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High Yuletide

Angels we have heard on high,
Tell us to go out and BUY.
 –  Tom Lehrer, “A Christmas Carol

Though I should be used to it by now, the ridiculously-early Christmas displays still come as a shock to me.  The first one this year was at our local farm supply store, which was actually putting out Christmas merchandise (sans decoration) fully two weeks before Halloween.  Because this particular establishment has no Halloween merchandise, I was irresistibly reminded of my own statement from last year’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: “were it not for Halloween’s growing popularity as an adult drinking holiday [Christmas displays] might have broken into October by now.”  But all the non-farm-supply-venues didn’t wait much longer; the City of Seattle was putting up its decorations the Monday after I arrived, and I saw more than a few fully-decked houses from the train coming back into Chicago on the 21st.  And who could forget this cheery holiday scene from Ferguson, Missouri this past Monday, courtesy of Reuters? Ferguson 11-24-14

Actually, that’s an apt (if grim) metaphor for what Yuletide in the United States has become:  a superficial show of holiday cheer and “goodwill to Man” draped over the ugliness of a fully-realized fascist state.  Because my Outlook email filters don’t work on webmail, I was forced to hand-delete countless pieces of “Black Friday” spam while I was traveling, and some of them actually did what I’ve been grimly joking for years they soon would do:  refer to Thanksgiving Day as “Black Friday Eve”.  Words fail me.

Needless to say, I won’t be leaving my property today except perhaps to go to the mailbox.  Instead, I plan to find and decorate a tree, work on my blog, enjoy leftovers from yesterday and perhaps call a few of my friends.  Though I do indeed buy presents for those I love, that can wait for another day when the lemmings aren’t swarming quite so thickly (and dangerously).  And you can bet I’ll do as much of it online as possible, so as to avoid as much of the fake festivity of the stores as I possibly can.

Thanksgiving 2014


As those of you who follow me regularly know, I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  That isn’t to say the year’s been uniformly wonderful, but I don’t think it has to be to inspire us to give thanks for the things that are.  And I have many of them, both professionally and personally; with a little luck, a great deal of hard work and the grace of the gods, next year will be even better.  Happy Thanksgiving and Blessed Be, dear readers, and thank you for all your support; I wouldn’t have had any of this without you.

Drinking on the Job

I’ve been seeing a well-reviewed independent for the past three months, but on our sixth visit she was very chatty and started drinking.  Six hours into our three-hour appointment she offered an overnight at no extra charge, but wanted to eat at a nearby bar; there she drank even more and ended up very drunk.  When we returned to her incall she tried to go through the motions, but she was so far gone I decided it was better not to do anything with her.  Over the next couple of hours she texted her boyfriend “I love you…” in my sight, played music on her phone, repeatedly fell out of bed and did other crazy things while still trying to engage me in activity.  Finally she fell asleep, and I left; I later sent her an email detailing all the drunken behavior and assuring her I hadn’t done anything inappropriate.  She responded that nothing like this had ever happened before; she’s embarrassed and won’t see me again.  I knew describing all the drunken behavior could upset her, but felt I should tell her because I was the only witness and for an escort, getting drunk with a client is unwise and dangerous.  I think she’s had other substance abuse problems in the past, because though her body looks young for her age her face looks much older.  Do you think I acted correctly?Storyville prostitute drinking Raleigh Rye, photographed by E. J. Bellocq circa 1912

I think you acted in the best way possible given the circumstances.  Life might be easier if everyone closely minded his or her role in a relationship and never stepped outside of its bounds, but because we’re human such professionalism is rare and can tend to feel a bit odd and off-putting.  And that’s only considering “ordinary” Western-style business relationships; in Asian cultures, for example, one is expected to socialize with one’s co-workers, and even in the West some business relationships seem to invite line-blurring by their resemblance to intimate ones (doctor-patient, teacher-student and sex worker-client are a few examples).  Usually it’s the client who gets confused about the boundaries of his relationship with a sex worker; since he’s paying for an illusion it isn’t too surprising that he sometimes loses himself in that illusion and mistakes the performance for sincere romance, sexual attraction or friendship.  It’s very important for whores to maintain boundaries, so we usually get quite good at it; there are some circumstances, however, in which that ability is eroded, and biochemical impairment is probably the most dangerous one.  I am firmly of the opinion that a professional should absolutely never indulge in alcohol or any other drug while on the job, but I’m a bit square in that respect; most escorts can handle a glass of wine or two without impairing their judgment.  Your lady, however, is clearly not among them; anyone who can’t understand that it’s inappropriate to get drunk while at work (compare a doctor drinking at the hospital, a teacher drinking at school or a driver drinking in his truck) definitely has a drinking problem.

