Daily Archives: March 17th, 2013

Brooke Magnanti needs to ‘check her privilege’

Magnanti was a ‘high class escort’ for 14 months, she now had a post-doc job in “cancer biostatistics, genetic epidemiology and forensic science”. She has an income from her books, is a paid public speaker and has a regular gig writing about sex in the Torygraph.

Her telephone number is taken to the top of any 999 summons list, which is something most stalking victims can only dream about.


So why is she calling herself a ‘hooker’?

This is offensive and damaging on many levels. The term ‘hooker’ itself is offensive, and if radical feminists used that kind of language, we would be attacked for it.

One of the stated aims of the term ‘sex work’ is to remove the stigma from prostitution by making it ‘work’, the term ‘hooker’ is stigmatised, and Magnanti, who has the privilege to ‘play’ with this stigmatisation, makes it harder for the women who are trying to exit the sex industry without her level of privilege.

Mangnanti, who is no longer a prostitute, calling herself a ‘hooker’ implies that if a woman has ever been involved with prostitution, she is marked for life with that ‘identity’; for the vast majority of women, being unable to escape the label ‘hooker’ has a massive negative effect on their lives, they may have criminal records, they may be seen as unsuitable for employment, they may be harassed by their family and community if they can’t keep that ‘identity’ hidden, they may be told that prostitution is all they are good for.

Another of the stated aims of the term ‘sex work’ is to emphasise that it is ‘just work’, not an identity, something you do, not something you are, but Magnanti negates this by continuing to call herself a ‘hooker’, and instead reinforces the idea that ‘prostitute’ is something women are on a deep-seated level.

This is obviously harmful for women generally, as well as women in prostitution, because saying that some women are ‘hookers’ as part of their permanent identities tells the lie that prostitution exists because of the women themselves, not because of men, because of male demand, or women’s social and economic inequality; turning ‘hooker’ into an identity invisibilises male violence against women.

(To pre-empt the same-old pro-sex industry/funfem attacks), the stigma attached to prostitution is caused by patriarchy, not by radical feminism. Radical feminism is not the reason why prostitutes are seen as less human than ‘normal’ women. The abolitionist (Nordic Model) approach to prostitution calls for the decriminalisation of the prostitute herself (including the removal of any previous criminal record related to prostitution), something that sex industry advocates always deliberately and cynically ignore.