Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Family Curse

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.  -  Alexander Pope

In January of 2003, soon after I had bought my country property, a spotted dog showed up while we were putting up the shop.  She was in heat, the neighbor’s dog Stampy (yes, he was named for Bart Simpson’s elephant) paid court to her, and she started spending her nights under our house.  At first I referred to her as “Stampy’s lady friend”, which was soon shortened to “Lady” when we decided to let her stay.  When it was time for her to whelp I started shutting her in the shop at night (we set up a wooden frame with blankets for her), and she had eight puppies in the wee small hours of March 10th.  Within a few months, though, we knew something weird was going on; Lady would amble off with the pups into the woods and come back with one fewer than before.  She lost three that way; we’ve never been sure if she was doing it on purpose because she sensed something was wrong with them, or if it was just the way of things, but I wasn’t going to let it continue.

Accordingly, I established the procedure we followed thereafter: Lady and the pups could never be loose at the same time.  When she was out alone she was fine, and when the pups were out without her that was fine too.  But if she got loose at the same time as they did, the whole pack would take off and not be seen until very late at night (or, in later years, even the next day).  When they were all together it was like the pack instinct took over, and their normal obedient ways cast to the winds.  And whenever it happened I would never sleep well until they were home safe.  There was plenty to worry about; this area is full of predators, and while they were more than a match for coyotes there are also cougars, rattlesnakes and other dangerous animals.

On top of all that, there was the epilepsy.  Oreo had it worst; she started having grand mal seizures after her first year, and eventually died from them.  But Stampy, Jr and Caramel also had it in less severe form; Stampy had petit mal seizures from time to time, and though Caramel never had any obvious seizures she would often have episodes where she seemed upset or frightened of something the other dogs didn’t notice, most likely some feeling inside her.  After Oreo died, we were down to just the three, Lady, Stampy Jr and Caramel; one of the others had been given away, and Damsel met with some accident before she turned one and never came home.  By this point, we had the grim joke that Lady was under a curse; four of her pups had met with unknown dooms, one had perished from a chronic illness and the remaining two seemed marked.

But as the years rolled by, my fears abated somewhat; it seemed the remaining three would live out normal lives.  Except for that strange thing about not being able to let them out at the same time, they were friendly, affectionate, obedient dogs; Lady went everywhere with Grace, and was probably the best-known dog in the whole county.  And though Stampy (the largest of the three at 40 kg) was an accomplished coyote-killer, with humans he was amazingly docile.  He and Caramel had been inseparable since birth, and though she often gave him grief over taking up too much space in the doghouse, he was very protective of his little sister.

Then just a year ago, the curse seemed to return with a vengeance.  They were all getting on in years; the vet figured Lady had been about a year old when she had the puppies, and they were now ten.  Like many large dogs, Stampy had become arthritic; we were giving him medicine that seemed to ease his pain, but he had still slowed down considerably.  And though Caramel (who only weighed about 30 kg) had no such symptoms, she rarely wandered far from her brother.  Neither of them hesitated, though, when one day last July a lone coyote wandered  near where Grace was working, in broad daylight; Stampy and Caramel gave chase and Lady got so agitated she managed to break her leash and follow…trailing a long length of leash into the woods and ignoring Grace’s commands to stop (as was typical when the three were loose together).  When Grace told me what had happened my heart sunk; I knew a long leash dragged into thick woods was a death-sentence.  We searched for hours, and then Grace drove around the whole area calling her for days, hoping against hope she would hear her barking and could go to her aid.  It was no use; we never saw her again, and I only hope the coyotes got her quickly because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Last winter seemed especially hard on Stampy; even with the medicine he seemed constantly in low-level pain, and began to move more slowly and awkwardly.  Still, he greeted me every morning with wagging tail when I came outside to let them off of the porch for the day.  But on March 21st, just eleven days after his eleventh birthday, I saw him for the last time; the others were back from their morning run long before noon, but Stampy was not with them.  We called his name repeatedly; again, Grace drove around looking for him.  And again, it was no use.  Maybe he attacked another animal he was no longer young and strong enough to defeat; maybe he just went off to die as animals sometimes do.  But as with his mother, it was the uncertainty that was the hardest part.  Death, as the Bard said, will come when it will come; it’s not knowing a friend’s fate that’s unbearable.

