Dear john

Dear john,

You may not remember me but I remember you.

As part of a research project on prostitution more than a decade ago, I stood on the corner of two London, Ontario streets to see if you’d stop and try to buy sex from me. There was nothing in my demeanor or dress that invited you to stop. I was just standing there, dressed for a cold winter night in a puffy coat, snow pants, winter boots, hat and scarf. Yet, because you believe all women exist to fulfill your pornified fantasies, you pulled over.

You offered me money for oral sex. I was stunned — not stunned because of the offer, but because there, in the middle of the back seat of your car, was a child’s car seat. Like many johns, you were a father to a young child. You were also likely a husband to the mother of your child.

I imagined your wife at home. Maybe she’d just come home from work, making money to help you raise your child. Your first priority, though, was you. So instead of going home to be with your family or help the mother of your child, you sought out a woman to pay for sex. While your wife was likely at home preparing your dinner, waiting to share time with you, you were pulled over looking for oral sex.

I’ve met a lot of men like you — men who complain their wives won’t have sex with them or that they won’t give them the kind of abusive, violent, dispassionate sex men like you demand. You tell people your wife “has let herself go,” “is always tired,” “just wants to be with the kid,” “won’t perform oral sex.” You demean your wife in order to justify actions that cannot be justified.

Maybe your wife is at home cleaning, cooking, and raising your child in order to make your life more comfortable. Maybe there are money issues. Maybe she’s still on maternity leave, or maybe she decided her low-paying job didn’t make it worth paying for childcare. You both agree money is tight but why should that worry you? Why use money for diapers, formula, or food when you can buy human flesh with it — when you can satisfy yourself by exploiting a girl or woman because you believe it’s your right as a man?

You’re one of those guys who says he’d never pay to have sex with an underage girl or trafficked woman, but you have no interest in knowing the truth. Ignorance is bliss, right? Anyway, in your mind, it’s a turn on to imagine that she might be underage or that you can do what you want with her, consequence-free. Power and control supports your masculinity.

Paying is really the only way you feel in control. You’re the guy no woman wants to be intimate with. In truth, you hate women or you wouldn’t treat them the way you do. To those you exploit, you are a nobody — another loser with a wallet. You might think you’re a stud, but the women you pay to have sex with are disgusted by what you do and by the fact that you have to use financial coercion in order to convince anyone to be near you. To them you are an unpleasant passing moment, someone forced on them because they have no other choice.

Your child, the one who would have sat in that car seat a dozen years ago, is now about 12 or 13. I think about your child sometimes and wonder if she’s a girl. She’d be close to the age of some of the girls you’ve paid to fulfill your fantasies with — the girls you’ve debased. Imagine if it was your daughter.

It’s illegal Canada for men to pay women and girls for sex. So, my goal is to make you famous. I want to see newspapers across the country publish the names of men like you, the men who pay for sex. It’s already beginning in some Canadian cities. I wonder how you will explain to your wife, children, friends, family, and employer why you do what you do; why are you paying to have sex with young girls and women?

Imagine what it will be like to see your name appear in public after you’re arrested for buying sex.

And if that doesn’t scare you, try picturing a guy just like you doing what you love to do: paying to have sex with your daughter.

Megan Walker is Executive Director of the London Abused Women’s Centre.

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