New York: Men who pay for sex are more likely to report having committed rape and other aggressive sexual acts than those who do not buy sex, new research has found.
"Our findings indicate that men who buy sex share certain key characteristics with men who are at risk for committing sexual aggression," said study co-author Neil Malamuth, professor communications studies and psychology at University of California, Los Angeles in the US.
"Both groups tend to have a preference for impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification,” Malamuth said.
The researchers also found that those who buy sex have less empathy for women in prostitution than those who do not buy sex.
“Those who buy sex, on average, have less empathy for women in prostitution and view them as intrinsically different from other women," Malamuth noted.
The study of 101 men who buy sex and 101 men who do not indicated that sex buyers' perspectives are similar to those of sexually coercive men.
In light of the debate surrounding legalisation of prostitution, the new findings support the view that prostitution is more like sexual abuse, and not just a job that the advocates of leagalising prostitution tend to argue.
"We hope this research will lead to a rejection of the myth that sex buyers are simply sexually frustrated nice guys," the study's lead author Melissa Farley, executive director of Prostitution Research and Education, a San Francisco-based nonprofit orgnaisation, noted.
Had the study found no differences between the views of men who buy sex and those who don't, it might have given credence to those who advocate legalising and regulating prostitution, said Farley said.
"However, given the significant levels of sexually aggressive attitudes and behavior found in sex buyers, a more progressive legal policy would be like that seen in Sweden and Norway, where prostitution is understood as a predatory crime against economically and ethnically marginalised women," she said.
The study appeared in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.