Monday, September 13, 2010


The Post has an interesting article up on "Five myths about prostitution."

2. Men visit sex workers for sex.

Often, they pay them to talk. I've been studying high-end sex workers (by which I mean those who earn more than $250 per "session") in New York, Chicago and Paris for more than a decade, and one of my most startling findings is that many men pay women to not have sex. Well, they pay for sex, but end up chatting or having dinner and never get around to physical contact. Approximately 40 percent of high-end sex worker transactions end up being sex-free. Even at the lower end of the market, about 20 percent of transactions don't ultimately involve sex.

Figuring out why men pay for sex they don't have could sustain New York's therapists for a long time. But the observations of one Big Apple-based sex worker are typical: "Men like it when you listen. . . . I learned this a long time ago. They pay you to listen -- and to tell them how great they are." Indeed, the high-end sex workers I have studied routinely see themselves as acting the part of a counselor or a marriage therapist. They say their job is to feed a man's need for judgment-free friendship and, at times, to help him repair his broken partnership. Little wonder, then, that so many describe themselves to me as members of the "wellness" industry.

I think the assault on Craigslist is misguided. Prostitution is not going to go away. We would be far better off legalizing it and regulating it (and, yes, taxing it). This would allow us to more easily keep women from being abused by pimps and such. I don't think this is the same as condoning the practice. It's recognizing that prostitution is not going away no matter what we do and we're better off conducting it within safe boundaries rather than in the dark.

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