest difference between rich and poor, and the places where women have the lowest status. Oppressive laws disproportionately affect the poor, women, and racial, ethnic and religious minorities, no matter what they’re passed to do.

But it gets way worse. The “hooker-free Utopia” Farley wants to see take root in the U.S. is even more extreme than she’d let you know. In the case of Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, those nations have a documented constancy of homosexual rape in both social and penal circumstances, as well as anti-gay murders for anyone who isn’t “discreet” about same-sex contacts.

My favorite example is related in Robert Lacey’s Inside the Kingdom, of a Saudi man sent to prison for marrying his Philippino houseboy in a country where same-sex contact is common. It’s so common because the sexes are so thoroughly segregated that, in a different case related in the same book, a Shi’ite woman living in the Shi’ite majority communities of the Gulf, who was abducted and gang-raped by Sunni youths was sent to prison because she had “asked for it” by meeting a man at the mall to demand the return of a (non-nude, fully clothed) photograph of her that a friend had given him. She wanted it back for fear that she would be considered “loose” if the word of the photo got out.

In Cairo, according to British journalist John R. Bradley’s excellent book Inside Egypt, male-male rape by police officers, often of male children who have at best committed minor offenses, has resulted in a terrorized young male populace. I have no idea if it’s changed since the revolution, but I doubt it. Those are the kind of societies that vigorously prosecute prostitution.

But let’s not blame the Muslims; in Thailand, India, Brazil, the Philippines, and many other nations, rampant sex trafficking occurs, including sex tourism from Western countries — despite prostitution being entirely illegal (Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, Ukraine, etc) or brothels and pimping being illegal (Brazil, India, Kazakhstan, etc). In the case of India and Thailand — and more recently Brazil — the governments of those countries are constantly trumpeting new legal measures to prevent sex trafficking, in order to court U.S. investment…and despite the fact that trafficking is rampant. Trafficking continues because of corruption and poverty, not because there are no laws against it.

The worst case scenario for sex trafficking and child exploitation is a corrupt society where laws are enforced not based on criminal activity, but on the divide between rich and poor — and manipulation of the media plays a strong role. Yet for trafficking and child exploitation, nothing seems to change in the long run (except that it gets worse). The countries with the most poverty, the greatest corruption and the greatest restrictions on personal behavior are the places where trafficking runs rampant, because the law is enforced with not just a double standard, but a predictably privilege-based standard. It’s based on the social position of the client and the amount of money that changes hands…not from john to sex worker, but from john to authorities, from pimp to authorities, from sex worker to authorities. The idea that in poor and corrupt countries such a situation will be solved if we “abolish” prostitution by putting the names of johns in the paper (as Farley claims) is utterly laughable. Corrupt nations mostly have strong anti-prostitution laws. It’s poverty and corruption that need to be “abolished.”

But that’s not Demand Abolition’s view. Want to know where they think the worst case scenario is for prostitution laws? Not Burma, not India, not Sudan, but Australia.

…a wave of sex trafficking and other ills always follows the legalization of prostitution. For instance, parts of Australia have experimented with decriminalization and witnessed skyrocketing illegal prostitution “because the buyers still want to purchase children, ‘exotic’ women from abroad, and sex acts that may be off limits in the legal venues.”

[Link.]

Farley and her cronies are actually going to tell me that the case study of where the circumstances for prostitutes are the very worst is…Australia? Because Australia, they claim, “witnessed skyrocketing illegal prostitution,” that means we should “abolish” prostitution…everywhere? Like, say… all the places where it’s already illegal? Because that hasn’t resulted in “skyrocketing” prostitution…oh, unless you believe the Newsweek article about Farley’s study — in case you forgot, it was headlined:

The Growing Demand for Prostitution

…until Newsweek chickened out and changed it, because neither they nor Farley can convincingly make a data-based case that there is a growing demand for prostitution. Better to call it “The John Next Door,” creating the impression that sex work patrons live right next to you, lurking, waiting for your innocent selves, wives and daughters to, I don’t know, not be there so you won’t see them drive off to go see a hooker.

But…does that mean Newsweek is talking only about countries where it’s legal (and those two eight counties in Nevada)? I mean…Newsweek is a U.S. magazine, and prostitution is mostly illegal here. Because if there’s a “growing demand for prostitution” in places where prostitution is illegal…gasp…could that mean…?

Or do Newsweek, and Demand Abolition, not have the faintest idea whether there’s a growing demand for prostitution, because they wouldn’t know actual data if it bit ‘em on the ass and then charged ‘em $5? Does Demand Abolition not know what they believe…other than that they object to the very fact of prostitution, and will make up social trends, statistics and “facts” at will?

Incidentally, if Australia is Demand Abolition’s worst case scenario, what’s their best case? Sweden:

The primer also takes note of promising results coming out of Sweden, where a 1999 law decriminalized the sale of sex but rigorously enforced a ban on purchasing it. Since passage, the number of women forced into street prostitution has fallen by 50 percent.

