Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How common is 'The John Next Door'?

While the media is replete with examples of "normal" men who seek out prostitutes regularly, how common are prostitute-seeking men and how much do they differ from men in the normal population? According to a new comparison study by Dr. Martin A. Monto, University of Portland, and Dr. Christine Milrod, only about 14% of men across the U.S. have ever paid for sex in their lives and only 1% of those men had done so in the previous year. In addition, the majority of these men do not possess any "peculiar" qualities that distinguish them from the normal population. The study was published in the SAGE journal International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (IJO). "Our findings clearly contradict the 'john next door' notion perpetuated by some media," Dr. Milrod stated. "While it is noteworthy to recognize that the 1% of adult men who paid for sex in 2010 still result in a large number of customers, there is no credible evidence to support the idea that hiring sex workers is a common or conventional aspect of masculine sexual behavior among men in the United States." The researchers also found that men who actively seek out prostitutes do not possess any "peculiar" qualities that would differentiate them from men in the normal population. In fact, arrested customers are only slightly less likely to be married, slightly more likely to be working full-time, slightly more sexually liberal, and slightly less likely to be White than men who have not been clients of prostitutes. A small group of highly active customers, such as those who were never arrested and who sought out sex workers listed on a prostitute review website, were found to differ substantially from men who do not pay for sex. A substantial portion of these married White men earn over 120K annually, have graduate degrees, and are more sexually liberal than any of the other groups in the study. Additionally, they do not exhibit any mental impairment. Dr. Milrod discussed the implications of this finding, "Privileged men, such as our wealthier sample of review website clients, are generally not marginalized or threatened due to their sexual behavior. In contrast, customers associated with street prostitution are likely to have fewer financial and social resources and it could be argued that these men are explicitly targeted by law enforcement in marginalized areas or transitional neighborhoods. The emphasis on teaching about 'sex addiction' and 'healthy relationships' to arrested men further supports the notion that customers of street prostitutes are endowed with some form of psychopathology that needs reorientation toward more accepted forms of sexual relations. The focus on treatment fails to separate paying for sex and being psychologically impaired."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Men May Have Natural Aversion to Adultery with Friends’ Wives

Findings about testosterone levels illuminate how humans evolved to form alliances After outgrowing teenage infatuations with the girl next door, adult males seem to be biologically designed to avoid amorous attractions to the wife next door, according to a University of Missouri study that found adult males’ testosterone levels dropped when they were interacting with the marital partner of a close friend. Understanding the biological mechanisms that keep men from constantly competing for each others’ wives may shed light on how people manage to cooperate on the levels of neighborhoods, cities and even globally. “Although men have many chances to pursue a friend’s mate, propositions for adultery are relatively rare on a per opportunity basis,” said Mark Flinn, professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Science. “Men’s testosterone levels generally increase when they are interacting with a potential sexual partner or an enemy’s mate. However, our findings suggest that men’s minds have evolved to foster a situation where the stable pair bonds of friends are respected.” Flinn says that these findings might help solve global problems. “Ultimately, our findings about testosterone levels illuminate how people have evolved to form alliances,” said Flinn. “Using that biological understanding of human nature, we can look for ways to solve global problems. The same physiological mechanisms that allow villages of families to coexist and cooperate can also allow groups like NATO and the U.N. to coordinate efforts to solve common problems. The more we view the Earth as a single community of people, the greater our ability to solve mutual threats, such as climate change.” Evolutionarily, men who were constantly betraying their friends’ trust and endangering the stability of families may have caused a survival disadvantage for their entire communities, according to Flinn. A community of men who didn’t trust each other would be brittle and vulnerable to attack and conquest. The costs of an untrustworthy reputation would have outweighed the benefits of having extra offspring with a friend’s conjugal companion. For example, a cautionary tale of the dangers of adultery can be found in the myth of Camelot. Sir Lancelot betrayed King Arthur by seducing Guinevere. Soon after, the fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table disintegrated and the kingdom fell. The alliance of powerful males could not hold once trust had been lost. The study “Hormonal Mechanisms for Regulation of Aggression in Human Coalitions” was published in the journal Human Nature. Co-authors were Davide Ponzi of MU’s Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science and Michael Muehlenbein of Indiana University.