Nope, I'm Really Not Gonna Let Him Live This Down
I’d never really inquired very far into why our clients are colloquially known as “Johns”. I’d always assumed it was because of the old joke about a couple checking into a motel as the “Smiths” or something or other intended to sort of nod and wink at the hush hush nature of sex work or the idea that clients are all pretty much the same.
Turns out there’s an element of truth there.
Jessica O’Reilly, writing for Carnalnation.com (article found here), shares the results of new research out of Simon Fraser University that suggests men who pay for sexual intimacy are not any more or less likely to become violent.
The article explains itself, so I’d just like to draw attention to a couple of points. One, I’m very glad the writer sought the comments of the Sex Workers Outreach Projects, one of the few groups out there that has any business speaking for us.
However I’m one of those who feels the need to raise a little suspicion about the research methodology. First of all, it’s based on surveys. Anonymous surveys, insist the researchers, with no reward, implied or real, for concealing the truth. Maybe.
But these are 1000 online volunteer surveys. To me, that raises a host of issues. Not everyone is online. I would venture to guess most sex workers in fact are still invisible and don’t maintain an online presence.
I also mistrust what I suspect is a narrow definition of sex worker. They asked self described clients of sex workers. This can encourage unintended bias by not getting responses from men who say, oh, strippers don’t really count.
But perhaps my biggest gripe is this: Let’s say for the sake of argument that their figures are true, there is no greater incidence of violence committed by “johns” when compared to the population at large. Can we then conclude that “johns” are no more or less risky?
For every appointment I make and keep, there are probably 9 or more who raise giant red flags for me. Some are aggressive. Many are drunk. MANY show me pictures of themselves naked as if I’ll sacrifice my livelihood to be with them for free. Many insist on seeing pictures of my face. Many try to talk me out of my non-negotiable fee. These are just a fraction of the troubles I manage trying to get and keep reliable, clean gentlemen. And I want to add here, I am very grateful and genuinely warm and loving with those gentlemen. You guys make my day!
Point is though, the rest? This is why we SCREEN. We screen because we know we’re at greater risk. We weed out as much as possible anyone who asks things like “Have you had a busy day?” and then tries to arrange a late night appointment so they can jack us. We weed out the naked pics alot of the time, because these guys can be really easy to provoke and their pride is sickened at the idea of paying.
Personally, I suspect that these results tell us less about would be “johns” and alot more about how many sex workers are getting more educated, safer, and more careful every day, often with the help of groups like SWOP, The Desiree Alliance, COYOTE and others.