After losing her lifelong companion, Caramel just wasn’t the same; she seemed to grow old overnight, and no longer went off the porch much unless she was following one of us.  Grace noticed that she was cleaning her bottom a lot more than she used to, and fussing with it as though it bothered her; of course neither of us thought much about that at the time, but it sprang immediately to mind when Grace called me on the first leg of my tour to tell me that she had stopped eating and seemed to be straining every time she went to poop.  The vet discovered an intestinal blockage and some swelling, but even after enemas and antibiotics her appetite and bowel movements failed to return to normal.  Grace discovered the only thing that would tempt her to eat was pure meat, but even then she wouldn’t take enough to really sustain a dog her size.  By the time I got home on June 28th she was badly emaciated, like a recently-rescued stray; I cried that night, because I knew what was coming.  We took her back to the vet first thing the following Monday, and an examination revealed the underlying problem: cancer of the anal glands, and in a fairly advanced state.  I held her as the vet did what needed to be done, and the last of her doomed line went peacefully to sleep in my arms.

When we lost Lady last summer, something kept me from writing about it; the same thing happened when we lost Stampy in March.  But this time it was different.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that with Caramel at least, I absolutely knew she was dead, whereas with the others there was no real closure.  Or perhaps I realized deep down that they would all follow one another into the Beyond as closely as they had followed one another in life.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I’ve lost three dear friends in much too short a time, and though it’s hard to type this through my tears, I felt their loyalty deserved the only memorial I know how to give them.  Requiescat in pace, pups; the curse at last is done.

Like a Courtesan

I have naturally good looks and skin, but I strongly think I need to refine them for my husband.  In my country we don’t have as much variety of expensive beauty products as you do in the United States, so I was wondering if you could drop some tips on how to take care of oneself finely, like a courtesan did.  It would help a lot.

Like you, most of my beauty is natural; my good skin, healthy color, and other features are all mine without having to do anything other than stay healthy and clean.  I get plenty of sleep, avoid chaotic schedules whenever possible, eat a varied diet in small enough portions that I don’t put on weight, and wash my face and body with gentle products that don’t dry out my skin.  I have never smoked, used drugs or drank more than a minimal amount of alcohol (and that only on rare occasions), and I’ve never subjected my hair to harsh chemicals in order to change its color or texture.  And in fact, now that I’m aging I find myself at a bit of a loss, because I never really learned many beauty tips; for the first time I’m seeing grey hairs and dark circles, and though I don’t have any crows’ feet or smile lines yet I suppose it’s inevitable that they will eventually appear.  So, I’m only now beginning to think about some aspects of self-care that others have been dealing with since their teens, and that means I’m not really a very good source of beauty advice.  However, two months ago I asked my readers for new makeup suggestions and the response was excellent; I’m therefore going to “crowdsource” this question as well.  Readers, what beauty secrets are you willing to share?  Try to keep brand names out if you can, so the tips will apply in every part of the world.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.  -  The Gospel of Philip

Today is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, long considered to be either a prostitute or “reformed” prostitute and therefore the subject of special devotion by many Catholic (and Orthodox, and Anglican, and Lutheran) whores.  As I have explained before, there is no canonical evidence for this; the idea seems to date to a sermon  delivered in 591 by Pope Gregory the Great, in which she was identified as a repentant harlot (possibly by identification with the “adulterous woman” whom Jesus rescues from being stoned in the 8th chapter of John).  But the four canonical Gospels are not the only ones:

…among those used by Gnostic congregations (and subsequently excluded from the canon) were four more Gospels:  Thomas, Philip, Mary and Judas, all but the last of which assign a much more prominent role to Mary Magdalene than the four canonical ones; indeed, the Gospel of Mary is actually attributed to her.  These Gospels refer to Mary as Jesus’ “companion” and describe him as loving her more than his other disciples and often kissing her on the mouth…the Gospel of Mary identifies her as the unnamed “disciple Jesus loved” mentioned so often in John…

