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The Forum > Article Comments > The forgotten victims of prostitution > Comments

The forgotten victims of prostitution : Comments

By Jehane Sharah, published 12/11/2008

There are victims of the trade of prostitution who rarely get a mention: the partners of the men who use them.

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On the other hand, I guess it also ought to be said that some women might prefer their partner to pay a prostitute than have any other sexual liasons external to a marriage. Sure there must still be some prostitutes out there who carry one or more STDs, but at the bottom line, and particularly down there in Canberra, the sex workers industry is quite heavily self regulated so as to prevent harm from STDs.

Think about it, who has most to lose from catching an STD, the prossie, or her client? For the client, it is the health of himself and potentially also wife, while for a prossie, her (or his) own health, and that of a partner, but also financial income.

Quite apart from the health issues and general issues of fidelity, anybody might be upset about their loved one using a prostitute, because it implies something about their nature. Prostitutes call their work "turning tricks" after all.

When prostitution was legitimised in the ACT, a friend from my teenage years went into that profession, and I asked if I could go with her to an interview at a brothel one day, to find out. Prostitutes are, on the whole, well worth talking with about their work.

Did you know, that when economies are booming, men pay less for sex? Whereas in recessions, downturns and depressions, men pay more? Why? How can it be? As horrible as the contemplation is, if any woman is afraid about her partners visits to brothels, her best course of action may well be to get on line and communicate with prostitutes. (down in Canberra there is a group called W.I.S.E. who are like a prossies union, but funded by the AIDS Action Council) Many prossies regard that counselling men is a considerable part of their work, and all of them know that they would not be getting money for sex if they were not able to keep him satisfied by being a good listener.
Posted by Curaezipirid, Wednesday, 12 November 2008 4:14:37 PM
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Curaezipirid – you weren’t paying close attention: “some women might prefer their partner to pay a prostitute that have any other sexual liasons…”. That’s the proverbial rock and a hard place, quite the choice for a dutiful wife.

“keep him satisfied by being a good listener”.

Marital problems solved. Just listen to him (and turn tricks). Great him at the door with a cold, beverage, in a tantalizing state of undress, and be prepared to lend an ear....why on earth didn’t I think of that.

Right ladies, now we know how to put the prostitutes out of business once and for all. Oh that’s right, marriage is just institutionalized prostitution anyway.

Prostitutes might have a thousand, wonderful attributes – hearts of gold etc etc. But for that one minor detail: they make a business out of destroying a union that has divine sanction.

I think the article is very good. Prostitutes have a fair amount of public sympathy now that they are entitled to run legitimate, tax-paying businesses. We are told often how they are just filling a public need, supply and demand style.

Focusing on the human cost, the emotions, and the struggles of those affected by infidelity, helps bring some perspective and balance to the debate.
Posted by katieO, Wednesday, 12 November 2008 4:51:06 PM
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I liked the article as well. It ignored the reported rising levels use of sex workers by women but my impression is that men still use them at much higher rates than women so that should not be a biggy.

I agree that the breach in trust that comes from cheating on a partner is horribly wrong. I suspect that except for those who slum it the disease risk is much lower than it might be for other forms of marital sexual unfaithfulness so while thats an issue it's probably a lesser real risk than other risks.

The author points out that lack of sex in relationships is not a significant factor in peoples choices to use prostitutes. I'm not privy to any material to contradict that. The following is pondering, not a contradiction of that claim and not an attempt to justify choices which I disagree with. It's about my stuggles to put some seemingly contradictory views together in my head.

I've not managed to integrate the viewpoints I valued from this article with other viewpoints I also value. The idea that individuals own their own bodies (my body my choice) is something thats important. Should that only apply for saying no or can it also involve saying yes. I don't get where it's valid for someone who insists on a monogamous relationship to withhold sex from their partner on a regular basis but at the same time I see the validity in having provisions in the law against rape in marriage.

I see that people who are seriously dissatisfied with a marriage that they happen to be in have the freedom to move on but also understand that it's not always that simple and that few of us are entirely rational about the choices we make.

Posted by R0bert, Wednesday, 12 November 2008 9:47:55 PM
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For a spouse the greatest betrayal is the fact that their partner slept with another person. I am not sure if it would be worse or better if it was with a prostitute.

If there are problems in a marriage would it not be better to seek a 'listener' in a marriage counsellor rather than a prostitute? This listening nonsense is a laying it on a bit thick in my book.

Nothing is really ever black and white of course but in reality we all make choices and we have to live with the consequences but the shame of it would be if an innocent party had to also endure those consequences - such as an unexpected STD.

There seems to be a predominance of high profile women standing by their men - the case the author points out and that of Hilary Clinton. It would be interesting for those women to share notes to see if it really makes any difference that one was a prostitute and the other a young intern.
Posted by pelican, Wednesday, 12 November 2008 10:23:03 PM
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This is a one-sided article. Both men and women cheat and they do it for the same reasons. Fact is though, women can get laid much more easily than men and that means not having to pay for the privilege.

Cheating by paying for a prostitute is not in the same league as having a quick fling or an affair, as women are more inclined to do. Affairs imply attachment and sharing and are often long-term, whereas fifteen minutes with a sex worker is just a physical thing. Another advantages of the sex worker is the requirement for protected sex, which reduces the likelihood of both STDs and pregnancy (false paternity claims are in the news).

I would very much prefer that a partner occasionally used the services of a sex worker than enter into a relationship, or series of relationships, behind my back. The consequences of illicit relationships can and very often do go beyond the (shock, horror) 'psychological impact' of finding out that a partner has been with a sex worker.

How interesting it is to be advised that “Prostitution behaviour in men is not natural. It is a learned activity." The same could be said about marriage and monogamy, or the inclination of some women to bed-hop, but so what?

I see this article as an extension of the same old, same old, gender wars and it doesn't help us understand or deal with the practical realities and challenges of marriage.
Posted by Cornflower, Thursday, 13 November 2008 4:14:34 AM
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Cornflower, I think you are splitting hairs. Sex outside the marriage is still sex outside the marriage (partnership, whatever). The fact that in most cases it is a secret is a good enough indication that its a problem (or will be one). If its perfectly ok, then there should be no reason to keep it a secret, at least from your partner.

An interesting focus of the article is the implication that only unfaithful married men use prostitutes. I would have assumed that there was a higher demand from single men (who may also be divorced, separated or widowed, no just youngsters). I do think that prostitution has its place for single men (or women for that matter), or even for attached men who dont keep it a secret from their partner.

The article picks up the tendency for women to look for shortcomings in other women, which is I think where the critisism of wives that stick by their philandering partners comes from. Women as a group still have a long way to go as far as being more supportive of each other goes. Any blame in this case needs to be put squarely at the foot of the men using the service - if it needs to be a secret, then chances are you shouldnt be doing it.
Posted by Country Gal, Thursday, 13 November 2008 11:29:34 AM
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