Sanctuary for the Abused
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Prostitution and the Cycle of Abuse
The Australian Family, March 2004
From a paper by John H Court, Ph D,
Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology
University of South Australia
Reprinted by permission from Festival of Light Australia,
4th Floor, 68 Grenfell Street, Adelaide SA 5000; phone 1300 365 965
Some time ago I attended a lecture given by Dr C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the US. He emphasized the major theme he encountered in his time in public office: that today’s major health issues are those which flow from human behavior. Heart attacks, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, drug-related problems, AIDS, deaths on the road, are among the major health problems of the western world. All are profoundly related to behavioral choices.
I look at prostitution as one form of behavior which has serious consequences at various levels, health being merely one. Although it should be obvious that efforts to minimize and discourage prostitution would have preventive benefits in health terms as well as many others, the political response is invariably to find ways to accommodate, to placate and to permit - provided the government can make a profit in the process. One more layer of exploitation is thereby added to an already corrupt system.
I refer to the “Cycle of Abuse” to embed the topic within the range of exploitative behaviors which also includes child sexual abuse, some kinds of sexual disorders, rape, and marital problems.
Kinsey sex research
That leads me to make some comments derived from Kinsey Sex and Fraud which I edited.1 This book deals with events in the area of sexual attitudes and behavior over the last 50 years. It may enable us to see the question of prostitution in context, historically, and in relation to these other kinds of sexual behavior.
Earlier last century you may recall the great battle that occurred when science claimed to make religion outmoded, and declared that if something was discovered by science, it must be true. Where the findings of science disagreed with traditional Christian beliefs, it became respectable to discard traditional views and embrace science.
At that time it also appeared that scientific findings could be value-free, and quite independent of the presuppositions of the investigators.
It is now clear that the Kinsey research on human sexuality proves all those assumptions were false. His biographers tell us that he came from a rigid intolerant home, with a strict Methodist father, and a style of Christianity which young Kinsey vigorously rejected. Alfred Kinsey embraced instead, from his studies in biology a classic Darwinian evolutionism, and from his entomological research into gall wasps, came to value difference and variation as the ultimate principle for survival of species.
As a young man, Kinsey went his own way as a very shy person, collecting botanical specimens with no reported interest in girls, but joining a Boy Scout group as early as 1910. From gall wasps he moved on to an equally detailed pre-occupation with humans and declared that “continuous variation is the rule among men as well as among insects”.
In consequence Kinsey went on to challenge the concepts of right and wrong, and dismissed the term “normal” in relation to sexual behavior. Philosophically he was one who refused to distinguish between “is” and “ought”. In that respect he is in the tradition of secular humanism which denies values or standards derived from outside human understanding.
While collecting the information he wanted, to suggest that our standards of normal sexual behavior must be discarded in favor of variability and difference, Kinsey was among the earliest campaigners politically for the concept of “victimless crimes”. He has proved to be the source of inspiration to those seeking to allow adult-child sex relationships, advocated with increasing enthusiasm and publicity by pedophiles as well as many professionals in the sex research field.
Child sexual abuse
Surely it is no longer necessary to labour the point that many and perhaps most prostitutes have first suffered some degree of sexual abuse. Nor should we need to emphasis that the sexual abuse of children is a serious matter. This reportable offence is the more serious where a family member is involved.
Yet here is what a modern Kinsey advocate says:
“Kinsey was the first researcher to uncover evidence that violation of the incest taboo does not necessarily shake heaven and earth.”2He goes on to quote the Kinsey co-author Dr Paul Gebhard (who helped write Kinsey’s 1953 book, Sexual Behavior of the Human Female) saying of incest:
“I’m having a hard time recalling any traumatic effects at all. I can’t recall any from the brother-sister participants, and I can’t put my finger on any among the parent-child participants.”I wish I could introduce him to the dozens of clients in the counseling clinics which I have directed, who could refute those claims with fearsome intensity.
And then there is Wardell Pomeroy, co-author of Kinsey’s 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, who told the world in 1977: “Incest between adults and younger children can also prove to be a satisfying and enriching experience”.3
I ask myself, For whom? He doesn't’t actually say incest is enriching for the children, although that is implied. But the opinion sounds exactly like the rationalizations given by child molesters when they are caught.
These are not the opinions of the lunatic fringe, but of the authors who are treated as the experts, quoted in textbooks, invoked in the courts, and revered in parliamentary debates.
