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Getting Caught

Because my wife has let me know in no uncertain terms that no more sex will be forthcoming, ever, I followed your advice and now see escorts, mostly when I travel but sometimes closer to home.  I’ve found that a few hours with a lovely, intelligent woman 2-4 times a month makes a huge difference in my life;  I’m happier, my mind is sharper, my sleep is less troubled, and I’m much more focused and productive.  I no longer find myself deteriorating into extreme and disturbing sexual dreams and fantasies.  But what shall I do when I get caught?  I say “when” rather than “if” because doing something long enough means the probability approaches 100%, no matter how careful I am.  While my marriage is sexless it is not without value to me, and I dread the thought of divorce (which wouldn’t help either of us).

Monkeys typing ShakespeareIt’s true that the Law of Very Big Numbers guarantees that virtually anything, no matter how small the chance, is bound to happen if the number of chances for it to happen is large enough.  But actually, the number of chances isn’t that large in this case; if you’re about 50 and see an escort roughly 36 times a year for the next 10 years, then drop to 20 times a year for the 10 after that, we’re only talking 560 chances of a screwup by the time you’re 70.  And provided you are very careful as I advised you to be, that’s probably not even enough to get over a 10% lifetime probability of exposure; remember, about 20% of men see sex workers occasionally (and 6% see them frequently as you do), yet we don’t see anything like 20% of men exposed as clients.  The fact that ignorant people believe the nonsensical claim that fewer than 15% of men have ever paid for sex tends to point toward the lifetime exposure rate as being even lower than that, though of course it’s really hard to be sure.

You also seem to be presuming that your wife doesn’t already know, and that she would have a cow if she found out.  But in fact, neither of these is certain; some wives know (or at least suspect) that their husbands are seeing escorts and simply don’t say anything about it, especially if they’ve lost interest in sex.  Remember, women tend to be a lot more pragmatic than men give us credit for; a wife who truly doesn’t want sex any more usually views her husband ceasing to pester her for it as a good thing, and she might not be inclined to look too hard at why he isn’t doing so anymore for fear of messing it up.  Remember, your marriage is probably as valuable to your wife as it is to you; just as her frigidity isn’t enough to induce you to end it because you get other things out of it, so your infidelity may not be enough to induce her to end it for the same reason, especially if you don’t rub her nose in it.

Given that last sentence, the most important advice I can give you is this:  even if you think she’s found out, don’t say anything until she directly accuses you.  Stop seeing escorts for a while just in case, but it might just be guilt or paranoia on your part so you don’t want to open your trap and ruin everything.  If she accuses you directly, you might still deny it unless she presents evidence, but if she has that you might as well just admit the truth…but make it the whole truth, including when and why you started.  Yes, she may decide she wants a divorce, but she may not.  And though it doesn’t hurt to consider this question, dwelling on it is borrowing trouble.  Just be careful, don’t take any unnecessary risks, and it’s unlikely that the problem will ever materialize.

(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.)

 

purple laptopIf you read Saturday’s TW3 column you already know that within minutes of arriving in Raleigh on the 17th, I was chatting with Rachel Mills on her spreecast, LiberTea.  Rachel and I were introduced by veteran libertarian activist Angela Keaton, and liked each other immediately; she generously offered me her guest room, which made the interview a lot easier since I was already at the studio!  She later mentioned that she was learning photography, and asked if I’d model for her; I of course said yes, and I’ll be sharing some of the other results soon.  FYI, I don’t use glasses to read; I’m nearsighted, not farsighted.  However, I believe in artistic license.

On Monday, my book reading at The Internationalist was rained out; the downpour was, in fact, so heavy that water started coming into the store, but luckily I was wearing sandals so I was able to help out with a mop without risking falling on my arse on a slippery floor.  They were very apologetic, but as I told them nobody can help the weather; besides, as I’ve written before it’s the odd experiences that make a trip memorable, not the ones that go exactly as predicted.  Still, it was nice to get a good book reading in at Flyleaf the next day, and I got to meet two more regular readers.  Eros Guide is currently based in the Raleigh area, so another highlight of my visit was meeting with several members of the staff to discuss not only the work I’ve been doing for them the past few months, but also the future in the current climate of hysteria.  And on a more mundane note:  I’m now back in the South, so I can get sweet tea at restaurants again!

