Columnist Claims Sex Workers Can’t Be Raped!

That title is probably enough to leave you feeling angry, and I would love to tell you that it has all been a misunderstanding… but unfortunately I can’t. There is actually a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times who genuinely believes that sex workers can’t be raped as it should really be classed as “theft”.

Prostitute picking up businessman on the street

If you are feeling frustrated with Mary Mitchell’s ideas, you aren’t alone. We here on Escort Ireland feel the same way, and later in the article we’ll tell you just how we can prove that she is very, very wrong with her ideas about sex workers and just what counts as “rape”.

The article itself

Mary Mitchell is a columnist and writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, and has stirred up quite a controversy by putting out an article titled “rape case sends mixed messages on prostitution”. With a title like that, you might have been hoping that she would talk about how poorly sex workers have been treated throughout the years, and that perhaps the way some rape cases are dealt with leaves us confused about how people feel about sex work.

Of course, that would be far too optimistic. Why on earth would the media want to say good and positive things about the sex industry? That would be asking far too much of them, especially when a lot of the time the sex industry gets blamed for pretty much everything that is wrong with the world.

Mitchell’s article doesn’t start well, stating that “a recent case involving a prostitute and a john is making a mockery of rape victims”, and it only gets worse as you read the rest of the article. She describes a situation when a client went onto a website to book her and, when she arrived at his place, he chose not to pay her. Whether it was because he didn’t have the money on him or he had planned it all along, we aren’t sure. Either way, he pulled out a gun and forced himself on her.

It’s a horrid thing to happen, but of course Mitchell has absolutely no sympathy. Instead she instantly starts to talk about how “most prostitutes in this situation would have run straight to a pimp” and that the man “is now being held on $750,000 bail, charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault” all because “the unidentified 24-year-old woman called the police”.

She explains that, while she doesn’t “have one iota of sympathy for Akins’ plight”, she is “grateful he isn’t being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street”. It seems that she believes raping a sex work is a hell of a lot better than raping anyone else. Unbelievable, right? Unfortunately, it gets worse.

Outdated views of sex work

At this point in the article I was already feeling pretty pissed off. I was sitting there and praying that this would be the worst part, and that she would go on to say that it was all a really bad joke and that she has absolutely no sense of humour. Of course, that isn’t how the world works, and Mitchell went on to explain just why she felt the way she did.

She starts by saying that she isn’t “one of those women who believe rape victims are at fault” before saying that “when you agree to meet a strange man in a strange place for the purpose of having strange sex for money, you are putting yourself at risk”. This apparently then means it is okay to rape sex workers, or so Mitchell seems to be suggesting. Which is totally different from saying that women are to blame for becoming the victims of rape, right?

In Mitchell’s mind, this act should not be classed as rape. She said that “it’s tough to see this unidentified prostitute as a victim. And because this incident is being charged as a criminal sexual assault – when it’s actually more like theft of services – it minimizes the act of rape”.

No. Minimizing the act of rape is saying that rape can only happen to certain types of people. At least when Chrissie Hynde spoke about rape victims putting themselves in dangerous situations she generalised it and said that we should be more cautious about the situations we put ourselves in. No, it is still not the fault of the victim, but she didn’t go and attack sex workers in this way.

Of course, Mitchell just couldn’t stop there. Instead she brought up a case when a woman was raped and she had done “nothing to bring about this terrible, terrible ordeal”, saying that “for law enforcement to put what happened to a Backpage.com prostitute on a par with rape victims… is an insult”. Wrong. What is insulting is this ridiculous belief that sex workers cannot be raped. Sex workers have the right to say no just like everyone else in the world. Just because they sell sex doesn’t mean they always want to have it with every person who crosses their doorway.

What can be done?

There are plenty who are taking to social media, calling for Mary Mitchell to be removed from the editorial board of this major newspaper, and we can easily see why. Her views are outdated and she clearly has no idea about real world issues with the comments that she has made. If you are hoping for a great place to vent your frustration about this, there is the Escort Ireland forum or even Twitter, which has not failed to show us what happens when you piss off a group as big and diverse as sex workers.

One tweeted at her, saying “Congratulations to @MaryMitchellCST for being one of the absolutely worst humans in the world”, while another explained to her just what consent means: “sexual consent is conditional and dynamic. That means you can withdraw it at any point. Like, if someone pulls a gun on you.”

In fact, she managed to irritate so many people with her article that, as one user pointed out, “even the prohibitionists are disgusted with Mary Mitchell”, as they copied the CATW International’s tweet which told her to educate herself about the untold stories of rapes of prostituted women, as “rape=rape”.

What do you think is the best way to deal with people like Mary Mitchell who clearly need educating on just what sex work means, and why rape is still rape, no matter who the victim is? You can let us know in the comments below or join in the discussion on the Escort Ireland forum.

Lara Mills
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Lara Mills

Lara Mills is a writer who has four years of sex industry expertise behind her. Since she entered the adult industry, she has worked on the Escort Advertising forums, before moving into her current role three years ago.

Since then she has gained a fine reputation with her blogs on sex advice, sexual health and amusing news stories from around the globe. She is also a campaigner for the rights of sex workers from all over the world.

In her spare time, Lara keeps herself active by going running, and is something of a film buff. She also loves to go travelling.
Lara Mills
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