Research report on sorting out the myths and facts about sex trafficking at sporting events:
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) :
Official Reports of the Super bowl sex slave myth at the Germany World Cup 2006
Posted on January 31, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Updated Tuesday, Feb 1 at 1:55 PM
DALLAS — For weeks now, police, politicians and non-profit agencies have warned that a wave of prostitutes will be coming to North Texas for Super Bowl festivities.
But News 8 has learned there is no evidence supporting such claims.
“I think it will be like nothing we’ve ever experienced before,” said Deena Graves, executive director of Traffick 911, a Fort Worth organization dedicated stopping the sale of children into sexual slavery.
Graves is among those warning of an alarming increase in underage girls sold for sex during the Super Bowl.“Traffickers follow the money, and there’s a whole lot of money that comes with the Super Bowl,” she said.
Police and politicians have also issued similar statements.
“The Super Bowl is, unfortunately, a major draw for human trafficking,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said during a news conference on the topic at Dallas Police headquarters recently.Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott gave reporters similar warnings in Arlington.But no one can answer the question, “How do you know?” since pimps and prostitutes don’t register anywhere. Still, what makes the problem so much worse during the Super Bowl?Similar stories about the sex trade surround almost every major sporting event — even the Olympics and the World Cup.To investigate their validity, News 8 began checking with police departments in other cities that have also hosted the Super Bowl.Phoenix hosted the big game three years ago. Police there told News 8 they received similar warnings about an increase in prostitution and prepared for it, but never uncovered any evidence of a spike in illegal sexual activity.“I think one of the things people automatically assume is that while you’ve got influential people in town, people with significant amounts of money and therefore a whole lot of prostitution is going to follow with that,” said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson. “We did not notice an increase or anything out of the ordinary.”Tampa hosted the Super Bowl in 2009. A police spokeswoman there said officers there made 11 prostitution arrests during the entire week leading up to the game.And last year, Miami police told News 8 they arrested 14 for prostitution.Those figures are not uncommon for large cities during a seven-day period, experts said.Last year, Canada debunked similar hype about prostitutes around the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. British Columbia funded a study which concluded that “sex trafficking and mega-events are not linked.”A European group called The International Organization for Migration arrived at the same conclusion in Germany after rumors that 40,000 prostitutes would go to the 2006 World Cup. The estimations are “unfounded and unrealistic,” the IOM reported.Ernie Allen, director for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said he was misquoted last year when predicting 10,000 prostitutes would show up in Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.Allen said the Super Bowl likely doesn’t attract more sex traffickers than any other large event. What’s more, he also conceded there is no way to quantify the problem.Still, he and Graves both said the issue is under-recognized and under-reported.“Sometimes when numbers are very high, people think it’s hopeless and they may not even try to address the issue,” said Becky Sykes of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.
The organization has commissioned a study to research Internet ads and escort services during February. It’s specifically looking for underage girls as prostitutes and hoping — for the first time — to see whether the Super Bowl really increases sex trafficking in the host city.
Critics blame some women’s groups for the prostitution myth as they try to raise awareness without facts.
No one disputes that trafficking is a serious and sickening problem, but whether the Super Bowl intensifies it is a prediction no one can yet prove.
The Super Bowl Prostitute Myth: 100,000 Hookers Won’t Be Showing Up in Dallas
By Pete Kotz: From the Dallas Observer newspaper
published: January 27, 2011
The alarm bells reached peak decibel in November, when Dallas Police Sergeant Louis Felini told the The Dallas Morning News that between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes could descend on the metroplex for the Super Bowl. The call to outrage had sounded.
His estimate was astonishing. At the higher figure, it meant that every man, woman and child holding a ticket would have their own personal hooker, from the vice presidential wing of FedEx to Little Timmy from Green Bay.
And if you believed a study commissioned by the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the hordes would include 38,000 underage prostitutes. Doe-eyed beauties from the Heartland would be peddled like Jell-O shots at the Delta Phi soiree.
