#Notalljohns: Notes from the hearings on Bill C-36

The hearings on Bill C-36, the federal government’s proposed prostitution law, continued today. You can watch all of the testimonies, which began on Monday, on CPAC.

Today’s hearings featured, among many others, john-advocate, Chris Atchison (begins at about 10:30), who began his testimony by stating that he is not an advocate “for any individual, group, organization, or moral position on the sex industry.” Atchison, in his own words, “stud[ies] and does research with adults who are involved in the purchase of sexual services.” To be clear, Atchison’s work focuses on destigmatizing johns and he advocates for their decriminalization. He is not a neutral party on the issue (not that I believe anyone should be or is neutral on this issue).

Regarding the question of whether “prostitution is inherently exploitative,” Atchison argued, essentially, that the “bad” johns don’t represent the majority as the majority of clients he’s surveyed “provide no indication that they threaten, force, coerce, deceive or abuse a position of power or authority over a sex worker.” He notes that a minority of “clients” do exhibit “exploitative” behaviour but emphasizes a number of times that most do not (#notalljohns). Atchison says that we are all wrong-wrong about there being a power imbalance between buyer and seller (an imbalance that favours “the client,” to be specific) because the johns he talked to said so. In fact, “they felt the service provider they engaged with had more control or power or that the control or power was equally distributed.”

Chris Atchison testifying in front of the committee The trouble with the way Atchison frames the discussion of exploitation and violence in the sex industry is that:

1) He individualizes the interactions — he doesn’t see the system of prostitution as a form of gendered oppression (or as a system at all, really). He prefers to see prostitution as simply a series of isolated, individual transactions.

2) Few johns who consider themselves to be “nice” or “good” johns are going to see a power imbalance. They already see themselves as victims of being underlaid, hence having to resort to paying for sex, and they consider the exchange of money for sex to be a fair trade — like seeing a barber or a physiotherapist. They are also patting themselves on the backs for having managed not to murder anyone in their johnning, so naturally they are going to tell someone like Atchison, whose research aims to prove johns are just nice, normal guys, that what they are doing is totes respectful and decent.

In any case, why we care what men who buy sex from vulnerable women think about women’s liberation or gender equality is beyond me because if they had any understanding or concern for women’s human rights and ending patriartchy they wouldn’t be buying sex from prostitutes. Do you know any feminist men who buy sex? Would you laugh in their faces if they told you they desired an end to male power and violence against women just after they’d gotten a bj from an Aboriginal woman on the Downtown Eastside? I would.

Atchison wants the discussion of exploitation and abuse to be about those other johns over there. But too bad! Because prostitution exists upon and because of a foundation of inequality that makes women into objects that exist for consumption and male pleasure. Some individual johns are more physically violent than others, sure. But we don’t know which ones those are until they become violent, as Trisha Baptie noted in her testimony, nor is physical violence the whole conversation. The fact that prostitutes experience higher rates of PTSD than war veterans do speaks to that.

Beyond that, there is a level of coercion involved every single time a man buys sex from a woman (regardless of what he says or feels or thinks) because she is not there willingly. She is there because she needs the money. You know what we call sex that is desired by one party but not the other? Guess. Yeah… You got it.

But the real question we are all asking is what about the men?! Atchison goes on to claim that “violence and victimization are not asymmetrical.”

“Many of the clients that I’ve spoken to over the years,” he says, “have also experienced violent and non-violent victimization themselves either at the hands of a sex worker or of an industry owner, manager, madam, or pimp.”

I bet you guys were just worrying about violence against women in prostitution, weren’t you. Misandry!

Atchison concludes by destroying all of our arguments with logic/truth bombs:

“The belief that demand is solely responsible for the existence of the sex industry ignores the fact that in many cases supply produces demand. It’s hypocritical and discriminatory, in a society where sex and sexuality are used liberally to sell all sorts of goods and services, to criminalize the purchase of direct contact sexual services while at the same time sanctioning the sale of such services.”

True that. And you know how feminists are always saying dumb things like “prostitution and pornography impact all women” and “prostitution makes women into objects to be bought and sold” and “see how objectification begets violence against women?” You know? How that happens? You know how Bill C-36 states right there at the beginning that “the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity” causes “social harm?” You know.

So yeah, I guess it would be hypocritical to criminalize the purchase of sex if we didn’t care about women’s lives, the global status of women, and addressing the larger problem of objectification. But we got you covered.

And regarding “supply” producing “demand” — what does this mean exactly? That prostitution is the fault of women because they exist? And are broke? And have various orifices within which men want to stick their dicks into for a cool $5-500? Cool victim-blaming, bro.

The hearings continue tomorrow. Hopefully with less sexist, individualistic dumbery.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • ozzie

    ”…the majority of clients he’s surveyed “provide no indication that they threaten, force, coerce, deceive or abuse a position of power or authority over a sex worker.”

    Someone please inform this halfwit that prostitution as an industry and institution IS the male abuse of power/authority over a woman: by definition, it’s existence would be completely impossible if society were not organized and structured around a brutal caste system with men at the top of the hierarchy and women at the bottom.