Pope Gregory may well have been aware of these gospels, and perhaps intentionally conflated the Magdalene with the adulteress as a way of smearing her in a time of increasingly-patriarchal Church practices and increasingly-prudish Church attitudes toward sex.  It is possible that one of the reasons Mary the Harlot caught on so quickly as a mythic figure was that she built upon and supplanted the clearly sexual (though not specifically professional) portrayal in the Gnostic gospels, oral traditions of which could well have survived their suppression two centuries before Gregory’s sermon.  I might even point out that she could well be viewed as a Christianized Venus, just as the Blessed Mother is a Christianized mother-goddess and Jesus himself a Christian solar deity.  The actual biographical facts of the lives of the human beings upon whom the mythic figures are based is of no more importance than whether Buddha could actually perform miracles, King Arthur pulled a sword from a stone or Mohammed flew into heaven on a winged horse; as in the case of Saint Nicholas (the official patron saint of whores), the mythology which has developed around the historical Mary Magdalene has a life of its own independent of the mundane facts.  The process of apotheosis creates a new being separate and distinct from the long-dead person whose name he or she shares, and that being inhabits the irrational realm of faith rather than the rational one of fact.

Simply put, Mary Magdalene the symbol is an entity wholly distinct from Mary Magdalene the first-century Jewish woman, and whether the latter was a whore, wife or mere follower to Yeshua bar Yosef is immaterial to the power of that symbol.  For centuries, the name “Magdalene” has been synonymous with “prostitute” in Christendom; when in the 13th century the idea arose for the first time that whores were “fallen” women in need of “rescue”, the asylums established for the purpose were called “Magdalene homes”.  Though few of these institutions survived the Black Death, the movement was revived in the mid-18th century and the number of such places multiplied with the rise of the “white slavery” myth a century later; though they again died out in most places in the early 20th century, they continued on in Ireland until 1996.  In various parts of the British Isles, the term “Magdalene” became “Maggie”, and applied either to whores in general (in England) or ones confined to Magdalene laundries (in Ireland).  The working girls in a number of folk songs are named “Maggie”, and of course Stephen Crane gave us Maggie:  A Girl of the Streets; some of y’all have probably guessed that I chose the name “Maggie” for a reason, and perhaps noticed that the name “Maggie McNeill” has a similar cadence to “Mary Magdalene”.

So even though I well understand that Mary Magdalene may not have “really” been a member of my profession, I also understand the difference between fact and truth.  The sacred whore may have largely ceased to exist in the mundane world of matter, but she still exists in the human unconscious.  And in the West, it has pleased her for a number of centuries now to work under the stage name Mary Magdalene.

Cathryn and me at the Everleigh Club site 7-19-14Up to this week, the pace of my tour has been relatively sedate, with more downtime than appearances.  But as of Saturday that changed; Chicago will be a whirlwind, and the number of quiet days from here to at least Charleston will be in the minority.  So even though last week in Memphis and Nashville was rather quiet, I wasn’t all that concerned; it gave me time to catch up on some writing so I won’t be caught flatfooted before the end of August.

Since my book is self-published, most large bookstores won’t carry it on their shelves; however, independent stores can do as they like so a few have agreed to stock Ladies of the Night.  Before leaving Memphis last Monday I stopped in at The Booksellers at Laurelwood to sign their copies, and was pleased to hear that one had already sold over the weekend.  If you’re in Memphis, call them to see if they have any left!  That night I had dinner with one of my “Angel” sponsors in Nashville, and this morning I’m having breakfast with another in Chicago.  I also had dinner and visited with activist Cathryn Berarovich in Chicago on Saturday night; the picture is us in a grassy lot where the Everleigh Club, Chicago’s busiest and most elegant brothel, used to stand.  And on Friday night in Indianapolis, I had dinner and a long discussion with a criminologist who is preparing a study of violence against sex workers in criminalized and legalized systems.

