Prostitution Is Comical?

Jim Norton, who wrote a piece defending prostitution and the Johns who use prostitutes in Time Magazine, is not ashamed to pay for sex — and he says other men shouldn’t be either.

Apparently, Norton is a comedian, a New York Times best-selling author and host of The Jim Norton Show on

i say “apparently,” because it’s not clear to me in his piece where the funny parts are supposed to be.  Norton writes:

As a man who has spent an embarrassing amount of money on prostitutes and various other sexual encounters, I was excited when I heard about a “National Day of Johns,” because I thought I was being honored. I envisioned myself being carted down New York City’s Fifth Avenue on the back of a flatbed truck, waving to cheering fans as confetti rained down on me and my disappointed parents hid behind a mailbox.

i think he’s trying to be funny here.  But nothing is funny about this. Prostitution is something to cheer about? We should throw a parade? Even if you try to make a joke out of that, you can’t. Many things simply are not funny.

The fact that Norton is joking about the degrading and dehumanizing practice of prostitution; a practice which is built on abuse and exploitation; and a practice which only exists because men demand the right to treat women as sexual property, is insulting to all women — and men.

Norton adds:

The only experience I’ve had where an element of violence was present was driving on 48th Street in New York and talking to a girl through my passenger window. (A big part of my addiction is the ritualistic aspect, and for some reason I only liked to pick up prostitutes who talked to me through the passenger window.) As we were speaking, a van full of girls stopped, and a guy I assume was her pimp bounced her across the hood of my car and threw her in the van. This is why I’m a firm believer that prostitution should be legalized and pimps should be thrown down an elevator shaft.

So Norton admits that he’s addicted, but his addiction is good, he says, and he shouldn’t feel ashamed.  A statement like that, about any addiction, is nonsensical on its face.

However, more to the point, he gets a moral conscience when it comes to pimps? That’s bizarre. And it’s totally foolish to think that legalizing anything, prevents abuse of the thing that has been legalized.

In her rebuttal of Norton’s article [disclaimer: there is strong language in it], Rachel Moran writes:

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. 

Moran’s entire piece is worth the read.  Moran writes at one point that reading Norton’s article made her skin crawl.

It had the same effect on me.


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