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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Lately, I’ve received several requests from escorts, especially mature ones, asking how they can move toward the business model I’ve built, namely eschewing formal advertising altogether and just relying on guys who contact me because of my blogging, Twitter, articles, books, video interviews, podcast appearances, etc.  And I’m always hesitant to even try to answer such questions because, though I often play at being terribly conceited and full of myself, it’s always done with enough of a smile and a wink that most people know it’s a tease (at least, I hope they know).  In reality, it took a very long time for me to accept that I was even attractive, much less a bona fide sex symbol, and I’m still not really comfortable with discussing that status as a factual thing; as a result, I find it difficult to answer the question “How can I market myself as you do?” by stating the true and factual answer: “Be Maggie McNeill”.  No, I’m not being facetious; that really is the truth.  By the time I started escorting full-time at the age of 33, my personality was already pretty firmly established in all of its unconventional, intense, neuroatypical, compulsive, fiery glory, and trying to hide or disguise that personality would’ve been almost as difficult as trying to get a new head.  From the time I was a stripper I’ve never made any effort to “round my shoulders” as my old friend Dr. Helena put it, in other words to soften my edges and cool my fire so as to be less threatening to men.  Some men love my strength and fury, but a larger number are intimidated by them; that’s just something I’ve had to accept as the price of being who I am.  As I’ve explained before, aside from the occasional nude selfie or the like, I’ve never really done anything solely for marketing purposes; astute readers may have noticed that my ads on various escort ad sites are always plagiarized from one another, because I find it much too difficult to find new ways to praise myself.  I didn’t start this blog to market myself as an escort; remember, for the first five years I pretended to be retired!  No, I started it to educate people about sex work and speak about what I believe in, and I started Twitter to promote the blog.  Then the interviews, speaking gigs, books, etc, all followed as natural consequences of that, and eventually I realized there was no point in hiding my identity from potential customers when it was pretty clear that, in our current surveillance state, the “authorities” already knew who I was anyhow.  In other words, I didn’t go looking for fame; it just sort of happened to me, and business (plus the likely attention of evildoers) followed close behind.  Simply put, I can’t possibly tell you or anybody how to get to where I’ve found myself because it wasn’t the result of any kind of brilliant and well-considered plan; it just kinda happened as a result of the choices I made, and those in turn were just outgrowths of who I am.  I realize “Be Maggie McNeill” is useless as career advice to anyone who isn’t already Maggie McNeill, but I’m afraid it’s all I’ve got.

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Moral panics are a natural, if unfortunate, byproduct of the tribal instincts of the great ape called homo sapiens.  They tend to last roughly a generation from start to finish (sometimes, mercifully, a little shorter) and can cause tremendous damage to individuals’ lives and society in general before they’re over.  Clever sociopaths have always found ways to profit from these periodic waves of hysteria; for example, evil opportunists would often hurl accusations of witchcraft at widows whose land they wanted to steal.  But the first major moral panic of the internet era (the Satanic Panic was already moribund by the time AOL began its first major marketing campaign) has created a market for profiting from hysterical propaganda on a scale never before seen in human history.  It’s impossible to even guess how large what Laura Agustín dubbed the “rescue industry” has grown, but when its connections to the garment industry are considered, it’s probably safe to say that it’s comparable in size to its own imaginary claims about “sex trafficking”.  In 2011 the propagandists declared January “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month”, probably due to the increasing popularity of the myth that the Super Bowl, which is held in the first few days of February, is a huge driver of “sex trafficking”, with huge cargoes of “sex slaves” trucked into every host city, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transportation and lodging.  Cops and other police-state organs have taken advantage of the hype as an excuse to present their pogroms and “stings” as “sex trafficking operations”, and as a result every January now produces an avalanche of idiotic propaganda (absurdly referred to as “education” or “raising awareness”) that is shockingly stupid even by the very low standards of “sex trafficking” propaganda.  Take this incredible mass of lies from KAKE in Wichita, Kansas:

…“Back Page [sic] needed to be shut down,” [oinked vice pig] Brent Huhman…“they were exploiting…women”…It was considered a hotbed for human trafficking, which can lead to missing people.  The site’s creators would defend the user-posted advertisements…they were not responsible for [under section 230 of the CDA]…However, [federal propaganda claimed] it…pushed moderators to approve [questionable]…ads [despite ample evidence to the contrary]…

