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Typically Flawed

I’m a 24-year-old girl who feels that if cheating is inevitable, and most men have paid for sex, then there’s no way that I can ever be in a healthy relationship.  While I support sex workers and want them to work safely, I refuse to marry a man who has paid for sex; I would rather be alone than do this.  How can I pursue a healthy, honest relationship if I can’t trust men?

If you define “healthy” as “unrealistically perfect”, then you’re correct that you’ll never be in a “healthy” relationship.  Human beings are not perfect, and men are not women; if you expect perfection, and furthermore define that perfection as men behaving like women, then you are indeed doomed to disappointment.  Healthy relationships aren’t those in which both partners meet and never fall below some unrealistic standard of behavior; they’re those in which each partner recognizes that the other is a flawed human being who will inevitably do upsetting, disappointing, hurtful or infuriating things, and that he or she is really no better no matter how much he or she might like to think so.  “I refuse to marry a man who has paid for sex; I would rather be alone than do this” is just as unrealistic (and, frankly, as immature) as “I refuse to marry a woman who is not a virgin; I would rather be alone than do this.”  If you insist on controlling your partner’s past, you obviously mean to control his future, and any self-respecting man in his right mind should run screaming from such a danger sign (just as any self-respecting woman in her right mind should run screaming from the counterpart).

Note that I’m not telling you that all men will cheat, because that wouldn’t be true; what I’m saying is that many will, and that it’s foolish to throw out a man you profess to love merely because he has a fairly-typical flaw.  I might point out that many a client comes to sex workers precisely because he is wise enough not to discard a woman he loves merely because she has the correspondingly-typical female flaw, namely losing interest in sex after a few years of marriage.  Everyone agrees that good relationships need to be based on more than sex, so why is it that so many people believe that a sexual disagreement is sufficient grounds for ending an otherwise-good relationship?  Even if a man cheats on you, applying some mechanistic “zero tolerance” rule like a guillotine to sever a connection you find beneficial in every other way is cheating both yourself and him.

(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.)

 

 

As I wrote in “Change Is“, most Tuesdays will now be diary columns bringing you up to date on what I did the week before and what I’m about to do in coming weeks.  I also think it will be a good place to share links to podcasts and  embed video interviews I’ve done, to tell you about articles I publish in other venues, and even to thank readers for presents and the like.  That means I’ll be retiring the “Maggie in the Media” and “Presents, Presents, Presents!”  headings from TW3 columns, but the tags will persist to enable location of diary columns with items that would’ve gone under those tags.  I don’t have any media for you this week, but I do need to mention a couple of presents I received in Washington, DC and forgot to mention earlier:  when I met Eddie Cunningham for dinner he gave me copies of Guns, Germs and Steel and The Boat of a Million Years.  Thank you, Eddie, and I apologize for not mentioning your gift earlier!

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been immersed in catching up on work I had to neglect in the last month of the tour; I was so busy with activities and writing new columns for August and early September that I had to neglect correspondence, plus indexing and other blog maintenance, and by the time I got home my normal one-month buffer was entirely gone.  However, you’ll be glad to know that my correspondence is fully caught up, that the buffer was restored by last Saturday, and that the indexing will be fully caught up sometime today; once I bring up the PAQ page and a few other little things I’ll be all done.  Furthermore, you’ll be glad to hear I didn’t have to run myself ragged to do it; my improved procedures are making things easier on several fronts, and that means now that I’m caught up I’ll have time to start working on a few other things.  One of them is increasing my mainstream presence by submitting articles to a few big sites you may have heard of; another is that essay collection I’ve promised y’all for almost two years now, and the other…well, let’s not say too much about it yet.

On the travel front, I’ll be back in New Orleans again the weekend of October 25th to speak at a convention of Students for Liberty, then on November 5th I’ll be speaking to the same organization at Loyola University in Chicago.  The following afternoon I’ll be leaving Chicago by train for my mini-tour to Seattle and Portland; there is no wi-fi on long-distance routes yet, so I will be out of touch all day Friday the 7th, all evening on Thursday the 6th and the morning of Saturday the 8th.  But don’t worry, everything will be set up to go, so those who don’t follow Twitter closely probably won’t even know I’m missing.  I want to get all of my activities for those cities planned before I leave, though, so if you would like me to speak or read anyplace in either Seattle or Portland please let me know by two weeks from today, three weeks at the absolute latest!

