There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough. - William James
Sixteen updates and two metaupdates.
Rough Trade (Part One) (July 25th, 2010)
Ah, synchronicity; the same week this early essay was featured on Debatbond to introduce the topic “Can a prostitute be raped?”, two California lawyers presented their own views on the subject in court. Representing the “no” position:
Prosecutors dropped rape charges…against…Michael Stanford…[Defense attorney Roberto] Dulce said…the alleged victim was a prostitute and…the sexual contact between her and Stanford was consensual…In a dispute over money, the woman accused Stanford of rape…Dulce said he had witnesses who would testify that they, too, had engaged in sex with the woman…
Yet she didn’t accuse the other “witnesses” of rape, probably because they didn’t rape her. I think we can guess what happened; “dispute over payment” means he cheated her, but since Fresno isn’t Cartagena he got away with it. The story says the charge was dropped because “the alleged victim could not be found for Stanford’s trial”; she was probably afraid to go into a building full of cops. It might have been different in Modesto: “[Judge Linda McFadden]…denied a motion to overturn a grand jury indictment against…police officer…Lee Freddie Gaines…The alleged victim…testified…that she was working as a prostitute…[when Gaines] handcuffed her and demanded oral sex…”
Amsterdam (November 1st, 2010)
…Amsterdam…plans to force brothel owners to submit a business plan to the city describing what measures they are taking to ensure sex workers are healthy and not being exploited…in recent years both the city and national government have become increasingly critical of the industry. [They claim] many prostitutes are victims of human trafficking or coerced by pimps…
It’s impossible to prove a negative (“whores are not coerced”); that’s why the burden of proof is supposed to be on the accuser. And greater legal restrictions will only force whores into the shadows, providing greater opportunity for coercion as they always do.
December Q & A (December 28th, 2010)
Not even doctors and scientists are immune to idiotic male-ego-boosting myths:
…A stem cell expert is looking to treat sex workers with their bodies’ own stem cells, so they can have tight, toned vaginal muscles…“The idea…was tried…by a team of scientists in Japan. They recruited commercial sex workers who wished to give up the trade and get married…” said Dr Himanshu Bansal…The clinical trial involved mostly young women, some of them mothers, who were worried that their vaginal muscles were too lax…
I hate to break this to you, guys, but your penises are not as big as babies. Not even close. No amount of sex, commercial or otherwise, can loosen the vaginal muscles; only babies do that. Notice that “some of them mothers?” The truth is “most of them.”
I Really Shouldn’t Even LOOK at an Issue of Cosmopolitan (January 18th, 2011)
I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s willing to say out loud that Cosmo’s “sex advice” is ludicrous; Ben Reininga writes “Ridiculous Tips for a Miserable Sex Life”, which this month features his hilarious picks for Cosmo’s 44 most ridiculous tips of all time. Enjoy.
A Narrow View (April 29th, 2011)
An organization of young Chicago sex workers fights for their rights against a system which treats them as infantilized victims:
When youth who live on the streets and work in the sex trade…are victimized…often the institutions that are supposed to help them…do more harm than good. [Leaders of]…the Young Women’s Empowerment Project…said, “We don’t dictate a young person’s future and make decisions for them, we support them to make it on their own”…While many organizations dealing with sex workers aim to help them leave sex work, YWEP maintains that it is a valid individual choice and practices a harm reduction philosophy…
Social Construction of Eunuchs (July 18th, 2011)
Apparently forced feminization of little boys isn’t enough for Swedish neofeminists any more:
…Vänsterpartiet, [a feminist socialist party,] tabled a motion that would require office washrooms to be genderless with a sit-down-only requirement…Party speakers cited medical research they said shows men empty their bladders more efficiently while seated…[which] reduces the risk for prostate problems…[motion author] Viggo Hansen…[said] the move does not represent an attempt to meddle in the bathroom habits of citizens…
Wholesale Hypocrisy (October 12th, 2011)
Instead of presenting prostitution-related charges against former University of New Mexico President F. Chris Garcia and others to a grand jury this week, prosecutors are now discussing the future of the case…[after] Judge Stan Whitaker…ruled that neither a website, an online message board nor a computer amount to a “house of prostitution or a place where prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed”…Garcia’s attorney, Robert Gorence…last month called on District Attorney Kari Brandenburg “to…[exonerate] Dr. Garcia” after owning up to “the mistake she made when she bought in to APD’s flawed investigation and exaggerated charges…[Garcia] never received a penny from any such activities nor did he control or direct the activities of women who advertised as escorts”…
Forward and Backward (November 22nd, 2011)
While American prohibitionists continue to demand that whores’ advertising be censored, Spain has moved into the 21st century: “…the Spanish parliament reversed a 2010 ban on advertising by…prostitutes and brothels…[in order] to stimulate Spain’s poor economy. The sex industry spent approximately €40 million annually on advertising, according to a 2007 report…” Perhaps if the economy continues to worsen, American politicians may eventually wake up; this is, after all, the same reason alcohol Prohibition was repealed in 1932.
