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Arthur is an alleged john, a man who patronizes prostitutes. After his arrest on September 5, , a photograph of this year-old appeared on the Web site of the Chicago Police Department. Arthur not his real name was far from the only person so branded on this Internet portal. In the U. Experts believe that about 10 percent of these arrests are of the sex patrons, almost all of whom are men.
Overall, an estimated 16 percent of men pay for sex in the U. And a study published in of street prostitutes and 83 call girls in Los Angeles led by sociologist Janet Lever of California State University, Los Angeles, suggests that 28 percent of men who patronize prostitutes and nearly half of those who employ call girls buy sex regularly, with the rest being occasional customers.
The proportion of patrons seems to vary considerably by country and by study. Prostitution is legal in both countries. And according to HYDRA, a Berlin-based organization that provides legal advice and other aid to prostitutes, up to three quarters of men in Germany, which also has legalized prostitution, have paid for sexual services.
Meanwhile other estimates for Germany put the proportion far lower, at about one fifth. In Thailand, where prostitution is illegal but socially accepted, one study suggested that a whopping 95 percent of men have slept with a prostitute. Whatever the numbers, the behavior is prevalent enough that psychologists cannot easily write it off as pathological. Rather men's motives for buying sex are hotly contested among researchers. Some believe the practice serves as a salve for common psychological afflictions, such as an unfulfilled appetite for sex, love or romance.
Others paint a dimmer portrait of johns, believing they are typically driven by chauvinistic motives, such as a desire to dominate and control women. A similar debate rages among experts about the morality of prostitution itself [ see box on page 63 ]. Of course, the simplest explanation for men buying sex is that they like it. After all, people are generally willing to pay for activities they enjoy as much as they do sex.