Official Dallas would not be caught flat-footed. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI pledged extra manpower to fight “human trafficking.” The Arlington Police Department put up billboards near Cowboys Stadium. They featured flashing photos of busted johns, warning visitors: We don’t take kindly to perverts like you, son.
Even the Shapiro Law Firm leaped in. Noting that an estimated 40,000 hookers showed up in Dallas for the NBA All-Star game last year, it wanted to make sure that, should a hedge fund manager find himself ensnared in naked compromise, “our attorneys provide experienced defense for sex crimes, including the solicitation of a prostitute.”
The city was gearing up for a massive invasion of skanks and sex fiends. It would be like Normandy, only with way more plastic surgery—the largest single gathering of freaks and pedophiles the world has ever seen. At least outside of a Vatican staff meeting.
But if Dallas is like any other Super Bowl—or Olympics or World Cup, for that matter—today’s four-alarm panic will tinkle as softly as a servant’s bell by next week. All evidence says that America’s call girls will be at home, watching the game of TV, just like you and me.
Judging by Super Bowls past, the mass migration of teenage sex slaves is nothing more than myth.
Read between his very terse lines, and you can tell that Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear from mopes like yours truly, wondering why his customers are adulterers and child molesters.
The routine is the same in every Super Bowl city. The media beats the drum of impending invasion, warning that anywhere from 15,000 to 100,000 hookers will soon arrive. Politicians lather on their special sauce of manufactured outrage. Cops and prosecutors vow stings and beefed up manpower.
By implication, the NFL’s wealthiest and most connected fans—captains of industry and senators from Utah—will be plotting a week of sexual rampage not seen since the Vikings sailed on Scotland. And they must be stopped.
“This is urban legend that is pure pulp fiction,” the NFL’s McCarthy says. “I would refer you to your local law enforcement officials.”
So that’s what we did. Meet police Sergeant Tommy Thompson of Phoenix, which hosted the 2008 Super Bowl. “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes,” Thompson says of his vice cops. “They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”
Conspicuously noted: He doesn’t recall a single arrest of an underage girl.
Perhaps Phoenix was an anomaly. So let’s go to Tampa, host of Super Bowl 2009. Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis says her department ran special operations on the sex trade. They came up empty. “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa,” she says. “The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”
Now it could be that both departments are incompetent, mistaking tens of thousands of women in fishnet stockings for a very large synchronized swimming team. So let’s travel to Europe, where the hooker influx for the World Cup is routinely pegged at 40,000. If anyone’s going to break the record for the world’s largest orgy, it’s the Godless Eurotrash, right?
Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup. U.S congressmen warned the promiscuous Krauts that fleshly opportunism would not be tolerated. So the government spent millions of euros to crush human trafficking. No one could say the Germans were perv enablers.
But apparently 39,995 of the blasphemers had carburetor trouble in Prague and never showed. The final Cup tally for forced prostitution arrests: 5. German brothels couldn’t even report a surge in business. And a further study by the Swedish government ruled “the 40,000 estimate was unfounded and unrealistic.”
There don’t appear to be solid figures for last summer’s South African Cup, but anecdotal evidence says the sex business was slow.
The only concrete numbers we have: Museums showed record attendance.
This isn’t to say that the sex trade isn’t alive and well. It is. Nor is it to imply there are no such thing as teen prostitutes. There are. The problem is that most of what we believe remains fixed in a blaxploitation film from 1973, where menacing pimps named Lester beat their weeping charges with diamond-encrusted canes.
Ask Maggie McNeill.
That’s not her real name. It’s the pen name she uses on her website, The Honest Courtesan, where she dispenses wisdom on all things hooker. She ran an escort service in New Orleans for six years, supplying ladies for the 2002 Super Bowl. As she sees it, almost all we believe about the industry is fallacy.
“Pimps do exist,” she says, “but they’re a relatively rare phenomenon.” The vast majority of hookers are willing, independent contractors.
Underage hookers are also “extremely rare,” McNeill says. Over the years, she fielded a few hundred applications from ladies of the eve. Only one didn’t pass a drivers license check.
