Men who buy sex 2013 was the theme for this year’s event at the Anti-trafficking Day. In order to sum up the event we will publish a miniseries about our discussions and conclusions made. Today’s article discusses who the sex buyers are. Is there anything that distinguishes them or are all men potential Johns?
Part 1 – Men who buy sex
Part 2 – The significance of the Sex Purchase Act
Part 3 – How do we proceed?
Patrik Cederlöf took the lead as speaker. He works as National coordinator against prostitution and trafficking at the County Administrative Board. Patrik explained that the sex buyer could be anyone, it beeing a myth that most buyers of prostitutes are disabled or maladjusted people. On the contrary, the typical sex buyer most certainly is a family man with a ‘nice’ job. However – apart from the more superficial characteristics Patrik
Cederlöf still does not consider the sex buyer to be just any man. Something makes these men break the norm and yet it is hard to define what that something is.
Patrik tells us that although there are women who buy sex this often occurs abroad. In Sweden there are no registered cases where women have bought sex.
Niclas Järvklo, Secretary of the Government’s commission looking into men and equality, explains that the existing research about persons who buy sex only include men who are willing to change, i.e. those who wish to stop buying sex. However, Niclas does not believe all men are inclined to buying sex. It is all about norms and your personal limit. When abroad, such a limit tends to change for many people (for example 80% of Swedes who have bought sex have done so abroad). Additionally, the limit tends to alter when the buyers are from different social groups, where other norms prevail.
To sum up, we can establish that we have a very blurred picture of the sex buyer, who he is and what motivates him. When talking about victims, most recently, in the case with “the sex sadist, the photographer”, media is quick in labeling the girls exposed for the abuse as “seeking affirmation”. It is a label supposedly explaining why these girls ended up as the sadist’s victims. It seems harder to categorise the perpetrators. Why does it seem to be so easy to dismiss and explain women’s behavior with them seeking affirmation, while it seems to be so hard to find one single common denominator amongst the men who are willing to pay, in order to violate another human’s body? Surprisingly, the words “incapable of empathy” were never mentioned during the evening.
Yet other important perspectives worth mentioning are the political and the ideological. Where are our defined limits for commercialization? Are you allowed to profit on anything? At times when the body can be used as a pillar commercial and nearly anything can be bought, a displacement of boarders occur – if I can buy almost anything, then why not buy a person?
During the evening, several on the panel mentioned the importance of establishing standards at a young age and that there is also hope that we, given a new generation of young (more equal) male, who also grew up with the Sex Purchase Act, will ensure a positive development. Fewer will buy sex. Realstars is hoping that this is the case and wish to emphasize that it requires a continuous debate about female / male sexuality and rights in general and the Sex Purchase Act’s consequences in particular.