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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

In the past few weeks I’ve seen my name and my work all over the place!  The War on Whores is starting to get more attention, and this coming weekend I’ll be doing three screenings in Florida with the help of SWOP Behind Bars:  Friday at 5 PM at the LGBT Center in Orlando; Saturday at 11 AM for an academic audience in St. Petersburg; and Sunday at 5 PM at a pub in Tampa (contact SWOP Behind Bars for details).  Thank y’all so much for responding to my request for more reviews, and Stephen Lemmons of Frontpage Confidential wrote a long-form review here:

Sex worker, writer and savant Maggie McNeill’s new documentary, The War on Whores, should be required viewing for all journalists covering the movement to decriminalize sex work…The film is part autobiography, part exposé  on the deceitfulness of the so-called “rescue industry,” a cabal of nonprofits, talking heads and cops that has created a nationwide moral panic over “sex trafficking”…[which] these fascistic do-gooder types [conflate with]…garden-variety prostitution…to [further] the rescue industry’s long con…McNeill has an intellect sharper than a diamond cutter, possesses more than one college degree, and is a brilliant writer whose work has appeared in Reason magazine, the Cato Institute’s Cato Unbound, and the Washington Post,  where a 2014 column of hers, “Lies, damned lies and sex work statistics”, remains part of the requisite syllabus for anyone following the fight for decrim, one of the great civil rights struggles of our age…

As it happens, I’ve got an article in the current issue of Reason, “Consenting To Be Paid for Sex Is Still Consenting!“; it inspired this essay on Patheos:

…If a man…believes that women are resources to be bartered among men, resources who control access to sex but don’t actually deserve control over their own bodies, then we have a problem.  Because, as McNeill points out…“sex is an exchange, whether you like it or not.”  It’s just that when the relationship is coded as intimate, monogamous, mutually affectionate, and non-transactional, there seems to be no cost to either party (despite the bartering around chores and such that obviously happens between some long-term monogamous couples).  But thinking of sex in these terms does not negate the importance of consent…if you firmly, utterly believe that women are capable of giving consent in intimate relationships but not in sex work, then you need to reexamine your assumptions about what it’s like to live and work under capitalism.  If you believe that women “owe” men sex, and that sex is thus a resource that the government can step in to redistribute through “enforced monogamy” or whatever nonsense of the day is being spouted, then you need to examine your internalized misogyny.  People can and do give consent under conditions that are not always of their choosing – but hey, welcome to life…

And even though I’m not directly quoted in this one from the Chicago Tribune, I did assist author Steve Chapman in finding the sources he needed (note that Steve understands the difference between legalization & decriminalization even i the editor who wrote that headline doesn’t):

…Most commodities and services that may be legally given away may also be bought and sold.  But not sex.  A person can use all sorts of persuasive means to get another person to go to bed with them.  And a person can consent to do so for a vast range of motives.  When money changes hands for that explicit purpose, though, the law suddenly intrudes…Tens of thousands of men and women are arrested each year for their role in it…We have long since embraced the idea that what adults choose to do for sexual gratification is not the business of the government.  One day we may accept that the same is true for whether they pay for it…

After ten years of very public activism, it looks like my message is finally beginning to sink into enough heads to attract even politicians’ attention.  And given how big and loud the sex worker rights movement is becoming, it’ll just go up from here.

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I promised I’d show y’all a photo of the lovely steel rose sculpture a gentleman gave me three weeks ago, but I’m afraid photography is not one of my strong suits and this was the best I could do (I decided to hold it in my hand for scale).  It’s one of several generous gifts I’ve received lately; another was a very fancy drill press for Grace, which I’ll be taking her when I visit Friday for her birthday.  Alas, unlike the rose I don’t know who sent the drill press; ever since Amazon started doing its own deliveries it has really dropped the ball on packaging, so the first I knew of the delivery was when one of my neighbors told me it was sitting outside my door, just as though it had been taken from a shelf at Home Depot, with no shipping carton or packing list or anything to let me know who sent it (other than the shipping label with my address on it).  I’ve mentioned it on Twitter several times, but no answer; if you sent it, please let me know!  And speaking of presents, it’s now my turn to give one to some of y’all:  Paul Johnson received our first shipment of DVDs late last week, so I’ll be sending those out to donors very soon!  If you donated at the $60 or $125 level, expect me to ask your address in the next few days.  In just over a week I’ll be flying to Florida for three screenings arranged by SWOP Behind Bars; thanks to all my donors for helping that to happen!  And thanks to everyone who kindness and generosity – in the past, in the future and every day – helps make my life just a bit easier and a whole lot nicer.