    • C.K. Egbert

      Lots of flaws in his studies: for one, is this self-report? Of course no one’s going to admit it, or even be aware that what they are doing is abusive (most men don’t think coercing a woman into sex, or having sex with her when she doesn’t want to, is rape). Second, what sort of definition of coercion, exploitation, and abuse that doesn’t consider unwanted sexual contact as abuse and financial incentives as coercion? It’s not like he can just decide that his terms are whatever he wants them to be.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Exactly.

      • Exactly. Self-reporting is deeply flawed in any study, but one of this magnitude of social implication would certainly (I’d think) require reporting from prostitutes as comparison/corroboration.

        Dude is a criminologist, not a sociologist or anthropologist. This makes me wonder if there is any study of socio-cultural construction at all in criminology. If not, I’d say it’s a irrelevant discipline.

        Oh, and Chris Atchison is a turd.

        • ozzie

          The thing is that self-reporting does have it’s place, but you’d have to be careful with the methodology in order to produce meaningful, useful data. For example, I think it was David Lisak that found that when studying males, asking ”Are you a rapist?” or ”Have you ever raped anyone?” lead to essentially no one answering in the affirmative. When the question was changed to ”Have you ever drugged/forced/coerced/threatened/etc anyone?”, approximately 6% of males admitted to it (with, I believe, an average of 5.6 rapes/ non-consensual events committed by each). I counted several accounts that describe rape within a few minutes of reading those john ”review sites”, whether they straight up use force or describe the woman as clearly being on drugs, clearly refusing, having an apparent mental handicap etc. If Atchison was any kind of proper researcher with any intellectual and academic integrity, the complete disconnect between reality and his ”data” would concern him. Unfortunately his fundamentally flawed ”science” will be held as gospel truth because a)people mistake callousness for rationality/logic/lack of bias, b) male academics are rarely questioned, c) the majority of the public isn’t in academia, isn’t educated on the issue at hand, and won’t even think to question his findings.

          • To be clear, I didn’t say it had no place; I said it was problematic, and I thought I had implied that any social scientist worth their salt knows this. Cordelia Fine delves deeply into problems with many social science study protocols (particularly where sex and gender are involved) in her book Delusions of Gender (It’s excellent).

            Your a), b), and c) are dead on.

          • bella_cose

            That’s a great book. One of my favorites. She does such an amazing job of exposing the flaws in much of the research purporting to prove sex differences are inherent.

            It’s unfortunate that so many people have such a dim view of statistics. I think with the tidal wave of research being done, and how the media misinterprets the findings, education in statistics would be even more important. Then shoddy studies like Atchison’s would be completely disregarded by anyone with half a brain.

      • ozzie

        Yes, exactly! That was my point too. His ”research” (I’m being generous) seems to be looking at whether johns subjectively perceive themselves to be coercing or abusing a position of power when in fact prostitution objectively IS the abuse of power by a dominant group. Whether johns perceive it as that is of little relevance.

        • andeväsen

          His research (more generosity he doesn’t need) shines a light on the magnitude of self-delusion that johns subject themselves to, to the extent of considering themselves ‘victimised’ by people they are paying to rape.

  • W O W !!!
    Thank you so much for dispelling the smokescreen with such focussed rage.

  • ozzie

    Also: ”“The belief that demand is solely responsible for the existence of the sex industry ignores the fact that in many cases supply produces demand.”

    Has this creature ever laid eyes on a business or economics textbook in his life?

  • Pingback: Bill C-36 | Safran Films()

  • Persephone

    So I’m legitimately curious, what do you suppose will happen if C-36 passes?

    I hate to be a downer, but it seems like it won’t do much. Buying sex is already illegal in many places, but doesn’t seem to slow down the process at all, so I just don’t get how passing another law will do anything to help, no matter how good it is.

    Maybe i’m just missing some detail because I’m sleep deprived, but it kind of depresses me to think that even if everything goes ideally (relatively speaking since the fact that Canada needs such a law is already less than ideal), unless there is a serious and comprehensive crackdown on pimps and johns nothing will actually get better.

    • I have the same doubts, Persephone. I’ve expressed this before, but judging by all the women in the pro- sex work lobby, I don’t expect the prostitution law to end the practice of selling sex. What we need to put on the table is 1) and end to poverty and 2) a whole bunch of feminist consciousness-raising. Women are literally going around thinking it’s okay to treat their own bodies as sex toys. We’re in a feminist blacklash period right now where sexiness is in and human rights for women are out. I advocate, among other things, that we implement a guaranteed minimum income and a women’s studies curriculum in high schools. In addition to laws criminalizing johns, we need women to have legitimate work choices and a personal belief that we are people, not objects. Of course you’ll find that people advocating for the Nordic model are also advocating for ending poverty and feminist consciousness-raising. That’s the plan.

      • ” a whole bunch of feminist consciousness-raising. Women are literally going around thinking it’s okay to treat their own bodies as sex toys. ”

        Yes! This is seriously needed. I encountered a lot of this kind of thinking at university. You might think this kind of confusion is normal for undergrads, high schoolers and twenty somethings who are just figuring things out but I saw it from most grad students and professors as well (this third wave, “sex positive” (basically towards men’s sex drives only) nonsense). When the fifty year olds are confused too and the judges and “wise” people start enshrining this “women are sex toys” view into law, people have NO guidance.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well criminalizing the purchase of sex has resulted in a decrease in Sweden and has changed social attitudes about prostitution, so that would be the hope. We want to work towards a world where we don’t see it as ‘ok’ to abuse and exploit women and to buy sex. This would be a start (I hope).

