Well unpalatable though it may be for Julie B and her colleagues the truth is that women do buy sex and in surprisingly large numbers. The fact that women buy sex has been largely ignored, probably because women buy sex differently to men.
Men prefer the anonymity of paying for a sexual service because they do not want any complications. Men really don’t pay for the sex but rather for a sex worker to go away. The sex industry that caters for men is very visible, voyeuristic, simple and in your face and therefore an easy target. Sex for sale to women is much more subtle, much harder to denigrate in simplistic and emotional terms; but it is still sex for sale.
Few women, as Julie Bindel observe purchase sex as blatantly as men, but just because the language used and the mechanics of the purchase is different does not alter the fact that a financial interaction is taking place. Perhaps cultural and societal pressure is responsible for the different etiquettes involved when women purchase sex. More research still has to be done. Anyone who travels abroad however for example must be aware of the large numbers of single women who travel alone or in groups to liaise with younger men. It is an unspoken secret for example that many European women on holiday in Turkey openly expect solicitation from young men. These men accept money and gifts in return for a faux relationship or “arrangement” that almost always involves sex.
These arrangements, either at home or abroad, share the pretence of a romance. This pretence is very much a part of the service offered and expected. Different rules of etiquette involved within the structure of these faux relationships may make them less noticeable, more acceptable but also perhaps a little less honest than a sexual exchange between a female sex worker and a male client.
They are still however a financial exchange where both parties know what is expected.
Women who are perhaps, divorced, widowed or separated and who have financial independence are now able to make choices about their lives which they were once denied. Financial independence facilitates greater sexual freedom and allows women to buy sexual choices. Financial and sexual independence is no longer the reserve of men or a very few privileged women. Just as middle aged, married men appear to make up the majority of purchasers of sexual services from female and male sex workers it now seems that it is middle aged women who are flexing their financial muscle and independence by purchasing sexual services from younger men.
Perhaps the fact that younger women are too busy with families or find it easy to pick up men explains their apparent absence from the plane loads of mainly middle aged women heading off for sexual adventures, or among those women who organise regular private sessions at home with their tennis coach; who knows?
Perhaps this seeming anomaly will change as younger women also become increasingly financially independent and flex that financial muscle by buying sexual encounters with different types of men to match their different moods or fantasies. What is certain is that claims that the sex industry is the preserve of predatory men and evidence of male oppression of women is no longer valid. Women are equally capable of being sexual predators and women do purchase sexual services from other women and men. The market they purchase from may be more subtle, less in your face but it exists and perhaps a little like the ice berg that sank the titanic the more research is carried out the more people will open their eyes to see what is really happening and then; so called feminists like Julie Bindel will have to revaluate their rhetoric and anti sex work groups their research.