The truth is always easy to write. – Chi Mgbako
Damned If You Don’t
Because “prostitution” is defined purely by a motive, charges depend solely on the statements of cops and are often directed against any convenient victim:
…Guillermo Cuadra says…an apparent prostitute asked him, “Do you want a fuck?” as he was stopped at a traffic light [in Miami. He said “no” but she signaled another cop anyway]…and…Cuadra…was…ordered into a motel parking lot where…cops pulled him out of the car, pushed his face into gravel, stepped on him and handcuffed him, then…[broke his] left upper arm, [tore] his shoulder ligament and [caused] nerve damage to his elbow and hand…[when] Cuadra [complained about his arm one of them]…responded, “Fuck you…” Though he had just $3 in cash on him…the city falsely charged him with “solicitation of prostitution, allegedly offering the undercover police officer $60″…
The charges were later dropped, and Cuadra is suing. If you’re wondering why the cops were so stupid as to claim he offered $60 when he only had $3, it’s because “police reports” are just boilerplate, with the details written long before the actual “sting”. See also “Zimbabwe” below.
Reader Casey Nelson shared this story of his own experience as the target of “sex trafficking” hysteria:
…I’m 50+ years old, white, a businessman and have lived in Cambodia for more than 18 years. I’m married to an Asian woman…and have two beautiful children – a 9 year old girl and 7 year old boy…though they are not distinctly Asian, they are darker than me and not 100% European in appearance…[one Sunday while on an outing] I noticed a woman…taking photos…She held up her camera, pointed at it and said…“Photo you, internet, you pedo…for police,” in a distinctly Italian accent. I said something like “These are my children.” She just shook her head and started to raise her camera again. I said, “You want police?…I’ll call police”…her mind [was] probably…twisted by the constant stream of sensational, repetitive and often wildly-overstated stories of western pedophiles and abused children in Cambodia. And not only by the western press but by NGOs that profit from it and feed the beast with exaggerated stats and a constant stream of rehashed horrors stories that keep the funds flowing…I figure that when my photo turns up on some Italian website as another pedophile operating…in Cambodia, it will also include a story of my powerful police connections that were on their way to protect me and how she had to flee for her life…
There’s a lot more; I urge you to read it in its entirety as yet another example of the fallout from moral panics.
An excellent essay on victimhood from law professor Chi Mgbako:
When many people think of typical victims of human rights abuse, they often conjure up stereotypical images of passive and powerless people…waiting to be saved. The biases underlying these notions can lead some human rights advocates to favor “perfect victims” in advocacy and publicity campaigns, and…to disregard injustices faced by other marginalized individuals who may inspire more ambivalent and complicated responses from the public. The privileging of “perfect victimhood” is misguided because all people have human rights regardless of subjective determinations of “worthiness”…the danger of the…construct is illustrated by two examples: Anti-prostitution advocates who privilege abuses experienced by victims of trafficking over violence faced by those voluntarily involved in adult sex work; and society’s failure to view economically disenfranchised black men as victims of the devastating ‘war on drugs’…
For another excellent essay on human rights being independent of “worthiness”, consult Ken White’s “Deserve’s Got Nothing To Do With It”.
The adult obsession with adolescent oral sex isn’t at all creepy or perverse: “The popular notion that teenagers …are experimenting with oral sex en masse is being challenged by new data…[which shows they’re] about as likely to engage in oral sex before intercourse as they are to have intercourse first…”
Another view of the issues that can arise when a whore falls in love and tries to give up harlotry in order to be faithful to her man, courtesy of Cathryn Berarovich writing in The Gloss.
As many as 45 sex workers…[escaped from a social institution in Jakarta and]…are currently being pursued by the police…30 [visitors] …were turned away at the entrance gate by 3 guards because it was not visiting hours yet…[then broke in and] urged the inhabitants to escape with them…one of the [intruders]…who was suspected [of being] the sex workers’ pimp was arrested…those social institution inhabitants would undergo guidance in terms of social, mental, physical, and other skills…
Obviously, they were forced to escape by the “pimp”; clearly they couldn’t have wanted to
flee a brainwashing attempt be trafficked away from their rescuers of their own free will.
I’ve explained how escort services blackball bad customers, and now the UK is introducing a nationwide plan to do the same. But Douglas Fox of Harlot’s Parlour has some reservations:
…Although in this “article” it is claimed that local sex work projects have operated ugly mug schemes for twenty years, real sex workers…have operated them for as long as there have been sex workers…in theory [the plan] should work nationally…however…[it] relies on local [outreach] projects…who…work only with…street workers…[and] have little or no contact with the vast majority of sex workers…The scheme also relies heavily upon the co operation of the police. Sex workers do not trust the police, with very good reason…Although the new…scheme promises that sex workers can report crimes anonymously through their local project, the real advancement would be if sex workers were able to report crimes against them…directly, with out fear of arrest or harassment. One is tempted to suggest that the first ugly mug listed…should be the police themselves…
Thanks so very much to Chester Brown for sending me a copy of his graphic memoir Paying For It. And as if the gift itself were not cool enough, he autographed it AND drew a cartoon just for me on the title page! I’ll tell you about the book in an upcoming column, probably around mid-September.