My one public event in Nashville was a presentation at Liberty On the Rocks; since the space was rather noisy and the group relatively small we opted for a discussion-group style event rather than a lecture followed by questions.  Though I felt as though the format was a bit more chaotic than I prefer, the attendees seemed pleased with the outcome and one even wrote about it.  There’s a small footnote to that event which emphasizes the reason I’m out here and gives me hope for the future:  when I left, I felt like getting some ice cream so I stopped at a small parlor on the next block which was still open.  As I walked out and was eating my cone on the sidewalk, a young woman (university age) asked which flavor I’d bought, and she and her boyfriend and I struck up a conversation.  When I told them who I was and why I was travelling, they expressed enthusiastic support for the cause, wished me luck and asked for a card to read the blog.  I think their attitude is more common than the prohibitionists want to admit; in twenty years, young people will view repression of sex work in the same way young people now view attempts to suppress gay rights: as a weird, incomprehensible thing people used to do which has no valid place in a civilized society.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Links #211

Defense counsel:  So you entered the house based on a lie?
Cop A.B. Beck:  Yes.
Defense counsel:  And this is your policy for domestic violence warrants?
Cop A.B. Beck:  Yes.

Usually I’m very conscientious about recording where I saw a given item first, but I’m afraid I lapsed in the case of today’s first video.  Weird Al Yankovic has released a new video every day this week to promote his new album, and so many people have tweeted them I lost track of who went first; this one was my favorite, and I think you’ll find it appropriate.  The second video (which I’m sure everyone with BDSM experience will appreciate) was sent me by Libertine Video, everything above the first was provided by Grace (who also gave us “how about now?”), and the links between the videos were contributed by Radley Balko (“fascism”), Amy Alkon  (“God”), Walter Olson (“pig”, “colony” and “police state”), Teller (“centennial”), Jesse Walker (“nightmares”), Aspasia (“not Florida”), Rick Horowitz (“terrorist”), and Popehat (“caste” and “records”).

From the Archives

An abolitionist is an abolitionist…whether Radfem or Muslim.  It is a little bit moot whether you kill someone with a bullet or by making their lives impossible while cranking up the stigmas…You are still just as dead, and in my honest opinion the bullet is quicker and cleaner.  -  Maggie Jones

Bad Girls Alix Tichleman

Ladies, it is NEVER a good idea to provide drugs to a client, because if something goes wrong they’ll be looking for a scapegoat:

An alleged prostitute has been charged with manslaughter for injecting a Google executive with heroin and then leaving him to die of an overdose…Alix Tichelman …is being held on…$1.5 million [bail]…Forrest Timothy Hayes…died Nov. 23 on his 50-foot yacht, Escape…His body was discovered the following morning by the yacht’s captain…Police say security footage from the yacht shows…Tichelman… gathering her belongings including drugs and needles, downing a glass of wine and lowering the blinds before leaving…Tichelman had an “ongoing prostitution relationship” with Hayes that began when she met Hayes on SeekingArrangement.com…

Only the sick mind of a cop could belch out a phrase as moronic as “ongoing prostitution relationship.”

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Get it straight, cops; you have to rape a whore not to get in trouble.  Fairly paying her demonstrates you’re not the kind of person they want in their ranks: “[Florida cop Trenton Moore] was arrested for soliciting a prostitute.  Now he’s out of a job…”  And stealing the cash from the leaders of your cop gang is an even worse idea:

….£120,000 of seized criminal cash was taken from [a Scottish] police office by…Robert Moffat…£90,000 of that cash was found in Moffat’s house and buried under a slab in his back garden…That cash was then taken by…Dean Burnett as part of a £205,000 haul he blew on gambling and vice girls…Burnett…was jailed for 45 months…but was only ordered to pay back £5000…

Rooted in Racism

Sometimes “trafficking” just means “bringing in black people“:

A 30-year-old man has been sentenced to six months in prison for attempting to smuggle refugees into Sweden, after claiming he met them at a wedding in Germany and offered them a lift back…the man…hired a car from a rental firm in Stockholm.  He opted for a vehicle which could accommodate seven people, arguing that he needed the space as he intended to transport a set of large loudspeakers…He offered a lift to six people from Eritrea, who…were seeking asylum in Germany.  He said he received €600…as a thank you…but when he was picked up by border police he had €1,150 in his pocket…

They Just Don’t Get It (TW3 #18)

Reading stuff Pennsylvania reporters write about cops is like watching fellatio porn:

…Sgt. Rick Blake said…he’s discarded the notion that prostitution is a “victimless crime” because women choose to sell their bodies.  He said many women are forced into it…”backpage.com…is a way for them to advertise without being directly out in the view of…law enforcement,” Blake said…”None of them want to lead this life”…When a Florida woman was picked up in a sting…”She thanked us because this was truly her only way to escape from the people she was being used by”…

As Mistress Matisse pointed out, “women we arrest thank us” is the moral equivalent of “she liked it when we raped her”. 

