Thursday, August 4, 2011

Buying sex makes you a john, not a sugar daddy

We heard about national media coverage (on the Huffington Post and the Today Show) of websites that cater to older men who want to make “arrangements” to pay for sex with younger women. The stories have focused on college students who are turning to prostitution to pay down their loan debt.

What are the real implications of men using their money and power to exploit women? Although they use the euphemism “sugar daddy," let’s be clear. These men are johns. These sugar daddy websites are fueled by men who buy subscriptions and create a system that facilitates the selling of young women’s bodies.

CAASE’s study of 113 johns in Chicago showed that men purchase sex because they face very few barriers or consequences. It’s disturbing to think that some of these “sugar babies” are on the site out of desperation and, instead of proposing that we reach out to help them, the media is treating this as simply another side effect of the bad economy.

It’s unacceptable for our society to ever, ever be ok with a woman being pressured into prostitution. That seems to be the crux of the story—women with tremendous debt who feel they will be of more value to society if they could pay off their loans. As one woman interviewed in the HuffPost article said:

"I just wanted to get it over and done with as quickly as possible," recalls Taylor, forcing out a nervous smile. "I just wanted to get out of that situation as safely as possible, pay off my debt, and move on."

Let’s be clear, prostitution is dangerous. One study showed that the rates of violence were similar for women who were prostituted on the street as those in indoor venues. The average life expectancy for a woman who enters prostitution is seven years from the date she enters the trade.

It’s time to stand up against men who are fueling a system that exploits young women. End the demand for prostitution by asking law enforcement to hold “sugar daddies” accountable and call them what they are: men who are buying other human beings.

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