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Posts Tagged ‘The War on Whores’

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 4 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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I wrote this column yesterday, on a very overcrowded plane with one baby screaming behind me, another to my left and still another a few rows ahead of me.  I can’t really blame them for crying because there has been a lot more turbulence than I prefer so far (though the flight tracker shows it’ll get better once we get over North Dakota).  As of the time of this writing I’ve been up since quarter to 8 EDT and haven’t eaten since 8:30 EDT, and won’t be eating again until probably an hour after we land in Seattle at about 21:00 PDT (an egg sandwich will hit the spot, I think).  I arrived at the airport just before 10:30 EDT and was bumped from two flights before I finally squeaked onto this one by the skin of my teeth, and I feel generally yucch.  However, I am returning from a lovely overnight with one of my favorite gentlemen, and even with the problems of standby flying it’s pretty damned awesome to be able to go wherever I want for free; my meds work great at preventing the worst of the vertigo, and even when the pilot is too much of a goddamned cowboy for them to fully protect me, my fasting ensures that there’s nothing in my stomach to throw up except a little water.  I’ll be going out to Sunset tomorrow for the dreaded Memorial Day weekend, and I probably (barring another overnight booking) won’t have to fly again for almost a month, when I go to Florida for my next several screening of The War on Whores.  So despite all the problems (not the least of which was forgetting Lilac at home in the rush to get to the airport Tuesday morning) I’m still in a good headspace, albeit an exhausted one.  And I know that some of my lovely readers will want to make me feel better by contributing to my fundaiser so as to make future travels easier (see, I’m not too exhausted to be shameless).  However, I’ve hit all the notes I need to hit and this pilot seems determined to hit every bad patch he can, so I think I’ll sign off now and try to at least doze, though I doubt I’ll actually sleep until I’m wrapped in my own scarlet sheets in my own harlot’s bed after some comfort food, a nice hot shower and enough edibles to knock me out until after most of you have read this.

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Some of you may have noticed that for all my steel, thunder and rationality, I’m also a very sentimental person.  The top of my desk is cluttered with cards, small gifts and other mementos given me by people I love, and I have difficulty getting rid of things I’m used to having around even if they don’t actually work well anymore.  But a car is something that must be reliable to be useful at all, so when my mechanic told me that my automatic transmission’s shifting difficulty was a harbinger of its imminent demise (and that wasn’t even the only issue), I knew it was time to retire my burgundy-colored 2000 Honda Accord (just a few months after the premiere of The War on Whores, in which she has a small part).  Fortunately, another sex worker I know was thinking of getting rid of her 2002 Saturn; the car’s in very good shape (and very low mileage for an 18-year-old) but she rarely drove it, and didn’t feel it was worth the expense of maintaining any longer.  She gave me a very good price, and yesterday I sold the old one to a mechanic who’s going put a salvage transmission in it for his teenage daughter to drive.  All very reasonable and practical and for the best, and it wasn’t like I was really in love with the Accord, and she’s going to a good home.  But I was used to her, and comfortable with her, and I really dislike change.  So I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I shed a tear for the old girl, and thank her for getting me around dependably for the past three and a half years.

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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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