Book launch of “The Johns” at Montmartre Cafe

Victor Malarek

On Monday night, April 20, I attended a launch for Victor Malarek’s new book “The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It“. The event was held at the Montmartre Cafe and hosted by hosted by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, for which I’m a longtime volunteer. It was an engaging and at times electrifying evening.

Victor Malarek

I arrived an hour before the official start time, and was joined by several other men from Rape Relief’s Housefunding Committee to welcome Malarek. He proved to be a straight-talking, down-to-earth guy and was a pleasure to talk with. His conviction that legalizing prostitution is a bad idea is rock-solid and evidently based on tireless research and investigation, documented in his new book. And the points he made, both to us and in his speech, seemed convincing. Legalization has been far from the panacea for abuse and exploitation of women that it is made out to be, or imagined to be by those who find the concept appealing. I couldn’t claim to summarize all he said in this space – I recommend the book which is highly readable – but here are some random facts and statements I heard:

  • Where prostitution is legal, the legal operations are still outnumbered by 3 or 4 to 1 by illegal, unregistered ones where abuses continue to occur unchecked.
  • “Decriminalization” merely puts the trade in a grey zone where, although there are no criminal penalties, there is also no protection for prostituted women – and it’s a dream arrangement for johns.
  • Many current efforts at “education” solutions are riddled with misguided approaches that treat the women as little more than a public health nuisance and focus on protecting the men; when the opposite is needed.

There was plenty to challenge anyone’s safe assumptions (mine very much included) that legalization is somehow a progressive solution to an inevitable social problem, or even that the acceptance of a “transaction” renders it an approved arrangement between equal parties. And the fact that prostitution is so widespread in society should not be taken as proof that it’s acceptable, or that all we should do is ameliorate the worst abuses. After all, slavery was once widespread, and child abuse sadly remains so, but the extent of either of these would not be taken as a good reason to “throw up your hands” or simply try to apply a “harm reduction” approach – the intention must always be to stop them.

Victor Malarek

At any rate, it was a fascinating evening and I was truly proud to be there in support, as a pro-feminist man and a Vancouver Rape Relief volunteer – and also glad for the opportunity to learn more about this issue. Looking forward to reading my own, signed, copy of Victor Malarek’s book. And I recommend you check it out too.

Here’s the complete photo gallery with my favourite images of the evening.

More events in this series still upcoming this week – here’s the details.

One thought on “Book launch of “The Johns” at Montmartre Cafe

  1. Malarek is an abolitionist. He finds prostitution unacceptable un ANY circumstance. I freely choose to be an escort. I’ve done so for 6 years. I have a degree. My clients are nothing like the men he describes. If anyone were so much as rude to me I would walk out. I can do that because I work for an agency. That’s illegal but it has provided me with a problem free career. I applied for the job. I had a job at a feminist non-profit at the time I started escorting. I chose to leave that. Listening to raped women every day for years gets truly unbearable after awhile. I still can’t think about the stories I heard there without getting very upset. I like my job. As an autonomous person I have the right to choose this work and I resent Mr. Man trying to pretend he has a clue about the 80% of Canadian sexworkers who are not represented in any stats because we aren’t addicts, homeless or in trouble with the law. We’re boring and invisible. We do need decriminalization though. I can’t even put my name to this because of legal repercussions even though prostitution is legal here if one does it in isolation – which is unsafe. His representation of sexwork in canada is misrepresentative at best. We aren’t The Natashas.

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