Sure, there are exceptions. But McNeill doesn’t think huge numbers of hookers are going anywhere. And they won’t be heading to Dallas for a very simple reason: Sporting events suck for the sex trade.
The younger fans have already spent thousands on jacked-up hotel rates, airfare and scalped tickets, she says. They only have enough left to nurse Bud Lights and Jäger bombs.
The executive caste may have money to burn, but most bring their families along. “What do they say to their wives?” McNeill asks. “‘Hey honey, I’m going to see a hooker now?'”
As for McNeill’s experience during Super Bowl week in New Orleans: “I really saw no change whatsoever.”
So how do these myths get started? Through good intentions, of course.
There’s no way to quantify the number of hookers, since most women won’t admit to their profession. Public confession only brings an audit from the IRS or a visit from child welfare workers.
That leaves the outside world to speculate—usually with stats only appreciated after eight beers near closing time. Professors pitch junk studies whereby every runaway girl is a potential prostitute.
Advocacy groups take those numbers and fan them by the thousands, buffing them with lurid anecdotes of “sex slaves” and “victims of human trafficking.” The fervent simply can’t believe that isolated cases are just that: isolated.
But it’s hard to kindle interest in the world’s oldest profession. So they latch onto the occasional news story or CNN special. After all, children in distress sell.
“Underage girls make better victims, better poster children,” says McNeill, a former librarian with a master’s from LSU. “I’m 44. What kind of believable victim would I make?”
The study by the Dallas Women’s Foundation shows how the numbers are baked. It hired a company to gauge the percentage of juvenile hookers in Dallas. Its scientific method: Look at online escort ads and guess the ages of the women pictured!
Never mind that escort services often yank said photos from the Internet to put their most sultry visual forward. And never mind that such methodology wouldn’t pass muster at Mert’s Discount Community College & Small Engine Repair.
The company still decreed that 38 percent of Dallas hookers were underage!
(Disclosure: The Dallas Observer and Backpage are owned by the same parent company, Village Voice Media Holdings.)
Not ones to miss 30 seconds of free air time, that’s when the politicians climb aboard. After all, what would you rather do? Be fitted for the role of child-rescuing hero at a congressional hearing or a press conference? Or sit down to the complex, painful task of addressing America’s age-old runaway problem?
Of course, we in the media are equally culpable. We dutifully relay the fraud via our Patented Brand of Unquestioning Stenography, rarely bothering to check if it’s remotely plausible. And by this time, there’s no going back. The fraud must be upheld. Charities have raised money to help the innocents. Politicians have brayed and task forces have been appointed. Editors and news directors have ordered five-part series. No one wants to look like a moron.
But the week after every Super Bowl, they all go quiet.
Either the 100,000 hookers never showed, or they were in dastardly possession of super invisible powers.
Maybe it will be different in Dallas, with its all-hands-on-deck vigilance. Perhaps next week’s dockets will be sagging with thousands of runaway middle-school volleyball stars. Perhaps the Shapiro Law Firm will be giving a bulk rate to the entire roster of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
Super Bowl prostitution: 100,000 hookers didn’t show, but America’s latest political scam did.
Pete Kotz: From the Dallas Observer newspaper
published: March 03, 2011
Had elected officials done even the slightest research, they would have known it was myth. But this had little to do with protecting women and children. Think of it as a combination religious revival and political scam.
Politicians, women’s groups, cops and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl. It would be akin to the invasion of Normandy—with silicone and come-hither poses at no extra charge.
Yet someone forgot to tell America’s prostitutes they had an appointment with destiny. The arrest numbers are now in. The hookers failed to show.
It was folly from the outset, of course. To buy the hype, you had to believe that the NFL’s wealthiest fans stuffed their carry-on luggage with searing libidinal hunger. Though by day they pretended to be mercantile saints from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, they were actually marauding sex fiends. Their plot: Turn Hilton hot tubs into naked versions of the New York Stock Exchange.
