The Real Life “Secret Diary Of A Call Girl” Brooke Magnanti Wrote A Book About Sexonomics

In November 2009, Dr. Brooke Magnanti bravely outed herself as the “Belle du Jour,” a former sex worker whose blog Diary of a London Call Girl went on to become a smash hit book and Showtime TV series, “Secret Diary of a Call Girl.” A specialist in neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology, Dr. Magnanti only revealed herself to be Belle because an ex-boyfriend was threatening to do it for her out of spite. She had worked as a prostitute in 2003 and 2004 to support herself while finishing up her doctorate.

These days, the 35-year-old research scientist at Bristol University is penning another book, this time under her own name. Sexonomics: An Examination of Third-Wave Feminism Through the Prism of the Sex Trade will be published in spring 2012.Sexonomics is based on Dr. Magnanti’s latest blog, also called Sexonomics, for which she writes about society and politics as they pertain to sex. Based on what few posts she’s penned on her blog, it seems the book may address topics like sex work by choice versus sex trafficking and the myth of the happy hooker.

But speaking to the UK’s Guardian newspaper about her upcoming book, I found Dr. Magnanti’s comments about feminism most compelling. Much like Billie Piper, the actress who plays her alter ego on the “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” TV show, the former sex worker is conflicted about the term nowadays. On the Frequently Asked Questions post on her Sexonomics blog, where she is asked if the blog will be an attack on feminism, she responds, “Kind of. But probably not in the way you think.” Magnanti’s relationship with many feminists is frosty at best. She told the Guardian newspaper:

“I am still waiting for one single ‘feminist’ newspaper columnist who called me a man [before her identity was revealed some critics speculated a man was actually writing the Diary of a London Call Girl blog], a fraud, or a liar to apologize. Up until November 2009, I would have said I was a feminist. Then I found out the hard way that feminism in this country is like the Ivy League: it’s mostly filled with the sort of people you spent your school years avoiding. I genuinely do not get the third-wave bluestocking professional feminists in this country. Genuinely. I’ve tried to give a sh*t about maternity leave and who does the housework, and all I can come up with is, if your job doesn’t give you as much time off as you want, suck it up or get another job. If your partner doesn’t do the washing-up, same. Why this need to publish endless tomes on the subject? It seems a pretty lame preoccupation when there are still eight countries in the world where a woman can legally be put to death for adultery.”

Now, I don’t agree with Dr. Magnanti’s dismissive “suck it up or get another job” comment. I really don’t agree with it. Yet I’d like to learn more about why she feels the way she does, as her life experiences have been so different from mine. I think her personal experiences as a highly educated professional woman/former sex worker, contextualized within modern feminism, are a fascinating topic. Here’s hoping she addresses it in more depth in Sexonomics.

[Guardian UK]
[Sexonomics Blog]