A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business. - Eric Hoffer
Eleven updates and two metaupdates.
Election Day (November 2nd, 2010)
The campaign to ban police and prosecutors from using condoms as “evidence of prostitution” is ramping up; last week a group of public health and human rights advocates spoke to the New York legislature, and supporters now have their own website. Find out what you can do to help end this public health nightmare; success in New York will reinforce efforts in other states.
Maggie in the Media (February 3rd, 2011)
My column on the Secret Service scandal attracted quite a lot of media attention. Last Friday James Wolcott of Vanity Fair quoted me, writing “Maggie McNeill, whose always provocative and independent-thinking blog The Honest Courtesan provides “a whore’s-eye view on current events,” is unable to stifle a yawn over the unholy fuss being made over the Secret Service agent and the underpaid escort, which has flowered into a hothouse scandal…” On that same day I spoke to Abby Ellin of ABC News, whose story appeared on Monday:
“If it had happened here, the woman couldn’t have gone to the police and said, ‘These guys are trying to cheat me out of money.’ Instead, she would have been hurt and cheated, and Mr. Agent Man would have gone home and patted himself on the back for having gotten one over on her,” said Maggie McNeill, a former New Orleans call girl and the founder of The Honest Courtesan.
She also wrote:
But while they acknowledge the potential dangers to national security, sex workers in the United States think the “breach” argument is another form of discrimination against prostitutes. ”If the issue is attracting attention or bragging about being in the security detail, then it would be a problem if they brought in any outsider,” said McNeill. ”If that’s the case, then what difference does it make if she’s a prostitute or an accountant?”
The next day, Newstrack India drew on the ABC story for its own report, which said: “Maggie McNeill, a former New Orleans call girl and the founder of The Honest Courtesan, and others have said that the policy was ridiculous, and that criminalizing prostitution was not only a human rights violation, but also a safety and labour issue.” Meanwhile, I was contacted by the producer of The O’Reilly Factor to be on Tuesday’s show, but I didn’t want to show my face on national television and O’Reilly understandably wanted someone he could look in the eye; instead they got Sienna Baskin of the Sex Workers Project, whom I am told held her own very well (probably better than I could’ve, because O’Reilly would almost certainly have flustered me).
Not the Same Tree (February 18th, 2011)
Matyas Pis was…convicted of controlling prostitution…The [two] women said they asked…Pis to book their air tickets, and he provided them with an apartment…Judge Burgess said the women were not being held against their will, but he could not ignore that “human trafficking is a global problem and we should not be blind to the fact that it is happening right now in Northern Ireland…”
So obviously this judge would convict men for having consensual sex on the grounds that he heard somewhere that 1 in 4 women have been raped.
What’s the Legal Definition of Prostitution Again? (April 17th, 2011)
I wasn’t going to say anything about this article criticizing a new halfway whore site, because it’s sadly typical of Jezebel’s stealth anti-sex work oeuvre. But then Lolo de Sucre of Tits and Sass published this thoroughly awesome takedown entitled “Jezebel Blogger Saves Unwitting Women from Accidentally Prostituting Themselves ‘in Fucking Thailand or Some Shit’”, which you absolutely must read; her caption for this picture is especially brilliant.
Handy Figures (June 11th, 2011)
Dr. Brooke Magnanti referenced this column and two others in a new article on the methodological deficiencies of prohibitionist “studies”. Meanwhile, an otherwise-uninteresting news article led me to this equally-uninteresting 2006 item which nonetheless contained one interesting statistic: 49% of Indian men are now willing to admit they’ve paid for sex, which is much closer to the truth than the laughably low figures many American “researchers” produce via poorly-phrased questions.
Sisters in Arms (July 14th, 2011)
Tennessee joins the list of states defining miscarriage as murder; this article quotes and links others from Knox News, RH Reality Check, Think Progress and The Tennessean. Had enough yet, neofeminists and nanny-staters? Because the policies you support provide the precedents for these abominations.
Schadenfreude (November 28th, 2011)
[At a UN panel] Somaly Mam…[falsely claimed] that when police raided her Afesip centre in Phnom Penh in 2004, eight of the girls were…murdered…83 women…[were taken to the] centre…after a raid…on the Chai Hour 11 Hotel, where it was alleged that underage girls were providing sexual services…However, the following day, the centre itself was raided by government officials and members of the detained women’s families, and the women released…Somaly Mam [claimed] these officials colluded with the owners of the hotel, but a number of the women released [insisted] to reporters that they…resented being “rescued”. It was also disputed that any of the women were underage…No reports…suggested any of the women…were missing…[and] the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights [expressed] surprise at Mam’s…claim…[Pierre Legros, Mam’s ex-husband and] Afesip’s international director at the time of the raids, also denied that any…girls were murdered…he said that previous claims by his ex that their daughter had…been kidnapped and gang-raped in revenge for her mother’s activism were also untrue…[the] daughter had simply run off with her boyfriend…the lack of evidence of Mam’s claims…seriously [undermines] her credibility. Observers had for some time felt that Mam had become preoccupied with her identity as an international celebrity…
Presents, Presents, Presents! (December 29th, 2011)
On Tuesday I received a DVD of The Thing from Lord Oberon, then yesterday the UPS man brought me John Stossel’s new book No, They Can’t from Elisabeth Whispers. Thank you both so much for thinking about me!