Usually, the personal is just personal, and declaring it to be political merely holds the door open for increasingly tyrannical intrusion into people’s private lives.  –  “Politicizing the Personal

lipstick on a pigIt’s often easier to write about something than to think of something to write about, which is one of the reasons this blog is so structured; since I publish a new column every single day, it’s important that I do everything I can to keep the mental bearings lubricated.  Though in September of 2011 I was still a long way from the weekly format I use now, there were a number of recurring monthly features such as the Q & A and  Miscellanea columns; I usually featured an “update” column as well, but since I had already used the title “September Updates” back in 2010 I went with “They Speak for Themselves” this time.  That was my first indicator that I would have to change my way of doing things soon; most of the month-names had already been used and the rest would be gone by the end of the year.Ahmed Hasnain  I don’t recall if I was already thinking of switching to weekly updates by this point, but I certainly was by December; in fact, I’m not really sure why I waited until February to start “That Was the Week That Was” instead of just doing it from the first week of January.  Such are the mysteries of the human mind.

Nailiya 1913Besides the monthly features, holidays  and other special occasions (such as Banned Books Week) were always good for me; in addition, my two-month-old “One Year Ago Today” feature was a big help in coming up with column topics.  For example, this month’s harlotography, “Lulu White“, was a sequel to the previous year’s “Storyville”;  “Tyranny By Consensus” followed an earlier column about AHF, “Inappropriate Women” followed my very first hooker song column, “More Terminology” is a direct sequel to its one-year predecessor,  “Hiding from the Light” is a commentary on its, and “Nasty Words” is an elaboration on one of the points made in the column a year before it.  And though “Profound Mental Disabilities” was based on a then-current news story it fell exactly a year after my first column on BDSM.  But inspiration didn’t always have to wait a year; “The Ouled Nail“, about a Berber tribe in which prostitution is normal, inspired both “The Girls from Tarzana” and “Dance of the Seasons“.

Feminism women as childrenThen, as now, news stories often provided a launching point for commentary; “She Should Know Better“, “The Other Foot” and “Surplus Women” fall into that category, as do “Setting Women’s Rights Back a Century” (the beginning of the anti-college-sex crusade), “The Mote and the Beam” (the beginning of the anti-Backpage crusade), and “Size Matters” (the beginning of Phoenix’s anti-whore crusade).  Other columns featured several stories I saw as linked by a single topic; “Wise Investment“, “Uncommon Sense” and “Dominating the News” fall into that category.  And though my very first guest column appeared this month, a two-parter by veteran activist Norma Jean Almodovar, it would be another year and a half before such columns  became a regular feature.

As usual, there were a few that don’t quite fit easily into groups.  “A Thousand Words” makes a point with two pictures, “To Spite Their Faces” criticizes neofeminist attacks on an economist, “Politicizing the Personal” debunks the feminist maxim that “the personal is political”, and “Don’t Take My Word For It” shares a couple of other ladies’ views on male sex workers for women.The Arlington and Mahogany Hall

Links #221

There were no open pits spitting forth curtains of brimstone and perdition’s flames to be found, and nary a single cloven-hoofed demon could be seen dancing about the streets of downtown Oklahoma City—and from all reports, nobody seemed any more or less possessed than they were before the event took place.  –  Jason Vaughn

It was a very active week for links!  The top contributor was Grace, with the second video and all the links above the first one (which IMHO as someone with mild OCD is one of Rachel Bloom‘s funniest yet).  The links between the videos were provided by Popehat (“protection” and “seat belt”), Lenore Skenazy (“correlation”), Nun Ya (“html”), Jason Kuznicki (“Karen Black”), Tushy Galore (“preacher”), Saladin Ahmed (“Snark”), Korhomme (“museum”), Cop Block (“trespassing”), Janet Bloomfield (“cannoli”), and Ally Fogg (“addiction”).

