Definitely the most disturbing thing I’ve read in a long time is an article just published by Newsweek, titled “The John Next Door,” reporting the results of a new study of men who purchase sexual services, including (but not limited to) prostitution, erotic massages, lap dances, phone sex, and pornography.
While the article details the living conditions of prostitutes and discusses the tragedy of human trafficking—which is more than enough to turn my stomach—it was this horribly stark picture of “sex buyers” that disturbed me the most:
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.
In their interviews, the sex buyers often voiced aggression toward women, and were nearly eight times as likely as non-buyers to say they would rape a woman if they could get away with it. Asked why he bought sex, one man said he liked “to beat women up.” Sex buyers, in the study, committed more crimes of every kind than non-buyers, and all the crimes associated with violence against women were committed by the johns.
I’ve written quite a bit on character and human weakness, but this is sheer depravity. Are these attitudes toward women are as common as these researchers claim? And if so, how do we combat these attitudes? Where do we start? How can we make sure the next generation of men does not grow up like this? At the end of the article, Ted Bunch, the cofounder of A Call to Men, a group that works to stop violence against women and girls, is quoted as blaming social conditioning, which is certainly a large part of it. But I have to think that this casual attitude toward complete dehumanization and extreme violence toward woman goes deeper than that—and that’s what I’m afraid of.