The activists of Coyote in their efforts to decriminalize the prostitution of prostitutes not only meet with resistance from bourgeois anti-prostitution organizations, but also from radical feminists. While some women’s rights activists, such as the umbrella organization Now (National Organization for Women), support Coyote and demand a right to practice prostitution in legal security – Coyote speaks of “contact between consensual adults where no one is in the role of victim” – others see prostitution basically, always and everywhere as an exploitation of women. Radical feminists, whose influence is considerable, especially in academic life in the USA (and whose circles sometimes overlap with the local lesbian scene), have little ideological self-doubt because of their occasionally open condescension towards prostitutes and know only one basic evil: men.
These, the customers, colloquially called “johns”, have recently been the subject of various epidemiological studies. The assumption of the founding father of modern sexual research, Alfred Kinsey, in 1948, according to which 69 percent of Americans have contact with a prostitute in the course of their lives, was not confirmed in a representative survey of 3400 men in 49 states. The rate was 17.7 percent, although the shame factor may well have led to a certain number of unreported cases. The group of clients hardly differed from comparable European data. Men with military experience had increased contact with prostitutes, and the proportion of minorities (African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians) was also higher than their proportion of the total population – or were they only more honest than the whites, who were particularly strongly influenced by the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) ethic? One client, who made a public statement and explained in a book article what drove him to prostitution, summed up the dilemma of prostitution in a nation that is increasingly polarised both politically and morally: “I fear that this activity is always defamed because it is a mixture of sex and economics. Conservatives don’t like it because it has to do with sex, and liberals don’t like it because it has to do with entrepreneurship. I wish they’d both just get used to it.”