Generally, I haven’t been doing public events on the day I arrive, but that was not so in the Carolinas; I left for Charleston on Thursday morning, knowing I had an event there at 7 PM.  Everything went well, though; I arrived in Charleston exactly on schedule and was delighted to discover that my Priceline-booked hotel was not only on the same street as the restaurant where my Liberty On the Rocks appearance was to be held, but also directly on the route I’d take to Atlanta.  It took me only a few minutes to reach the place, and the group was small but very engaged and highly enthusiastic; it was also one of the quieter venues.  In fact, “quiet” is a good word for my stay in Charleston; on Friday I was able to spend the day catching up from comparatively-hectic Washington and Raleigh-Durham, and getting myself ready for the last two stops before the home stretch.

The tour’s nearly over, but you can still catch me in Tampa or New Orleans; if your city is within a few hours’ drive of those (or between them), you can still send an email asking me to visit, though obviously it’s pretty tight now.  Your request will be more likely to be doable if you can make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Bait and Switch

Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.  –  Thomas Jefferson

To hear the cops tell it, they’re the “thin blue line” that stands between civilization and a species of chaos resembling Mad Max meets Lord of the Flies in the midst of an immense drunken free-for-all in Somalia.  Never mind the fact that full-time police are a comparatively recent social development, that violent crime was  declining for centuries before their invention, and that police spend the majority of their time collecting revenue and harassing people for consensual behaviors; we’re just supposed to accept their word for the fact that they do a vital, dangerous,  thankless job, and that those of us who criticize them would be on our knees kissing their boots and thanking the gods for their timely arrival were we to be menaced by keyboard-wielding perverts, pimps with broken taillights or drug dealers thumbing their nose at the social order via “rolling stops”.

Groundskeeper WillieAs in so many other cases, the myth police want you to believe is almost nothing like the truth.  Despite dramatically-increased armament and out-of-control “officer safety” policies justified by the pretense that police work is incredibly dangerous, the truth is that mechanics, commercial drivers, farmers, linemen, garbage men, steelworkers, roofers and pilots all have more dangerous jobs than cops.  Logging and fishing are dramatically more dangerous; cops’ level of on-the-job peril is roughly equivalent to that of groundskeepers and professional athletes.  Moreover, the “lawbreakers” they supposedly “protect” society from are mostly productive members of that society who are robbed at gunpoint for breaking arbitrary rules, violently attacked for amusing themselves in ways the “authorities” have forbidden, and tricked into breaking laws which carry lifelong penalties for “crimes” that didn’t actually happen and which the cops’ targets had no intention of committing in the first place.  The reason for this evil fuckery?  To continue the myth of the “thin blue line”, naturally; since there aren’t enough actual criminals to justify the existence of even a fifth of the cops we have (and not a hundredth of their weaponry & equipment), they have to manufacture “dangerous criminals” in order to convince the Great Unwashed that they are not merely a necessary evil but heroic defenders of “innocent children.”  Here’s a recent example:

…Jason Lee…maintains that there is a stark difference between intending to buy sex and intending to buy sex from a minor…After a few text messages with his chosen escort, Lee was told that she was [supposedly] a 16-year-old runaway.  The ensuing scenario is familiar to many of the men whose sullen mugshots are posted online and featured in media reports…Phoenix-area officers have used similar tactics to net dozens of suspects who police [pretend] were ready and willing to exploit young girls…But many child-prostitution defendants say police’s use of the adults-only section of the site is bait-and-switch technique that makes felons of those guilty of misdemeanor intent and no actual crime.  Media attention is typically quick to follow the arrests, unjustly branding average “johns” as pedophiles…Lee admits he planned to pay for sex with an adult and said several factors led him to believe the woman at the other end of the text message was 18 or over, despite her claims.  How else would she book a hotel room?  If she was really a runaway, wouldn’t her parents track her down by her cell phone or credit card?…Lee believed the woman was just…lying…about her age to squeeze more money from him, he said.  Further…the age of consent in Maryland, where Lee was visiting from, is 16…police [pretend that magical] code words in their [fake] ads…are…searched by those who aim for the young.  Defense attorneys say the opposite is true — their clients don’t know to weed out these words.  [But] few suspects, even those with a reasonably strong defense, opt to fight the charges at trial…

