The Alexis Wright and Mark Strong prostitution case

The world's oldest profession brings embarrassing confession:  Why do men hire prostitutes? Photo: Alexis Wright

WASHINGTON-April 1, 2013-“I believe sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.”-Steve Martin, comedian.

As Zumba instructor Alexis Wright and Mark Strong’s ‘exercise in prostitution’ case comes to an end, the question remains: Why do men seek prostitutes?

On the surface, Martin’s quip seems humorous but the reality of prostitution is hurtful, painful and in many cases, tortuous.

In the Wright and Strong case, even the clients will face difficulties. The Court will soon release the names from the ‘clientele journal,’ which will cause hurt and hardship on many relationships.

Men know this type of situation is possible yet prostitution remains big business. Why do they risk so much to purchase sex?

The high profile cases of Heidi Fleiss in Hollywood, the “Madam” case in Washington D.C., Olympian Suzy Hamilton, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and so many more are the tip of an iceberg that melts away and exposes children and adults living lives of forced prostitution.

Do the customers have some kind of mental illness or disorder that leads them to prostitutes?

In most cases, no.

However, studies in nine modern industrialized countries revealed and average of 68 percent of prostitutes, male and female, suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from sexual violence, physical assault and having been coerced into the ‘business’.  These rates of PTSD are far greater than those of returning combat soldiers.

Prostitution is not the so-called “victimless crime” that men throughout the ages would have us believe.

The primary reason women willingly become prostitutes is their concept of easy money, often to support a drug addiction. Much like young strippers who initially seek the allure of relatively high pay, many end up aging out of the profession, drug addicted with a criminal record. They are traumatized and unable to return to school or home, with few employment prospects.

Those who enter the trade unwillingly face worse prospects. Most are underage; some kidnapped, sold by their parents in poor countries, drug addicts or “turned out’ by fast-talking, violent “pimps” or criminal enterprise.

Prostitutes describe their experience as “paid rape” or “voluntary slavery”. The men who solicit these women fall into many categories:

  • Young, single, on a lark.
  • Older, no available partner.
  • Young, married with a partner unwilling to do what he finds stimulating.
  • Older with a disinterested partner.
  • Older and trying to re-live interaction with the youthful appearance his partner once possessed.
  • Younger and older using prostitutes as a means to control a woman.
  • Any man who does not like the word ‘No”.
  • Men that have issues with women and abuse a prostitute as a target of anger or sport.
  • Men who fear closeness or failed in attempts at a long term relationship.
  • Men that cannot inspire a woman to say “Yes” voluntarily.

Some recent studies suggest many men hire prostitutes because they crave female company and sex is not a necessity. This phenomenon is supported by prostitutes themselves. Many men are simply lonely and cannot connect to a female in a traditional or contemporary manner.

The so-called upscale prostitutes, those who charge $250 to $1,000 per ‘session’ —  attract a different type of clientele. These clients are usually financially well off, hold positions of power, seem happily married to whom others refer to as ‘good women’ and still, they solicit.

For many of these clients, it is a game of secrecy, power, reliving their youth that they foolishly believe is possible, being cooed and softly spoken to assuage their ego’s, having a female do as they demand for a period of time, letting a prostitute bolster their maleness in ways their female counterparts stopped doing some years earlier and, of course, being sexually pampered.

Oftentimes, upscale operators keep a log or journal of clients.

Some European studies interviewed prostitutes or ex-prostitutes who posited that men feel the need to control, and those who do not commit outright rape or date rape hire prostitutes to gain that control. They said other men hire prostitutes for validation, believing they no longer please their partners.

In a world of tell-all, twitter, phone cams and social sites for gossip, it seems the world’s oldest profession creates red-faced confession as partners of the discovered and or accused endure the pain of disloyalty, fear of inability to satisfy, loss of self-confidence, embarrassment, humiliation and betrayal.

Fool….thy name is John.


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.




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