[Link.]

So it’s legal to sell, but illegal to buy? How does that work, exactly, like…in logical terms. In terms of teaching your kids what’s legal to do and not to do? Or is it already assumed that nobody of value would ever let their son or daughter buy or sell sex?

The exceptions are, as I alluded to above, poor women and rich men. Rich men enlisting the services of poor women usually gets a blind eye, no matter what country and what aeon they’re in. That equation is sacrosanct and will remain so until we eliminate economics entirely. That’s why any enforcement activity against sex work always disproportionately impacts poor sex workers, and any enforcement activity against clients always disproportionately affects those who frequent poorer sex workers…especially, but not exclusively, lower-middle-class, working class and poor men who can’t afford to pay $200 or $300 for sex.

Rich men are never going to lose their options for hiring sex workers. In the Victorian era, just like in Saudi Arabia, just like in Washington, D.C. all you have to do is this: Be male, have plenty of money and exercise a culturally “appropriate” amount of discretion, and you can always find a woman who’ll fuck you. That is not going to change, no matter what country you’re in, what era you’re in or what law enforcement actions are taken. But what can change is how many poor sex workers face arrest, rape and prison time because of hysterical prohibitionist panic based on bad science.

Farley’s campaign is aimed at wealthy Western nations, and that’s where the rub lies. She seems willing to haul the trafficked Cambodian children out of their rail container and parade them around in the White People’s Tragedy Tourism Dance whenever it helps her argue for stronger anti-prostitution laws in Nevada. Farley is happy to equate third-world human trafficking with heroin-addicted women in Los Angeles with high-class hookers and strippers who occasionally give a blowjob in the back room for $300. But she has yet to establish that any parallel can be drawn between these things, using any weapon other than the anti-male, anti-sex, and ultimately anti-female tools of helpless-woman feminism that was rejected by the vast majority of American women twenty years ago. In doing so, Farley is snug in bed with the most right-wing, reactionary elements in America who, if they could have their way, would like her and her fellow feminists in the kitchen baking casseroles.

I beg of you, as a person of conscience, to forever reject Farley’s bankrupt and transparently sexist claim that sex is a thing that women own that men take away, either by purchasing it or by stealing it or by pressuring them into giving it up or by marrying them.

Sex is not a thing.

It’s not women’s job to “keep” it so that people like Melissa Farley will approve of them. And it’s not the habit of men with hard dicks to follow anybody’s idea of morality except their own. And, for the record, plenty of us do manage to make it through life without violating our own codes of morality, which are apparently far more complex than Farley’s, since they allow for female personal agency. That’s why it’s so reprehensible that Farley’s claims attempt to create a single and extraordinarily restrictive moral behavior for men…despite the agonizingly clear evidence that poverty is what creates despair, that drugs, abuse, and lack of opportunity go where poverty goes, and that drugs, poverty, abuse and lack of opportunity together create the most dysfunctional sex work environments. Those dysfunctions would not be eliminated by decriminalization of prostitution — certainly not street prostitution — but they sure as fuck aren’t going to be eliminated by Farley’s unsupportable ivory-tower sex-hating hysteria.

Why should I care? The result, in the end, will be nothing more than a few hysterical articles in the press, some dumb ideas out there and the slow erosion and discrediting of the social sciences — nothing we haven’t seen before, right?

But Farley’s unsupported claims and the ease with which the press picked them up represent the building feedback loop of anti-sex hysteria.

More importantly, it’s exactly this kind of histrionic, crazy doublethink that alienated women in my generation from the very idea of Feminism, capital F, or feminism, small f, as something they could see in themselves. I’m tired of seeing women my age be afraid to call themselves feminists.

Every time I hear a woman my age or younger say, “I’m not a feminist, but…”

…I thank Melissa Farley.

Photo: Kimberly Kane by Steve Diet Goedde.

{ 18 comments }

1 Thomas Roche August 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm

@redpesto — To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what her rationale is for saying “buy sex” rather than “buy women.” I’ve seen “buy women” used to mean in “feminist” circles to mean “patronize a sex worker,” including stripping. So I’m not sure what the rationale is, but “buy sex” is certainly MORE accurate than “buy women.,” unless you’re talking specifically about human trafficking.

Even then, I would object to “buy women” because it does not describe the shell game that human traffickers play, in which any number of lies and misleading or incomplete statements are used to disguise the true nature of the transaction.

Referring to human trafficking as “buying people” is to my mind deeply dehumanizing to the victims; it is an organized form of false imprisonment, forced servitude, and (in the case of sex workers) rape, pure and simple. To imply that the term “buy women” lends legitimacy to the idea that this is a transaction, as opposed to participation in a crime.