Nor is it only in Phoenix that such sleazy con games are played; Polk County, Florida, home to another Neanderthal Nazi of the same noxious mold as Phoenix’s Joe Arpaio, is in some ways even worse:

…While detectives used to post ads suggesting an underage teen or child was available for sex, they now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites.  When men – many of them under 25 with no criminal history – respond, officers switch the bait and typically indicate their age is really 14 or 15 years old…law enforcement is also now routinely making first contact with men…responding to their ads on dating sites…after men start conversing with what they think are adults, officers change the age they claim to be, but try to convince the men to continue the conversation anyway…If the men indicate they [aren't] interested, they [are] still often arrested for just talking to [a cop]…

Even if the men have the resources to hire a good lawyer, the damage is already done because Judd splashes their pictures across the media and insists that they’re “perverts” even after they’re exonerated by a court:

…Judd…either didn’t realize – or didn’t care – that a number of the 132 men whose faces appeared on his mugshot “big board” had already been cleared of committing crimes…”It’s fair…Because…when we arrest them as ‘sexual perverts on children,’ I’m going to call them [that]…”

Sooner or later, people are going to start waking up to the fact that cops are not their friends and nothing like their servants; they lie constantly, are willing to do anything to enrich themselves and can arrest, jail and destroy anyone they take a dislike to as easily as they pick their noses. They can do all these things without oversight, checks or consequences because the majority have willfully eaten their shit for several generations; our only hope is that they stop swallowing and making “nom nom nom” noises before every last one of us is condemned to prison, probation or some registry of artificial “offenses”.

Links #216

O sweet and noble lad, be not aggrieved!
Pray, lift thyself from off the cursed ground!
Thy travels long have left thee most deceived;
there is a sanctuary to be found.
 –  Pop Sonnets, “YMCA”

Police militarization has finally entered the sleepy consciousness of mainstream America due to the Ferguson, Missouri protests, but of course libertarians have been talking about it for decades; nobody has talked about it more, nor more eloquently, than Radley Balko.  Today’s first video is from a tiny town in Georgia and was, until Radley called attention to it, posted on the front page of the official police website; it’s a short, disturbing look at the modern police mindset and the image they want to project to the public.  Radley also provided the links above it.  The second video is a satire of out-of-control “sex offender” laws contributed by Robert King, and the links between the videos are from Scott Greenfield (“enough”), Michael Whiteacre (“RIP” and “hobby”), Rick Horowitz (“koinkydink”),  Mark Draughn (“perspective”), Saladin Ahmed (“sonnets”), Clarkhat (“Vikings”),  Lenore Skenazy (“farmers”), Popehat (“never call”), and Cop Block (“seriously”).

From the Archives

I don’t want to put myself out of business as a storyteller; I just want to tell less painful stories.  –  Melissa Gira Grant

Maggie in the Media LiberTea 8-17-14

Here are a couple of conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks; the How We Talk About Sex podcast with Eric Leviton (recorded the morning after I arrived in New York City), and the LiberTea spreecast (recorded last Sunday night within minutes of my arrival from Washington DC).  These are both very loose, informal conversations, about two hours each, with a lot more laughter and joking around than you might be used to from me.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Try not to throw up when you read the name cops gave their entrapment scheme:

…[Florida] police detective…Reno Chevelle Fells resigned…after his arrest at a St. Augustine Beach hotel [after responding] to an online ad offering sex for money…”Operation Summer Lovin'” resulted in 14 arrests…

Law of the Instrument

Another cop helpfully explains that “sex trafficking” is everywhere, that “victims” don’t know that they’re victims and that women are so stupid and passive they have to be “taught” and “coached” to fear and distrust thugs who deceive, molest, chain and cage them. Words fall utterly short.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

[William McDaniel] reported he did not get the sex act he requested as part of his $350 private dance at Sagebrush Sam’s Exotic Dance Club…west of Butte [Montana].  Officers informed him asking an exotic dancer for a sexual gratification is illegal and put him in jail for solicitation of prostitution…

Schadenfreude 

In “Unraveling”, Anne Elizabeth Moore discusses the deep connections between the “rescue” and garment industries (in comic strip form, drawn by Melissa Mendes).  There are also links to other strips in the series.  If you’re ever wondered why “rehabilitation” for sex workers so often seems to involve working in sweatshops, and why Somaly Mam was sponsored by fashion companies, you need to read this.

