More on Magnanti’s poorly written, inaccurate, and frankly dishonest ‘popular science’ book, this time from an interview by Julie Bindel, full article here.
Unsurprisingly, I hate The Sex Myth, a book that claims to expose the lies written about sex. As a radical feminist and long-time campaigner against prostitution, I immediately have an issue with Magnanti’s credentials. A departure from the Belle de Jour series, The Sex Myth has been written as a scientific piece of work, but Dr Magnanti’s role as a research scientist is in children’s health. “Brooke uses verifiable academic research. This is fact, not fiction; science not supposition,” reads one cover endorsement, and yet The Sex Myth is littered with inaccuracies, right down to the statistics that Magnanti uses to back up her claims. An incorrect figure cited for the number of people involved in a Keele University study is just one example. The tone throughout her work is smug, self-righteous and plain ill-informed about those of us who view pornography, prostitution and strip clubs as contributory factors towards women’s oppression.
I begin by asking her about the mistakes that appear throughout her work, some of which refer to me directly. To start with, Magnanti once falsely accused me of receiving money for attending a conference in Boston on curbing the demand for prostitution, and she repeats this claim in the book, as follows: “On Twitter I asked Julie Bindel if she found her alliance with [the organising committee] to be a lucrative one – ‘Absolutely lucrative as fuck!’ was the reply. Ironic, isn’t it, for such a vocal opponent of sex work to be so pleased to be in it for the money?” I did attend the conference but certainly did not receive a fee to be there.
“It was a bit of a cheeky exchange, and I hope that comes through – the cheekiness,” says Magnanti when I tell her how annoyed I am that an obviously sarcastic retort on a social networking site should be used to back her belief that feminists campaign against sexual violence for profit.
Magnanti also accuses me and other feminists of forging links with the Christian right, with whom I have continually and publicly refused to share a platform, and claims that I am in favour of criminalising women in prostitution, despite the number of articles I have written arguing the opposite.
Magnanti not only has trouble getting her facts right. She also confuses personal experience with fact-based research, neatly highlighted when I attempt to talk to her about her issue with feminism. Radical feminism, I say, allowed the sexual liberation of countless women as it challenged compulsory heterosexuality and encouraged women to seek sexual pleasure and diversity. Magnanti, however, is adamant that feminism is at least partly to blame for sexual repression. “My take on [feminism] was something that was very much formed when I was at university. I was very sexually experimental and would sleep with pretty much anyone I fancied, given the chance. It felt like the feminists that I encountered … were very suspicious of people with different political attitudes.”
Her dismissal of feminism based on this experience is all the more infuriating given that she insists that her approach to research is always entirely based on science.