Law enforcement needs to do a better job of breaking down how the actual business of human trafficking works, and the myriad crimes involved in this. But to do that, they’d have to back away from the hysteria that makes every crime committed against poor people become an excuse for Shock Doctrine policies aimed at addressing a broad range of First World behaviors, related or unrelated, legal or illegal.

I’ve always had some mild concerns about “sex worker,” because it is so unspecific, and because by many peoples’ definition it includes people like me (whereas I think my experience writing erotica, working in a porn studio or selling sex toys or any of the dozen other off-color profession I’ve had, in fact has NOTHING in common with an in-person sex worker like an escort, stripper or even phone-sex operator).

However, politically I think “sex work” is the most useful term. Secretary Clinton’s use of the term earlier this year, I think, is absolutely earth-shaking, so I’m happy to stick with “sex work” indefinitely.

2 redpesto July 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Thomas – First off, this is a terrific piece: the sad thing is that it has to be said over and over again as the likes of Farley won’t listen, won’t learn and keep stovepiping junk ‘studies’ into a too-credulous media.

That said, I wonder what the best/most neutral phrase is re. sex work if ‘buying sex’ is (in Farley’s usage) so ‘loaded’. Is the fact that she uses ‘buy sex’ rather than ‘buy women’ (a standard anti-sexwork ‘line’) a significant shift or not? Is ‘pay for’ sex less emotive/more accurate?

3 Juliet Morrigan July 23, 2011 at 10:57 am

Brilliant piece. As a sex worker/adult erotic service professional, who is sitting President of the Board of a non profit that works on behalf of sexually exploited minors, I would like to say that not all non profits conflate commercial exploitation of minors with adult sex workers. There is a real problem, obviously and often the efforts to make clear distinctions by advocates of our industry, cause a strange down play.
That is just a side note.
A legal challenge to decriminalize sex work is being launched in California. The challenge will be utilizing the same legal strategy that gay rights used, the constitutional right to privacy. What struck me about the article was the fact that, like the fight for gay rights, there will be a frightening series of moments which will require a ‘coming out’ process by AESP’s.(Adult Erotic Service Professionals- an offering of a subversive use of main stream terminology)
During the fight for decriminalization of homosexuality, it became evident that until the fear based characterizations of the homosexual were countered by visibility and some ‘we’re just like you’ assimlist strategies, it would be impossible to effectively debunk the images created by hostile media writers. This is the growing challenge of our industry. It is even more counter intuitive to the individual worker because we are just starting in the age of some sex positivity to approach our own internalized shame. This article, highlights how critical the consideration and preparation for this next step is becoming.

4 Tony July 22, 2011 at 6:14 am

Just to let you know, Jay Leno on the Tonight show made a joke about this last night, Thursday night. I read the article Thursday morning and then heard the joke last night.
Keep up the great work, I look forward to reading what you write. Thank you.

5 Lea July 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Thomas, just want to say that you make so many relevant and important points here – and your analyses are brilliant – thank you!

6 Pat Powers July 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Misspelled by blog in the previous post. And I forgot to add, the other side of the problem is, there is no money to be made by debunking these scum. Very discouraging.

7 Pat Powers July 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

This article was cited on the Straight Dope Message Board as part of a thread on the ways the anti-sex types are making up their own numbers about children endangered by human trafficking to make the problem look much larger than it is. The key point from what I see is that various “nonprofits” are making millions from the federal government by hyping the problem and then getting paid to “study” i.e., make up more false numbers, and “solve” it , i.e, come up with antisex laws. The thread has a number of excellent links to debunkings of bogus studies, here’s the link:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=615576

8 violet blue July 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm

@BEG65 – Thanks for this comment, it’s helpful to know that people want a work-safe version of the articles we write here. I’ve been investigating the best way to do this, though making sure I don’t duplicate the content and be penalized by search engines is one factor, the other is that the sidebar content is what pays the bills and allows Thomas and I to be able to write these pieces when we could also be chasing down freelance writing gigs. So it’s tough – but I’m getting close to a solution.

In the meantime, I might suggest what a few of my friends do – put my blog feed into Google Reader, and read the posts there. No need to visit a blocked URL. Reader strips the sidebar content and retains attribution, while making is so that no one has to click links that might be filtered, and you can also forward the post as an email to friends you want to share it with.

This is the feed, but if you click it in certain browsers you’ll also get a stripped version of my content:

http://www.tinynibbles.com/feed

I hope that helps – for now. I hope to have a solution soon.

9 BEG65 July 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm

(Sorry, that should be “a SFW version” I guess…)

10 BEG65 July 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Is there an NSFW version of this? I wanted to forward this article to a friend, but she couldn’t open it b/c it had been blocked, and I have to admit that the images in the sidebar are definitely NSFW. I don’t want to cut and paste the article and email it to her (unless that’s okay with y’all), and I wondered if there was something like a printer friendly/image free way to link or look at this?