Scapegoats

An Albuquerque woman was arrested…after…she tried to poison her roommates when they discovered she had been having sex with two German shepherds.  Shari Walters…was…caught…having sex with both her roommates’ dogs…the night after…both roommates noticed their food tasted different…Walters…admitted to putting rubbing alcohol in both roommates’ waters, as well as toilet bowl cleaner in their food…

Above the Law

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper…Eric Roberts…pulled [a woman] over without probable cause…then…forced the victim to perform sexual acts in his patrol car, before driving to another location where he…raped her…”  But Roberts is just a piker compared to his “brother officer” Daniel Holtzclaw:

…Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, was arrested…on complaints of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and indecent exposure…Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said…Holtzclaw stopped women while he was working and forced them to expose themselves, fondled them and in at least one instance [raped] a woman.  Authorities have statements from six victims and expect a statement from a seventh…investigators believe there are additional victims…

The Lion and the Ox

There’s an awful lot of “suppose” and “maybe” here:

…The link between surrogacy and human trafficking is currently under investigation.  It is unequivocal that any child conceived to be sold constitutes a trafficked human…A clause in [UN protocol]…states that “references to slavery and similar practices may include illegal adoption in some circumstances”…it is unlikely, but possible, that the babies or embryos were envisaged for exploitation in the sex industry, on the illegal donor market, for slavery or the labour market.  This, de facto, constitutes a human trafficking case…Exploring links between…surrogacy and illegal adoption…automatically leads to organised crime…we may infer that the children were to be sold into an illegal adoption scheme…Suppose the children were conceived to be enslaved or exploited in the sex industry…

Somebody’s Daughter

Stalwart ally Elizabeth N. Brown on the “Would you want your daughter to be a whore?” fallacy:

…Using his apparent mind-reading powers, [Damon Linker] asserts that no one could honestly be okay with having a child in porn…Linker knows that nearly everyone must feel appalled because… he thought about it and was appalled?  That’s some pretty shaky logic…I would sure as shit rather have a porn star daughter (or son) than one who thinks, as Linker does, that being in porn makes someone “low, base, and degraded”…There’s nothing wrong with having certain expectations for your children…But…Our best laid plans mean jack…Proponents of decriminalization aren’t asking you to become pro prostitution, to encourage your kids to go into sex work, or even to abandon thinking it’s morally wrong, if that’s what you think…All we’re asking is for you to consider that criminalizing prostitution does more harm than good.  If — gasp! horror! disgust! — your daughter did happen to become a sex worker, wouldn’t you want to make it as safe and non-ruinous for her as possible?

Profound Ignorance

The “before the internet most whores were streetwalkers” and “each whore has only one ad” tropes just won’t die no matter how many times we kill them:

…A snapshot as recently as last week found 2,253 individuals advertising sex for sale [in Scotland] on a series of escort and other websites…However, sources stressed numbers have been close to 3,000 in recent months as the market – largely featuring foreign women who move around or are moved around – ebbed and flowed.  The sex trade has moved off the streets in recent years as women working in flats replaced traditional streetwalkers, most of whom were Scots with addiction or debt problems…Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Gilfillan…said she believed “well over 90 per cent” of sex work was now carried out from flats or brothels…

Texas Tall Tales Facebook Pimp

Texas just loves the “Facebook pimps” myth:

…pimps, hiding behind fake identities, increasingly use social media to lure young girls into the trade.  Unscrupulous predators and the popularity of online networking have made it tougher for authorities to crack down on sex trafficking.  Police estimate that 100 adolescents are trafficked every year in Dallas…

The article also claims that the undefined “illicit sex market” in Dallas is worth $99 million (per year? per day? as a purchase price?) and that 1 in 7 (14%) of the “children” reported missing are “probably victims of sex trafficking”…which would be a good trick, since only 0.014% of all “missing children” are abducted by strangers.

Banishment

But officials claim “sex offender” registration isn’t a punishment.