The rest is the usual hodgepodge of local “news” copsucking, yellow journalism, parent-scaring, bogus math, BDSM sexual fantasies, surveillance cheerleading and more.  This article from KDRV in Medford, Oregon is every bit as moronic:

Oregon police report that they encounter 3-5 victims of human trafficking per week; 80% of these victims are women, 50% are children.  “People don’t realize that sex trafficking with children is a silent epidemic in the United States,” said Kirsten Arreguin…of Redemption Ridge…“Portland is the second largest city for forced child prostitution in the United States right after Las Vegas”…Traffickers spend considerable time in areas where children congregate such as parks, malls, youth shelters and on social media in order to carefully lure their victims into sex slavery…

It is a sign of the incredible mathematical illiteracy rampant in the US that nobody questions a “report” which begins with “statistics” that add up to 130% (children cannot be women and vice versa, so the categories cannot overlap).  And the prohibitionist sexual fantasy of “pimps” hanging out at every playground is so sick that one has to wonder how anyone higher on the evolutionary scale than a cop could possibly take it seriously, until one considers that these are the same mouth-breathers who claim there are more “sex trafficking” cases in Oregon alone than in the entire United States (“…jail intelligence suggests approximately 595 minors and 1,191 adults are currently victims of sex trafficking currently in the Portland metro area…“); presumably “jail intelligence” is Copese for “tall tales told by prisoners trying to get on cops’ good sides”, because there aren’t even 500 full-service sex workers in Portland, much less “child sex slaves” (this fantasy claims about 1 “sex slave” per 400 adult men in the area).  Support for sex worker rights is growing all the time, and even some of the usual suspects are beginning to recognize prohibition for what it is.  But cops, politicians and profiteers are going to continue publicly masturbating while riding the gravy train until it finally runs off the rails for good.

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Almost a year ago I published “In the Club“, wherein I explained my two-year plan for reducing stress and making my life easier by spending more energy on the things I’m good at, and less on the things I’m not good at.  I’ve never been good at marketing, and the post-FOSTA advertising landscape is so frustrating I can’t even deal with it any more.  So as I explained in the aforementioned column,

…by the end of [2019]…I’d like to be off of formal escort advertising sites entirely.  This doesn’t mean I’m going Under the Radar, which would be impossible anyhow; it just means I want to increase the fraction of my business which does not come from traditional ad malls…to 100%.  I am moving toward all of my business being either regulars or people who approach me via my blog, Twitter, other writing, my public speaking, TV interviews, etc.  Then…I want to tighten it up even more so that by the end of 2020 I’m no longer taking new clients without a direct recommendation from one of my friends.  I have no plans to stop working any time soon; I enjoy my work and I like making people happy.  What I don’t like is having to constantly deal with advertising, screening and all that jazz.  If you’ve already seen me or plan to soon, you’ve got nothing to worry about; once you’re a proven client you are “in” unless you start acting like a flake or a danger.  But if you want to be in that select group, I suggest you not wait much longer…

Well, so far so good; I dropped Eros last summer and though most of the men who’ve contacted me from my other traditional ads have been cretins and/or time-wasters, I’m in exactly the same position with my budget (two months ahead) as I was last January.  What this tells me is that there’s no real point in paying for ads any longer, because most of my business is coming via other channels anyhow.  I’m not going to delete my ads completely, but neither will I be paying for upgrades or the like; my own escort website and the various media I appear in seem to suffice.  That means I’m apparently on course to stop taking new, unrecommended clients by the end of this year.  Now, mice and men and all; things may not go as I hope, and I may have to push back the deadline.  But I wouldn’t count on that if I were you.  It’s not at all unusual for new clients to tell me that they’ve wanted to see me for a while, but put it off in order to build up their courage to approach me; after the end of this year, it’s very possible that guys who do that may find they’ve procrastinated for too long.  So if you’d like to be in the “club” of people I’ll see in the future, I suggest you make a date in the next few months, while I’m still taking applications.

