Hey Feminist Law Profs, wait up!

by Ms Dentata

Yeah, I think yr ignoring me. In fact, I get the distinct impression that this group of ‘feminist law professors’ haven’t even noticed the wee law-student sex-workers over here, hanging out with our privilege and our questionable morals at the kids table.

Well. I think I am going to have to interrupt the grown-ups in the corner over there, coz it sure seems like I just heard a somewhat problematic (and somewhat paternalistic) conversation.

The title yells “Are Up to 80% of All Men “Buyers of Sex”? Please Let the Answer Be No”

It’s a link to a newsweek article reporting on research conducted on ‘men(I assume cis-male and straight). In the link posted, the only excerpt discussed how the research (comparing attitudes towards sex between one group who ‘paid for sex’ and one who didn’t) faced problems finding enough men who did not ‘buy sex’. It was followed by Bridget Crawford’s enlightening legal view on the subject:

Contemplating the probable — or even possible — size of the population of “sex buyers,” to use Dr. Farley’s term, makes me feel nauseous and despondent.

Know what makes me nauseous and despondent? Sex-negativity. BOOYA

So anyway, this study found. Actually. Wait. It didn’t actually find anything about the number of  clients of sexual services (just as an aside ‘buying sex’ as an expression really irks me. They’re not BUYING sex, they’re making an appointment with a sexy professional). So, what it did talk about was the differences in attitudes between clients and non-clients. Right. I see. And then as I read further, I see why someone could be rather upset and rather anti-punters after this article!

“Overall, the attitudes and habits of sex buyers reveal them as men who dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation.

Farley found that sex buyers were more likely to view sex as divorced from personal relationships than nonbuyers, and they enjoyed the absence of emotional involvement with prostitutes, whom they saw as commodities. “Prostitution treats women as objects and not … humans,” said one john interviewed for the study.”

Right. That’s not very cool.

Something that really caught my interest was the fact it was a john talking about women being objectified. In my social interactions with punters, they have all very much given the impression that they view their time with a sex worker as important because of the human connection aspect (maybe I just interact with the least sexist? Possibly). Unrelated to my angst, but I found it interesting to find a john speaking about prostitution as an institution, rather than the way that his interactions with sex workers resulted in both parties feeling. Anyway. I digress.

So, I keep reading on in order to be able to really articulate how I feel about Bridget Crawford’s articulated wish that there were fewer punters (something which comes across as sex-worker negative to me) I come across these great attempts to other and create pity for sex workers, which certainly seems to conflate trafficked children with prostitutes.

Trafficked children often have histories similar to that of T.O.M. Research indicates that most prostitutes were sexually abused as girls, and they typically enter “the life” between the ages of 12 and 14. The majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, and one third have been threatened with death by pimps, who often use violence to keep them in line.

But the sex buyers in Farley’s study overlooked such coercion and showed little empathy for prostitutes’ experiences or their cumulative toll. Researchers and service providers consistently find high levels of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal ideation, and other psychological problems among prostitutes. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s in a back alley or on silk sheets, legal or illegal—all kinds of prostitution cause extreme emotional stress for the women involved,” Farley says.

Right. So now we’re focusing on how poor and abused us sex workers on, rather than doing anything to fight the social stigma (ie ‘feminists’ refusing to acknowledge our own choices or to help us celebrate the positives and reform the negatives, instead campaigning against our chosen profession), we are just telling you that no sane women would do this.


Farley is a leading proponent of the “abolitionist” view that prostitution is inherently harmful and should be eradicated, and her findings are likely to inflame an already contentious issue. “Modern-day prostitution is modern-day slavery,” says former ambassador Swanee Hunt, founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and cofounder of the Hunt Alternatives Fund, a sponsor of Farley’s study.

Sex worker abolitionist, clinical psychologist, and director of Prostitution Research and Education, a nonprofit organization that is a project of San Francisco Women’s Centers. Melissa Farley. You fuckin douchenozzle.
This irks me. Like, a lot. Why would a public and outspoken abolitionist be commissioned to do research on the attitudes of clients? Sure seems pretty feasible to me that someone who would say ignorant and patronising things about sex workers would probably really discourage punter involvement in research.