And if that wasn’t enough to scare the good citizens of Dallas, women’s groups slathered the plot with surplus outrage. Up to 38,000 of these hookers would be child sex slaves, according to a study by the Dallas Women’s Foundation. They’d presumably been kidnapped en masse while waiting in line at the mall Cinnabon, then shipped to Dallas for deflowering by venture capitalists and frozen-food barons.
America’s human trafficking epidemic was coming to North Texas. The Super Bowl would be ground zero.
Conveniently, the same people making the claims reserved the roles of hero for themselves. Worry not, good people of Dallas: They would repel the infidels at the city gates.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott puffed his chest and promised dozens of extra bodies. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security linked arms with 13 state and local police agencies in a task force. Even the airline industry leaped in, training flight attendants to spot the indentured.
Linda Smith, a former Washington congresswoman and founder of Shared Hope International, announced her date with gallantry in The Dallas Morning News. “Now that I know it, I have no choice but to stand and fight,” she said. “This is just brutal, brutal slavery of girls.”
Deena Graves, executive director of the Christian group Traffick911, took it even further, framing the clash as nothing short of Jesus vs. Depravity. God Himself had naturally anointed her as His general.
“We believe, without a doubt, that God gave us the Super Bowl this year to raise awareness of what’s happening with these kids,” she told the Morning News.
But since they hadn’t bothered to do the research, they would be forced to clash swords with an imaginary foe. Such is the burden of the selfless crusader.
From Germany to Miami, the same hysteria precedes every big sporting event, be it the Super Bowl, the World Cup, or the Olympics. The only difference is that Dallas, befitting its perch as buckle of the Bible Belt, jacked up the decibels.
Before every big game, church bells ring of a massive hooker invasion. Incurious newspapers parrot the claims;a five-minute Google search being too much trouble. Then politicians and activists climb aboard.
The recipe for civic panic is placed in the oven, set for baking to a charred husk.
Yet when each event ends with just a handful of arrests, police admit the invasion was nothing more than myth. The panic whimpers away to seclusion, only to resurrect itself just in time for the next big show.
Detectives from Dallas to Plano, Forth Worth to Irving saw no spikes in sex traffic or signs of the occupiers.
“Everybody else is talking about special operations, the AG comes in talking about special operations, but this is what we do,” says Sergeant Byron Fassett, head of the Dallas PD’s human trafficking unit. “We didn’t have to do a special operation. We do special operations all the time, and this was one of them.”
In other words, it was just another week of playing cat and mouse with the world’s oldest profession.
Arlington, host to the game, unleashed extra manpower and bagged an impressive 59 arrests. But it found scant evidence of erotic hordes. Of the 100,000 supposedly Lone Star-bound hookers, Deputy Chief Jaime Ayala says, only 13 were found by his guys. Their busts largely involved rousting the local talent.
ICE Spokesman Carl Rusnok says there were 105 prostitution arrests metro-wide. But what was billed as a bare-naked onslaught fell rather short. Just to reach three figures, ICE had to include 12 Class C misdemeanors—the legal equivalent of a speeding ticket.
Rusnok hints at more nefarious busts for human trafficking, but he refuses to provide names, charges or anything else that would allow for verification.
The 38,000 teen slaves also proved elusive. Police managed to find just two—and they were Texas-grown.
Anthony Winn, a 35-year-old degenerate from Austin, had been pimping out a 20-year-old woman when he decided to peddle her 14-year-old sister as well.
The trio showed up in Dallas for the big game. But the older sister objected to the selling of the younger one. So when Dallas police encountered them on the street, the women quickly ratted out Winn.
In Grapevine, another local was busted for chauffeuring a 17-year-old hooker on her rounds.
Meanwhile, church groups and activists were out en masse. But if they were truly aligned with God, He preferred they stick to generating headlines and hurling logs on the flames of panic. He apparently neglected to grant them the power of rescue. As far as anyone can tell, not one of their tips led to an arrest. Had anyone bothered to ask police in previous Super Bowl cities, they would have told you this would happen. There’s zero evidence that American hookers have ever traveled like Spanish armadas.
