MEN who visit prostitutes often claim it's OK because ''the girls must enjoy it, otherwise they wouldn't do it". Or even ''I wish someone would pay me to do this for a living".
In the overwhelming majority of cases, statements like these couldn't be further from the truth.
Some men do acknowledge that for the women it's just a job. As enjoyable as working in a call centre or selling charity subscriptions on the street, but still a valid choice for earning a living.
Then anytime a prostitute pops up on a panel show, writes a guest column or gets interviewed, they seem to deliver the same message: working in the sex industry is actually pretty great.
They claim it provides an emotionless outlet for men who need to stray, or may turn to criminal means to satisfy their urges. Which implies that men can't control themselves, and wives should be OK with men who visit brothels because it's not really cheating.
So it's my personal belief that you should be able to do nearly anything you like within a relationship, as long as you discuss it with your partner first, and I'm almost certain most married women wouldn't be OK with it.
The ''happy hooker" in the media also claims that sex work may lead to other opportunities, and there are some porn stars who've crossed over into mainstream celebrity. Out of the hundreds of thousands of girls and women sucked into the industry, used up and spat out every year, it's got to be at least 0.0001 per cent of them. Maybe fewer.
The Kardashians even kicked off a media empire with a sex tape, inspiring thousands more to attempt and fail at the same.
What's also barely mentioned is how awful and horrid everything is about the other 99.999 per cent of the industry.
Reports that do focus on it are often set in Third World countries, and don't get anywhere near the attention of the ''happy hooker". Mainly because nobody's interested in the truth, especially the men who pay for sex. I assume that's because they don't spare much of a thought for childhood sexual abuse, sex slavery and drug addiction.
Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is an industry that involves upwards of 20 million human beings, and is also rampant in First World countries.
So as a society, we need to stop focusing on the tiny minority who keep shouting about how great paying for sex is for everyone. Instead of seeing prostitutes as contented employees or criminals, we need to start treating the vast majority of women in the industry as what they are – victims.
Under the current awful system, prostitution is legal in some states and illegal in others, and so poorly policed that it may as well be legal in all of them.
So isn't it time we stopped ignoring the horrors these women suffer. At the very least, we've got to stop pretending that they're at all ''happy".
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.