Another stenographer who fancies herself a journalist presents yet another collection of prohibitionist myths vomited out by cops. This one’s especially fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way:
…21 suspected prostitutes [were] arrested during a two-day sting by the regional Street Enforcement Team…Federal grant money was used [because]…the focus was finding underage prostitutes and their pimps. None were found…prostitution activity in the community …is a mix of local women desperate for money…and an emerging trend of younger Northern California women who work for pimps and target Reno, especially during special events…“Before, it would be older, local women just trying to get a motel room and a rock to smoke,” said [Sgt. Ron] Chalmers…“Now they are younger, from Sacramento being run by their pimps. We are trying to help these women, and provide victim services,” he said…
This one has it all: the “gypsy whores” myth, conflation of escorting and streetwalking, internet demonization, “trafficking” mythology, agency denial, a demonstration of the flaws of legalization (the stings were in Reno, Nevada, not far from legal brothels), illegal diversion of federal funds, whore as addict, victim and nuisance all at once, “rescue” as an excuse for criminalization and even Maslow’s Hammer!
Here’s a hint, ladies: if you want this to stop, you need to campaign for decriminalization because whores look just like other women:
Hundreds of Zimbabwean women are protesting in Harare against a spree of arbitrary arrests by local police…[who] are detaining any women they see out after dark for soliciting…police said they have only been arresting commercial sex workers. Human rights groups, however, claimed hundreds of women have been arrested every week…Inspector Sabau said the crackdown…would continue as long the constitution prohibits prostitution…
Dr. Paul Maginn of the University of Western Australia says it’s time for people to get over their childish attitudes toward sex work:
…the stereotypical image of a sex worker…is a woman forced to work on darkened streets…to feed her drug habit and pay her pimp…[but] the world of sex work is much more complex…Some work…out of economic necessity. But don’t we all work to pay the bills? Some people are coerced or part of forced trafficking. However…research suggests the proportion of these…is very low…Yet we tend to let our minds be overtaken by…those who seek to initiate moral panics about sex work…and other forms of so-called ‘abnormal’ sexual practices, such as homosexuality …Effective policy is based on hard evidence, not media stereotypes or moralistic posturing by politicians or religious groups…
This article on a Brooklyn “john school” is like many others CNN has published since it turned completely yellow, but it’s interesting in three respects: first, that the title calls it a “trafficking class”; second, that it states ordinary men cannot tell adult women from prepubescent children; and third, that they’ve once again lowered the “average age of entry”:
…Rhonnie Jaus, the chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau, said the class attempts to sensitize and educate the men on the dangers of prostitution to both the John and the prostitute. “You think you’re having sex with an adult, and it…could be…a trafficked child brought from China…” [Assistant DA Grace] Brainard emphasized that most girls enter prostitution between the ages of 11 and 14…
If the average prostitute starts at 12.5, that means there are two girls out there who started at age two to balance my entry at 33. Clearly, basic arithmetic is not a requirement for a government position in Brooklyn.
Has anyone else noticed how the search for the Long Island Killer ground to a halt as soon as they recognized he was probably a cop?
…There are arguably lots of reasons why Suffolk County investigators have had a difficult time tracking down the so-called Long Island Serial Killer (or killers, there is much debate) including the condition and age of the bodies…and the difficulty of getting sex workers and their johns to work with active investigations. But the Post today argues that at least part of the blame can be placed on the local PD not wanting to give up any PR glory to the Feds: “Despite repeated signals by the agency that it was ready and eager to deploy units, Suffolk brass have ignored the FBI in an effort to retain control of the high-profile case”…
Chimeric phrase of the week: “sex workers and their johns.” Kind of like “African-Americans and honkies.”
The Board of All India Network of Sex Workers has taken exception to an affidavit filed by Ministry of Women and Child Development… “Sex workers expressed strong reaction about the affidavit filed by the Ministry of WCD before the Supreme Court that sex workers are devoid of dignity and that all sex workers should be rehabilitated by all means,” AINSW said in a statement…”Human dignity cannot be robbed by the state based on occupation, caste, creed or economics”…
This Week in 2011
“Blackball” (noted above) was followed by an example of prohibitionist cockroaches fleeing from light, a survey of my “Top Ten” columns at that time, a two-part examination of whores who think they aren’t and short articles on anti-streetwalker laws, diseased amateurs, selective partisan blindness, and a small sex worker victory against Google, plus cops harassing strippers while ignoring serial killers, the absence of “trafficking” in New Zealand and ignorant sexologists.
This Week in 2010