Meet the ‘nice,’ ‘normal’ johns of Canada

The Invisible Men project Canada just launched a tumblr compiling comments from boards where men go to discuss, recommend, and review the women they buy sex from. The “reviews” are truly horrifying (though no more than you might expect from men who don’t believe women are actual human beings, I suppose) so be warned that they are very graphic and disturbing to read.

Last month an article by Max Paris for the CBC asked if “the prostitution law debate [should] hear from johns?” The article cites the work of Chris Atchison, a sociologist from the University of Victoria whose project, “John’s Voice” sought to challenge “stereotypes” around the men who buy sex and why. Apparently the john advocates don’t like that, in introducing Bill C-36, Peter MacKay referred to men who buy sex as “perverts.” Paris writes that Atchison “prefers the term ‘johns'” and says that “what’s missing from the new law is a basic understanding of how many johns there are in Canada and what motivates them to buy sex.”

The “poor johns” approach seems to be a popular one these days — just last week we read about how johns would become Canada’s new sexual minority (or “fags,” as Alice Klein put it) if Bill C-36 passes and in recent years we’ve seen an upswing in films and discourse that attempt to justify the existence of a sex industry as something needed in order to fill the sexual “needs” of disabled or socially awkward men. What Atchison, Klein, and other groups who advocate for the normalization of the sex industry and the decriminalization of johns want is for us to see men who buy sex either as just “regular,” “nice,” “normal” guys or as sad, lonely, disabled men who can’t get laid (which, we are expected to believe is a life-ruiner) without paying for sex. (Somehow the experience of loneliness and/or social anxiety trumps the human rights and well-being of women, but whatevs, it’s dicks, you guys.)

But oh hey! Luckily we no longer have to speculate about what men who buy sex think about the women they pay for. It’s all laid out for us on the internet and gosh these guys are nice.

I can’t bring myself to quote from most of the “reviews” because they are too upsetting, but here are some of the least graphic ones, as examples (TW):

“She is black, no [sic] Metis, no blue eyes, pictures are either very well don or it is not her, hard to tell. At some point I realized that she is a bit ‘slow,’ that made me feel like a jackass, serviced myself quickly and left, I felt so ashamed that I think that I will need some time to recover, I mean having sex with a handicap is a new low, right down there with having sex with a pregnant crack whore, lol. But that’s what happens when you don’t take your time hunting and putting the effort, instead of getting a fox, you get a rat.”

“After a while I unloaded in her mouth and she turned and spitted everything on the bed. Now I understand why the bed had a lot of sperm on it when I came in. I washed and came back for round two. I was trying to hug her and she was watching TV behind my back, wtf? I was pissed! So I took my dick and shoved it into her mouth until she gagged. Put on a rubber and started drilling her hard. I came and got the fuck out of there. During all the time of the session it showed that she hates what she is doing; she seemed very distant and thinking about other things (plus she was high).”

These men are as entitled as it gets — they believe they are owed a perfect fantasy — a woman who looks like a porn star or a model and who actually enjoys fucking nasty ass strangers day in and day out. The men also enjoy punishing and hurting the women — meaning they get off on the power imbalance — that’s part of the experience.

These are the “regular” johns, folks. We’ve heard from them. Still think they deserve access to women? Think they deserve respect? That they deserve to be decriminalized? That they don’t deserve to be “shamed?”

Contrasted with these actual comments from actual johns, the efforts of folks like Atchison and John Lowman (a criminologist at Simon Fraser University — also quoted in Paris’ article — who worked with Atchison on “John’s Voice”) to destigmatize the purchase of sex and of folks like Klein who want to paint them as victims seem all the more appalling.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.