11 Thomas Roche July 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Billy — Re: “buy sex.” I wouldn’t make an issue of it if there wasn’t an obvious agenda behind Farley’s use of the term “buy sex.” I’m not being a language cop, I’m objecting to her intention. Throughout all of the writing of Farley and her associates, there is a frequent — I would say constant — attempt to equate all prostitution (including, in their view, porn, stripping and lap dancing) with slavery. In the context of Farley’s body of work, her use of the term “buy sex” is not neutral, nor does the claim that you could “buy an oil change” apply. She is explicitly attempting to equate the purchase of a sex worker’s time with the purchase of a human being in a trafficking context.

I do think it’s telling that Farley has to commit language-fu in order to constantly equate a stripper in San Francisco giving a lap dance with a Thai girl being sold into sex slavery at age 8. She believes that all male sex work consumers regard both females as property that can be sold, and that’s what I object to. Her use of “buy” is a trick of public relations designed to convince people that all sex work is, explicitly, slavery.

I think your claim that you “buy services” is pedantic and entirely misses my point. One does “buy my friend A lap dance,” or at least I’ve heard it said that way. But I believe one would never say you “buy lap dancing,” which is linguistically the Frankenstein monster Farley has created in the use of the term buy. I don’t believe, linguistically, you do “buy public relations consultation,” “buy an oil change,” “buy tailoring,” “buy a doctor’s visit,” “buy surgery,” “buy a haircut,” etc. etc. Maybe you do in other English-speaking countries; where I come from, that would be convoluted language-fu. I find this argument pretty nit-picky, but I believe that’s a misuse of the term “buy.”

Even if you do, that’s not why Farley uses the term “buy” here. It is manipulative. She uses it to equate slavery and prostitution. She is not innocent here in choosing that usage, and suggesting she is is, frankly, unsupportable in the context of everything else she’s ever written.

12 Iamcuriousblue July 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Yes, I remember that story specifically – two Afghan warlords fought a *tank battle* over the rights to sodomize a young boy. There is a strong culture of pederasty in Afghanistan that is long-standing. It’s something endemic to cultures that are extremely patriarchal and practice heavy segregation of the sexes. Classical Athens was the same way.

And Afghanistan is not exactly a center for production or consumption of m/m “twink” porn, either, as much as the antiporn types would like to make porn at the root of all sexual violence and exploitation.

13 Billy Dubh July 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

Clearly this report is academically worthless and has a political agenda. Fine. But I want to pick up on your objection to the phrase “buying sex”, because I don’t understand your assertion that hiring a professional (be it an accountant, prostitute, landscape architect or whatever) doesn’t constitute buying a service. The fact that there’s not necessarily a physical object that becomes your property afterwards doesn’t stop it being a commercial transaction, and “buying services” is a pretty straightforward business concept I would have thought.

14 Thomas Roche July 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

Iamcuriousblue — Also, my generalization is a bit weaker when it comes to Afghanistan; I removed that country entirely from the list, because I don’t know that I can argue “constancy.” One of the things that galvanized the Taliban in its early days, at least according to its own mythology, was a vigilante action against two military commanders who were fighting over the “ownership” of the same boy (YOUNG boy, like…young). I don’t actually have enough information to comment on the Taliban itself and homosexual rape, or Afghanistan and homosexual rape outside the context of post-Soviet, pre-Taliban corruption. Since (the) Taliban(s) were/was and are/is the most powerful Islamist force in that region, it’s a little disingenuous of me to wrap Afghanistan up with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It’s also slightly dicey of me to call Sudan an Arab country, though maybe not now that South Sudan has been split off.

Funny thing, I included Afghanistan because I was trying to avoid saying “Iran,” because it’s also not an Arab nation. But my information about male-male rape in today’s Iran, especially in a penal context, is very thin. I suspect it was pretty common before the fall of the Shah, but I don’t have any documentation of that.

15 Thomas Roche July 21, 2011 at 10:21 am

Iamcuriousblue — Oh my, I can’t believe I made that mistake. Normally I’m the nitpicker on that topic! Thanks for pointing it out.

16 Iamcuriousblue July 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

And since we’re in nitpicking mode anyway, I’ll point out that Afghanistan is not an “Arab” country, even if it is an Islamic one.

Minor details aside, great post!

17 Thomas Roche July 21, 2011 at 8:44 am

Charlie — Thanks for reminding me; I don’t know why I forgot that about Dworkin, that was a brain fart on my part. I’ve updated it with what she did say, which is not quite as crazy but still reflects her extreme squickability and social agenda. Thanks for pointing it out!

18 Charlie July 21, 2011 at 4:56 am

Great post! I’m passing it along.

One small thing: the whole “all intercourse is rape” quote has been debunked: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/mackinnon.asp

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