You’ve probably heard it a hundred times: the city that hosts the Super Bowl has a major influx of out-of-town sex workers hoping to cash in on an increased demand for prostitution. This story has been repeated so many times, it seems impossible at this point to deny it. But it turns out this oft-told story is also not true.
Here’s the hard fact and the bitter truth: the Super Bowl is certainly a big event for prostitution and sex trafficking, but it does not represent any huge increase in demand. If law enforcement officials are to be believed, increasing patrols surrounding Super Bowl festivities does not significantly increase sex trade arrests and out-of-state sex workers are also not significantly increased. Kate Mogulescu, founder of the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, was quoted in the Snopes entry on this topic:
No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of nongovernmental organizations, published a report in 2011 examining the record on sex trafficking related to World Cup soccer games, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. It found that, “despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.”
This does raise the question: Why does the mainstream media continue to report this as a commonplace if it’s simply not true? There are a couple possible reasons I can think of:
- It makes for a sensational story. Sex sells. And the Super Bowl is a big event. Under-aged Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl? That’s a story combination most news outlets can’t resist. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t particularly true if it draws a crowd.
- It reinforces readily believable stereotypes about men. When you think about Super Bowl attendees, the mainstream media wants you to think about drunken, rowdy, sex-crazed frat boys looking for an easy score. So telling this story just reinforces the “rape culture” narrative the mainstream media loves to keep repeating.
But there’s a major problem with this lie. For one, it’s not true. Which should matter in journalism. But for another, it downplays the real problem. If the Super Bowl does not represent an increase in the sex trade, things are much worse than we ever imagined. If the horrible Super Bowl stories of under-age sex workers, coerced prostitution, and sex slavery are actually happening all year long, we have a whole lot of work to do.
That’s the real shame of this lie. The mainstream media wants to lay the blame for “rape culture” and sex-trafficking solely at the feet of frat boys and sports fanatics—relics of “hyper-masculinity” purportedly dead set on the conquest and suppression of women. In fact, the blame for this must be laid at the feet of our entire culture. No one is free from blame.
It would be so much easier to point at an isolated group of testosterone junkies as the sole culprits for our national shame, but feminists are just as much to blame. Our “strong feminine role models” have no problem strutting around in their underwear on the stage during halftime at the Super Bowl, fighting for free access to abortion on their Twitter accounts, and lauding pornography as harmless and liberating. These same women complain about objectification and violence toward women? Does anyone else see the disconnect here?