“Deconstructing the Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights from Interviews with Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex”

Posted on December 1, 2016, in Personal Experiences, Prostitution, Research, Statistics

Publication Information

Title: "Deconstructing the Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights from Interviews with Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex"
Publication: Chicago: Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
Author: Durchslag, Rachel, and Samir Goswami
Date: 05/15/2008

Executive Summary

In December of 2006 and June of 2007 the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), Prostitution Research and Education (PRE), and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) launched a research initiative in Chicago to investigate the cognitive and behavioral patterns of men who purchase sex. A team of ten individuals, including three survivors of the sex trade, were trained by CAASE and PRE. In total, the team interviewed 113 men who buy sex. Men were recruited through the “Erotic Services” section of Craigslist, the Chicago Reader, and Chicago After Dark. Each interview lasted approximately an hour and a half to two hours and consisted of both quantitative and qualitative questions.

PRELIMINARY FINDINGS AGE: The average age of our respondents was 39, with a range of 20 to 71 years.

RACE: Of those we interviewed, 40% were African American, 36% were European American, 14% were Latino, 5% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 5% identified as multicultural or “other.”

EDUCATION: The majority of interviewees (79%) had attended some college or obtained a college or graduate school degree.

INCOME: 62% of interviewees made more than $40,000 a year.

REGULAR SEX PARTNER: 62% of interviewees identified as having a regular sex partner (girlfriend or wife). FREQUENCY OF BUYING SEX: 53% of interviewees purchased sex from women in prostitution as frequently as once a month to several times a week.

HOW MEN FIND WOMEN IN PROSTITUTION: 34% of interviewees said they contact women through the internet. Craigslist was the most frequently used website to solicit sexual services.

VENUES: 57% of interviewees solicited women in prostitution outdoors and 84% solicited women indoors. The most popular indoor venues were bars, strip clubs, escort agencies, and private parties.

WHERE IN THE CITY: 26 interviewees mentioned specific neighborhoods and/or streets where they purchase sex in Chicago. The most popular location to purchase sex was the West Side followed by the South Side.

AGE WHEN MEN FIRST BOUGHT SEX: The age when men first bought sex ranged from 10 to 52. The average age was 21.

CIRCUMSTANCE WHEN FIRST PURCHASING SEX: 54% of interviewees bought sex for the first time by themselves. For those who bought sex while with other people, 36% did so with a group of friends and 17% with a relative. For 29% of interviewees, the first time they had sex was with an individual in prostitution.

SEX ACTS: 46-48% of interviewees purchased sex in order to obtain sex acts they either felt uncomfortable asking of their partner or which their partner refused to perform.

NO COMMITMENT: 36% of interviewees said that they purchased sex to avoid emotional involvement or commitment. ADDICTION: 83% considered purchasing sex an addiction for the man buying.

PORNOGRAPHY: 39% of interviewees were regular pornography consumers. Interviewees frequently mentioned reenacting pornography with women in prostitution.

EMOTIONAL STATE: 27% preferred women who looked “lonely” in order to imagine the existence of an emotional bond.

RACE/ETHNICITY: 43% of interviewees selected a woman in prostitution based on her race and/or ethnicity.

MEN’S DOMINATION OVER WOMEN IN PROSTITUTION: 43% of interviewees stated that if the man pays the woman for sex, she should do anything he asks. 2

INTOXICATION: 42% of interviewees were regularly intoxicated during their encounters with women in prostitution. 19% said they were drunk or high during every encounter.

CONFLICTING FEELINGS: 22% of interviewees felt guilty and/or shameful the majority of the time they purchased sex.

POVERTY: 66% of interviewees told us that women become prostitutes out of economic necessity and 27% thought that the majority of women in the sex trade are homeless.

CHILDHOOD ABUSE: 57% of interviewees believed that the majority of women in prostitution experienced some type of childhood abuse.

YOUTH: 32% of interviewees thought that the majority of women in prostitution entered the sex trade before the age of 18.

TRAFFICKING: 20% of interviewees thought that they had bought sex from women who were trafficked from other countries.

PIMPS: 75% of men had observed a woman in prostitution with a pimp, and 40% had bought a woman in prostitution who they identified as having a pimp or manager. 27% of interviewees described the prostitute-pimp relationship as exploitative and harmful to the woman.

HARM: 42% stated that prostitution causes both psychological and physical damage to women. 13% of interviewees had witnessed an act of extreme violence perpetrated against a woman in prostitution.

MARRIAGE: 75% of interviewees stated that harm is done to a marriage if the man goes to a prostitute, even if the wife does not know about it.

COMMUNITIES: 80% of interviewees thought that prostitution had a negative impact on communities, including increasing crime, being a bad influence on children, and devaluing the neighborhood.

ENDING PROSTITUTION: 21% of interviewees said that in order to end the sex trade we would need to end childhood sexual abuse and create better opportunities for women.

CONSEQUENCES THAT WOULD SERVE AS DETERRENTS: 87% of interviewees said some form of public exposure, such as having their name or photo in a newspaper, would deter them from buying sex. 83% said jail time and 79% said a letter sent to their family would be a deterrent.


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