From the Archives

We have to accept the truth…the oldest profession in the world [will only disappear] when humans no longer exist.  –  Khuat Thu Hong

Who Did Your Tits? 

A Tampa massage therapist, Jasmine Tridevil…contacted more than 50 doctors before finding one who would give her [a] third breast…The surgeon she found couldn’t create a silicone areola, though, so she had one tattooed onto the implant, which is made from silicone and skin tissue from her stomach.  While Tridevil’s dream is to star in an MTV reality show, she [said]…she had the surgery to become “unattractive to men” in addition to gaining fame.  “I don’t want to date anymore,” she said…

Alas, there is strong evidence that the story is a hoax.

Safe Targets

Here’s a good example of how criminalization makes sex workers vulnerable to extortion; Terra Jones not only shares the actual letters, but details the total uselessness of Alaska cops in responding to them and explains how “sex trafficking” laws have made conditions even worse.

Anatomy of a Boondoggle

Any amount of criminalization, no matter how slight, gives “authorities” an excuse to harass whores, even to the point of paying men to rape them:  “Fred Allen…is a gun for hire, having received tens of thousands of dollars from Sydney’s…councils in exchange for crucial evidence that is presented in court to help expose and close underground parlours.  In short, Mr Allen has paid sex with prostitutes and ratepayers foot the bill…”  Yes, I would class having sex with a woman for the express purpose of harming her – stealing her job or even getting her deported – as a form of rape.  No, I don’t want to debate it.

Halfway Whores

VIP partyPearl-clutching sociologist agonizes over the “exploitation” involved in recruiting models for VIP parties; she says “This is a system of trafficking in women” and thinks it’s a problem that “the girls don’t seem to mind all that much”, indicating that she absolutely Does Not Get the halfway whore concept at all.

Welcome To Our World

surrogacy opponents…include…social conservatives and Christians, especially Catholics, who either see surrogacy as unnatural and immoral or a gateway for gay parents, and some feminist groups, who see surrogacy as exploitative…Even the ostensibly pro-surrogacy crowd seems to favor making surrogacy more complicated and less accessible…[such] solutions [are billed] as “pro surrogacy” because they don’t outright forbid or criminalize the practice but…create more categories of people who can’t participate and raise financial costs and privacy invasion for those who do…

The Proper Study

A new Canadian study won’t surprise anyone who’s been listening to sex worker activists, but the backup comes at a crucial time:

Researchers have released…the first national report on the sex industry in Canada…based on five studies undertaken in St. John’s, Montréal, Kitchener, Fort McMurray, Calgary, and Victoria…“Many of the people linked to Canada’s sex industry—workers and their intimate partners, managers and clients—have much in common with other Canadians”…The average age of sex workers’ first sale was 26 years old…29 percent of sex workers first sold…sex…before …19…The average sex worker has 10 years of experience…67 percent of sex workers finished high school, and 15 percent have a bachelor’s degree or more…77 percent…identify as women, 17 percent as men, and 6 percent as other genders…Sex buyers purchase a sexual service a median of four times a year…only 17 percent bought sex on the street…

Surplus Women

Angelia Mangum & Tjhisha BallThe bodies of two Tampa teenagers…Angelia Mangum, 19, and Tjhisha Ball, 18, were found…[on a Jacksonville roadside] bound with zip ties and lying on top of one another…both…had been…working there as exotic dancers…”  Naturally, the media cares more about recounting their record of a couple of petty offenses than about two young women whom society considered disposable.  A fundraiser has been started to assist their families with funeral costs.