      • epiong

        Apparently in Sweden, it took a few years for the law to start being effective. The biggest issue was police retraining. Once police were more aware of the intent and thinking behind the law, arrests increased and then demand, subsequently decreased. I think this will be a major issue here too. The twenty million dollars for exit support is also typical of a government that doesn’t actually give a shit about women generally and especially not, “ick”,prostitutes. I really hope these two issues are addressed because then this bill may actually have a chance of doing what is intended – change men’s sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

    • Yumi

      You’re probably not asking me, but I don’t think anyone reasonable expects the bill to fix everything immediately. It’s just one small step, so to speak. And look how it’s already like pulling teeth and sex industry advocates are digging in their heels to protect their interests. Would they do that if this bill will really change absolutely nothing?

      Where are these “many places” where buying sex is illegal? Sweden, Norway, and Iceland? Because buying sex in and of itself sure is currently legal in most other places I know of, even if those places have other laws on the books regarding prostitution, in practice they are used to prosecute the women, not so much the buyers. Which is all backwards and why it needs to change.

      It is true enough that how this will be enforced will be key.

  • Melissa Farley’s study of johns is much more pertinent. Can you get it into the hearings?

  • Meghan, I imagine this also strikes you as utterly grotesque? Like inviting the “friendly” head of the local white supremacist group to testify about how innocuous they are, at a commission of inquiry about racist crimes?

    This creep has outed himself not only as a slimy prick for whom women are nothing but things to be rented for his pleasure, but as an utter loser.

    • andeväsen

      This is like a hearing in the antebellum period inviting the friendly professor of social studies at the local university to testify how the vast majority of slave-owners actually seek friendship and long-term committment from their slave-service providers, very few report enacting violence on slave-service providers, and some experience violence and victimisation from them.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Oh I bet there were plenty of nice slave-owners who didn’t abuse their slaves! I bet if you asked them they would have told you so.

      • That was very much the pro-slavery discourse of the day. Obviously not clothed in late 20th-early21st century “pomo” jargon, but in the “benevolence” of the mighty and “Christian duty” typical of early Victorian language. And contrasted with the dark Satanic mills of the northern US or Britain. Pro-slavery ideologists portrayed the master of providing for the slaves even if they were old or ill (doubt many were either for long) as opposed to the mine or mill owner who would cast the wage-worker aside to penury.

        Utter bullshit of course, but it is easier to see through the ideological smokescreens of over 150 years ago than contemporary ones. And of course many slaveowners were terrified of the slaves, simply because there were so many more of them and they knew full well that they were treating their slaves as subhumans.

        • andeväsen

          This also has echoes of the ‘black South Africans were better off in apartheid’ rhetoric being put forth by some in South Africa today.

          Oppressors have this great way of rationalising their cruelties.

  • Derrington

    I think this man is such a psycho enabler because he is a fellow psycho towards women and children which is why he cant spot the wood for the trees because he is part of the woods. Prostitution is the right to buy another person and treat them as if they have no rights of their own. Its buying the others person’s freedom to say no – and inheritantly abusive since it contains the right to abuse. It is a part of slavery where you pay the pimp to abuse the woman or child, not part of free industry where the workers have a right to be treated humanely, to organise themselves and refuse to do anything that requires being abused as part of the job.

  • Feminist research proves that majority of prostituted women questioned want to leave mens’ pimp industry which negates this male pimp industry advocate’s claims that ‘supply produces demand.’

    Does this mean slavery happened because innumerable non-white women and men woke up one day and said ‘hey we are all going to become white mens’ slaves because our decision produces the said white male demand!’

    Methinks mens’ pimp industry advocate Chris Atchison is desperately attempting to justify male pseudo sex right to females of all ages by saying anything but the truth.

    Some facts for Atchson’s edification but of course he will never read this because what men say is always the supposed definitive truth!

    http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/Prostitution%20Quick%20Facts%2012-21-12.pdf

  • Missfit

    These johns’ voices, as reported by Atchison, sound like MRAs only wanting to make a case for themselves. MRAs want us to believe that women are treated as equals in society (perceived inequality are explained by individual quality or lack of) and even that it is indeed men who are oppressed. They do this because they do not want to acknowledge male privilege because they don’t want the possibility of it being challenged (if we deny it exists, if it has no name, it can’t be challenged). When your argument about nature/God’s plans on women subjugation does not hold anymore, try denial then. This is the same thing these johns do when they say that prostituted women have equal or more power and control over them. Their goal is the same – upholding male privilege, at all costs, even at the cost of reality.

