Public awareness about prostitution has grown in recent years, along with an understanding of the psychological trauma resulting from sexual exploitation as commercial enterprise, regardless of its legal status.
Mainstreamed and normalized prostitution is an example of a social ecology that offers men “the opportunity to aggress and force women to accept their aggression.”
Historically, discussions about prostitution have centered on prostitution as a problem of women or as a problem of HIV transmission from prostituted person to john to the rest of the community. Just as a shift in awareness and research moved from battered woman to batterer, there is today an interest in the prostitutor in addition to the prostituted.
To have an understanding of prostitution, it is necessary to learn more about the perpetrators of the traumatic stress caused by prostitution. We found that those men who most frequently used women in prostitution were most likely to have committed sexually aggressive acts against nonprostituting women.
High-frequency users of women in prostitution used pornography more frequently than men who used women in prostitution less frequently.
The men’s perceptions of prostituted women’s experiences of prostitution tended to differ from the actual perceptions of prostituted women in other studies.
Deterrents to prostitution include public exposure or jail time if the men were convinced that laws would be enforced. Throughout our interviews with these men, we noted contradictions, inconsistencies, and ambivalence in their thinking about prostitution.
These cognitive and emotional lacunae may suggest possibilities for development of prostitution prevention programs.
Nearly all said that they saw prostitution as occurring between two consenting adults, yet at the same time, large majorities believed that women prostitute strictly out of economic necessity and that women do not enjoy the sex of prostitution.
Most said that prostitution should be treated like any other business, yet 4 in 10 believed that prostitution lowers the moral standards of the community.