Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Johns Sex For Sale And The Men Who Buy It

I decided to post this before recapping part 3 of the Stop it Before it Starts training (part 1, part 2 already posted) because this topic relates directly to sexual toxicity.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corp) News Sunday interview with Victor Malarek about his book "The Johns, Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It" highlights the dynamics of an industry, much of it run by organized crime. What he talks about has been talked about for years by women who are regularly dismissed as sex negative or prudes.

Malarek rejects the notion that the prostitutes are the problem and holds men involved in any way (other than when they are prostituted) responsible instead. He rightfully points out that this industry is not about sexual needs, it is about power and control.

This is what men are buying. Money gives them the feeling that they have the right to act out their need for power and control. When we understand this reality we can begin to focus on primary prevention of the harm done through sex trafficking, both international and domestic.

It's important to note that Malarek, when he posed as a John, could buy not only the right to rape children, he could buy the right to film those rapes. The idea many people cling to that buying porn is never linked to systemic exploitation and violence is false.

Here's part 1 of the interview.

Here's part 2:

He says we have to talk to children, boys especially, about more than sex, we have to talk to them about the need for equality and dignity. Harm elimination, not harm reduction.

I agree. Linking achieving a belief in genuine equality to the reduction in gendered violence is an important part of primary prevention and was an important part of the training I attended last week. If someone truly believes another person is equal they will not treat them unequally.

The problem with harm reduction strategies is this requires harm tolerance. That's something I can never support.

I believe that if we are dedicated to harm elimination we can see that harm eliminated.

The only way for Johns to know that they are not harming someone or contributing to overt harm is to stop funding this industry. Because, as I wrote shortly after I started blogging, the Johns are the fuel of systematic violence against children and women. Johns therefore need to be accountable for their part in this harm.

Ignorance about this harm is not a valid excuse.

When all harm is eliminated then I'll listen to those who believe that prostitution can be done without harm.

H/T: Feminist Law Professors

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:13 AM   6 comments links to this post


At May 06, 2009 3:02 PM, Blogger Holly/Admin said...

Hi Marcella,
I seen his interview in Canada. Very powerful! He knows many do not want to hear/listen to his voice! Personally, Victor speaks volumes in respect to the violence related to this material! Holly D

At May 06, 2009 3:57 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

I have read Victor Malarek's book The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy it and highly recommend it to anyone who thinks Johns are 'all lonely guys just seeking a woman/girl to engage in mutual sexual activity.' The Johns shows exactly what men think and how they justify their pseudo entitlement to buy women and girls for the purpose of committing rape and sexual violence against them.

I am not surprised Malarek's findings are uncomfortable because reading/hearing these Johns' misogyny and utter contempt for women and girls is very uncomfortable.

But we need to go to the root of the issue and that is men's belief in their right to have power and control over women and girls. This pseudo right is used to justify male on female rape because it becomes 'non-rape' when defined from a male-centered perspective.

At May 06, 2009 5:12 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

He is RIGHT on - it isn't the SUPPLY we need to go after - it's the DEMAND SIDE. Here in NYC - KNOWN JOHNS who use high-end hookers/ escorts - tend to walk away scott-free. And then reoffend again & again.

The police don't see it as "crime" either.

At May 07, 2009 1:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree with most that has been said there, I must say that I think the power/control element is about more than just gender. Consider for a moment the treatment that is dished out to gay MALE prostitutes. Add homophobia to the mix and in many cases that is a far more potent trigger for violence and mistreatment than just gender.

At May 07, 2009 8:00 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, I agree and I think the same is true when the John is a Jane even if those women are less violent on the whole. Sometimes power and control is having someone who tells the John or Jane exactly what they want to hear so that they feel like the center of the universe.

At May 10, 2009 7:33 AM, Anonymous MariaS said...

I am very impressed with Malarek's forthrightness in describing the problem and assigning blame to men's desire for power and the inequality women suffer. Cuts through all the usual excuses. Very refreshing. Anyone coming here, definitely take time to watch the videos.


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