    These johns/MRAs may feel they are victimized or oppressed, but their feelings are always based on women’s lack of submission towards them. They feel oppressed when a woman says no to them. They feel they’re being wronged when their desires are not put first. When johns pay a woman to service them, they momentarily feel everything is in its right place, and obviously they don’t see anything wrong with this. Of course there will be some men who will take that power (which should not be named) a bit too far, there always are, but that does not bother them because they don’t take it that far, they are okay, they are the good ones. As long as their conscience is okay (and they will make sure it is), they don’t care about what prostitutes and women endure.

    Also tired of men who think that paying someone to do what they want is an equal transaction. Throwing money at someone is very easy. But we always hear men using the argument that the act of taking money out of their pockets justify the act of women throwing their whole body/self servicing them, no matter the context. This has never been an equal arrangement in terms of personal investment. Men, women are not commodities for you to buy.

  • bella_cose

    Surveys are inherently biased instruments of data collection. They aren’t entirely useless in all cases, but one has to to be very careful with analysis, and drawing conclusions from them. I would guess he’s entirely aware of this, and is exploiting the bias of his sample, and counting on no one being the wiser, and calling him out on it.

    • bella_cose

      This reply is a response to C.K. Egbert’s comment, in case that’s not clear.

    • C.K. Egbert

      So true. If he was REALLY interested in talking about whether johns were coercive, abusive, or exploitative, he wouldn’t be talking to the johns–he’d be asking the women who have been prostituted and analyzing what actually happens in these encounters. But that would mean that we actually listen to the victims of abuse rather than the perpetrators.

  • ozzie

    One last thing : ”“Many of the clients that I’ve spoken to over the years,” he says, “have also experienced violent and non-violent victimization themselves either at the hands of a sex worker or of an industry owner, manager, madam, or pimp.”
    How come feminists are accused of causing ”stigma” against sex workers when we point out factual, relevant, statistically supported information about the factors and existing power structures that manipulate ”choice” but this creep can try to paint them as unhinged violent criminals that attack their innocent clientele with absolutely no backlash?

    • Yumi

      Johns count “not getting their money’s worth” as victimization (there sure as hell is a lot of whinging about this type of problem on escort review sites). Not as good looking as advertised? The john feels victimized! Wasn’t enthusiastic enough or said no to performing any sex acts? How dare she? The john feels victimized! I’m playing these guys the world’s smallest violin.

      • ozzie

        Exactly. I read that laughable sentence about johns claiming they experience ”violent and non-violent” victimization and was reminded of Lundy Bancroft’s work on domestic abusers where reversals and manipulations like these are a hallmark of their psychology.

        • Derrington

          This response is very similar to pedophiles response that they are the real victims when they assault children … and how rapists of both women and children are portrayed in pornography storylines, that they as the males have been lured by children or women into having violent sex which the man didn’t want but the woman or child did and then pretended they didn’t. Abusive media storylines is at the heart of this fundamental schism in how men view their own behaviour and learned helplessness. Am fed up with rapists being allowed to play the gender card.

          • Missfit

            ‘The most enduring sexual truth in pornography—widely articulated by men to the utter bewilderment of women throughout the ages—is that sexual violence is desired by the normal female, needed by her, suggested or demanded by her. She—perpetually coy or repressed—denies the truth that pornography reveals. It is either/or. Either the truth is in the pornography or she tells the truth. But men are the tellers of truth and men are the creators of and believers in pornography. She is silenced altogether— she is not a voice in the cultural dialogue, except as an annoying or exceptional whisper—and when she speaks, she lies. She hides and denies what pornography reveals and affirms: that she wants it, they all do.’

            -Andrea Dworkin

    • “One last thing : ”“Many of the clients that I’ve spoken to over the years,” he says, “have also experienced violent and non-violent victimization themselves either at the hands of a sex worker …”
      How come feminists are accused of causing ”stigma” against sex workers when we point out factual, relevant, statistically supported information about the factors and existing power structures that manipulate ”choice” but this creep can try to paint them as unhinged violent criminals that attack their innocent clientele with absolutely no backlash?”

      Excellent question. Seriously though I think that people would see through this man a bit. Bringing an MRA to argue for their side in my opinion so likely to sabotage the decriminalization argument. At least the johns/invisible men are becoming visible.

      • Leo

        It really does remind me of MRAs. So many of them will tell me ‘oh, my girlfriend abused ME’. On further questioning, it tends to become obvious it was the other way around. I’m never quite sure how to respond to that one. Straight up tell them I know they’re lying? They’d just whine about men never being believed (which is untrue: http://kareningalasmith.com/2013/04/29/this-thing-about-male-victims/).

        Reversals like that are an absolutely typical abusive pattern, indeed.

      • ozzie

        When I first heard an argument for john’s rights, it was a year or two ago from one of the most violent and virulently misogynistic confirmed MRAs talking about how prostituted children exploit a pedophile’s illness and the fact that they accept payment indicates that they understand the nature of the transaction and therefore consent (it was disgusting just typing that, but I’m not exaggerating–if I find the post I’m talking about, I’ll post the link). It’s pretty shocking to see that this exact same rhetoric (ie ”youth sex workers” and ”victimised johns”) is being employed by supposed liberals and progressives in the name of feminism and sex workers’ rights. Like, the arguments of a deeply conservative hate movement and ”feminism” have completely fused to the point where they are 100% indistinguishable.

