Every once in a while someone writes an article designed specially to piss me off. Step up Julie Bindel in the Guardian. She's talking about male prostitution (with female clients) in Jamaica. And her point is that women who participate in this are as bad as men who pay prostitutes. Sure but the number of women hiring male prostitutes is tiny compared to the number of men who do so. Personally I have never met a woman who has hired a man for sex. However I have met dozens of guys who have visited brothels, people I've had to work with and for, people who've bragged about the hilarious scenes they've witnessed in brothels and round the back of supposedly legitimate lap-dancing clubs. So women aren't as bad as men, a tiny tiny proportion of women are as bad as a huge slice of the male population.
Statistic vary by country. In Thailand eighty-five percent of men have visited a prostitute (down from 96% since the news about HIV got around). Sixty to seventy percent have in Holland, fifty percent in the US, I can't find anything resembling believable numbers for the UK but I can find lists upon lists of UK brothels on the internet, not to mention advice for would-be johns travelling overseas for their comoditized sex. Trying to look up numbers for women who have visited male prostitutes doesn't work because the first 200 links that come up are about female prostitution.
There are a bunch of other issues that unbalance the similarity between the two sides:
1) There is no evidence of the female "johns" ("janes"?) raping or beating the male prostitutes. In the US it is estimated that 25% of female prostitutes have been raped more than ten times.
2) The men working in Jamaica are not doing so from brothels, they're doing so on an individual basis, chatting up older women, taking them out, etc, then asking for financial favours. By that standard a large number of guys in the UK who marry or date women half their age whom they shower with gifts and credit cards, are similarly guilty of hiring prostitutes. I think that's harsh.
3) Ms Bindel complains that these women use unpleasant language to describe the men they consort with such as "black men can keep it up longer". Well I hate racial stereotypes and language like that but it sounds positively innocent compared to the sort of thing I heard every day from my desk when I worked in Japan. British men sitting within earshot of my desk would standardly refer to asian women as "rice burners" and "extra baggage" (i.e. that you should avoid having to take home).
I'm not saying women should be encouraged to engage in sexual tourism. But the idea that women are "as bad as men" in this respect is ridiculous. Lets focus on the real problems.
Footnote [added later!] - in retrospect, more familiar as I now am with Ms Bindel's work I should add that while I stick by my point that the media do have disproportionate over-coverage of male prostitution, relative to female, Julie's works is really very balanced and includes ample thorough coverage of the issues surrounding women in the sex industry!