Why Jim the johns Article Made My Skin Crawl

I hardly think I would be educating people if I opened this post with the point that addiction is destructive. This we know. It’s commonly accepted that addiction to certain substances and behaviours have destructive consequences for the addict and those they come in contact with. Because of the dehumanised status of women in general and prostituted women in particular, this knowledge is overridden when it comes to men addicted to sex and the damage they do to the prostituted women they use to satiate their addictive impulse, as was evidenced in the recent Time article by Jim Norton, self-confessed sex addict and purchaser of women’s bodies.

Most men who prostitute women are not sex-addicts, but they certainly share Norton’s dehumanising views. As someone who had her body used by men like Norton for seven years spanning my adolescence and early adulthood, I can say quite a staggering amount of delusion and denial presents in the thoughts and attitudes of the average ‘john’; and it is matched only by the casual misogyny that allows them to use the bodies of women and girls like commodities in the first place. This is exemplified numerous times in Norton’s short article, for example in his assertion that where prostitution is legalised the rape of the non-prostituted female population drops. Apart from the fact that this is unproven, even if it were true, it would mean only that prostituted women and girls are used as the human shields of men’s sexual violence. Anyone who suggests that a class of females should exist to absorb male sexual aggression is, by definition, expressing a misogynistic view. Where is the call for men to stop fucking raping women? And WHY are we content to live in a world where, instead, one class of women are singled out to be raped?

As to the contemptible excuse of ‘choice’, the reality, which most johns studiously deny and ignore (though they know it as well as anyone) is that women and girls do not choose to have the penises of men shoved into the orifices of our bodies eight, ten, twelve times a day because we ‘want’ to, or because we ‘choose’ it; we reluctantly submit to commercial sexual violation for two reasons: because men like Jim Norton exist to create the demand for the commodification of our bodies in the first place, and because the circumstances of our lives have left us with no other viable choice.

Reading Norton’s article made my skin crawl, because it brought me straight back to the days when my own body was used as a sperm receptacle by a relentless conveyor belt of grown men in more socially privileged positions. The casual contempt for women oozing from his article left me with the flesh-creeping, puke-inducing, soul-sickening memory of being ritualistically used by men who did not view me as a human being, and so, as a consequence, did not view their actions as a human rights abuse; but rather some kind of benign caressing, like a slave owner who decides to massage his slave rather than whip her, and tells himself there is nothing wrong in what he does since he is not breaking her skin, just breaking her spirit; and the absence of the whip, in his pathologically selfish and delusional mind, allows him to erase his own malignant role in the master/slave dynamic.

His attitudes reinforced something I first learned as a fifteen-year-old homeless prostituted girl, and it’s this: There are men on this earth who do not give a damn about anything or anyone if recognising its value means getting in the way of their God-almighty orgasms. That is the simple and inhuman truth, and it is exactly why we need legislation to impose upon them the equal worth of female humanity that they will never come to on their own.

Rachel Moran