        ” Seriously though I think that people would see through this man a bit.”
        Men who defend prostitution will not change their position in light of evidence that it is a violent, male supremacist institution–they support it precisely because they recognize it as such. My only hope is that the women new to the argument, or the well-meaning women who were fooled into believing empowerment and harm reduction are possible in this system will begin to see the truth.

        • MLM

          “When I first heard an argument for john’s rights, it was a year or two ago from one of the most violent and virulently misogynistic confirmed MRAs talking about how prostituted children exploit a pedophile’s illness and the fact that they accept payment indicates that they understand the nature of the transaction and therefore consent”

          ozzie, do you mean Tom Martin?

          “The child prostitutes say they’re not victims.

          And the fact they take money off a punter for sex, says it’s not really rape.

          Pimps are not controllers, they are in truth merely agents for the prostitute, so don’t blame them exclusively either.”

          http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/07/16/tom-martin-uk-mra-child-prostitutes-should-be-prosecuted-for-preying-on-pedophiles/

          (The “Men’s Human Rights Movement”, eh? I wonder if Tom is also a member of Amnesty International…)

          “Like, the arguments of a deeply conservative hate movement and ”feminism” have completely fused to the point where they are 100% indistinguishable.”

          There was recently a debate between Paul Elam and a young guy called Matt Binder who trounced Elam within minutes when he quoted another MRA (Stefan Molyneux who was apparently a speaker at their Detroit conference) without naming him, within the context of a discussion about Elliot Rodgers. And Elam – thinking it was something Rodgers said in his manifesto – basically admitted it was psychopathic thing to say.

          It was a great “gotcha” moment, and a powerfully simple way of making a point on Binder’s part. But I’m pretty sure the same thing could be done by posing unattributed quotes from MRAS within the context of a discussion about “sexwork” to so called liberals and “progressives” as well.

          • ozzie

            Yes, that’s the piece I was referring to! Thank you, MLM.

            ”But I’m pretty sure the same thing could be done by posing unattributed quotes from MRAS within the context of a discussion about “sexwork” to so called liberals and “progressives” as well.”

            If we had to play a round of Guess Who Said It with vicious MRAs vs ”feminist sex worker advocate” quotes, I would fail miserably. I don’t even understand why MRAs and liberal feminists pretend to argue when in fact they agree on like, 8/10 issues.

          • huha

            There are lawyers seriously arguing about this in Germany and Belgium. They think “child sex work” is a totally valid profession.

            “I don’t even understand why MRAs and liberal feminists pretend to argue when in fact they agree on like, 8/10 issues.”
            This is so true. Ironically, whtm is on the libfem side (or most of the commenters there at least)

        • “It’s pretty shocking to see that this exact same rhetoric (ie ”youth sex workers” and ”victimized johns”) is being employed by supposed liberals and progressives in the name of feminism and sex workers’ rights. Like, the arguments of a deeply conservative hate movement and ”feminism” have completely fused to the point where they are 100% indistinguishable.”

          This reminds me. I was googling some feminist topic one day and I came upon a reddit link (reddit is 75% male and notoriously sexist and misogynist in general, think of a giant frat party). In the middle of this discussion with everyone chiming in about how awful feminism is, one guy is telling everyone, “You just have to look for the feminists that call themselves sex positive. Those ones are OK.” Lol I had to laugh. I thought that was so telling. What a compliment, when misogynists are seeking you out because they notice you fit right into their system of women hating and don’t cause any disruption at all.

  • andeväsen

    The study design for his research fails to address confirmation bias, recall bias, response bias, or social desirability bias. Any undergraduate knows not to generalise the biased results of a self-selected sample to the wider population, yet this guy is standing up on a national forum and doing just that.

    And how sorry is the state of academia today when this guy is a professor, supervising and grading the next generation of social scientists.

    • “And how sorry is the state of academia today when this guy is a professor, supervising and grading the next generation of social scientists.”

      Absolutely! It’s the blind leading the blind.

  • Anonomega

    “And regarding “supply” producing “demand” — what does this mean exactly? That prostitution is the fault of women because they exist? And are broke? And have various orifices within which men want to stick their dicks into for a cool $5-500? Cool victim-blaming, bro.”

    Yes its all the johns fault and we can never consider that demand is produced by supply.

    Because all prostitution happens because people who want sex walk to womens homeless shelters and rehab centers where they know women are destitute and desperate, dangle money in front of their face and say “I know you want this, whatta you gonna do for me”. The back pages are littered with advertisements by potential Johns saying. “Horny man with more money then you seeks to exercise his economic coercion. call for rates. Incalls only”.

    Oh wait that doesnt happen.

    I’m just saying that he has a point about supply producing demand. By and large its the women who set forth the deal. It is the prostiutes themselves who are the instigators, and they at least put up a facade that they are free agents making a choice.

    • andeväsen

      You and Atchison misunderstand. Demand for prostitution is a particular concept within the framework of the Nordic model, and this model aims to end prostitution.

      Atchison is trying to introduce the concept of ‘supply’ as a counterpoint, but it is not relevant, because his model, or his paradigm, is not about ending prostitution. This is not a secret – his study reports are all available online.