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As the Beatles said in a song that isn’t the one this column is named for, “I get by with a little help from my friends”.  And that’s what this is; a request for a little help from you, my readers and friends.  Of course, the most helpful help is usually monetary, but I’m aware that many of you may be suffering from giving fatigue lately; therefore only the FIRST of these requests is for monetary help.  The other two won’t cost you a cent, though the second one will cost you some time; the third only requires a change in the way you do things.

First, as is not unusual with GoFundMe projects, mine is stalled at just over the halfway mark.  So if you haven’t contributed yet, please do so by clicking here!  And if you already have, please consider doing so again, or subscribing to my blog by clicking one of the handy buttons in the margin.  So far, your contributions have enabled the burning of DVDs (which should be delivered to us this week), getting The War on Whores onto Amazon (where you can watch it for FREE if you’re a Prime member), and doing several sponsored screenings for groups which couldn’t otherwise afford it.  Please keep us going so we can get on iTunes and keep doing those sponsored screenings (next ones are coming in Florida in only two weeks)!  And even though I’m not allowed to advertise gifts directly on GoFundMe, there are indeed gifts and you can see them here.

Second:  speaking of Amazon, their algorithms dig up things a lot better if they have more reviews; would you please consider reviewing The War on Whores, The Forms of Things Unknown and/or Ladies of the Night for me?  More reviews could result in more sales, and more sales not only means more money, but more exposure.  Since all the items are linked by my name, increased attention to the books could also mean increased attention to the film, which will get the message out that much more.  And since the film is being considered “adult” by search engines, that’s extra-important in these days of shadowbans, hidden content and de-weighted search results intended to bury anything sex-industry-related where it can’t disturb the sleep of prudes and prohibitionists.

And that brings us to number 3.  Due to Twitter shadowbanning sex workers (removing us from search results, etc) my follower count has been stalled for a very long time.  So what I need is for those of you who follow me there to consider replacing some or most of your “likes” with retweets.  “Likes” are nice, but they don’t put my tweets in front of more eyeballs, and since I’m fortunate in having a very large fraction of my followers come from outside the demimonde, retweets allow my tweets to be seen by people who might not otherwise have seen them.  More viewers = more readers = more exposure for my writing, speaking, etc, including The War on Whores.  And because of that war, we whores need all the support we can get.

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When we eventually win our rights back we will, in a strange way, have our oppressors to thank for it.  –  “Cornered Animals

Contrary to popular American belief, no French government since the Revolution has been friendly to sex workers who catered to the middle and working classes, and after the Second World War mere oppression escalated into outright hostility; eventually, however, the French cops’ and politicians’ attacks on sex workers grew so incessantly violent that 44 years ago today they protested by occupying the Church of St. Nizier in Lyon.  The occupation lasted only a week before the cops dispersed it with their usual methods, tear gas and horrific beatings, but the seed had been planted and sex worker rights organizations popped up in many countries; these groups won many victories in their first 30 years, until prohibitionists started to counterattack with lies, propaganda and huge amounts of money.  Since its beginning in 2004, the synthetic “sex trafficking” hysteria (a recycling of the deeply-racist late 19th & early 20th century “white slavery” hysteria which resulted in the imposition of many awful laws in the British Empire and full criminalization in the US) has undermined sex worker rights in much of the world and spawned an immense, expensive and vicious War on Whores in the United States, following in the footsteps of the equally-ruinous War on Drugs which has eroded civil liberties, turned the police into an occupying army and destroyed the lives of millions.

