On Monday, April 29, over 125 students, faculty and community members gathered in Ostrander Auditorium to watch the film screening of “The War on Whores” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“The War on Whores” is a 2019 documentary starring Maggie McNeill, who tells her story of being persecuted as a sex worker.
The event was the first ever to be sponsored by the Sexuality Studies Minor, with the help of the LGBT Center. It was organized by Dr. Eric Sprankle, a professor of Psychology, and Dr. Shannon Miller, a professor of Gender and Women’s studies.
The film itself explored the false assumptions many people make about sex workers. The film also discussed how many women choose to go into sex work, despite the stereotypes that they are exploited by pimps or traffickers.
Following the film screening the room was opened for a Q&A panel which featured Maggie McNeill herself. The Q&A panel explored the question of “shouldn’t consenting adults be left alone?” This question is referencing lawmakers who illegalize sex work and other society members that would choose to shame women for their choice of profession.
McNeill also tackles this weighted question through her work as an author and political activist. According to McNeill’s blog, “What I am here to do is attempt to give my reader a new perspective on how some women make a living, and perhaps to show you that we’re not so different from any other women you might know.”
McNeill originally received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of New Orleans in 1987 and her MLIS from Louisiana State University six years later. She then went on to work as a librarian in New Orleans.
Due to economic hardship she turned to sex work from 1997-2006 where she worked as a stripper, a call girl and eventually a madam. She went on to marry her favorite client and retired to Oklahoma. After her divorce in 2010 she began escorting again. She started working in sex worker activism in 2004.
In 2010, Mcneill began writing for her blog, “The Honest Courtesan” which she describes as “frank commentary from an unretired call girl.”
She has since written two books, “Ladies of the Night” published in 2014 and “The Forms of Things Unknown” published in 2017. Her books include personal anecdotes and stories about the myths and realities of sex work and the treatment of sex workers in the government and in the media.