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If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.  –  Desmond Tutu

2019 will be remembered as the year it became fashionable for opportunistic prohibitionists to pretend to be concerned about the harm done to sex workers by the policies of criminalization they have supported for the past two decades.  While the deranged puritans who deny our agency, share their disgusting sexual fantasies about us in public and intentionally send thugs to deceive, rape and cage us (while pretending they want to “rescue” us from the bogeymen who reside only in their fevered imaginations) are just as awful as ever and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, those who merely jumped on the “sex trafficking” bandwagon to sell something or gain power are now pretending to have been “neutral” before, but sympathetic now because they finally bothered to look at the mountains of data we’ve been showing them since the turn of the century, or something.  But because these sociopaths wouldn’t know a moral compass if one were driven into their faces with an impact wrench, their attempts to sound sympathetic are pathetic at best and deeply insulting at worst.

Power-mad shitbag Elizabeth Warren, for example, has signed on to support a “study of the impact of FOSTA” while simultaneously scheming (again) to steal sex workers’ money and shut us out of the banking system.  But while her duplicity is disguised well enough to fool the insufficiently-cynical, this recent effort by the staunchly-prohibitionist New York Times is embarrassingly transparent.  The newspaper which launched “sex trafficking” hysteria 16 years ago this month with a fantasy called “The Girls Next Door”, and which has since then functioned as one of the primary organs spreading “sex trafficking” hysteria with lies, masturbatory fantasies from Nick Kristof, and copsucking propaganda, now wants us to believe that it gives a shit about us.  And yet, it isn’t even trying to remove prohibitionist fecal matter from its lips before speaking up.  It starts in the lede by referring to censorship as “holding tech platforms accountable” and then refers to sex workers’ ads & online activism as “sex-trafficking schemes” and “the ills of the internet”.  It then goes on to argue that censorship is mostly a good thing as long as the government precedes that censorship with years of propaganda demonizing & dehumanizing its intended targets, and describes FOSTA-enabled censorship as “mostly positive” (“the results are not all positive” is semantically equivalent to “the results are mostly positive”).  And that’s just in the first two paragraphs; a little further along sex work is dysphemized as “the bartering of children and adults” and a law specifically designed to censor the internet and opposed by every human rights and speech group in the country is said to have been “hailed as a way to catch up to…reality”.

The most astonishing part of all this?  The Times’ writers are so clueless they really think this milquetoast admission of the harms of FOSTA is enough to erase a generation of cheerleading for tyranny.  It will be interesting to see how they, and myriad others of their ilk, try to avoid being “held accountable” for their incredibly irresponsible actions as sex worker rights follows the footsteps of LGBT rights into the mainstream of US political discussion.

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Readers with long memories may recall that January second has often been a day on which big things happen in my life.  It was the day my first husband Jack left me, and it wasn’t long after this day in 1985 that I got paid for sex for the very first time.  But twenty years ago today, January 2nd, 2000, was the date I began my full-time professional escorting career, after years of being in that neighborhood via sugaring, stripping, and what the literature calls “casual prostitution”.  And it didn’t take long before I realized that my life would never be the same again.  For the first time I could make all the money I needed and then some, with no looming debts hanging over my head, no romantic partner to accomodate, and no boss to answer to.  It’s true that I quickly discovered escort service owners can be even more awful than club owners, but it takes a lot less money and connections to start an escort service than to open a strip club, so that’s what I did.  And as the internet and the advertising options it offered grew, I was eventually able to dump that encumbrance as well.  I’ve now been monetizing my sexuality for almost 70% of my life (which is to say, basically my entire adult life), and it’s hard for me now to imagine doing things any other way; that’s especially true when I see news stories or conversations about the oppressive, exploitative conditions in most modern employment, not to mention square jobs’ lack of security and the growing tendency for employers to exert control over their employees’ private lives (firing them because of things they said on social media or because the boss got ahold of one of their nude photos, etc).  With the sole exception of librarianship (about 4.5 years), none of the square jobs I ever had lasted over 9 months; most were even shorter than that.  But once I found a profession in which I could be myself, do things my own way, control my own schedule and answer to absolutely nobody, yet be handsomely rewarded for my time and effort, there was absolutely no way I’d ever be able to see the world as an amateur ever again.  And though the past twenty years haven’t always been easy, my work was never a contributing factor to that; on the contrary, it has given me the resources and flexibility to do what I needed to manage the rest.