Follow Your Bliss

No, he didn’t “turn pedophile”; he took this job on purpose to enable and cover up his crimes:

…Gregory Pyle…of…Illinois…was sentenced to 50 years in prison…after confessing to sexually abusing a child and distributing images…online.  Pyle was a 10-year veteran of his police department who…worked in a child predator task force…and…used his position…to obstruct the investigation into his actions…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

88-year-old grandfather, Edwin Venn, was arrested…for prostitution, along with his john Amanda Pearson, 23.  Police had been watching Venn for several months and noticed a peculiar  pattern…Mr. Venn stood most weekend nights with cardboard sign on Hollywood Blvd that read:  “I’m for sale.”  Pearson admitted during her arraignment that when she found the 88-year-old Venn trying to turn tricks she and her friends decided it would be funny to sleep “with an old guy”.  Word spread and lots of girls paid Venn for sex.  Pearson said he only charged five dollars and gave them lollipops afterward.

The Public Eye

Here’s another sex worker on a reality TV show:

Kate McGrew [says sex work] is…”an aspect of my feminism…sex workers…have good strategy.  People say it cheapens the experience [of sex]…No, it doesn’t, it makes it more expensive”…

And one who was previously on a show runs for office:Charlotte Rose

One of the independent candidates for the Clacton by-election is Exeter sex worker Charlotte Rose…[who] previously appeared in a…TV series…called Love For Sale…[with] Rupert Everett and Russell Brand.  “My main policy is about sexual freedom…I also want there to be better sexual education in schools”…The former teacher and mother-of-two…was hounded out [of her neighborhood] by locals following media attention sparked by the TV show…

Smoke and Mirrors

Another case in which the truth is so obscured by exaggeration, dysphemisms, myths and lies that we’ll probably never know what really happened:

A…[Missouri] Judge sentenced 24-year-old Tiffany Piper to eight years in prison for selling two high school girls for sex…managed the [girls' work]…and placed ads online…[prosecutors claim that]  someone was [previously] trafficking Tiffany Piper for sex…[and] said…”At some point she was no longer a victim…because she perpetrated the same crimes that were perpetrated upon her”…[they] can`t say who first trafficked Piper, or who worked above her, because Piper never said…

The narrative simply doesn’t allow the prosecutor to admit that there is no shadowy “pimp” pulling the strings here, so Piper becomes the scapegoat.

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #42)

in recent months a fierce debate over whether to legalise and regulate the sex industry [in Vietnam] has sprung up online and in the official press…even the National Assembly is due to address the issue at its next session in October…Researchers estimate there are around 200,000 sex workers in Vietnam…”We should legalise prostitution because it is part of human rights. Everybody has the right to enjoy sex,” said sociologist Le Quang Binh…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #311)

Given that the Immigrant Council is one of the groups trying to impose the Swedish model on Ireland, I trust you can see the endgame here:

A report…finds that victims of sex trafficking are left vulnerable to further abuse in…[Ireland's] direct provision centres because they can be easily contacted or intimidated by pimps and traffickers…the Immigrant Council of Ireland said…”traffickers have actually used the asylum system for residency and accommodation while simultaneously trafficking victims”…

rubber stampLack of Evidence (TW3 #316)

California Governor Jerry Brown [signed]…legislation which now requires district attorneys to get a court’s permission to use possession of more than one condom as potential evidence [of]…prostitution…”  How this will play out in real-world courtrooms:

DA: Your honor, I need permission to use these condoms as evidence, because “sex trafficking”.  It’s for the children!

Judge:  Granted.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #403)

sex workers…and advocates submitted a report to the United Nations…on human rights violations committed in the U.S. against sex workers…and those profiled as such…Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), Desiree Alliance and Sex Worker Outreach Project-NYC (SWOP-NYC) [documented] extensive violations of the right to equal protection before the law, the right to be free of cruel and inhuman punishment, and the right to health…Due process violations are also rampant…The report…[calls] on the U.S…to make good on a [2011] commitment…to address discrimination and violence against sex workers…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

Another good article attacking the “rape culture” myth:

…Both critics and supporters…note [that]…While the CDC estimates that nearly 2 million adult American women were raped in 2011 and nearly 6.7 million suffered some other form of sexual violence, the NCVS estimate for that year was 238,000 rapes and sexual assaults…[the high numbers result from a loose definition of rape, but by this standard]…the…CDC [found] that women rape men as often as men rape women.  The CDC also reports that men account for over a third of those experiencing…“sexual coercion”…defined as being pressured into sexual activity by psychological means:  lies or false promises, threats to end a relationship or spread negative gossip, or “making repeated requests” for sex and expressing unhappiness at being turned down…We must either start treating sexual assault as a gender-neutral issue or stop using the CDC’s inflated statistics…

The Scarlet Letter (TW# #413)

At least a few reporters are publishing critical views of currently-fashionable “john shaming” tyranny:

…“This violates the bedrock principle that punishment should not begin until you are convicted,” says Jonathan Simon…[of] Berkeley Law…“It’s the police saying, ‘We’re going to punish you upfront’…This isn’t just a few days in jail.  It’s distinctly degrading treatment, public exposure that puts people at risk of long-term internal trauma …it’s the kind of thing that the 8th Amendment…was designed to prevent”…assistant professor Andrea Roth says…“Public humiliation affects a lot of people besides the johns…People say, ‘I saw your dad or husband on Facebook,’ and that can be devastating.  Your career can be affected—maybe permanently, given that once something goes up on the Internet, it’s there forever. It can disrupt entire families”…

Full of Themselves (TW3 #418)

Of all the semi-whores, none are as pompous as masseuses; they even infect those who write about them:

…Many [massage parlors] are locally owned small businesses staffed by well-trained professionals who provide high-priced services.  On the other hand, some are fronts for brothels…California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill that acknowledges that the state’s last attempt to regulate the massage industry struck the wrong balance…centralizing power moved massage parlors outside the authority of local governments, which are more likely to know when a business is illegitimate…

Given that most unlicensed massage parlors are Asian-owned, there is a strong whiff of racism in phrases like “locally owned” and “high-priced services”.

The Roof Caves In

Somaly Mam has spoken out to defend herself for the first time…in the new issue of Marie Claire, Mam tells Abigail Pesta, “I didn’t lie”…she adds that she didn’t mount a legal fight against the claims because “I didn’t need a lawyer…I did nothing wrong.  My heart is my lawyer”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) 

Alan Young…summed up…bill [C36] as “a very confused response to a very clear judgment”…when…asked if the bill could be amended, he was unequivocal:  “No.”  As a constitutional lawyer, he said, he’d “have a field day” with the bill, given…irreconcilable inconsistencies between the objectives, as laid out in the preamble, and the text of the proposed laws…Young also challenged the assertion that the government had struck the appropriate balance…”How can you even talk about ‘balance’ when you use the word ‘asymmetrical’…I’ve never seen anything in the history of [Canadian] criminal law that sets up asymmetrical prohibitions”…

A Whore in Church (TW3 #433) 

If George is smart, he’ll call off his protests first:

…A letter to Pastor Bill Dunfee of New Beginnings Ministries and Foxhole North strip club owner Thomas George was sent by city officials asking them to stop the weekly protests of each other’s establishment…the feud is straining local law enforcement and hurting the community…[but] they can’t legally be stopped from protesting…George explained to [reporters] that he…believes it is necessary to draw attention to…harassment by Dunfee and his congregation…

Above the Law (TW3 #434) 

Another one from Oklahoma:

A Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy…accused of sexual assault and indecent exposure resigned…as investigators search for more victims…Gerald Nuckolls…was arrested…[after using drugs as a pretext] to ask [a woman] inappropriate questions and…exposed himself to [her]…Nuckolls reportedly said he had a problem with pretty women…

Cardboard Cutouts

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on August 31st; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

To those who aren’t sex workers and don’t make a full-time job out of following the developments in our  persecution, it must sometimes seem as though I’m exaggerating the awfulness of the situation.  Furthermore, those same people may not think the difference between decriminalization (as practiced in New Zealand) and legalization (as practiced in The Netherlands) is all that big a deal; many times I’ve been asked some variation of “every other job is regulated these days, so why should sex work be an exception?  And what about all the trafficked children?”  So I’m always glad to see someone else write about some specific aspect of the War on Whores in a degree of detail that neither my format nor my crowded schedule allow me time to match.  Today I present highlights of a recent article by the Dutch sex worker Zondares; the original is almost 5000 words and only the last in a series of six.  However, it is well worth your time, especially if you’re skeptical about the situation as I’ve described it; I’m hoping to whet your appetite by these selections, so that you’ll be moved to read the whole thing.