Whatever They Need To Say

Bangladesh’s oldest brothel has been shut down following pressure from local clerics and politicians…More than 750 prostitutes in Tangail City were forced out of a cluster of houses that made up the 200-year-old Kandapara brothel…after the dwelling’s owners ordered them shut…[following] a march last week demanding the eviction of the sex workers…Monowara Begum, who heads a sex-workers group at Kandapara, accused the local mayor…of…threatening the women…“He…sent dozens of young men…they told us that we have only one hour to leave…or they would burn down the brothel with kerosene”…

Under Every Bed 

Just the same old revolting “all prostitutes are pimped addicts”, but nearly all of these wastes of ink include this nowadays: “South Burlington [Vermont] is a busy city of more than 18,000 people…right on Interstate 89…

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

To commemorate the National Day of Sex Work, the Secretariat of Labour and Employment Promotion (STFE) of [Mexico City] gave 50 credentials to persons exercising sex work and recognized them as self-employed workers with social and labor rights.  The event…represents the second delivery of these documents…since last March, when the first group of 19 persons filed an injunction against the Law…which criminalized prostitution [in the city] as a crime “against the peace of the people”…[agency head] Patricia Mercado… admitted that public policy change was driven by the “Elisa Martínez” Street Brigade in Support of Women directed by Elvira Madrid and Jaime Montejo…[and] litigated by attorney Barbara Zamora…

Passive Voice

Radley Balko on a syndrome I’ve discussed before:

…Use of the passive voice in an admission of wrongdoing has become  so common that the political consultant William Schneider suggested a few years ago that it be referred to as the “past exonerative” tense.  You’ll often see a similar grammatical device when a police officer shoots someone.  Communications officers at policy agenies are deft at contorting the English language to minimize culpability of an officer or of the agency…

Policing for Profit Michael Mobley

When you’re a cop, armed robbery becomes “misdemeanor embezzlement” and decades in prison becomes a few weekends in the county jail:

[Virginia cop Michael Mobley] was sentenced to 30 days in jail…for stealing more than $3,000 from three prostitutes…he…pleaded guilty…to two counts of misdemeanor embezzlement…[and] can serve his sentence on consecutive weekends…Mobley…questioned [the victims] under the guise of a police investigation…[and stole their] money…

If he’d turned the money in to the head thugs, this would’ve been legal.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the latest development in British “feminism”:

…Twitter has been a-bubble with prominent feminists endorsing Who Made Your Pants, a company which employs refugee women…to sew…underwear…with prices between £18 and an eye-watering £21.50 a pop…the implication (from people on Twitter, not the company itself) that not wearing them makes you not ethical or not feminist leaves a bad taste in the mouth…Many of the people who can’t afford to spend £20-plus [$34] on purportedly feminist knickers are themselves workers in a marketplace that devalues their labour.  This does not make them bad feminists, bad consumers, or bad people.  If we who are in a position of financial privilege are unable to recognise that, the fault lies with us – not with them…

Traffic Circle

Even the more ethical “human trafficking” folks are now starting to distance themselves from “sex trafficking” hysteria:

Human trafficking has become the cause célébre for sensationalist…media…a great deal of the…content is both inaccurate and irresponsible …[This] sensationalizing or falsification…is often excused…[as] “raising awareness”…[but] misinformed people…support policies and  organizations that are ultimately counter-productive…

The author, Ryan Turner, goes on to list what he considers the worst offenses:

…All human trafficking statistics should be regarded with some  skepticism…Misleading statistics obscure the true nature of the problem and…when…inevitably exposed as false or methodologically unsound, it undermines the credibility of the whole anti-trafficking movement…Conflation of sex work and sex trafficking often leads to policies that criminalize prostitution, making sex workers more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.  Meanwhile, the distinct needs of trafficking survivors are ignored in favor of “demand reduction”  programs that…harm…sex workers…Reveling in graphic details does not help victims and survivors, nor does it contribute in any meaningful way…The myopic focus on sex trafficking…draws attention away from the fact that the tomatoes we eat may be the product of forced labor in Florida…

Down Under (TW3 #350)

Prohibitionists insist decriminalization doesn’t work:

Police resolved a dispute between a sex worker and a client who refused to pay — by escorting the man to a cash machine to settle his $100 bill…A [New Zealand] police spokesperson said…”It…is a routine thing. Police would help any citizen having a disagreement whether they were a sex-worker or working in a pizza shop”…

What a Week! (TW3 #402)

Gunmen…attacked two buildings…in Baghdad’s Zayounah neighbourhood, killing at least 33 people including 29 women…there are suspicions the buildings were being used as a brothel.  The words “This is the punishment of those practising prostitution” were scrawled in black on one of the buildings…Michelle Obama bring back our girls

Here’s an excellent commentary on the story from another Maggie:

…where is the outrage…Where is the team of “British specialists” sent… to Bagdad to investigate…Where is Michelle Obama gormlessly holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign?  Where is the hysterical Twitter campaign?  Perhaps if we were to relabel those women as “vulnerable victims of evil sex traffickers” their death might attract more sympathy?  As independent women…supporting themselves, not relying on some well funded NGO organisation to “rescue” them…they were…simply the “wrong kind of women” to be deserving of the ritual hand wringing…

Devil’s Advocate

Intellectual honesty is dead in the West:

Once we start creating sex-robots, what will be the limits we put on them?  It’s not a human being so you should theoretically be able to rock your human-like Rumba however you want, but there may be some situations that create moral panics even if the Cylon-victim involved is just a bundle of algorithms and plastic.  I asked the panel how society would deal ethically and legally with a hypothetical company that starts producing child sex-robots to satisfy deviant sexual desires…

You can guess the result.  Nobody wants to admit that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster.

Drawing Lines

Another excellent Marijke Vonk essay:

…It’s a mistake to think that prostitutes are fundamentally different from other people…that sex is obviously and clearly different from non-sex, that sex work is strictly different from other types of work, that prostitution is clearly different from non-prostitution.  Violence against sex workers should be stopped…but it’s a mistake to think that violence won’t harm us all.  There’s no clear line between sex workers and the rest of us…

Maggie in the Media (TW3 #424)

Recorded while I was in Los Angeles early last month:

Schadenfreude (TW3 #425) 

More and more reporters are discovering the truth about “sex trafficking”:

Eden supposedly follows the life of Chong Kim…whose…story has been trumpeted [by "trafficking" fetishists while]…activists…have been busy poking holes in…it…In 2004, Kim published an essay titled “Nobody’s Concubine”…[which] has little in common with Eden.  Kim writes that she suffered abuse at home and was…raped by an acquaintance…She started working as a stripper and then for an escort service after escaping an abusive boyfriend and falling on hard times…Missing…is the desert warehouse full of teenage sex slaves in Nevada and the daring escapes described in her later accounts.  Over the years, Kim’s story has grown more lavish and sensational as the bad guys morphed from abusive clients and boyfriends to international gangs of kidnappers, pimps, human traffickers and johns that included law enforcement agents and even an unnamed former state governor…

Consult my research paper “Mind-witness Testimony” for an explanation of the psychological mechanism behind the inflation of stories like Kim’s.