In short, she acted in a way that was stupid, unprofessional and (as you pointed out) dangerous, and that isn’t your fault.  Could you have recognized that something was wrong after her she had her third (or fourth, or seventh) drink and let three hours lapse into six?  Sure.  Should your alarm bells have sounded when she offered an overnight freebie?  Absolutely.  But as I said above, keeping control of the situation isn’t actually your job, it’s hers; it is, in fact, part of what you’re paying her for.  You shouldn’t have to check up on the side effects of a medicine your doctor prescribes, or make sure that your lawyer stays awake in court;sleeping lawyer it is their responsibility to exercise due diligence, and that is no less true of a paid companion.  I think you were wise not to have sex with her; after all, if your cab driver were drunk you’d be wise to ask him to pull over so you could get out.  Furthermore, telling her what she did was the right thing to do; I think it’s safe to say she’s in denial and that this isn’t actually the first time something like this has happened (which is why she won’t see you again).  There’s nothing else you can do; she’s an adult and has the right to mess up her own business and life if she chooses.  It doesn’t mean you have to like it, or that you shouldn’t feel sorry for her, but in telling her what she did and ensuring that no harm came to her while you were present, you have done all that is required of you as a moral person and all that you can do as a stranger.  If she asked you for help the situation might be different, but she hasn’t so it isn’t.  And if she contacts you later and offers to make up for the session you didn’t get, I think it would be best for you to politely decline.

(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.)

Diary – Week 230

chicken dinnerI actually wrote last week’s diary entry a few hours before going over to Mistress Matisse‘s house to prepare dinner, because I was pretty sure I would not get back early enough to write it after.  And was I ever right; Matisse, Jae, Savannah and I had a lovely evening I’ll always remember.  To an outside observer it probably wouldn’t have looked all that exciting (except for the nudity, cuddling and horseplay), but when sex worker friends get together there’s a kind of camaraderie that I’ve not generally felt among groups of other adult women; it’s a sense of shared experience, of being denizens of a secret world unknown to the general population.  Perhaps we cleave to each other more tightly because the “good” women of the world reject us; perhaps it’s an outgrowth of the necessity for us to watch each other’s backs.  And perhaps it’s also due to our comfort with displays of affection and intimacy that others would find shameful.  In any case, it was one of those magical nights when everything works out wonderfully, and I hope my next visit is just as grand!

On Tuesday I had lunch with FurryGirl, then in the evening Savannah and I were on a panel discussion with another advocate and three prohibitionists.  If I must say so myself, we wiped the floor with them; our statistics and logical points were answered with collectivism, social engineering, attacks on “patriarchy” and “capitalism” and one panelist repeatedly quoting her grandmother as an authority on Amerind culture.  They seemed to lose most of the audience by about halfway through the event.

I was not at all happy to leave the next morning, but at least my return journey to Chicago was not marred by motion sickness; I accomplished this by taking pseudoephedrine all day and diphenhydramine all night, thought the combination did leave me a bit fuzzy-headed the next day.  At dinner on the second night I was seated next to comics legend Mike Grell, and he and I talked about both his work and mine; I also gave him the very last copy of my book from the stock I took on the tour.  In Chicago*, I had breakfast with Cathryn Berarovitch before boarding my train to Kansas City, on which I discussed sex worker rights for several hours with the young man sitting next to me.  Unfortunately, the last part of the trip left me dizzy, shaky and just short of sick, and I had trouble sleeping in the hotel afterward; I think I may have taken just a bit too much antihistamine medication on the journey.

Though it wasn’t nearly as bad as either flying or the bus ride from Hell, I have come to the conclusion that it’s just not a good idea for me to ride any common carrier.  Driving, on the other hand, works well for me; in addition to avoiding motion sickness it also gives me much greater flexibility.  So I’m planning to buy a dependable late-model used car that gets excellent gas mileage, to use strictly for touring; my preliminary research indicates I should be able to get what I want for approximately $3000.  I’ve already got about a third of that from funds left over from my tour and accumulated from book sales, subscriptions and the like, but if you’d like to help out with this project just PayPal me whatever amount you like and make sure you put a note that it’s to go toward the car fund.

*And speaking of Chicago, here’s the article student organizer Clairemarie LoCicero wrote about the talk I gave at Loyola on the way out to Seattle.