…very hostile actions against prostitutes have become not just accepted by the general public, but are actually viewed as productive efforts to combat trafficking…It started out with police raids on window prostitution areas.  The neighborhood would be closed down, a huge police force would storm the streets, with a ratio of more than 8 policemen per girl…These policemen would force their way into the work areas and take the sex workers to…government buildings for an all-night interrogation.  Meanwhile, police ravage the working areas and adjoining rooms, destroying any closed lockers, boxes, suitcases or bags…Police claim the women are free to go during these raids.  However…if you do try to leave they can order you to stay, and you’ll be arrested if you don’t comply…Every raid is claimed to be a success…[but] very few arrests are attributed to raids – and on closer inspection, this is always found to be false.Die Wallen  So far none of the raids have started any investigation ending in conviction…

So if the raids don’t do what they’re supposed to do, what’s the profit in doing them?

…Communications equipment like telephones or computers are taken, mostly never to be returned, and…there is…great emphasis on tracing your money.  If they can track down where your money has gone, it will be impounded, and never be released.  This is supposed to strike at the heart of trafficking.  If you don’t have a pimp to siphon off your earnings, you can lose much.  Hiding it at home doesn’t help you, because while you’re being interrogated, police has broken down your home door and is ransacking the place…As long as [your money was] moved legally, they can easily find it and take it…They claim you could get it back if detective work shows it to be clean, but so far I haven’t heard from anyone who actually had any returned.  Procedures to get anything returned are a waste of effort…

Think it’s better for independent escorts? Think again:

…The municipality is informed you’re working without a license…whether you need [one] or not…you’ve been in violation during your whole career, and they’re able to fine you tens of thousands of Euros…unless you submit to some other stipulation, like leaving the municipality or joining a licensed brothel.  Police will inform your building society, landlord or mortgage bank that you’re “running an illegal bordello” in your house.  This very often means eviction…If you’re the owner of your house, and it is not mortgaged, there is still the option of evicting you because you’re in breach of zoning laws…If [a part time] sex worker is caught…and they manage to track down where you work, they commonly inform your employer.  This very often ends in dismissal…In rare cases, insurance companies and banks have been informed their client was a sex worker.  Even those few financial institutions that don’t flat-out refuse services to hookers will do so after being “warned” by police.  Whether this is done intentionally to further ruin the sex worker or is a side-effect of police trying to track down money to impound is unclear…As if all the above weren’t enough, they go after your loved ones.  Not only do they tend to inform parents if you’re still in your early 20s, but if you have kids, those will come into the sights of youth services….Men in the house must mean violent pimps, another woman must mean that this was a crowded brothel where clients are tag-teamed, and when a 15-year old girl was present…the press…[didn't ask who she was]…Prostitution to them is a world of cardboard cut-outs, who don’t have relatives, who can’t babysit for a neighbour when between clients, who don’t live in houses where they also have a family, so anyone near them must be part of the misery porn story…

So why all of this torture; is it just petty sadism?  Not quite:

Once they’ve threatened you with all they’re willing to do to make you miserable, childless, homeless and jobless, they explain that if you would turn out to be a trafficking victim, then all this would disappear.  You would even get help, if you wanted.  All you have to do is claim that you were coerced, and accuse somebody.  Then everything will be right…every time a sex worker doesn’t want to give enough information to actually put anyone in prison, the cops are baffled…the National Rapporteur in her reports calls for even more explicit explanation of the choice between the government ruining your life or you coming up with an accusation.  Because if it isn’t because we’re too stupid to understand the decision we’re making, then she doesn’t understand why we would choose bearing the brunt of what government can throw at us over falsely accusing an innocent.  It can’t be morals, whores don’t have any, right?

