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The Psychology of Prostitution, Article Critique Example

Pages: 1

Words: 374

Article Critique

Prostitution is an age old profession, with descriptions of prostitutes occurring in ancient texts, such as the Bible. Researchers have long struggled with the question as to why prostitution is so pervasive within society. In Why do Men Buy Sex?, researcher Nikolas Westerhoff presents statistics taken from interviews with both prostitutes and johns to try to understand the psychological reasons behind the phenomenon. His article is both interesting and thorough, and full of statistics that illustrate just how common yet complex prostitution is as a social institution.

Westerhoff discovers that the reasons that men seek prostitution are varied. The percent of the population that seeks out sex for money varies widely from country to country. It was interesting to note that it did not seem to matter if prostitution was legal or not. The behavior is so pervasive, Westerhoff states, that psychologists cannot easily write it off as pathological. The question as to what drives men to sex with prostitute is given two general answers. One is the john’s need for intimacy of a predictable nature as well as on demand. The other is that it is an act of control through which john’s can live out their fantasy’s and desires. Westerhoff even looks at evidence that prostitution is, in fact, therapeutic, citing the Epic of Gilgamesh as an ancient example. Sex as therapy would make sense, since it is an act which allows for an enjoyable release that typically leaves men relaxed and at ease in the aftermath. On the downside, however, Westerhoff points out that while men may often have emotional benefits from prostitution, it is rare that the prostitutes themselves ever do.

Westerhoff holds off on judging the men who participate in prostitution, only stating the facts and pointing out common psychological traits among johns. He does point out, however, that john’s often refer to prostitute’s as material rather than as human beings, making prostitution a commodity rather than an emotional act. As prostitution as a social institute continues to thrive, whether it is socially acceptable or not, it is clear that it is not going away and Westerhoff maintains that continued research is needed in order to understand it.

References

Westerhoff, Nikolas. (June, 2009) Why Do Men Buy Sex? Scientific American Mind 20(3), 70-75.

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