My gifts and abilities are mine to be used as pleases me; they are not for others to command or control, and only I determine which of them I’m willing to trade on, and when and how they will be employed.
–  “The Logical Song

fetishes demotivationalAs the end of 2011 approached, my procedures slowly began to shift toward those I have used for two years now.  The number of miscellaneous news items had grown so large it had become impractical to hold them for only one feature per month; since “November Updates” appeared in three parts and was supplemented by “Further Developments“, I could easily have organized them into four weekly columns instead and started to do so only three months later.  In “October Q&A” I had also announced that I would answer questions more regularly than once per month, but somehow that took another year to happen.  In a bigger sense, though, the pattern had already been established; the essays from this period read very much like those I write today in style, length, tone, etc.

mad scientistOne of the things I had learned was that the hardest part of doing a daily blog is figuring out something new to write about every day; it’s why the blog has become so much more structured as time has gone on.  As of the day I write this I could already tell you what type of column (though obviously not the subject) will appear on more than half of the days in the first seven months of 2015, and though that wasn’t nearly so true three years ago I was clearly headed that way.  Besides the miscellanea, fictional interlude (“Bad News”) and harlotography (“Veronica Franco“) columns, this month featured special essays for the Day of the Dead (“Saint Death“), Guy Fawkes’ Day (“Revolution“), the USMC “birthday” (“Semper Fidelis“), Armistice Day (“Collaboration Horizontale“), “Thanksgiving” and the beginning of the Yuletide season (“Toys for Tots“).  However, the “One Year Ago Today” feature didn’t produce many sequels this time around; only “Gorged With Meaning“, “It’s That Time Again” and “The Law of Averages” fit into that category, and all of them would have to have been written anyway.  That last is an extended debunking of the “average debut at 13″ myth; many more “child prostitute” lies are refuted in “Water Seeks Its Own Level“.

platypusThe observant will recognize an unusually-large number of the titles from this month; many of them  persist as subheadings in TW3 columns, some very commonly. “Forward and Backward“, “See No Evil“, “Schadenfreude” and “Follow Your Bliss” appear quite frequently, and “Across the Pond” did until a year ago.  And though “Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong” and “Divided We Fall” aren’t nearly as ubiquitous, both have been used in the past few months.

LolitaThere are always a few columns which defy easy categorization in these retrospectives; this time there are seven.  “TANSTAAFL” looks at an example of the adage, “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is”; “Maier’s Law” does the same for “if the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.”  “If I Can’t Sell It…” is another collection of whore songs, and “The Logical Song” a look at how the titular hit described my own experiences.  “Eglimaphilia” discusses sex work clients who fetishize the illegality of prostitution, while “Big Sister” discusses Swedish model vigilantes in Iceland.  And “Don’t Confuse Us With Facts” examines the bizarre belief that people can somehow be magically “harmed” by electronically-generated pictures that they didn’t even know existed. God kills kittens

Links #229

Honey badger don’t give a shit, it just takes what it wants.

I’m honestly not planning to make a habit out of letting Links columns post half-finished; my excuse this time is the same as the last two times, namely travel sickness.  I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I’m going to have to avoid common carriers entirely; see this coming Tuesday’s column for my proposed solution.  Anyhow, the first video today is from the lovely and wonderful  Mistress Matisse, who has decided that it is her mission to bring more fun into my life (and is succeeding admirably so far).  The second video, from Jesse Walker, is a 1950’s TV pilot made by Orson Welles; everything above the first video is from Radley Balko, and the links between the videos from Nun Ya,  Popehat and Mike Siegel (in that order).

From the Archives

This is a moral crusade, dressed up as concern for women.  –  RCMP Superintendent John Ferguson

The Scarlet Letter

In Anaheim, California, anyone convicted of buying sexual services will have their names and mug shots indefinitely posted to a city web page…The Anaheim district attorney’s office says the scarlet HTML is meant to deter sex traffickers, which makes about as much sense as posting jaywalker mugshots in order to deter car thieves…”Public shaming as a form of punishment goes back to the days of Puritan colonists,” writes Los Angeles Times‘ Emily Foxhall…even…Melissa Farley…[admits] she’s unaware of any evidence that this kind of shaming results in long-term behavior change…

Follow the Leader

In September 2012, President Obama issued an executive order asserting a zero tolerance policy for government contractors who violated human trafficking laws.  He specifically targeted recruitment fees that workers in southeast Asia frequently pay for work with military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq…recruitment fees essentially create a system of indentured servitude.  Workers usually take out high-interest loans in their home country to pay the fee, and the payments can trap them in their new jobs.  Recruiters often mislead workers about their salary and the location of their job—promises of high-paying jobs in Jordanian hotels turn into custodial positions on U.S. military bases in warzones…The government says it has a zero tolerance policy, and yet there’s fairly credible allegations that these guys have been involved in trafficking and they continue to win government contracts,” says Steven Watt…at the ACLU…

See No Evil confused Pooh

Do Polish stuffed animal toys usually come with genitals?