The driver for all this, as you may have guessed, is “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The police [are] pretending to be fighting…gangs that don’t exist anymore, mafia structures that never did exist, claiming success after success, but never getting any real gangsters.  They use excessive violence to force whores to help them shore up their fantasy war on trafficking…the media are completely uncritical of government…and…choose to be complicit in hoaxes…pornographic element in the stories is camouflaged by pretending it is a story of heroism and courage…A small number of semi-professional victims dominate the soft news, misery porn books and documentaries.  They get new fake names for each publication, and because their stories change each time to fit prohibitionist fashion, the public tends to view each appearance as a new case…Nor are the media ever disillusioned when large scale police raids fail, over and over, to uncover any significant amount of trafficking, let alone coercion…

And absolutely everything constitutes “evidence”:

…If your husband picks up your work phone, he is obviously controlling you.  If you both testify you love each other, then that is an obvious lie, because no real loving husband would tolerate his wife doing something so vile as prostitution…If you work during your period, you’re working while sick, and that’s proof of coercion.  If your friend spots for you by calling for security words before and after bookings, that’s controlling your work and therefore evidence of coercion.  If your man bought lingerie or condoms, then he is supplying your work and this is proof of coercion…If [your husband] carries your handbag, he’s controlling your documents …If there are deeds to his name, that’s evidence of him exploiting you – and if the deeds are to your name, that’s evidence he’s using you as a shield…

There’s a lot more, but I think you get the idea. Of course, some who read this still won’t believe it:

People are very hesitant to question trafficking dogma, even if they can see that it defies facts.  They will not…doubt the overarching mythology despite seeing it conflicts with reality in any part they can actually see for themselves…They view us as bizarre caricatures, and find it difficult, inconceivable, embarrassing, painful even, to consider that we might be people in charge of our life, with different choices and different values…Toy theatre c.1845-50

Cardboard cutouts are useful for acting out childish narratives; they can be moved around and put in any part of the flat, simply-colored background picture one wishes.  And unlike real people, they don’t argue and refuse to play the parts for which they were created.

Minnie Rae Simpson

If that preacher man wants me to repent, he better pay me more money.  –  Minnie Rae Simpson

One of the recurring themes of these harlotographies is the difficulty of ascertaining the truth of almost any given detail about the life of any given whore who lived prior to the 20th-century advent of obsessive recordkeeping.  The farther back in history one delves, the harder it is to be sure of dates and other details, and the more biography merges into fiction, legend or even myth.  By the late 19th century we can be reasonably certain of things like birthdates and residences for whores of middle or upper-class birth, but solid facts about those of the working class – especially in the frontier regions of the young United States – can be just as obscure as those of a person born centuries earlier.  Add claims made by the lady herself to entice customers or inflate her reputation, and those made by reporters, biographers and other tall-tale-tellers during her life and after her death, and we have the recipe for a legend as misty as that of King Arthur even if its subject lived well into recent times.

One excellent example of this is the story of Minnie Rae (sometimes called Mary) Simpson, a young San Francisco streetwalker of the 1870s.  According to the popular narrative of her life, she was born in or near Philadelphia in 1860 to a woman known only as Lacey; her father is said to have been a shoe worker who participated in the Great New England Shoemakers’ Strike which began on February 22nd, 1860.  He is supposed to have died en route to California in 1862, either just before or just after the birth of Minnie’s younger brother, Adam.  Lacey claimed a land grant near San Francisco under the Homestead Act and managed to build up a small farm, relying on young Minnie for assistance with her baby brother; however, she died of scarlet fever in 1869, leaving the girl an orphan (it is unknown whether Adam survived).  Without family or even friends in the area, Minnie was forced to provide for herself and did so, as so many others have throughout history, by prostitution; she lived for a time with a Mr. Simpson (from whom she took her surname) and is supposed to have travelled with him the following year to England and Scotland.  There she is said to have met the young J.M. Barrie, who in later years wrote Peter Pan and patterned the character of Wendy after her.

