What Should We Call Men Who Buy Young Girls for Sex?

An important part of social change is the articulation of grievances, especially the naming of injustices. Feminists have developed many new terms that reflect women’s experience of inequality and abuse.

For example, when women started organizing around sexual coercion in the workplace, one of the first things they did was gather in a room and brainstorm about what to call their experiences of being propositioned by bosses and groped by co-workers. They came up with the phrase “sexual harassment,” which stigmatized behavior previously considered innocuous and natural. Naming their experience and framing it as abusive created a new conceptual category that raised consciousness about the harms of workplace sexual coercion. The phrase legitimized women’s negative feelings about this behavior, enabling them to band together, share their outrage and change the law—transforming common behavior into a federal civil rights violation.

Similarly, the term “Ms.” freed women to define themselves without reference to their marital status. The coining of “date rape” and “acquaintance rape” recognized and revealed that most rapists are people we know, not strangers. These new terms contributed to changing our social reality.

In the current movement against commercial sexual exploitation of girls, advocates are challenging old terms like “child prostitute” and “teen hooker” and developing new ones, like “domestic minor sex trafficking.” The girls are prostituted, not prostitutes.

But our language for men who buy sex from girls is totally inadequate. We call them “johns” or “tricks,” but these are relatively innocuous terms we also use for men who buy sex from adult women. We need a distinct term. We could call them “pedophiles” or “child molesters,” but these terms don’t incorporate the commercial nature of what’s going on, and they indicate social pathology. The shocking reality is just how “normal” these guys are—they are teachers, preachers, the guy who repairs your car, your elected representative. According to the recently-released Georgia Demand Study, “Men who purchase sex tend to come from normal backgrounds and seem no more likely to suffer from apparent pathologies than the rest of the adult male population.” The study found that 7,200 men buy adolescent girls for sex each month in Georgia–some unknowingly, but many knowingly. More than 400,000 men in Georgia today have bought a young woman to have sex.

So, let’s give these guys a name. A name that captures the ugly reality of an older man taking advantage of the youth and poverty of young girls—the predatory, pathetic shamefulness of it.

Any suggestions?

Carrie Baker’s article on treating U.S. minors who are prostituted as trafficking victims, not criminals, appears in the forthcoming issue of Ms. magazine. Join the Ms. Community today and have it delivered to your doorstep!

PHOTO from Flickr user Steve Weaver under Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. Cash creeps

    “Pedoughs”

    pedobuyers

  2. Annabelle says:

    I think Human Trafficking Consumer, or Child Sex Trade Consumer works

  3. Child Predator! plain and simple

  4. hochkompturei says:

    Slaver is good and accurate . . . the children can't legally consent so these men are commercial rapists

  5. We "exited women" don't call it prostitution, we call it "commercialized rape." Porn is commercialized rape on camera.

    Clients of commercial rape are just "men."

  6. child sex exploitation consumer;
    proprietary sex exploiter;
    sex trade buyer;
    sex exploitation buyer;
    monetary sexual abuser
    exploitative sexual consumer
    monetary rapist
    prostituted child buyer
    prostituted child consumer
    prostituted child rapist
    trafficked child buyer/consumer/rapist

    There's SO many options!

  7. Child rape consumer? Child prostitutor? Child sex buyer; commercial child rapist; Commercial rape buyer; commercialised sexual harassment or commercialised sexual assault, etc..

  8. Carrie….was anything decided on naming the behavior? Paying Pedophile is a bit long, but a good description. The word "Sexual Harassment" was a bit long as well, but worked well to change the behavior in the workplace.

  9. How about Child Destroyers?

    While we are on the topic, I think someone should do an article on research that highlights the linkage between adult prostitution and the prostitution of children. What percentage of adult prostitutes got into the "life" as minors? What effect does the prostitution of children have on their life expectancy?

    If you want to fight Human Trafficking, please feel free to contact me:
    geekprogrammer.ed@googlemail.com
    @SoldierCoder on twitter

  10. Commercial Pedophile, perhaps?

    *Just a comment about the topic of the article: I really agree that naming a danger or problem is the first step to understanding it in order to take a stance against it. Language is far more significant than many believe it to be.

  11. A fucking perverted pig.

  12. child buyers must die!

  13. Barbara Tomlinson says:

    I like Human Trafficking Consumer, as was said below.
    But, that does cover MORE than just child sex.
    Perhaps Child Sex Consumer. Boys are trafficked for sex also. {More in some cultures than in others.} That term covers both.

    Maybe Human Trafficking Consumer for ALL Human Trafficking — that would also cover domestic servants, agricultural workers, the imported third-world people who work building our bases in foreign lands……. The U.S. Defense Department is a Human Trafficking Consumer.
    It would also cover adult sex workers who are TRAFFICKED, as opposed to those who work voluntarily. As well as cover children of all sexes and all ages.

    Then, a narrower term, Child Sex Consumer, would cover the patrons of Children, mainly girls, but boys as well. The Cut-off age would be whatever the legal age was in that country, which also varies from country to country. Maybe at some time it will be standardized for all countries. Burlusconi is a Child Sex Consumer.

    “Consumer” I think, works better than “Employer”. It suggests GREED……
    “Employer” is that “benevolent Capitalist” who provides “jobs”……..!

  14. What good will giving these guys a name do? I ask out of two things curiosity and the knowledge that those men will not stop just because they were given a name that points out the ugliness of their actions!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ms. Magazine and May Evans, Courtney Chapin. Courtney Chapin said: Interesting point-not sure of an answer RT @msmagazine What should the term be for a man who buys sex from young girls? http://ht.ly/2eMPG [...]

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