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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers

From the "let's make up a problem and let the government fix it" files:

Reason on "one of the stranger (yet more persistent) myths of our time: the idea that some Lost Tribe of Gypsy Harlots, tens of thousands strong, wanders about the world from mega-event to mega-event, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transport and lodging which should make the migration of such a large group a daunting task indeed."

The legend seems to have first appeared in conjunction with the 2004 Olympics in Athens. That’s telling because, though the rebranding of sex work as "sex trafficking" was already underway in prohibitionist circles in the late 1990s, the moral panic seems to have begun in earnest in January of 2004. In the months before the Olympics Athenian officials went through the usual cleansing procedure, raiding brothels for largely bogus violations of zoning restrictions. A Greek sex workers’ union complained that by making it difficult to work in legal brothels the city would increase illegal prostitution, and this was twisted by European prohibitionists into "Athens is encouraging sex tourism."

By the end of the year, the growing “anti-trafficking” movement was using bad stats to claim that “sex trafficking increased by 95 percent during the Olympics.” Within a few months, anti-sex worker groups made the bizarre prediction that approximately 40,000 women would be “trafficked” into Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Of course, nothing of the kind happened. Despite increased police actions (including raids on 71 brothels), the German authorities only came up with five cases of exploitation they believed to be linked to the event.


  1. Is the myth that prostitutes are exploited or that they gather at large global events? Any reasonable economic theory regarding small business surely suggests that supply will rise to meet demand. Regarding exploitation, why would there be less of it at large events?

    This is a far different story than wives are hit more on Super Bowl Sunday. There is no theoretical merit to that merely fitsan ideological predisposition. There is no greater "demand"to be abusive and surely there isno greater supply.

    I am not trying to make some huge point here. I just disagree with the analogy

  2. Check out the book "Hookernomics" on Amazon.

    1. We live in a species of large, obstreperously violent primates. Anyone who is not given police protection, and is prosecuted by police for protecting themselves, will be exploited. Do hookers fit that profile? Quite often. That it is a result of the attitudes of government, not a willingness on the part of "traffickers" to abuse women alone, is seldom mentioned.

      That would not allow politicians to court the votes of young married women, often with children, who want the money going to hookers to go into their families, instead. The real anti-prostitute pressure comes from precisely that demographic. The "large events" thesis is simply another excuse to satisfy this demographic.

  3. The myth in question is that there is a huge influx of sex workers. There is a serviceconcern myth that the influx is largely "trafficked" (meaning involuntary or abused I guess) workers. Another myth is that the Super Bowl draws large numbers of customers for sex; relatively few attendees are single men looking for some action. A big trade convention is a much more promising venue for sex workers.

    The wife-beating myth is similarly premised on ignorant, biased assumptions about men watching the Super Bowl - they get drunk and worked up, and half get very upset when their favored team loses, so they lash out. It's the same pseudo-science bullshit.

  4. Stupid autocorrect. There is a SECONDARY myth...

  5. Stupid autocorrect. There is a SECONDARY myth...

  6. Invasion? The Bay Area isn't exactly lacking in hookers to begin with.

  7. Wife to husband upon his return from the Super Bowl: "So did you get screwed while you were there?"
    Husband: "Absolutely! The hotel, the restaurant, the parking lot attendant, the beer and peanut vendor, the traffic cop, and the pick-pocket. They all took their turn. I'm broke."

  8. All I can say is that if anybody wants to eliminate the appetite for prostitution, popularizing the word "sex worker" is pretty much the best way I can think of, short of universal cold showers.