Minnie Rae Simpson in 1871While on this tour she became pregnant, and the only known photograph of her was taken in 1871.  She gave birth to a son (whom she named Bartholomew) the following year; by this point she was no longer with Simpson and lived mostly on the street.  She was a close friend to the notable San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton, who proclaimed her “The Little Countess”, and the association almost certainly contributed heavily to her fame; during the same time period she gave a series of interviews to a journalist, who turned them into a book entitled My Life as a Child Prostitute: The Autobiography of Minnie Rae.  Given the subject matter, it seems likely that the reason the journalist remained anonymous was to avoid controversy or even accusations of being one of Minnie’s clients.  It was a wise precaution; though the Cult of the Child was not yet in full swing in the US, Minnie’s pragmatic view of prostitution (“I get paid to be a whore.  If I married some farmer, I’d have to do it for free”) and her statements that prostitutes do the work because it’s lucrative and gives them a high degree of freedom, were almost as incendiary then as they would be now.  Only a few copies were ever printed, and these were gathered together by a preacher and burned in 1880, soon after the Emperor Norton’s death.  One copy survived, and was passed down to her descendants by Bartholomew until it, too was lost sometime in the late 20th century; only a few photocopied pages remain.  Minnie herself left San Francisco in 1873 and vanished from history; how Bartholomew knew anything about his mother or gained his copy of her book is entirely unclear, considering he was an infant at the time.  The only other concrete evidence of her existence is Minna Street in San Francisco, named for her by a politician who was one of her clients.

Now, the skeptical reader will no doubt already see a few problems with this narrative; though there are exceptions to every rule, in the late 19th century the average age of menarche in the US was about 14, and conditions such as Minnie lived in would tend to raise the age due to poor nutrition; in other words, getting pregnant at the age of 11 was even less likely in 1871 than it is now, and delivering a healthy baby from such a pregnancy would be unlikelier still.  Furthermore, though she was undoubtedly precocious, her making the kind of splash that she did in the short time she managed it seems to me less like something a 10 or 11-year-old could accomplish, and more like the actions of a bright 14 or 15-year-old with a baby face who realized that lurid narratives sell.  The intelligent, outgoing Minnie was well-known among clients and acquaintances as a tale-teller, and she even boasted that Mark Twain had been inspired by some of her yarns; it seems very likely that she ratcheted her age down a few years for the sake of marketing, but whether she told her clients that age or whether it was something she came up with for a credulous journalist is unknown.  Given that her business is known to have gone up after she got pregnant (an obvious sign of more advanced physical maturity), and that underage whores still to this day exaggerate their back-stories for gullible members of the press, the latter seems far more likely.  One thing I find fascinating is that those who retell her story never find it odd that her birth year is known with such certainty despite the fact that her birthplace, her original surname and any event of her life after 1873 are not; I reckon the wanking fantasy of the pregnant 10-year-old streetwalker is just too juicy to pass up.

sacred chaoLarger-than-life characters tend to live on in the imaginations of others long after their deaths, and Minnie Rae is no exception.  Beside Peter Pan’s Wendy, she was also named a Discordian saint in 2006 (unsurprising, given that the Emperor Norton was a major influence on the philosophy); the Discordians seem to have started a rumor that the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train system was named after her son Bartholomew.  Minnie believed in reincarnation, and claimed to have been a Babylonian harlot who was mentioned in the Bible; whether she meant Revelation’s “Whore of Babylon” is unknown.  But it seems likely that her belief inspired two modern-day strippers to claim to be Minnie reincarnated; one of them, who went by Fannie Mae, worked in Los Angeles during the ‘90’s. The other, Kitty, worked on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during the ‘50s and ‘60s, knew Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst (one of the founders of Discordianism), and because of that connection (and a tentative one to Jack Ruby) was suspected by Jim Garrison as being connected to the Kennedy assassination conspiracy.  Confused yet?  Read some of the links, and it’ll probably get worse.  But it all goes to show that when dealing with the demimonde, appearances are often more important than reality, and adhering to conventional beliefs about women and girls is foolish at best.

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