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Injustice in the end produces independence.  –  Voltaire

At long last, my prophecy from eight years past is beginning to come true.  It has taken a bit longer than I predicted, roughly three or four extra years; the difference is due to the US, state and some foreign governments (not to mention sociopathic billionaires) dumping far more money and effort into maintaining the propaganda than I had imagined they would.  But as it so often does, the hubris of those who yearn for power over others above all else undermined their own plans; in the spring of last year power-drunk US politicians tried to use the hysteria to achieve their long-desired goal of control over the internet, and the result of that power grab – the massive internet-censorship bill called FOSTA – badly backfired, galvanizing sex worker activism so powerfully that neither the media nor up-and-coming politicians could ignore it any longer.  Populations of sex workers who once preferred to remain silent have become extremely vocal, and many media outlets who once ignored or opposed us are now reporting on our demands and publishing supportive articles, many of them centered around the damage done by FOSTA and its attendant pogroms.  Academics in many fields are urging decriminalization for a broad front of reasons, and the broken-down Hollywood celebrities who champion police violence against women are increasingly finding themselves ignored or even publicly mocked for their cluelessness.  “Feminist” anti-sex rhetoric is finally being recognized as the puritanical garbage it always has been, and the hysteria, as I predicted it would long ago, is rapidly approaching the point of implosion.  Even politicians, those opportunistic crowd-followers who fantasize themselves “leaders”, have finally recognized support for sex workers as a possible path to power (especially those campaigning as reformist district attorneys).  Soon the government will recognize that its manufactured hysteria has accomplished all it is likely to accomplish, and shift the money it has flushed down the “sex trafficking” toilet to some new civil-rights-destroying boondoggle; all that will be left then is to fight the myriad laws it spawned and attempt to salvage what remains of the internet once the FOSTA-enabled lawsuits are done.  But widespread public recognition of sex worker rights as a valid cause is here to stay, and no matter how dark the days before victory is finally achieved, the prohibitionists can no more undo that than they can undo LGBT rights or the slow-motion collapse of the drug war.

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[The War on Whores] is no more “well-meaning” than the Drug War, alcohol Prohibition, Jim Crow or any other campaign of government violence against individuals and civil rights.  –  “Malice Aforethought

Every December 17th, sex workers around the world gather together to mourn our dead.  Last year, the list was far longer than I had ever seen it before, and for the first time almost everyone who isn’t a violent prohibitionist fanatic understood and acknowledged that the reason is the criminalization of our work; furthermore, most understood that the reason for the increase was the massive internet censorship law called FOSTA.  Now, it’s true that most outside of the demimonde still choose to believe the contemptible lie that this law, intentionally designed to cripple the internet and to expose sex workers, our clients and our support services to persecution, legal harassment and violence, was somehow intended to “help” us, presumably in the same way that burning down a house constitutes “redecoration”.  Because even in the Trump era most people are far too frightened of reality to admit that their government wantonly enacts laws and procedures whose specific and intentional purpose is to destroy the lives of anyone it has designated an “enemy of the state”, they prefer to pretend that this bloated abomination, passed nigh-unanimously by both houses of Congress, was just a massive “whoopsie” and that politicians weren’t repeatedly warned (by sex workers, academics, human rights experts and even their own Department of “Justice”) that it would do exactly what it has done.  Of course this is utter nonsense:  most of those who supported the law knew exactly what it would do, which is why they supported it in the first place; the ones who didn’t know simply didn’t care because votes bought with blood are still votes.  But the prohibitionists and their political stooges foolishly thought that sex workers would continue to cower like whipped dogs, and that FOSTA would make it even easier for them to continue to speak for us and tell lurid masturbatory fantasies about our lives; in their hubris they did not stop to consider that once whores were pushed into a corner with nowhere to go, that they would be forced to fight.  And fight they have, to a degree I’ve never before seen in the US.  Many journalists have taken note and are siding with us; academics in many fields are joining them in pointing out the hopeless garbage that prohibitionists represent as “facts”.  And possibly most important of all, even a few politicians have come around to recognizing that we represent a valuable constituency.  I do not know what the body count will look like a year from today, but I do know that the time when those slain by the evil policies of the police state were simply left to rot in the shadows are over.  Now when we mourn our dead, others are paying attention, and many of them are at long last pointing fingers at the culprits with titles and costumes.

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