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Ordinary or Peculiar Men? Comparing the Customers of Prostitutes With a Nationally Representative Sample of Men

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 58 Issue: 7 Dated: 2014 Pages: 802-820
Date Published
July 2014
19 pages
Using the nationally representative General Social Survey (GSS), this study demonstrates that prostitution-seeking is relatively uncommon.
Recent media attention implies that prostitution seeking is widespread, an "ordinary" aspect of masculine sexual behavior. Other accounts suggest that customers are "peculiar," characterized by distinct qualities, perversions, or psychological impairments. The current study indicates that only about 14 percent of men in the United States report having ever paid for sex, and only 1 percent report having done so during the previous year. Furthermore, this study dissects whether customers are ordinary or peculiar by comparing a new sample of active customers who solicit sex on the internet with an older sample of arrested customers, a sample of customers from the GSS, and a nationally representative sample of noncustomers. The customers of internet sexual service providers differed greatly from men in general and also from other customers. The remaining samples of customers differed slightly from noncustomers in general. This study argues for a balanced perspective that recognizes the significant variety among customers. There is no evidence of a peculiar quality that differentiates customers in general from men who have not paid for sex. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: July 1, 2014