Winnie the Pooh…has been banned from a Polish playground because of confusion about his sexuality and consternation at his attire.  Council members were debating which character should become the face of a new playground in the small town of Tuszyn, and…some on the board raised questions about Pooh’s “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” attire, and one even condemned the fictional character as a “hermaphrodite”…Ryszard Cichy…[said] “It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children…Pooh who is only dressed from the waist up”…[another council member fantasized that A.A. Milne]…”cut [Pooh’s] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity”…

Scapegoats

Maybe this guy thought it was a genital-equipped Polish stuffed horse?

[Florida] police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man in a troubling case of alleged indecent exposure. Police accuse Sean Johnson of entering a Walmart…and committing a sex act on a stuffed horse…[then] putting [it] back on the shelf…

Above the Law 

A woman says she was raped in jail by a Ferguson [jail guard] while she was pregnant last year, according to a federal lawsuit…against the city and…Jaris Hayden…[who] now faces four felony charges…[the victim had been arrested because her] license plates were expired…and…During [her] booking, Hayden said to her, “You smell good,” and, “This will teach you a lesson”…

Useful Idiots 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein…is once again attempting to swell federal power and erode civil liberties by preying on fears about sexual exploitation….[with] the Combat Human Trafficking Act, a bill that would expand federal and state wiretapping authority, mandate that the Department of Justice…spend more time investigating and prosecuting [sex workers’ clients]…and increase criminal penalties for buyers by legally defining them as human traffickers…this is going to lead to increased harassment of…sex workers and enhanced monitoring of any space where they congregate…the bill also provides a potential direct mandate for DOJ to target sex workers and their clients…Dianne FeinsteinFeinstein’s press [pretends that] “83 percent of sex trafficking victims are American citizens, and the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14″…Yes, they’re actually claiming that American citizens make up all but 13 percent of global sex trafficking victims. It’s a bold move even within the typically-dubious realm of sex-trafficking statistics (the idea that the average victim is first-trafficked at 12-years-old is also suspect)…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

This stinks on ice:

Little Rock Police have arrested a…[fireman] at a massage parlor after an undercover sting. Edwin Harris…worked at a business called Asian Massage…a female undercover detective paid for a massage in which she says Harris engaged in sexual contact…Harris was the only person charged at the business…

Social Construction of Eunuchs (TW3 #48)

Dataspelsbranchen, a Swedish games industry organization, has been given a 272,000 kronor (roughly $36,672) grant by the state…to study and create a system that would provide ratings for games released in Sweden indicating the level of sexism and/or whether or not the game promotes gender equality…their study…will also include analysis of developers already working to promote diversity and gender-equality in order to help others learn from their experience.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (TW3 #338)

Dancers at a strip club are due more than $10 million in back wages and tips, a federal judge ruled…And additional claims are headed for trial in the class action case, meaning there ultimately could be further awards to roughly 1,900 women who worked at Rick’s Cabaret in Manhattan between 2005 and 2012…Houston-based RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., said it planned to appeal…

Held Together With Lies (Hysteria on Parade)

How much higher can this nonsense go?bogus trafficking map

Nearly 36 million people worldwide, or 0.5% of the world’s population, live as slaves, a survey by…Walk Free says…India has the most slaves overall and Mauritania has the highest percentage. The total is 20% higher than for 2013 because of [broader] methodology. The report…uses slavery in [the inflammatory] modern [misuse] of the term, rather than [correctly]…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #346)

A 14-year-old [South African] girl could be charged with perjury after lying about being held against her will and sold as a sex slave by her aunt…following her mother’s death…The teen alleged that her aunt later locked her in a room with six old men and one of them raped her…it was later established that the teenager had fabricated the story…

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #405)

Would anyone but a modern American “journalist” portray intercourse as a new and novel way to get pregnant?