Let me bring you up to date with those who are guiding the current generation of sex educators, engaging in what is unashamed social engineering. Dr Joan Nelson is one of those who wants to change the language for us. Remember “incest”, “abuse”, “exploitation”, “rape”? You are behind the times. Dr Nelson knows the Kinseyan strategy of changing words to influence how people think. She recommends that adults and children engaging in sexual activity together should be called “participants” (Kinsey actually used the word “partners”), rather than “molester” and “victim”. Acts with children should be “sexual experience”, an inclusive non-condemnatory term, to be preferred to “abuse, victimisation, molestation, assault and exploitation”. She favors the generic terms inter-generational or cross-generational sex as do many others in the sex education field. And she would like to replace the term pedophile with the word “visionary”! Visionaries, she says, “believe the troubles that characterize our times are rooted in childhood sexual repression that prohibits age-free expression of sexual affection.”4
Thanks to such advocates, we have moved away from a victim-oriented view of crime, which sought to protect the victims of offenders, to one where those previously seen as offenders are now defended as being themselves victims and entitled to the most gentle treatment and sympathy. Without denying that there is some truth in the idea that many offenders are indeed victims of previous traumas, that should not lead us to the conclusion that we can embrace prostitution as a victimless crime. Surely the logic is rather the reverse - that not only is the prostitute a victim, but so is the customer. Beyond that, we can scarcely deny that the subculture that arises around prostitution of drugs and crime, which will not be eased by permitting it, ensures that the wider society is also victimized.
Having noted the language changes, I should say that one politically-correct term for prostitution is now “survival sex” - an interesting term which surely acknowledges the desperation of those earning a living this way.5 The other I see favored in Australia is “sex workers”.
Kinsey’s Personal Agenda
In Kinsey, Sex and Fraud we come to the conclusion that Kinsey’s own personal agenda in relation to religious beliefs and to sexuality caused him to go and collect data in such a way that he could validate bisexuality as the optimum state, to endorse homosexual activity as very frequent and therefore by his scientific criteria acceptable, and, most controversially, to collect evidence to show that young children are capable of sexual response.
“The Kinsey team’s ‘unassailable facts’ appear to have provided statistical grounds for child sex offenders to argue that adult sexual activity with children could fulfil children’s innate sexual ‘needs.’”6 Kinsey’s advocacy of “outlet sex”, meaning that any form of sexual outlet is equally valid, provides a justification for prostitution being no different from any other form of sexual outlet activity.
All this might just be old history if Kinsey’s work were not so powerfully received today, by scientists, clinicians, judges, lawyers, educators, and those who write the text books about sexuality. Kinsey was described in Life magazine 1990 as among the 100 most influential Americans of that century. I believe that to be a fair assessment. He was the inspiration for Hugh Hefner and the burgeoning of the pornography industry. He has been hailed by the gay activists as one without whom their cause could not have advanced. The pedophiles praise his work as giving their cause the scientific base they need to legitimize their call for adult-child sex with their catch cry “Sex before eight, or else it’s too late”.
My title The Cycle of Abuse is intended to set the prostitution issue in context. There would not be the current pressure to overthrow well-established moral codes and societal protection without that background approach to sexuality which said that nothing is ultimately wrong, there are no victims, and biological satisfaction is fine regardless of how it is achieved.
As the media have championed this view through magazines, books, advertising, films videos, we have increasingly moved to a society which is now sex-obsessed, and homes where the traditional taboos are breaking down. The sexualisation of the home is one of the reasons we see such an upsurge in child sexual abuse, the expansion of what we used to call promiscuity, and the pressure to normalise every form of sexual behavior which was once called sexual perversion or deviation. Today those words are replaced by “sexual preference”, “choice” and now most commonly, “sexual orientation”. Sexual addiction is taking its place alongside drugs and alcohol as a major social problem.
Of course, advocates of changes in the laws on prostitution come at the issues quite differently. How are we to manage something that is going to happen anyway? Surely it is better to have things out in the open and legal, than driven underground and criminal. Prostitution has always been around and laws against it solve nothing. What right have we to interfere in adults’ personal choices? By legalizing, we can control problems of sexually transmitted diseases. And then as a backdrop, the Kinseyan response is that prostitution is a victimless crime. All of this is singularly unconvincing to anyone who believes that society can only cohere on the basis of some behavioral standards which are not only morally based but also relate to the scientific considerations of harm.
The parallel with arguments in favor of legalizing drugs are very close. We had a decade of arguing that if people want to use drugs they should be free to do so: this was better than driving illegal behavior underground. I lived for some time in a country that espoused that idea very fully. Drug-infested cities like Los Angeles were fast becoming unlivable because of the social problems that had arisen - economic and political, plus disastrous health and crime consequences.