As for widespread sex slavery, this too is a myth. The U.S. government has known it for years.
Like most industrialized countries, the feds began worrying about human trafficking in the late ’90s, a fear born from the slavery problems of the Third World. At the time, evidence from police suggested it was an insidious, though relatively rare, crime. But that didn’t stop politicians and activists from declaring it a pandemic.
Out of thin air, they began to trumpet that 50,000 people were being forcibly trafficked in America each year. The
Clinton administration declared jihad. President George W. Bush dilated the war, creating 42 Justice Department task forces countrywide.
But when you weld a fabricated enemy, meager scalp counts leave boasting a challenge. Just like the soldiers of pre-Super Bowl Dallas, they had braced themselves for imaginary strife.
Six years into his presidency, Bush had burned through $150 million on the fray. But of the 300,000 supposed victims during that time, the Justice Department managed to find just 1,362. Less than half were actual sex slaves. An even smaller number were underage prostitutes.
That’s because human trafficking, as defined by the government, isn’t solely about sex. It’s usually about forced labor. Think of the Chinese man made to work in a kitchen to reimburse a snakehead’s smuggling fee. Or the Mexican kid forced to toil on a Kansas farm.
By the time anyone realized all that money was flowing for naught, no one was brave enough to tighten the spigot. In Washington, it’s far better to waste millions than give the appearance you don’t care about kids.
Steve Wagner knows this. He worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving as director of the Human Trafficking Program under Bush. He threw millions of dollars at community groups to aid victims. Yet as he told the Washington Postin 2007, “Those funds were wasted….They were available to help victims. There weren’t any victims.”
Ten years into the war, one might assume intellectual honesty would sand down the rhetoric. But the opposite is happening. The fight’s simply moved away from protecting women and children. It’s now a holy war for the sanctity of revenue streams.
The church and women’s groups who profited from battle are loath to acknowledge they spent the past decade doing little more than polishing their guns. So forgive them for worrying.
Recession has made donations harder to field. D.C.’s coming austerity means grants will be macheted. That’s left the nonprofit world in a panic.
It isn’t easy to get donors and congressmen to slap down checks for the time-honored fight against prostitution, runaways and kids seeking the fascinating life of a crack head.
So women’s and children’s groups simply decided to change their PR. Suddenly, prostitution was no longer about prostitution. It was all about sexual slavery and human trafficking. And they began blowing up their numbers with helium.
But maybe Traffick911’s Deena Graves is right. Perhaps God has called her and others to fight demons unseen by the re st of us. It’s just that he hasn’t given them the power to find all those victims. He does work in mysterious ways, after all.
–With Reporting by Patrick Michels
The Super Bowl Prostitution Hoax Returns
Indianapolis mobilizes for an epic battle with an urban legend.
By Pete Kotz
published: February 02, 2012
Indianapolis is bracing for war. It’s Super Bowl week, after all. Time for the Annual Invasion of the Hookers, which promises to be as harrowing as the Ottoman Empire’s advance on Crete in 1647, though with considerably more nudity.
Yes, one of America’s great urban legends is again being trotted out just in time for kick-off: The notion that legions of out-of-town prostitutes descend on whichever city hosts America’s Big Game.
This time around, it’s Indiana attorney general Greg Zoeller who’s milking the hysteria for political gain.
Zoeller is riding the momentum of a hoax that’s reignited before every major sporting event, be it the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympics or the NBA All-Star game. Alarming figures are pulled from the mist of imagination, where extra zeros apparently come free with every purchase. Anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 hookers will be coming to town! Hide the women and children! And perhaps the more effeminate men as well! You know, just in case!
It’s a myth that’s been playing to sell-out crowds for more than a decade. But there’s been trouble at the box office in recent years. No one gets too excited about garden-variety prostitution anymore. As a culture-war wedge, it’s so 1912.
So promoters of the panic have changed their advertising. Instead of adult harlots, the siege now consists of underage girls.