      From the Nordic model which aims to end prostitution: without demand for prostitution, prostitution would end.

      Now Atchison does not want to end prostitution, but let’s pretend he does. If you want to introduce ‘supply’ to this equation: without demand for prostitution, whether or not there was ‘supply’, prostitution would end.

      Conversely if you want to substitute ‘supply’ in the equation: without ‘supply’ for prostitution, if there was continued demand, prostitution would continue.

      Atchison asserting that people believe that demand is “solely responsible for the existence” of prostitution, is a misrepresentation of the concept of demand in the Nordic model.

      If people are unwilling to pay to rape, or “be sexually served by”, another, then prostitution would end. That Atchison appears to have trouble grasping this, is a testament to his PhD certificate not being worth the paper it is printed on.

    • bella_cose

      First, the supply part of the equation, the women who are real live human beings, are not turning to prostitution because it’s super fun and empowering, and because they love having pathetic men use their orifices for sexual pleasure. Most women in prostitution are there because of economic necessity. The vast majority of women, globally, do not have equal access to the wealth and resources that men have. So, the supply part of the equation is all about men barring women from having economic parity. Then men exploit the fact that women have less access to wealth, so that they can create the supply for their demand to sexually abuse women. Funny how that works, huh?

      • Anonomega

        Except most johns, I would assume, are not directly involved in “barring women from having economic parity”. You are overestimating how johns are somehow instigators and initiators of prostitution.

        The point of that post was not even to defend prostitution so much as to point out the fact that Atchison’s comment about supply creating demand cannot be totally dismissed. He pointed out a reality that the institution of prostitution may be a wee bit more complicated than the evuul jahns masterminding the entire industry with their willingness to pay for sex.

        Transactional relationships are started by, and usually run by, the person who says “I have something you want/need, you have something I want/need. lets make a deal.” Overwhemingly, it is sex workers who are in that role.

        • andeväsen

          Back your statements up. Most worldwide surveys of prostitution reveal the exact opposite. Most worldwide surveys of prostitution – including Atchison’s own – support the assertion that the driving force behind prostitution are ‘clients’ and not women themselves.

          Most prostituted women surveyed want to leave prostitution. Most ‘clients’ when surveyed show little or no desire to stop being ‘clients’.

          Atchison’s own study found no evidence of ‘clients’ wanting to stop. Interestingly Atchison’s study did not collect the views of prostituted women themselves, so his remarks about the ‘supply’ side of prostitution were even more irrelevant in the context of expert testimony, than was the rest of his testimony.

          Demand for prostitution perpetuates prostitution. Whether or not prostituted women want to leave – and most do – prostitution continues because ‘clients’ will continue to pay to rape.

        • ozzie

          Are you actually some abolitionists’ fake account designed to make the pro prostitution lobby look even more irrational and completely divorced from reality? Because I’ve never seen a person be more wrong on as many things as you.

          ”Except most johns, I would assume, are not directly involved in “barring women from having economic parity”.”
          Except yes, they are. Men as a class oppress women as a class–economic subjugation being a major tool of sustaining this oppression. Individuals occupying the social category ”male” directly, materially benefit from women’s exploitation: being barred from wealth, employment prospects, education, property, literacy, and opportunity keeps a pool of women either relegated to the sex class, or to domestic servitude, or to baby incubator status, or to ‘pink-collar ghettos’ or to inhumane labouring under capitalism.

          ”…Atchison’s comment about supply creating demand cannot be totally dismissed.”
          WHAT YOU TWO ARE SAYING IS IMPOSSIBLE. PROSTITUTION COULD NOT POSSIBLY EXIST AS THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BEHEMOTH INDUSTRY IT CURRENTLY IS IF DEMAND WAS ZERO. THIS SITUATION IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY. IT VIOLATES ALL LAWS OF ECONOMICS. It’s like saying yeah, the earth revolves around the sun, but don’t completely dismiss the idea that the sun could revolve around the earth. YES, WE CAN AND SHOULD DISMISS THIS.

      • “The vast majority of women, globally, do not have equal access to the wealth and resources that men have. So, the supply part of the equation is all about men barring women from having economic parity. Then men exploit the fact that women have less access to wealth, so that they can create the supply for their demand to sexually abuse women.”

        There you have it. And try to bring the first/foundational point to the table in any discussion of prostitution and you have a monstrous fight on your hands. That’s the twisted thing about this; the Cons would croak before they’d table such a concept. It’s an analysis that, by logic, should be coming from the left, and yet we find the Libs (who have no actual ideology) towing the capitalist line when it comes to easy access to women’s sexual servitude. It boggles the mind.

        • That is precisely the problem. The Conservatives, who are no longer even “Progressive Conservatives” like Joe Clark or Flora MacDonald (who went on to do serious work on global social and humanitarian issues in her retirement), are ontologically incapable of committing the funding to income support and training for women or attacking complicit business networks. Not to mention their repugnant stance with respect to Indigenous issues and in particular Indigenous women’s issues, with their defunding of Sisters in Spirit, and other initiatives.

          Remember that the roots of the current incarnation of the Cons lie with those who hold “Nordic social-democracies” in contempt, when it is impossible to tackle this issue without serious support to social issues and tackling the endemic poverty and violence against women, as we called for here in Québec with the Bread and Roses march.