The More the Better (January 9th, 2012)
This article about University of Wyoming students who work as strippers is not only fairly sensible, but includes these encouraging words from Women’s Studies (!) professor Susan Dewey:
“It is a reality that some women see sex work as a form of liberation…in recent years…trafficking has become conflated with sex work…I have many students who will use [the] terms prostitution and trafficking synonymously, interchangeably. This is very, very problematic because when you say to someone ‘you do not have the right to do something legally’ that’s one thing…but when you say to a person ‘you think are making a choice but you’re actually not, because no person with self-respect would make that choice,’ that’s a real problem.”
The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)
This week Scottish Labour MP Rhoda Grant was defeated in her attempt to fast-track Swedish Model legislation without allowing opponents to speak:
The proposal…must now go out to consultation, instead of taking a quicker route through the Scottish Parliament. Ms Grant argued a previous attempt to pass such a law meant the issues had already been aired…A similar proposal in 2010 was opposed by ministers, who feared it would push the sex trade underground. Critics of such legislation believe that making workers in the sex trade less visible to the authorities would place them in greater danger…
Here’s an example of how different the US and UK can be sometimes: one of the groups opposed to client criminalization is the Association of Chief Police Officers. Dr. Brooke Magnanti’s excellent essay on the issue concludes with the eminently-quotable line, “It’s time we started acting like grownups and stopped pretending that making something illegal makes it cease to exist.”
Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (March 3rd, 2012)
The new “Trafficking in Persons Report” has been released; Algeria, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe are now on Tier 3, “Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so” (those “standards” are defined by the US via methods it neither discusses with anyone else nor even explains). Several other countries were raised to Tier 2 after they stepped up pogroms against whores (as Malaysia did in 2008), and Israel was promoted to Tier 1 (probably due to its flirtation with the Swedish Model).
The Immunity Syndrome (March 5th, 2012)
Parents in Onalaska, Washington are reportedly “furious” that a school principal honestly answered students’ questions in a sex education class; apparently, the parents expected her to lie, and one of them said that talking about sex in a sex education class is “just the same as raping somebody.”
Above the Law (March 8th, 2012)
The British government has finally admitted that cops are allowed to trick women into having sex while spying on them: “[Home Office Minister Nick] Herbert said it was important police were allowed to have sex with activists because otherwise it could be used as a way of outing potential undercover officers…” In other words they’re allowed to do whatever they like, including rape, in order to accomplish whatever it is they want to do.
Little Boxes (April 29th, 2012)
The owner of a [Las Vegas] massage business…says she’s losing crucial business because of a [new] city law requiring her to close at 10 p.m…”If we don’t get an extension, I’ll be closed within a month…The daytime does not pull in what we need to cover. It is barely paying the rent for that space and utilities.” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said changing the ordinance for the Johnsons would set a precedent for more than 50 other “massage establishment” licensees…
As I’ve said before, “attempting to define sexuality…as being in the… ‘legal’ category rather than the…‘illegal’ one is a tacit acknowledgement that such lines of demarcation are valid and that government has the right to draw them…even if one wins the battle, the government can simply re-draw the line to include one’s entrenched position.” The Johnsons are learning that the hard way.
Naked Truth (May 23rd, 2012)
I’m going to use this title for articles written by current or former sex workers in mainstream sites or publications. This time, two outstanding pieces by Tits and Sass contributors: “The Ways We Don’t Talk About Wealth” by Charlotte Shane in The New Inquiry, and “Can Sex Workers Transition to a Cashless Economy?” by Susan Shepard (AKA Bubbles Burbujas) in Forbes.
Reframing (June 20th, 2012)
My friend LilyRose sent me a link to this “reframed” trailer, which is exactly the opposite of the Mrs. Doubtfire one and just as clever:
Think about these stories next time you hear some “authority” blathering about how “trafficking” has increased. The first one comes via Wendy Lyon: “A 30-year-old man…[was] charged with an offence under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act…[after] travelling to Ireland [to meet] a child, having…communicated with that child on two or more previous occasions with the intent of doing an act that would constitute sexual exploitation…” And here’s another one from Minneapolis, Minnesota:
[Mickey Cupkie]…has been charged under Minnesota’s new Sex Trafficking law for having sex with two teen prostitutes, ages 15 and 17…The girls were runaways, says Minneapolis Police Sgt. Grant Snyder…He says pimps picked the girls up…and then placed an add [sic] on Backpage.com…Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says he hopes the charges send a message to the Johns…
Said message being, “’trafficking’ means whatever we want it to mean, and if girls act alone we’ll just invent pimps and ‘traffickers’ to fit the narrative.”
Even Sweden gets it right once in a while: “Swedish news outlet The Local reports that their Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of manga translator Simon Lundström on child pornography charges…The court’s decision reflects the viewpoint of free speech advocates…that sexually explicit manga images are…not child pornography…”
One Year Ago Today
“Lola Montez” was one of the most colorful courtesans of the 19th (or any other) century.