Then early last year, the prohibitionists achieved what they thought would be a definitive victory:  they persuaded and bribed the mob of moral imbeciles we call the US Congress to nigh-unanimously pass a blatantly-unconstitutional censorship law called FOSTA-SESTA intended to bankrupt, harm and kill sex workers and turn the entire internet into a walled garden controlled by the fascist coalition of Washington politicians, Hollywood media companies and a few hand-picked internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon.  But as I noted just a few weeks after the law’s passage, it has had the opposite of its creators’ desired effect:  rather than silencing sex workers, it has frightened the quiet majority of our profession (including the less-criminalized branches like strippers) into raising their voices in support of the minority who have always been vocal.  Rather than convincing the public that our violent suppression was some kind of good, it has instead galvanized public support to a level never before seen in the US, and media outlets which actively supported the hysteria for over a decade are now publishing debunkings of prohibitionist propaganda and editorials in favor of decriminalization.  Rather than being seen as a holy tool of salvation for imaginary “sex slaves”, FOSTA-SESTA is being widely questioned, ridiculed and even attacked by reporters, commentators and even comedians.  And perhaps most tellingly, politicians who up until recently coudn’t even be bothered to accept that sex workers have basic civil rights are now actively calling for decriminalization.  As I wrote last year, “the tyrants have…inflicted so much brutal violence that even the sheep are fighting back alongside bitches like me who have never submitted obediently to the control of our self-appointed masters.”  And it’s about fucking time; maybe even Gay, Inc will eventually pull its swollen head out of its collective rectum and support us as it should have all along.  It will be neither an easy fight nor a quick one, but neither was the struggle for LGBT rights and look how far that’s come.  I don’t know if I’ll be around to see the end of that struggle which began in France over 40 years ago, but many of you reading this will.  And I’m perfectly satisfied with that.

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After a week of events and misadventures, it was good to get back to my normal routine for a few days.   The night I got home I wasted a perfectly good buzz on falling asleep like a log, and for the next few night couldn’t even stay awake through my usual bedtime TV show.  But I caught up on my sleep, had a good week of work, solidified a lot of travel plans and event arrangements, saw The War on Whores become available on Amazon, enjoyed a Doctor Who night with Lorelei and then yesterday got up much too early to do a remote-via-internet Q&A session after a screening of The War on Whores at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok, Thailand (made possible by your generous support!) So that was my week, and this one looks to be not-dissimilar; I’m enjoying the relative quiet and normality before I have to start traveling again next week!

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Meagan works for Prostasia, the organization which sponsored the Bay Area screening of The War on Whores, and I met her in person the day of the screening.  She interviewed me for Prostasia’s podcast (see below), and when Jeremy Malcolm sent me the link to the video he also included this essay Meagan wrote, which I found so sweet and touching I asked for permission to share it.

Why Maggie McNeill is My Hero

There are a lot of good reasons why Maggie McNeill should totally be your hero.  I mean, she’s brilliant, well spoken, sexy as all get out, an outspoken advocate for civil liberties, sex worker rights, sex positivity, child protection, the list goes on.  Basically, Maggie is the feminist we need if not the feminist we deserve.  But that’s not why she’s my hero.

Allow me to tell you a story.  Just to set the scene, it’s a Tuesday in the Bay Area.  My boss and I have had the pleasure of hosting Maggie all afternoon and evening.  She was kind enough to do an interview for Prostasia’s Podcast Sex, Human Rights, and CSA Prevention, then we all shared a lovely dinner and cocktails.  That was followed with the Bay Area premiere of The War on Whores, and we all capped the night off with lovely conversation and pie in a little diner near her hotel where we were dropping her off.  But on the way from screening to pie, there was a spot of bother on the freeway; a large plastic garbage can had wedged itself under the car and for a moment we feared we’d popped a tire.  So we pulled over and got out to investigate.