          And the more centrist capitalist party, the Liberals, are indeed tending to toe the commodification line, while the NDP seem deeply divided on the issue.

      • “Then men exploit the fact that women have less access to wealth, so that they can create the supply for their demand to sexually abuse women. Funny how that works, huh?”

        Exactly! Keep the women and children in poverty so that women will be forced to sell their bodies to feed their kids.

        “Hey look, there are so many mothers out there selling sex, look at the incredible supply! We might as well go and partake! All these MILFs are choosing to sell sex to us. They love being whores. It’s the supply creating the demand.”

        This is not even taking into account things like child sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse and women who are living their lives in a state of dissociation and don’t even know that there is something wrong with the way they relate to sex and to get help/treatment for it.. No no. “These young women love being whores.”

    • Lo

      ” that demand is produced by supply.”
      Prostitution is a patriarchal intitution, in other words men create the demand.
      No demand, no institution, no supply.

      • “Prostitution is a patriarchal institution, in other words men create the demand.
        No demand, no institution, no supply.”

        Patriarchy with its accompanying sexual abuse of young girls creates the supply of dissociated women and women who can dissociate during sex and it creates the demand of men who don’t care whether they are raping mothers trying to feed their kids or severely traumatized women.

        I agree with Catherine MacKinnon when she says, sexually abused children and the women in prostitution are not two groups, they are the same group.

    • Meh

      Men fuel the demand for prostituted women and children. You may feel like a victim, but you aren’t one.

      Also, your argument about choice is too simple.

    • “Because all prostitution happens because people who want sex walk to womens homeless shelters and rehab centers where they know women are destitute and desperate, dangle money in front of their face and say “I know you want this, whatta you gonna do for me”.

      Yes. Look at this:

      I’m not sure if anyone saw this but this hit me on a gut level in a way that prostitution needs to start hitting people on a gut level. A man offered a few homeless guys on Granville, $50 to kick them in the balls. The homeless guy accepted the money and was kicked in the balls. But all praise capitalism, it’s all fine, he got PAID MONEY! Somehow people could still see that this was abuse and sadistic, probably because it was a man being abused and it didn’t involve sex.

      http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/02/10/Granville-Street-Panhandler-Abuse/

      • andeväsen

        Sure but, some men are born wanting to be kicked in the balls. Beware you don’t deny him his agency by suggesting he is a ‘victim’. Atchison’s hypothesis in this scenario would be that most of this man’s clients are polite and courteous prior to and after kicking him in the balls and ought not to be labelled ‘abusers’. By criminalising the act of offering money to kick men in the balls you will only be driving it underground.

      • ozzie

        This reminds me of the ”Fitch the Homeless” campaign calling for the donation of Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to the homeless that sparked outrage because even though the outcome was overall good, the intentions were to mock the A&F brand and its exclusive, bougie image. It was called tone-deaf, sociopathic, backwards activism and several major news outlets like vice, the New Yorker, and the Wire joined in the sanctimonious indignation. When a group also containing men experiences humiliation on top of brutal class oppression, people have no trouble seeing it as unambiguously and 100% morally wrong, corrupt, and intolerable. When humiliation is heaped on a poor, disenfranchised group comprised predominantly of women (such as in prostitution), these same people start handwringing about ”empowerment” and “agency”.

        • That’s a good point. I believe that it would be good to bring these things up side by side and compare. People FEEL that revulsion over a homeless man being kicked in the balls for money, they need to be made to FEEL that way about women being raped in prostitution.

          Another aspect of this (and btw I think Meghan you should write an article on this) is that a recent study found 80% of homeless men have suffered traumatic brain injury before becoming homeless, so really the vast majority of homelessness is caused by physical injury. These are sick men getting beat up for $50. It’s like going into a hospital and paying weak cancer patients $50 to kick them in the balls. How do we feel about that ? And while at it consider the fact that 80% of homeless men are ill with brain injury, let’s also consider the fact that over 90% of prostituted women are survivors of child sexual abuse which is the same, traumatic brain injury. It’s the same thing. People are paying weakened sick men with traumatic brain injury to kick them in the balls and people are paying women sickened with traumatic brain injury to rape them. Let’s just legalize the abuse of our citizens with traumatic brain injury and call it agency. This is what we do with our sick in Canada, we feed them to the sadists as long as the sadists pay them money. Hey look the government could even tax the money. Think of how much money the government could be making off of our sick people ? Furthermore we can be like Bangkok and Amsterdam, wink wink, and tourists can come and abuse our sick people for money. How do we feel about that ?

          • “It’s like going into a hospital and paying weak cancer patients $50 to kick them in the balls”

            I should add or like paying women with breast cancer $50 to rape them.

      • Anonomega

        The point is though, is that prostitution is not the exact same thing, as the johns are not the ones initiatingthe transaction in this manner.

        • bella_cose

          No. The point is that you need to stop making excuses for assholes. Johns are not only complicit in creating the problem, and then benefiting from it, but they’re also lousy human beings, and they don’t deserve anyone’s sympathy. Not yours, not mine, and certainly not that of any person they are exploiting. No exceptions.