Once upon a time, when single women and infertile couples wanted a baby, they would pay a sperm bank…thousands of dollars…But now…donors make their sperm available by offering to have sex for free. It’s a surprising — and some say unconventional — method of making a baby called “natural insemination”…

Finding What Isn’t There (TW3 #413) John Ferguson

few can agree on how widespread [sex trafficking] is, or how best to address it.  This troubles former RCMP superintendent John Ferguson:  “Are there victims?  Yes.  Is this a systemic problem?  The evidence tells us no.”  (Between 2005 and 2009, the RCMP reviewed 242 potential international human-trafficking cases, but made no convictions.)  He points to the absence of information:  Canada has no standardized system for the collection of such data.  Ferguson also points to a 2003 RCMP report that claimed each year 600 women and girls are trafficked into the country for forced sex work; the report has since been discarded by the RCMP itself…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The use of Backpage.com as a tool to catch criminals represents an interesting paradox.  While its critics deplore the ease and visibility the site offers to [sex workers]…those exact qualities make the site invaluable for people looking to [persecute them]…A small but growing number of law enforcement…begrudgingly defend Backpage…Three states have tried to take down [the site with unconstitutional] laws that…Backpage.com successfully [challenged]…and…the SAVE Act is almost certainly not legally viable for the same reasons…

Not What They Expected

Prince George’s County bucks the trend by claiming its “sex trafficking” rate has gone down…which is, of course, as much of a lie as the “King of the Hill” idiocy:

For the second consecutive year, Prince George’s County should see a reduction in human trafficking and prostitution, according to…police…Sgt. David Coleman…attributes the downward trend to the work of his unit and cross-agency initiatives like the county’s Human Trafficking Task force…“When we create a hostile business environment, it moves elsewhere.”

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Bill C-36…has everything to do with moralism and pearl-clutching white saviours in Ottawa forcing a socially conservative agenda through…This is the same government trying to kill C-279, a bill that would ensure trans people are protected under…hate crimes provisions…Sex workers have started a letter-writing campaign to ask [Ontario Premier Kathleen] Wynne to refer the law to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference…[and] to instruct provincial Crown Attorneys not to enforce the new law until the Ontario court has ruled on its constitutionality.  Terri-Jean Bedford was the first to ask Wynne to intervene last month.  Next, sex worker rights advocate Nikki Thomas posted her own open letter.  And another.  And another.  Legal experts across Canada call the law blatantly unconstitutional…[Manitoba] actually plans to send sex workers to “camps” for “educational workshops”  hosted by the evangelical Salvation Army…Handing over our most vulnerable citizens to questionable religious groups has not ended well historically…Gay men and women should be the most vocal allies of sex workers. There was a time when the same arguments were made to keep being gay a criminal offence…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #428)

A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act…[which] would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with clients…and…expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements…The SAVE Act would…create extensive record-keeping requirements for any…service…that hosts adult advertisements…require anyone posting an adult ad to submit photo identification…enable the Department of Justice…to ban certain “euphemisms” or “code words” from online advertising entirely, and…make websites that host user-generated ads criminally liable…even if they do not have actual knowledge that an ad for illegal activity appears on their sites…

Check Your Premises (TW3 #432)

It’s astonishing that supposedly rational adults in the Canadian government need this explained to them:

One of the lead detectives in the teen pimping investigation wants men who [hire] women for sex to ensure their clients [sic] are over 18 and are willing participants, but an advocate for sex workers warns doing so might put johns in an legal quandary…Carolyn Botting [imagines that sex workers will show clients their drivers’ licenses, but]…Chris Bruckert, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said…the federal government’s new prostitution laws…will put johns in an awkward situation…“If in fact they do call police because they suspect someone is underage or in a situation of exploitation, they’re actually setting themselves up to be criminally charged”…

Soap Opera (TW3 #441) not a brand

In which a common type of tattoo is recast as a “brand”.

…Reliable statistics are [nonexistent], but [trafficking fanatics pretend that] hundreds of thousands of women and girls…are sold for sexual exploitation in America’s $9.5bn human-trafficking industry. According to the US Department of Justice, 300,000 of those at risk are children. Branding, whether by tattoo or intentional scarring, has become a disturbing characteristic of…Pimp-led prostitution…Polaris Project [pretends to have]…come across hundreds of women and children who have had their arms, backs, legs, faces, breasts and even eyelids and gums marked with pimp’s names and gang tags or with barcodes, sexual slang words or dollar signs…it is now systemic in America…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #446)

My beloved partner “Isabelle”…is a sex worker in Toronto…[who] lives in my home about half of the time…We occasionally buy things together.  We sometimes pool money for grocery trips.  Occasionally, one of us picks up something for the other at the corner store…A couple months ago, I had some unanticipated emergency expenses resulting in negative cash flow.  Isabelle jumped right in to save me, contributing her money to my monthly housing expense…In short, we’re partners…It’s…against the law as of Dec. 6.  Section 286.2 subsection 1 of the code specifically criminalizes “everyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from (sex work).”  It’s an indictable offence, subject to a prison term of up to 10 years…

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