This year it’s Indianapolis that’s marshaling its defenses. Seven hundred cabbies have been trained to spot the victims of pimps. Nuns have been dispatched to hotels to lecture staff. Special soap — more than 16,000 bars, reports the Indiana Statesman — is being placed in hotel rooms, stamped with phrases like “Are You Witnessing Young Girls Being Prostituted?” In the event that the answer is yes, national hotline numbers are conveniently being stamped on bathroom walls.
Not to be left out, the Indiana legislature rammed through an emergency bill to keep the state safe for the game. Sell a child under age 16 for sex in the Hoosier State, and you’re now looking at up to 50 years.
The legislation passed unanimously in both houses. Not a single elected official questioned the need for the bill — or asked whether it might make more sense for the state to provide money for the treatment of actual victims of underage prostitution.
In the words of the Muncie Free Press, lawmakers “managed to outlaw underage prostitution in Indiana just in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday.”
Villains of America, be forewarned.
“Our information is that it’s typical for an increase in demand for commercial sex at a big event,” says Abby Kuzma, director of consumer protection for Zoeller’s office. “Our information is that it’s all about the money. They are willing to go wherever the money is.”
You don’t have the heart to tell her her information is wrong. Very wrong.
Said Phoenix police Sergeant Tommy Thompson after the 2008 Super Bowl: “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes. They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”Said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis after the 2009 Super Bowl: “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa. The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”Last year’s panic came courtesy of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Maybe he didn’t have access to Google, so he didn’t know any better. Or maybe — just maybe — he decided that a little false delirium was a small price to pay to see the two most glorious words in the English language — “Greg Abbott” — prominently featured in headlines for months before the Dallas Super Bowl. Abbott organized task forces with the FBI, ICE and Homeland Security. He raised an army of volunteers from religious and women’s groups. All were on deck to rescue the thousands of underage girls who’d be sold like ground chuck throughout Big D. Word was that 100,000 hookers could arrive — and that as many 38,000 would be underage. Even flight attendants were trained to spot trafficking victims — which shouldn’t have been difficult, since it would have taken 57 Boeing 747s to fly them all to town.As politicians and activists continued to crank up the fear factor, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy had had enough. “This is urban legend that is pure pulp fiction,” he said in January 2011. “I would refer you to your local law enforcement officials.”Sure enough, when it was all over, cops had managed just 105 arrests metrowide, mostly by rousting the local talent. Twelve women faced penalties no greater than for speeding tickets. Only two arrests involved human trafficking.
Cops in Germany, Canada and South Africa offered similar testimony following the World Cup and the Olympics. But these men and women who deal with prostitution every day aren’t the ones crying wolf in the first place. The hysteria most always comes from the professionals of manufactured outrage: politicians.
The federal government now spends $80 million a year to combat human trafficking. Almost none of that money actually goes to offer help to trafficking victims. Instead, former president George W. Bush created task forces in 92 cities. Each only averages about two sex cases a year.That’s because, statistically speaking, most trafficking has nothing to do with sex. The vast majority involves forced labor, people indentured to pay off smuggling fees. Hence, the lion’s share of traffickers aren’t pimps, but New York restaurateurs, Kansas meatpackers, and large-scale ag companies from Florida to California. If cops wanted superior hunting, they’d do better to raid the U.S. Chamber of Commerce convention. But that would entail throwing down with the captains of industry, who just happen to own private militias of lawyers. Far easier to challenge the invisible pimps, where there’s no risk of getting nicks in your sword. That’s the path chosen by Zoeller. He’s not exactly a seasoned crime fighter or man of the street. He made his bones as an aide to Vice President Dan Quayle, then worked the Beltway Republican patronage system before returning to Indiana. He apparently doesn’t have Google access, either. Zoeller has been widely cited in the Indiana media for calling the Super Bowl the largest human trafficking event in the country. He championed the new law cracking down on the sexual sale of kids. He’s appeared at press conferences with Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, urging men to sign pledges foregoing the purchase of young girls. His office has