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York…are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that…restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school.  Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.  But in February…["authorities" proclaimed] the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits…in New York City…only 14 of the 270 shelters…have been deemed eligible to receive sex offenders.  But with [these] often filled to capacity, the state has opted to keep certain categories of sex offenders in custody…Some have begun filing habeas corpus petitions…demanding to be released…The state’s [pretense] is that it has the legal authority to continue holding [them]…because they are largely subject to post-release supervision by the state…[such as] unannounced home visits…as well as restrictions on Internet use and interactions with minors…

Under Every Bed 

As in the Chanel Island of Jersey, population < 100,000:  “Jersey Police…are investigating a sex trafficking ring.  The force say they have received information about a growing sex trade in the island, with women potentially being trafficked and exploited…

Monsters

The parents of an eight-year-old beat “every inch” of him, until he was dead, because he played with dolls…Pearl Fernandez, 30, and Isauro Aguirre, 34, beat their son Gabriel…“for eight straight months”, and he was “tortured more severely than many prisoners of war”…According to statements given by his two siblings, he was forced to eat cat faeces and rotten spinach and was not allowed to use the toilet…He was beaten with a metal hanger, a belt buckle and lost multiple teeth when he was hit with a bat…

Lower Education 

Northern Illinois University is restricting students’ access to certain websites.  For their own good, of course…Students who attempt to visit an unauthorized site through the campus network are redirected to a creepy “Web Page Access Warning”…[which] one student reported…to Reddit after he received a warning for trying to access the Westboro  Bapist Church’s Wikipedia page…NIU cites “common sense, decency, ethical use, civility, and security,” as its various rationales for…[trying] to dissuade students from visiting websites deemed harmful by administrators…

web page censorship threat

Mumbo Jumbo

When an article is this shockingly stupid, it’s hard to decide how to file it.  Is the most important factor the hilarious “Harvard of sex trafficking” label, or the use of the word “literally” to describe something that isn’t literal?  Is it a woman’s changed, then recanted, then re-sworn testimony being described as “her true story” because it agrees with prosecutors’ claims?  Is it yet another woman being caged to compel her testimony?  I was tempted to give precedence to the statements made by “trafficking expert” Donna Sabella, who said that domestic violence is “like” domestic violence (yep); that “prostitution…often results in arrested development — young women with the social or emotional age of someone 12 or 13″; and that “trafficking…has become somewhat normalized through…music, pimp costumes and shows like Pimp My Ride“.  But I eventually decided that it had to be Milwaukee cop Dawn Jones’ claim that “girls are…property of one pimp or another” but can change this supposed “ownership” to a new pimp by “looking one in the eye”.  It is unclear whether the magical “ownership”-changing force proceeds from the eye of the whore or the “pimp”.

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #409)

Pamela Stubbart is a libertarian who resigned from an organization called Young Voices because it allowed Belle Knox, who is also a libertarian, to join.  While I totally support the right of any person to associate or disassociate with others as she sees fit, and to like or dislike people (including me) or activities (including mine) as her psyche dictates, I do rather wish she hadn’t laced her resignation letter with prudishness draped in faux-reason.  Anyhow, Cliterati writer Slut O’Crat has penned an in-depth look at what’s wrong with Stubbart’s behavior, and more generally at the weird aversion some sex worker activists have to many sex workers’ wholly-natural and eminently-predictable embrace of libertarian ideas.

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

the [Arkansas] Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking…presented findings and recommendations to the Judiciary Committee…It…[wants] to add human trafficking convictions to those requiring registration as a sex offender.  Other recommendations include posting a hotline number at all rest stops, state parks, and schools with grades 6-12.  This is an extension of legislation already passed which requires the hotline number to be posted at sexually oriented businesses and truck stops…

A Whore in Church (TW3 #433) Patrick Johnson

[After] bare-breasted women…marched in front of the New Beginnings Ministries church in [Ohio]…Patrick Johnson…of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, responded…by asking Ohioans to call the legislature in support of banning “all public nudity in the state,” according to WSYX.  “I am sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio…what they did was an offense to God, was an offense to the public morality, and the legislature should act to criminalize what they did”…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

The proposed new law to “protect” German sex workers is very, very bad:

…the underlying spirit of this bill appears to be the perception of sex work as a social evil the government cannot rid society of and feels therefore obligated to impose regulations on it to such an extent where completely adhering to them is rendered virtually impossible, which in turn will enable law enforcement agencies to persecute sex workers and operators of prostitution businesses.  Hence, the title of this bill is utterly misleading and an insult to sex workers fighting for equal rights under the law…the bill will not protect sex workers, but instead…aims to protect society from the imaginary evil of prostitution…