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Canada’s Bill C36 is merely the hook for this excellent essay against sexual prohibition:

…“unnatural” sex has always been problematic for moral crusaders.  For example, masturbation and homosexual acts were previously depicted as “harmful” to individual and collective health; yet such claims proved not only to be unfounded, but dangerous.  This, however, has not stopped the perfectionists among us from endorsing a new cause:  the present obsession with prostitution …the so-called deleterious effects of masturbation [were] widely discredited in…[the early] 20th century…and…by 1973, the American Psychiatric Association no longer considered homosexuality a disease…Yet here we are in the 21st century, justifying state repression of prostitution…we can get over our anxiety…whenever we come to realize that sex workers and their clients do not require “treatment”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #428)

Many religious groups in Canada…have been enthusiastically supporting the government’s new prostitution bill…But dozens of Anglican clergy say the proposed law is immoral and endangers sex workers, and they are urging the government to withdraw it.  Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott…has submitted an open letter to the justice committee signed by 33 of his…colleagues…

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 8th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

According to the popular narrative, sex workers are “bad” or “defective” or otherwise abnormal; we are not to be trusted even to run our own lives, so when “good” women who claim to want what’s best for us say that we need to be criminalized for our own good – that our statements should be ignored, our clients demonized, our workplaces raided by armed thugs who drag us away to cages where we can be subjected to degrading attempts to “correct” or brainwash us, and our organizations branded as a “pimp lobby” – the politicians side with them and the legions of the ignorant mindlessly parrot their drivel about “sex trafficking”. There are many of these righteous guardians of female purity; in Ireland, for example, they are led by Ruhama, an organization founded by the exact same nuns who ran the infamous Magdalene laundries, where sex workers and other “sinful” women were condemned to slave labor until they were completely broken. Among these outcasts were unwed mothers, whose children were ripped from them and incarcerated in hell-holes like St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home:

The bodies of 796 children…have been found in a disused sewage tank in Tuam, County Galway. They died between 1925 and 1961 in a mother and baby home under the care of the Bon Secours nuns…historian Catherine Corless discovered the extent of the mass grave when she requested records of children’s deaths in the home…The vast majority of the children’s remains, it seemed, were [simply dumped into] the septic tank. Corless and a committee have been working tirelessly to raise money for a memorial that includes a plaque bearing each child’s name…death rates for children in the Tuam mother and baby home, and in similar institutions, were four to five times that of the general population. A health board report from 1944 on the Tuam home describes emaciated, potbellied children, mentally unwell mothers and appalling overcrowding. But, as Corless points out, this was no different to other homes in Ireland. They all had the same mentality: that these women and children should be punished…

Eden posterAnd yet, these nuns still receive funding from the Irish government and their lies about sex workers are still accepted unquestioningly by the Irish media. In the United States, laws and old prejudices prevent the Catholic Church from gaining quite such a powerful hold, but nothing short of absolute exposure stops sociopaths like Somaly Mam or the woman whose supposedly “true” story the movie Eden was based on:

…Chong Kim whom [sic] has claimed to be a survivor of human trafficking is not…after thorough investigation into her story, people, records and places, as well as, [sic] many interviews with producers, publishers and…organizations, we found no truth to her story. In fact, we found a lot of fraud, lies, and the most horrifically capitalizing [sic]…We have found several other organizations…who have been defrauded by Chong collecting money in their name…

When Eden came out many sex worker activists condemned it as a pack of lies; we’ve done the same about Somaly Mam for years. And despite their being exposed as charlatans, others very like them continue to cash in and exert such powerful influence over politicians that outrages like this are the norm these days:

…This cynical, dystopic model does not resolve the problems found by the Court in Bedford to be unconstitutional, and adds new ones such as the prohibition on advertising.  The Charter rights…[of] life, liberty, security of the person, freedom of expression and equality…are [all] breached…It is an unconstitutional variation of our broken laws that impose more danger, more criminalization, and fewer safe options, contrary to the requirement of the Supreme Court of Canada…All that will be required for police to surveil and target sex workers is the suggestion that a person under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present…purchase [of]…sex…[carries] mandatory fines…from $500 to $4,000, to five years in jail…Without the ability to advertise in newspapers, online, or other forms of media, sex workers will now have severely limited means for working safely indoors…

pile_of_bonesHow many more skeletons need to be found in closets or cesspools before the public wakes up to the evil of prohibitionism? How many more lies until the self-appointed saviors lose their credibility for good? And how many more women have to die before governments abandon their mad dream of controlling the sexuality of every individual within their borders?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,237 other followers