Most of us in this arena were around for the sturm und drang surrounding the shutdown of the Craigslist Erotic Services section. The justification for the assault on hooker ads was, of course, sex trafficking. We must shut down hooker ads. For the children.
Of course, with this seeming victory under their belt, the ‘for the children,’ anti-trafficking crusaders were just emboldened to go further and further. So now we’re more often seeing sex work prohibitionists using the same tired, discredited points. Trafficking! Underage trafficking! White slavery!
The problem, we’re told, is that child prostitution is increasing at a geometric rate. One of the primary groups pounding this drumbeat warns us in dire terms that anywhere from 100,000 to almost half a million girls a year are being lured into sex slavery. The rate of underage girls being trafficked has risen by an astonishing 64.7% in Minnesota alone, they tell us. These shocking revelations are then repeated by the press as if they were accurate. When in fact, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s junk science. The numbers are all guesses. In some cases, they arrived at their foregone conclusions merely by looking at pictures of sex workers posted online. That’s right. If you’re an adult female who just happens to be petite, thin and flat chested, chances are these self appointed guardians of morality counted you as a trafficked, pimped underage child.
And worse, they know the numbers are faked. The director of an Atlanta based anti-prostitution group says “we pitch it the way we think you’re going to read it and pick up on it… If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate—I mean, I’ve tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, ‘They won’t read that much.'”
They know that the more salacious the claim, the more likely it is to be picked up and perpetuated in the media… and the more likely they are to continue to receive funding. That’s right. It’s all about money. They’re consciously using sex workers to make money. Funny, there’s a word for someone who makes money from the labors of sex workers: “pimp.” Look at some of the corporate sponsors lining up to give funding to anti-prostitution groups based on junk science, faulty research and outright deception: Southwest Airlines, Merril Lynch/Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, American Express, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and many more. Lying about sex workers is a
cash grab scam… er, lucrative business.
Real Men Don’t Listen to Ashton Kutcher
Of course, when we talk about junk reporting regarding sex workers, we have to talk about the latest self-seving publicity campaign from Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore and their “Real men don’t buy girls” campaign.
Taking the puritanical charlatans at face value, Ashton has gathered all his celebrity pals to do public service announcements (I wonder how many of those fulfill court ordered community service?) to let us know that prostitution = slavery. Ironic, considering that neither Ashton nor Demi have shied away from exploiting sex work for their own gain. Demi famously went so far as to have her boobs plumped to portray a stripper in 1996’s Striptease, playing a variation on the ‘hooker with a heart of gold.’ And it 2009, Ashton himself, opposed as he is on general principle to any sort of sex work, starred in Spread, a movie where he plays a guy with nothing going for him except a big dick, which he uses to trade sex for housing from lonely Hollywood sugar mamas. Hate to break it to you Ash, you’re a whore. So once again, it’s OK when you’re making a buck from sex work, but it’s not OK when actual sex workers do it.
What’s dangerous about the Ashton & Demi campaign is how cavalierly it equates sex work to slavery. It does a huge disservice to sex workers, but worse (much worse) it completely trivializes real slavery.
Look, I’m just a guy who likes to fuck hookers (yet another reason I’ll never be President.) And I’m going to continue to fuck hookers, whether busybody social do-gooders or Hollywood celebrities like it or not. That’s right, I’m going to continue to fuck willing, consenting adults in exchange for money. And frankly, if Ashton wasn’t so Demi-whipped, he’d probably be doing the same. Hmmm… I wonder if those PSAs aren’t Ashton’s Demi-ordered community service for getting caught banging some stripper? Just asking questions.
I’m not a sociologist, I’m not a researcher, I’m not a crusader.But there are real researchers, real advocates, real scholars who are looking at this data and calling “bullshit.” Before you fall for their line of bullshit, before you let yourself– whether on the supply or demand side of the equation– be stigmatized by someone whose twin motivations are to legislate their own brand of morality and enrich themselves in the process, do your own research. It’s out there. Call into question those who would brand you as worse than criminal based on lies told for profit.