Friday, February 4, 2011

Incoming Prostitute Army Not
Coming Dallas, Actually

The Super Bowl XLV host committee estimates that 150,000-200,000 visitors will show up for the Big Game, and the conventional wisdom is that every Super Bowl sees a convergence of prostitutes, both underage and not. I've been skeptical about the assumed "influx of human trafficking" cited by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott since he announced last fall that the state was committing 12 (!) of his own staff to the Dallas/Arlington area to "combat" the apparently inevitable army of hookers, most of whom are probably underage, dontchaknow.

Except it's probably all a lie. The Dallas Observer ran a fantastic story debunking the "Super Bowl Prostitute Myth," and interviewed an official from the Tampa police department who said that there was literally no increase in prostitution arrests after Superbowl 2009. Same thing in Phoenix.

But it's not just sex negative conservatives who have jumped on the anti-prostitution train; progressive and feminist blogs have also rung the alarm bells about the increase in human trafficking and stripping in Dallas. Change.org claimed that the influx of child prostitution is "well documented" and, as evidence, linked out to a story about a single man who was arrested in Florida last year for bringing a 16 year old girl to work the Super Bowl.

In the same article, an FBI agent said the following: "Listen if any case exists out there in Hawaii it's one too many and fortunately it's not an epidemic problem here but we'd be lying to ourselves if we said it didn't exist." (emphasis added)

So what the hell is going on? Remember the bill, which passed the House and is waiting for Senate approval, which would authorize $15 million in grants for 6 states to provide services to combat child sex trafficking? That bill could be used to fund police officers' salaries and organizations that provide shelter and other services to victims and "outreach and education" programs. Texas is home to a variety of victims' services agencies.

But that bill hasn't made it to the president yet, so that money is hanging in the balance. Texas is surely positioning itself to receive funds and inflating the "influx of human trafficking" for the Super Bowl, despite evidence showing the panic is based on a myth.*

To be clear, I feel confident that the truth about prostitution and the Super Bowl lies somewhere in the middle. With a huge number of people with enough money to get to the big game converging on one location, it stands to reason that, considering the laws of supply and demand, that prostitution would increase. The XXX Bowl is one of surely many potentially sketchy parties happening during the week, but this event is advertised openly online, which makes me doubt that the AG isn't aware of it.

We need to be mindful that while helping women and girls who are trafficked against their will and forced into sex work are victims and deserve to be treated as such by the legal system, women who choose sex work are not and should not be forced to leave their livelihood in exchange for needed services. Those of us who support both the dignity of victims and the rights of sex workers need to be cautious about anti-sex public officials blowing the horn of "human trafficking" and not assume that they're on our side.

Enjoy the Super Bowl. I'll be at the movies.



*the "spike in domestic violence" during the Super Bowl is also a myth.




3 comments:

  1. I have a friend who works the Domestic Violence Abuse Hotline here in Texas and while many say the spike in violence is a myth during the superbowl...she swears that calls are dramatically high the following days after.

    And as for the trafficking...that money should go to fixing the CPS system here. There is a high number of girls (and boys) that fall through the cracks of the severely underfunded Child Protective Services. Runaways, those in cycles of assult and abuse, etc that fall prey to traffickers.

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  2. A friend of mine, who strips up in the DFW area, actually wrote about the potential shortage of sex workers here:

    http://stripperati.blogspot.com/2011/01/dallas-superbowl-stripper-fest-3000.html

    Now, given the terrible weather and flight problems, it's looking like this weekend is actually going to turn into a big bust.

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  3. thanks silence and lance, those are both great points. i also read about the shortage of strippers (and obviously strip clubs are a venue for sex work), but dallas is also known to have a ton of strip clubs already, so my question about that is where the strippers that ARE there are going during the SB. would they take the busiest weekend of the decade off? don't think so. my first thought was that the 'stripper shortage' was actually a legit sounding way of recruiting sex workers, but i haven't seen any evidence that it's really true. silence, i totally agree with you about the CPS system--texas does an abysmal job at children's services which puts runaways at greater risk for exploitation.

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