trained more than 2,000 people to spot trafficking during the Super Bowl. But while his preparations for the onslaught have come with ostentatious flair, our hero hasn’t accomplished much on the ground. So far, the biggest hooker bust came in suburban Greenwood, where a hotel sting netted three arrests. One woman was from Texas. Detectives suspect she showed up for the Super Bowl. Still, one might think Zoeller’s den is festooned with the scalps of battle, since his hometown annually hosts one of the largest sporting events in the country, the Indianapolis 500. His office has also co-chaired one of Bush’s anti-trafficking task forces since 2005. But his point woman on trafficking, Abby Kuzma, can’t recall a single human-trafficking arrest at the Indy 500. Either racing fans — mostly poorer, country people — prefer to get amorous with Golden Corral hostesses, or America’s pimps have been calling in sick every year. Maybe this Super Bowl will be different. Maybe Zoeller’s army will finds legions of prostitutes writhing in the Hilton kiddie pool.For the sake of a lasting national panic, one can only hope.After all, with attorneys general, state legislators and soap-dispensing nuns all on the team, it sometimes seems pointless to cry foul. Even the NFL’s McCarthy seems resigned to the idea that America’s political class is simply too invested in the Super Bowl hooker myth to make any protest worthwhile.Despite the fact that he was dead right about last year’s game in Dallas, when asked for comment this year McCarthy offers only the following:”The National Football League supports strong human trafficking laws. Additionally, we work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement to insure that the Super Bowl is a safe environment for the host community and the fans who enjoy the game and the celebration.”
Super Bowl-domestic violence myth persists
The myth dates back to 1993 when, like a game of telephone, anecdotal evidence became conflated into a statistical fact parroted throughout the media without confirmation. That year, The Associated Press and CBS labeled Super Bowl Sunday a “day of dread” for women across the country. Women advocates spoke of a “flood” of calls to domestic abuse hot lines and media mailings warned women “Don’t remain at home with him during the game.”
Christina Hoff Sommers, American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and equity feminist, trackedthe rumor from its inception and, along with such journalists as Washington Post reporter Ken Ringle,demonstrated that despite the hysteria, women have never been in any greater danger on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day.
Sommers explained to The Daily Caller that while such dramatizations may serve a purpose for some activists, domestic violence is too serious a problem for such exaggerations and opportunism.
“Women who are at risk for domestic violence are going to be helped by state of the art research and good information,” she said. “They are not going to be helped by hyperbole and manufactured data.”
For just those reasons, Philip W. Cook, an investigative journalist affiliated with Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), told TheDC that domestic violence is a topic that often requires a great deal of fact-checking.
“There are more myths, misinformation and half truths about [domestic violence] than any other significant social issue,” Cook said. “So this is simply part and parcel of a tremendous amount of myths, misinformation and half truths that get accepted without critical journalistic thinking and inquiry.”
Propagation of such fallacies such as the “Super Bowl hoax” helps perpetuate negative stereotypes, said Sommers.
“If you look at these myths they almost all promote this idea that women are victims and men are brutes. The ‘Super Bowl hoax,’ for example, depicts the average guy sitting in his couch watching the Super Bowl as a violent predator and I think this promotes prejudice,” Sommers said. “This view has been popular among hard line gender activists who want to depict masculinity as pathological.”
One of Cook’s concerns has been the manner in which false data inform policy makers and the harm it can cause for real victims.
“[The myths] translate into public policy that directly affects people’s lives,” Cook said, pointing to ineffectual programs and agencies. “When it comes to domestic violence policy, there is more misinformation out there and in particular the media tends to accept it without any scrutiny.”
While some may view America as a patriarchal nightmare, by comparison to much of the rest of the world, it is an oasis of gender equality. According to Sommers, such falsehoods work to harm America’s reputation.
“These false claims about violence make our society look dangerous for women, when in fact American society…is a place where women have achieved great success stories for feminism,” said Sommers. “In Pakistan and Iran they will defend their societies by saying women are imperiled in the West, that …women are beaten — especially Super Bowl Sunday! — there can be no distinction between women who are free and are oppressed.”