An Example to the West (April 3rd, 2012)
The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) held its conference in Istanbul last week, and unlike similar events in the United States, sex worker rights groups were welcomed there as important participants. Dr. Laura Agustín wrote about the proceedings:
…I was at this event most of last week, part of a group promoting a vision of sex work, migration and feminism that emphasizes agency, the state of being in action, taking power, making decisions even when presented with few options. We overtly challenged the reductionist, infantilising ideology that has come to dominate mainstream policy and faux journalism (like The New York Times’s) by attending many sessions and commenting…
TrustLaw reported on the conference as well, highlighting Agustín’s contribution and also quoting the EMPOWER Foundation:
“We are forced to live with the modern lie that border controls and anti-trafficking policies are for our protection…We have been spied on, arrested, cut off from our families, had our savings confiscated, interrogated, imprisoned and placed into the hands of the men with guns…all in the name of ‘protection against trafficking’”…one woman [said]: “At a restaurant you get a menu and you look at all the options before you pick out your selection …Some restaurants have a huge menu and some only have a few dishes – either way the process is the same. Vegetarians may not understand when you choose a steak, and others may not understand when we choose to do sex work.”
Much Ado About Nothing (April 14th, 2012)
Since the public stubbornly refuses to get worked up over the “news” that G-men hire whores, the news media is casting its net more widely: “…anonymous sources [said] that Secret Service employees received sexual favors from strippers at a club in San Salvador and took prostitutes to their hotel rooms…in March 2011.” Stop the Presses! Men buying sex while travelling on business! Why, that’s never happened before in the history of the world! Contrast that non-story with this, which SHOULD have caused a scandal last December but was instead ignored by the American media:
A former Brazilian prostitute plans to sue the United States embassy and five of its personnel for injuries sustained outside a strip club [on December 29th]…Romilda Aparecida Ferreira…[is suing] for injuries, medical expenses, lost income, and psychological trauma after an embassy van ran over her and left her stranded in the club parking lot with a broken collarbone, punctured lung and other injuries…A civil suit would compound a case in which Brazilian prosecutors have already said they are considering criminal charges…Little noticed at the time, the incident in Brasília…gained traction this week…
It was “little noticed” because the American media didn’t give a damn about several apes in uniform mutilating a hooker (NHI and all that). But now that it can be tangentially hooked to a “prostitution scandal” it’s suddenly news.
Ad Scortum (April 16th, 2012)
In order to combat prohibitionist claims that satisfied, well-adjusted sex workers are “not representative”, Greta Christina has invited us to tell our stories in a thread from which prohibitionists and other non-sex workers are specifically excluded. If you’re a present or past sex worker of any kind (it’s not limited to whores) please contribute; the thread is already over 100 responses long!
In yet another sign that the anti-whore tide may be receding, The New York Daily News published this article strongly criticizing Anna Gristina’s treatment:
…in Florida, a judge granted $150,000 bail for George Zimmerman, who is charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin. Last week, a career criminal named Ivan Ramos was arrested after allegedly raping, sodomizing and robbing a young woman…Facing 15 years, an obvious flight risk and a clear threat to the community, Ramos was given $300,000 bail. Meanwhile, Anna Gristina…has been held on $2 million bond since Feb. 22 on a nonviolent charge of promoting prostitution…[which usually results in] probation and carries a maximum sentence of two to seven years…two weeks ago five male hotel clerks were charged…with the same exact crime [and] released on their own recognizance, without posting a dime in bail…What’s more obscene? A woman charged with promoting the world’s oldest profession that attracts governors, U.S. senators, congressmen and Secret Servicemen? Or this flagrant abuse of judicial power that’s turned the Blind Lady of Justice into a streetwalker?
American readers, have you called your congressman about CISPA yet? If not, you’d better hurry:
Up until [Thursday] afternoon, the final vote on CISPA was supposed to be [Friday]. Then, abruptly, it was moved up…and the House voted in favor of its passage…248-168…[after] an absolutely terrible change (…amendment #6)…[in] what the government can do with shared information…Astonishingly, it was described as limiting the government’s power…though it in fact expands it…Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more…have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children…Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all…[and] the government could do whatever it wants with the data…CISPA is now a completely unsupportable bill that…eliminates …all privacy laws for any situation that involves a computer…
The government’s doubletalk was so masterful it even succeeded in convincing some CISPA opponents that the changes limited its power, but as Leigh Beadon explains in this follow-up to her article above, that’s totally false.
One Year Ago Today
“The Coffee Klatsch” provides samples of the blogs of three other hookers with whom I’m friendly.