The drug connection
I call the drug issue a parallel to prostitution only in the sense that the justifications are similar. In reality the issues are converging and overlapping, as any prostitute can tell you. The enmeshed connection between the abuse of sex and the abuse of drugs, together representing the abuse of people, is widely documented. Or, to put it simply, the hookers are hooked. Many cannot pursue their activities without the use of drugs; many are deliberately introduced to drugs, and many are unable to leave prostitution because of the drug habit they have developed. If that whole context is not exploitation and victimization, I don’t know what is. I recall the high optimism of the sixties which taught us that if we went easy on drugs they could be controlled, and this was so much better than illegal trafficking.
I recall the promise of the seventies that, if only we relaxed the laws relating to pornography, people would lose interest, organized crime would vacate the scene, and we would all develop a healthier attitude to sexuality, and sex crimes would go down. The liberalization occurred - but the price we are now paying for political accommodations and naive obeisance to “science” is tragically high.
Then we were told in the seventies and eighties that if only we adopted a more liberal attitude to homosexuality, and changed the laws to indicate that there is nothing abnormal about homosexual activity, we would be humane and enlightened, and in a civilized way acknowledge the civil rights of ten percent of the population.
We went that way too, even though the whole concept was built on scientific dishonesty. Kinsey, Sex and Fraud has shown how disgracefully and deliberately inaccurate that “ten percent” figure was; how many since then have recognized the errors in that work, and yet the gay movement has unashamedly perpetuated those figures to gain political influence and public acceptance.
The folly of that strategy is now starkly before us with the AIDS crisis, the worst of which is yet to come. With the most common age of onset in the 25-29 age range, and an incubation period of eight years, it is not difficult to work out that teenagers are being infected, and with the widespread endorsement by professionals of homosexual activity and anal sex generally, this will inevitably escalate.
And, please, let no one echo the hollow old cliche about “safe-sex”, which condom use certainly is not. Even the Kinsey Institute is now preferring the more cautious term “safer sex”, to recognize that disease prevention is only partial.
Research on prostitution.
Giving public recognition to prostitution is not merly providing outlet sex for randy heterosexuals, or even some kind of welfare facility to the handicapped - justifications often advanced to make it sound so kind and respectable. I surveyed the journal literature via Psychological Abstracts from 1991 back to 1989, to find 45 sources. what was very striking was that the research on prostitution was almost without exception presented in the context of these terms - childhood abuse, HIV infections, drug abuse, victimization. In embracing prostitution, we are inevitably embracing those other issues in such a way that the cycle of abuse is perpetuated, not restrained.
I know much has been made of the absence of known HIV positive prostitutes at this stage. It is clear to researchers that studies of the clients of prostitutes are practically impossible, and where an HIV positive person is detected, they will look for other explanations wherever possible, rather than infection by a prostitute. Add this to the very long incubation period, and you can expect the evidence to be delayed but accumulating silently. A reading of the current research makes very clear that the combination of prostitution, especially male prostitution, anal sex, and IV drug use is a dangerous combination such that a multiplication factor will quickly operate.
One projection predicts one HIV prostitute can be expected to infect 20 men and indirectly 0.8 unborn children, even using "safe-sex". In the same journal in 1990 Pheterson, referring to that work, comments on prostitutes as "a devastating health menace to men, women and babies".
I have spoken about the prostitution problem with the vice squad officers at New Scotland Yard in London and similar officers in the US. I have read books and journals, including Tom Noble's Untold Violence: Crime in Melbourne Today, and Bob Bottom's Inside Victoria. The picture is a dark one, whatever the state of the law. Enabling the criminal element to exploit prostitution with less interference from the law will not change the essential elements of trade. "The legislation that aimed to bring prostitution into the open has had the reverse effect. It is out of sight, out of mind; it is also out of control".
Before you become decieved that prostitution is a low risk activity, I urge a reading of the cautious sociologlocial analysis of the links between prostitution, AIDS and drugs by Berk. In spite of all the IV drug use in that city, he notes that Department of Public Health reported 612 new cases by June 1990, of which only 10% were linked to IV drug use, and 60% with homosexual practices and multiple partner activity, with prostitutes a major group at risk themselves and a risk to others.
I have deliberately linked the existence of prostitution to the world of drugs and crime, because that is the reality. I link it to the physical and sexual abuse of women and children because that is the background.
I link it to changes in the laws on pornography, because so much of what is done, and demanded by customers, is influenced by pornography - as it becomes more exploitive and degrading, so the prostitutes experience more abuse and violence.
The AIDS epidemic
The link between prostitution and the escalation of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases should be obvious. While there is little to indicate that anal sex is a common feature of normal marriages ( and again I take issue with the Kinsey propaganda that seeks to endorse this), it is certainly a common component of prostitution. We know anal sex to be a major means of transmission of AIDS, and that condoms yield only partial protection. responsible groups are no longer speaking of "safe-sex" now that the failure rate for condoms appears to be between 10 and 33 per cent.