Business As Usual

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 13th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

massage parlor raidAfter generations of ignoring the violence against sex workers which is directly or indirectly caused by either full (as in the US) or partial (as in the UK) criminalization, the public is slowly beginning to wake up to the reality: most of it is perpetrated by the police.  Prohibitionists and “authorities” want everyone to believe the opposite, that clients and “pimps” inflict the most violence, and that the police are welcome “rescuers” from it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth; in every study of violence against sex workers ever done (such as this one from India), police are the largest victimizers and clients and pimps the least, with domestic partners and people empowered or emboldened by the marginalization of sex workers in the middle.  And despite the best efforts of those who need the public to support ever more criminalization in order to punish men for being men or to enlarge the police state, the truth is beginning to leak out, and we see new stories of police violence against sex workers almost every month.  Some of this is due to the efforts of sex workers ourselves; some is due to the diligent efforts of allies and ethical journalists; some is due to the stupidity and hubris of the police; and some is simply the natural result of omnipresent surveillance, the internet and a 24-hour news cycle always hungry for lurid stories.

In just the past few months, there have been a number of incidents that provoked public outcry on sex workers’ behalf against the heavy-handed behavior of governments and the violence of police.  In December, sex workers in Soho were subjected to a pogrom in which they were manhandled, robbed and dragged out into the street in freezing weather in their underwear; the public learned about it first from news photographers the police had themselves invited along.  In March, the world was scandalized to hear that cops in Hawaii wanted the explicit legal right to rape sex workers before arresting them.  In April, the general public finally began to notice Phoenix, Arizona’s Project ROSE, in which women profiled as sex workers are arrested in mass sweeps, denied legal representation and forced into religious brainwashing programs under threat of incarceration in Arizona’s brutal prison system; later that month, the world heard of the US government’s threats against financial institutions to get them to “voluntarily” cut off services to sex workers and other target groups.  In May non-sex workers were shocked to see the surveillance video of a Chicago massage parlor raid in which a handcuffed, kneeling woman was beaten and subjected to racist insults and death threats; only a week later, Newsweek published an article exposing the lies and fabrications of Somaly Mam, who pays Cambodian police to abduct sex workers and lock them in filthy, crowded cells at her “rescue centers”, where they are beaten, robbed, gang-raped and starved while their “savior” hobnobs with celebrities and receives accolades from anti-whore fanatics.

These stories all have two things in common.  The first is that, while they are shocking to the general public, sex workers and those who work closely with us have known about them (or in the case of single-instance atrocities, many others like them) for years or decades; it’s simply that until recently, nobody wanted to listen.  The second is that those who shocked by them generally believe them to be isolated incidents rather than recognizing them as business as usual, merely visible outcroppings of the police violence that underlies the entire landscape of criminalization.  While I was glad to see people upsetcop rapes sex worker about Somaly Mam’s torture porn and abusive practices, they need to understand that these are endemic to the rescue industry everywhere.  Though I was grateful at the outcry over Project ROSE, I am frustrated at the media’s cover-up of similar rights-violating programs which are merely less obvious because they lack that special Arizona lunacy.  Though I was relieved at the disgust people expressed toward the racist Chicago thugs, I am sad that most of them seem to think this was unusual, when in fact it is wholly typical behavior during any massage parlor raid.  And despite the apparent public belief that the situation in Hawaii was unique,

…This is standard operating procedure everywhere in the United States, and the only thing unusual about Hawaii is that it’s spelled out in law.  Just in case you’re a new reader or have a short memory, here are three examples from just last year:  Indiana,  Florida and Pennsylvania are all especially shameless in their defense of government-authorized rape, excusing it by claiming that sex workers are “sophisticated” (while simultaneously being pathetic, infantile victims)…

The sad fact is that none of these scandals is unusual in any way, except for the fact that they came to the attention of the public.  And they will continue to be business as usual until that public stops pretending otherwise and demands the abolition of prohibition.