Now, it’s worth noting that I don’t drive and have a deep mistrust of cars, despite accepting them as a necessary means of transportation.  So I’m standing on the side of the road with my boss and Maggie, and she comes to the conclusion that if she and I stand on the garbage can while he backs the car up slowly, our combined weight will keep the can in place so we can free it from under the car.  I dunno what you always thought a day with a (in)famous sex worker would be like, but friends, this isn’t what I had in mind…Anywho, Maggie, who is super brave, btw, and I stand with a foot each and most of our weight on the can and the car is backed up slowly.  The closer the wheel got to our feet, the more I started to panic; directly to our backs were cars rushing by at freeway speed and directly in front of our toes was a car tire.  So, some part of my brain is aware that in my professional capacity, I should have probably had Maggie stand at the side of the road, away from the scary cars, and done this myself, because good hosting and whatnot.  But I’m apparently a giant baby, so instead of honorably protecting our guest, she casually coached me through this ordeal as I whimpered and had trouble forcing my body to keep my foot in place.  Her plan worked perfectly, but during the last stages she kept her foot on the can and it started dragging her a bit (she’s been in heels and a slinky evening type gown this whole time, btw).  So before I know what I’m doing, I think I wrapped my arms around her to make absolutely sure she didn’t go down as the center of balance changed.  I’m pretty sure she was in no danger of that, and it was a dorky overreaction on my part.  Hi, my name is Meagan and I was a huge dork in front of Maggie McNeill several times in a day and she was nice to me anyway.

The thing is, anyone can cultivate a reputation, and social media makes it easier than ever to build and perpetuate propaganda.  But these silly, random, slightly dangerous moments in life where people have to just be people to get through it, reveal a lot more about a person than their press does.  Like I said, there are a lot of good reasons to be a huge fan of Maggie.  Her social work, her “social” work, her writing, her documentary, her body, her mind, her fantastic makeup and fashion tips, how incredibly down to earth she is when she really doesn’t have to be…but I will always be a big fan of Maggie because of one very random, very silly, very human moment on the side of the road, headed towards San Francisco.

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If you’ve been waiting to watch The War on Whores until it was on Amazon, you need wait no longer; it’s there, and even included with your Prime subscription!  As I explained on Monday, Amazon objected to the word “whores” in the title (despite there being lots of titles containing that very-ordinary word all over their site), but customer service told my producer Paul Johnson that they would not object to the title The War on Sex WorkersSo naturally I just rolled my eyes and let them clutch their pearls, especially because the film isn’t changed in any way; when you play it you’ll still see The War on Whores as the title, so only the display title on Amazon will be bowdlerized, presumably to protect Amazon’s delicate algorithms from sex rays which might cause them to malfunction or something.  Still, I’m glad we’re there; Amazon is very good exposure and presumably the title will pop up on my IMDb page soon (it already appears on Amazon searches with my books).  Now let’s see if iTunes gives us similar issues, given Apple’s legendary prudishness (surpassed only by Facebook).  Of course, the best way to see the film is on a big screen followed by a Q&A session with me; we had several of those last week, and as of right now the next scheduled ones will be in Orlando and Tampa/St. Petersburg Florida (courtesy of SWOP Behind Bars) on the 21st and 22nd of June (I’ll give you more details as I get them).  I’ll also be screening it at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in Alexandria, Virginia at 6 pm on August 16th, then elsewhere in the DC area in September at an event for Reason Magazine.  Screenings in New Hampshire and Austin, Texas are also in the works, but they are tentative for now.  One more thing:  please consider helping out by donating to my fundraiser!  So far you’ve made two events possible that would not otherwise have been feasible, not to mention getting us on Amazon and starting the DVD burning process.  The same increasing censorship which forced me to hide the real title of the film has also prohibited me from listing the rewards for donations on the fundraiser itself, so here they are again:

$30 or more – Donor
Permanent inclusion in blog-supporter deals (free stories, etc).

$60 or more – Friend
Autographed DVD of The War on Whores (will be sent when DVDs are delivered to us, probably late spring)

$125 or more – Sponsor
Autographed copies both of my books, plus The War on Whores DVD when it comes out.

$250 or more – Patron
When I’m in your city, I’ll have coffee with you and hand-deliver the Sponsor-level gifts plus an autographed poster!

$500 or more – Angel
When I’m in your city, I’ll have a leisurely dinner with you and hand-deliver all the Patron-level gifts!

$1000 or more – Producer
I will make a special trip to the city of your choice and give a full screening of the movie, with Q&A session, to the group of your choice!  If you have no special group, I’ll give you the Angel package without your having to wait until I reach your city!

Wont you join me in my continuing efforts to spread the word about this important film?  Thank you so very much; I couldn’t have made it this far without your help, and I’ll need more of it before we’re done!

 

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