My name is Maggie McNeill, and I’m a whore.
Well, more specifically, a retired whore. Or if you want me to be really specific, a retired call girl and madam who now writes a blog called The Honest Courtesan, in which I discuss the realities of harlotry. Sometimes I write about my personal experiences (sans lurid detail), sometimes about the history of the profession, sometimes about unusual aspects of it most outsiders don’t know about. Once a month I do a biography of a famous prostitute, and once a month I write a fictional tale in which a professional plays some major part, and sometimes I even do funny or whimsical columns. But the great majority of my posts are about the rights of sex workers, which are under heavier assault in the United States (and a number of other countries) than they have been in years. A lot of people enjoy flattering me by telling me that I write very well, and sometimes they do more than just tell me; a few weeks ago Radley asked me to be part of the group filling in for him while he’s on sabbatical, and I was delighted to say “certainly”. I’m not even going to attempt to fill his shoes (I doubt he could cram his feet into my size 8 1/2 spike-heeled pumps, either), but I’ll do my best to keep you entertained and to maintain some of his usual traditions in my own unique way. Most of the stuff I publish here will be written specifically for this blog, but Radley said it was OK if cross-posted as well; so, some days I’ll do that if I think that day’s post is of a more general interest rather than something that would feel out of place anywhere other than my own blog. This post is a hybrid; it’s an adaptation of one I did last year for another libertarian blog called Nobody’s Business, which y’all might also be interested in.
Now, even though most of you think of prostitution as a libertarian issue for the straightforward reason that the government has no business regulating what two or more consenting adults do in private, many of you may not realize that it’s actually much bigger than that. Because prostitution is the only “crime” defined purely by motive (having sex with strangers is perfectly legal unless motivated by financial gain), in the absence of a videotape of the interaction it’s all he said-she said territory. And because professional escorts never, EVER directly agree to the such-and-such sex act for such-and-such amount of money by which prostitution is defined, cops are forced to either A) lie and say they did, or B) come up with some sort of “evidence” of intent to commit prostitution. In recent years, different districts in the US have claimed all of the following as evidence: the possession of condoms or a cell phone, the lack of underwear, winking, dressing provocatively, loitering in an area known for prostitution, and many others. Last year Utah passed a law which added “acting sexy” to the list, but legislators assure us it will only be used against “real” prostitutes.
This sort of “evidence” belongs in a 17th-century witch trial, not a modern courtroom; yet women (both prostitutes and non-prostitutes) are arrested on such flimsy pretexts every day in this country, and mainstream “feminists” say nothing because they accept the arrest and harassment of individual women as collateral damage in their jihad against prostitution. Nor are women the only ones who need to worry; in Sweden, radical feminists have succeeded in establishing a law which makes it legal to sell sex, but criminal to buy it. Let that sink in for a moment: it’s as though cops witnessing a drug deal were to haul off the buyer but wave the seller on his way. The rationale (such as it is) behind this madness is that prostitution is a form of “violence against women”, essentially “paid rape”, so the client is treated as a type of lower-degree rapist. The woman’s wishes are irrelevant; she is considered legally incompetent to consent to sex if there is compensation involved, just as a twelve-year-old girl is incompetent to consent.
This “Swedish Model” has also infiltrated Norway and Iceland (where strip clubs were also banned on the same grounds) and is now being considered in Ireland, Israel and France; the French minister for women’s rights recently declared she will try to impose it on all of Europe. Radical feminists are trying to trick Canadians into embracing it by wrongly labeling it “decriminalization”, and it has already entered into the rhetoric of police departments in a number of states. Massachusetts wants to define “human trafficking” so loosely that even the husbands or drivers of sex workers can be prosecuted for it (and all their possessions seized, naturally), and as of last week New York threatens cab drivers with $10,000 fines and loss of their licenses “if they if they ‘knowingly allow’ their vehicles to be ‘used for the purpose of promoting prostitution’.” And given how easy it is to accuse a woman of prostitution…you get the picture. In the sex worker rights movement we have a slogan: “Sex worker rights are human rights”. Just as the “War on Drugs” has resulted in widespread havoc, tremendous waste and wholesale abridgement of civil rights, so has the “War on Whores” (though to a lesser degree). When the government is allowed to criminalize raw motives, thoughts and relationships, and when a woman can be arrested for how she acts, or a man for whom he knows or does business with, no one is safe.