For her third installment of Big Mother Is Watching You, a guide to prominent anti-sex worker activists and officials, Robin D goes to Hollywood to check out do-gooder celebrities and the whorephobic campaigns they run.
Susan Sarandon and Meg Ryan
Susan Sarandon flexes her activist muscle at the Witness Focus for Change Benefit in 2009 (Photo by Kate Glicksberg, via Witness Flickr account)
Meg Ryan doing a TED talk in 2010. (Photo by Flickr user redmaxwell)
Susan Sarandon and Meg Ryan were key players in NGO fraud Somaly Mam’s ascendence in Hollywood. Mam is the celebrity activist exposed by Newsweek in 2014, after a slewof articlesabout her fabrications appeared in The Cambodia Daily in 2012 and 2013. She ran a re-education camp filled through brothel raids and therefore populated by local sex workers held against their will and others deemed to be “at risk” through Mam’s organization AFESIP (Agir Pour Les Femmes en Situations Precaires). Both populations were instructed on at least several occasions to lie about their stories and concoct trafficking tragedy porn to relate to visitors and journalists.
“I have been personally inspired by the work of Somaly Mam and I encourage anyone who can devote time and money to help Mam continue to make a difference in this world,” Sarandon stated on the Somaly Mam Foundation website. Ryan appears in Nicholas Kristof’s documentary Half the Sky, which lauded Mam’s organizations for their work. Both Sarandon and Ryan were photographed multiple times with Mam at various Hollywood events and fundraisers.
Sarandon seems to have missed the point of the May 2014 expose of Mam in Newsweek, saying that she continues to believe Mam’s story regardless. Mam’s victims, though, apparently aren’t worth her consideration. Sarandon has made no public statement on the testimony of the women now saying that Mam coached them to lie and fabricate horror stories about being trafficked, including Srey Mao and Meas Ratha; nor on the medical records on purported Mam trafficking victim Long Pros’ eye, proving that her eye was removed in surgery for a tumor and not by an imaginary pimp gouging it out; nor the untold many sex workers who have been and continue to be imprisoned in “rehabilitation centers,” including AFESIP’s center.
In her article, Grant deconstructs the myth of clients “buying” prostitutes instead of exchanging money for labor. Sex workers don’t “sell our bodies” any more than pro-athletes, construction workers, ballerinas or models do. We use our bodies for labor; they’re not “things” that clients can purchase. To buy something implies a permanent change of ownership. After several years of being a prostitute I find that I still very much own my body—despite all the men who have allegedly “bought” me. [READ MORE]