    • Missfit

      Oh wait, that does happen. Pimps do walk to rehab and youth centers in order to lure troubled and desperate young women to work as prostitutes. It is a reported fact that during the Montreal Grand Prix, the pimps are particularly active in such recruiting because of higher demand.

      • Anonomega

        Ok, but your talking about pimps, not johns.

        • ozzie

          Actually, yes, johns too. Read this post written by an ex-physicist turned photographer and activist for the poor/addicted/abused: http://arnade.tumblr.com/post/74671021328/on-men. Choice quote: ”Three years working in Hunts Point with addicts. Three years listening to countless women recount sexual abuse by male relatives. Three years of watching men prowl the streets looking to pay women to suck their dicks. Sometimes getting their dick sucked isn’t enough and they beat the women and rape them. Just for kicks I guess.”
          Not to mention that men frequenting destitute areas hunting for desperate women isn’t news. What do you think sex tourism is? Or truck-stop and alleyway prostitution?

      • ozzie

        A high percentage of runaway or homeless underage girls will be recruited within the first 48 hours. I’ve also heard from a social workers of how pimps will literally stand outside centres for women with mental/cognitive disabilities–which explains that horrifying Invisible Men review about the woman with a handicap from the last post.

        • andeväsen

          Down the road from us is an old style mental health hospital which was operational until recently. Johns would cruise the gates and fence all around the compound to offer sectioned women money to rape them. It was a regular “nuisance” that centre staff had to deal with.

          • ozzie

            That’s horrifying. This would probably be a legally protected method of recruitment under the legalization model that seeks to legitimize pimps as business men.

          • Leo

            That’s indeed horrifying. Sexual abuse and assault is a causal factor in psychiatric issues in the first place. And of course patients are at risk even within the mental health system itself, from professionals, and other patients.
            http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3758227.htm

            When I lived near an area where prostituted women were walking the streets, a man approached me, when I was crossing to the Uni’s 24-hour library late (even now, at 26, I get mistaken for 16 very often, and I would’ve been about 20 then, so it seems likely he thought I was under 16). He asked if I’d run away from home, I got a bad vibe but thought maybe he was trying to help…except he got very insistent, not leaving me alone, and was refusing to listen to me saying I was a student. I don’t know his intentions for sure, but I am sure whatever they were, they were not good.

            How anyone can talk about ‘choice’ when pimps and Johns are so obviously predatory…it’s just sociopathic. I’d rather not blame women, but LibFems defending ‘the sex trade’ are being completely anti-feminist. I’m done giving them an out by referring to them as clueless, it’s utterly wilful, choosing to ignore the evidence.

          • Derrington

            I think libfems are trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. They cant have it both ways and they cant support caliling women by hate speech in sex media and say they are sex positive. Insulting women for having sex when the men arent abused and insulted is not equality or feminism. We had guys outside our school that offered girls drugs to smoke. Once they had ‘befriended’ you, they put you on the streets. Ignoring child abuse when its done by men is not feminism. I think libfems are feminists like im a pink elephant, …

  • stephen m

    Now that this thread is pretty much played out except for the hard core. I am wondering if one of the pro-legalization of prostitution supporters could take me through the Der Spiegel article and explain to me why legalization is a great model for Canada to endorse. Please tell me how this is a wonderful new life for these prostitutes. Please keep in mind we cannot not be immune from national and international trafficking (as New Zealand discovered).

    “How Legalizing Prostitution Has Failed

    When Germany legalized prostitution just over a decade ago, politicians hoped that it would create better conditions and more autonomy for sex workers. It hasn’t worked out that way, though. Exploitation and human trafficking remain significant problems. By SPIEGEL Staff ”

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/human-trafficking-persists-despite-legality-of-prostitution-in-germany-a-902533-druck.html

    • Seconded! Maybe someone can take us through this article indeed. Not to mention the fact that with legalization and trafficking the price these women are getting is driven down, so I don’t see how that squares with the capitalist, “Look how nice it is for these women to have so much money,” approach either. I know it seems kind of gross to bring up women being paid however much money for their abuse but I’m pointing out the inconsistencies in the prostitution advocates argument.

      • bella_cose

        I think it’s interesting that there’s an argument that legalizing prostitution gives women autonomy, so they can negotiate better wages and working conditions. I haven’t read anywhere that this is the case. It seems like prostitution is a great way for brothel owners to make lots of money, and for the prostitutes themselves to remain in poverty, dehumanized, and powerless. Legalization hasn’t helped with the stigma these women face, being spoken of like commodities. If anything, it has removed any stigma attached to speaking of prostitutes as products to be used for sex. This is not the way to teach men to respect all women, and to treat them like human beings.

  • Pingback: Victoria Sexual Assault Centre takes official position in favour of full decriminalization of prostitution | Feminist Current()

  • Margaret McCarroll

    i am celebrating today as Bill C-36 passed the House of Commons late yesterday – i would like to thank Meghan Murphy for covering this important issue and galvanizing many of us to support this initiative – we owe you a lot Meghan!!

    • Meghan Murphy

      WOO!Thanks to all the hard work on the parts of feminists across Canada!