Health checks for prostitutes are often advocated as a desirable outcome of changing prostitution laws, but the indications are that this is a desperately deceptive and dangerous promise. Writing in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, Bruce Voeller warned of the dangers of anal sex. he surveyed studies of prostitution and commented : "Heterosexual anal intercourse could constitute an important hot-spot for those predicting the course of AIDS".
Dr Basil Donovan, writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, refers to the "hyperendemicity of STD among the employees of brothels and their regular consorts (husbands, boyfriends)", while Patterson rejects the value of health checks quite explicitly: "Ten percent of those screened developer a fresh essential (gonorrhea) infection each week. The potential for spread is dependent upon the number of contacts each week, and this number can be quite high.
"It has been claimed by those who favor the licensing of brothels that, by so doing, screening can only be effectively achieved and infection contained. This has never been a data-based claim...the concept of a "Manila Health card" (implying a medical certificate of freedom from infection) could only be accepted by the ignorant and naive, while it could only be preferred by the calculating and corrupt."
I wish I had been surprised to read that the Scarlet Alliance , speaking for sex workers, insists that HIV-positive prostitutes should be allowed to continue practicing as long as they engage in safe sex practices. the fact is they cannot (unless they wish to embrace celibacy, which is not good for business).
Historians of prostitution repeatedly emphasis the extensive use of children in the prostitution trade. The kind of exploitation has been a sad feature of Asian countries where poverty has been a sad feature of Asian countries where poverty has been a driving force. But how can this country give support to the racial exploitation already occurring with Asian women, as Bob Bottom clearly documented in Inside Victoria and allow the move towards children in a way that we have traditionally abhorred as uncivilized?
Those who support legalized brothels will reassure us that children will be protected, but media articles over the years suggest this has certainly not been the case in Victoria. The current pressure to accept the idea of sexually active children is growing, not receding.
The Kinsey influence has been powerful in propagating the idea that young children can be actively sexual, and even enjoy being grossly abused. Not only has the pedophile movement seized on such statements to legitimize their pursuit of children, the pornographers have exploited the use of children as sexually available as far as the laws will allow. There have always been those with a perverse interest in stealing childhood innocence, and using childish naivety as a sexual opportunity. The public pressure to make this as normal as anything else is with us. I remind you of what I said about relabelling child molesters as "visionaries". Following that logic, brothels using young boys and girls could begin claiming recognition as educational institutions. I wish that were as ridiculous as it sounds.
A US article by Leslie Morgan reported:
"Of the many as one million children involved in prostitution and pornography in America, a high percentage were victims of incest and abuse. The divorce rate among abuse victims is almost twice that of general population."Certainly, it is easier politically to go with what looks like social trends. When the present level of crime and corruption is intolerable, it is tempting to think that a legal alternative will make things better. But we do not extinguish vice by embracing it - rather it gains strength and encouragement to behave like a boa constrictor, squeezing out life. By that endorsement logic we had better move right along to decriminalize robbery, assault, rape and murder, since we see no signs of them receding either.
Alternatively, we see these activities and prostitution in all its forms as examples of corruption feeding off human weakness which needs to be contained for the sake of individuals as well as the whole of society.
I agree with those who argue that when prostitution's exploitative combination of sex and money is allowed to flourish,
. it demeans those involved - with women and children the most degraded
. it undermines the institution of marriage, recycling the abuse pattern through the generations
. it impacts the physical health of society
Prostitution is a classically exploitive activity at many levels, so much so that it is the ultimate irony that Kinsey should set us in the direction of seeing prostitution as a "victimless crime". Little could be further from the truth, except perhaps believing that legislation will solve the problem. It is time to stop kidding ourselves that going soft on vice makes it controllable. Infection spreads wherever it gets a chance, be it physical or social. surley we have enough indications to warn us that the so-called "permissive approach" has been tried and found to be a destructive approach.
What is to be said now, faced with current trends in legislation? That is not a question of legislating morality but a matter of constructing a safe and protected environment for our most vulnerable citizens. the only basis for giving the green light to prostitution is that it will cause no harm to society or to individuals. I hope you can see that there are moral dangers as there always were: in addition there are psychological dangers which are made worse by endorsing prostitution; there are physical dangers as the health risks from promiscuity escalate; that the idea of "safe-sex" is a politically motivated half-truth.
We deserve professionals and passionate people who will say that prostitution is wrong in all these ways, it always was wrong and always will be. We need politicians who will see that only by strong laws can such wrongs be contained. And we need police committed to enforcement in an area which is not peripheral to crime in general, but a key component of it.
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