Liu Rushi

To seek in the bright sky a place for freedom and unrestraint.  –  Liu Rushi, “On the Kite”

The gender roles of traditional Asian cultures were even more rigid and uncompromising than those of contemporary European cultures, but harlots have always stood outside of the limits their societies set for “good” women.  Where “good” women were expected to be chaste, whores were promiscuous; where “good” women were expected to be meek, whores were bold; where “good” women were expected to be ignorant, whores were well-educated; where “good” women were supposed to be submissive, whores accepted or rejected clients as we pleased; and where “good” women were prisoners of convention, whores flouted it.  And despite the feminist claims that men prefer women as ovine as possible, and that the patriarchal system is set up for men’s benefit at women’s expense, yet men have throughout history sought out the company of (and paid high prices for) women who were not only their equals, but often their superiors.  Like other courtesans, Liu Rushi ignored the rules her society set for “good” women, but unlike others she often ignored the rules it set for any women.

Liu RushiYang Ai was born in 1618 to a poor family of Zhejiang province, but her exceptional looks and intelligence allowed her family to sell her at the age of eight to the courtesan Xu Fo for training in the profession.  She learned so well that Xu was able to place her as a concubine to the prime minister, Zhou Daodeng, soon after she turned thirteen; however, Zhou died a year later and his widow threw her out of the household.  She sought out the famous poet Chen Zilong, whom she had met at Zhou’s house a few months before; he took her in as a concubine and the two fell in love and exchanged many poems.  Unfortunately, Madame Chen was just as jealous of her as Madame Zhou had been; when Chen went to take the Imperial Examination in 1635, she abused the poor girl so terribly that she fled back to Xu Fo, who now owned a brothel.  When Xu married in 1638, Yang Yin (as she now called herself) took over the management; she was already famous as a poet and painter by this time, and published three collections of poetry between 1638 and 1640.  But though she was doing well financially, she craved the stability of marriage; when a regular client named Song Yuanwen kept promising to marry her but never followed through, she is said to have thrown him out in a violent tantrum.

It was during her time as a madam that her androgyny began to assert itself; though her romantic poems were conventionally feminine, she also wrote in a masculine, “heroic” style and often left the narrator’s gender ambiguous.  In letters she favored gender-neutral terms for herself, and her calligraphy is distinctly masculine, using the “wild grass” style.  Her gender-bending behavior reached its zenith in 1640, when she decided to marry the famous scholar and poet Qian Qianyi.  She travelled to his home in her boat, dressed in men’s clothing, and asked Qian to give her his opinion on one of her poems.  He told her the poem was excellent and asked to see more, but before she left she made sure she let him see the small (bound) feet which left no doubt as to her sex even if he had been fooled at first.  The combination of her writing and her intriguing behavior captured his attention, and they were married in 1641.  Though she was only his concubine, they had a formal ceremony and he treated her as though she were a full wife, despite this being considered improper.  He gave her the nickname Hedong, which she often used in her writing thereafter; it was one of about twenty different names she used at different times and for different purposes.  The name by which she is best known, Liu Rushi, came from her continuing habit of cross-dressing; she would sometimes go on errands as her husband’s representative while dressed in his formal Confucian robes, for which people nicknamed her “rushi” (“gentleman”).

Rushi had finally found the stability she sought, but it was not to last long.  The Ming Dynasty her husband served collapsed in 1645, and she had become so deeply patriotic by that time she actually tried to persuade him to martyr himself by committing suicide; instead, he surrendered, served as an official to the new Qing regime for five months, then quit and joined the resistance.  Liu Rushi joined him and the two were active in the movement for over a decade thereafter; much of Qian’s poetry from the 1650s depicts her as a courageous Ming loyalist.  But in 1663, her life started to spin out of control.  First, the Qing finally crushed the last Ming resistance, burning her husband’s enormous library in the process; she was so aggrieved she took Buddhist vows.  Qian’s spirit was broken, and he died the following year; his creditors and enemies then began to hound Liu Rushi for money.  Alone again for the first time in decades, too old (at 46) to return to her former profession and deeply bereaved by the loss of both beloved husband and beloved cause, she was pushed over the edge by the legal persecution and hanged herself in 1664.  But though her life ended in despair and tragedy, her own poetry and that of her husband had already made her a legend; the historian Chen Yinke’s said she “embodies the independence of spirit and freedom of thought of our people”, and others have called her “the most respectable prostitute in Chinese history”.

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