You need to tailor your response to the reality. You should not tailor your response to the hype. - Ann Jordan
R.I.P. Robyn Few
The founder of SWOP-USA died Thursday (September 13th) at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer. She became an activist for HIV and medical marijuana in the early 1990s, but prostitution was at that time simply a way to pay the bills ; that changed after she was targeted for her activism by FBI and arrested in June of 2002. In October of the following year she founded SWOP-USA on the model of SWOP Australia, and just two months later helped Dr. Annie Sprinkle organize the first Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers. Biographical details are scarce, but I’m trying to get a proper obituary together for her for this Monday.
Sometimes, men’s transgender paranoia is so severe it can lead to violence:
…20-year-old Christian Ariel Romero met [a] 41-year-old [transgendered prostitute]…and…offered [her] money for sex, Montgomery County police said…[but] when Romero discovered his companion was a man, he…repeatedly stabbed the victim…The judge set bail at $500,000, which [Romero’s lawyer] called harsh…“The defendant is a person who’s 20 years old, never done anything wrong in his entire life. And the person who is on the other side is…a prostitute…with a track record, a history…”
As is typical in stories involving transgendered people, everyone dances around pronouns and facts are sparse or contradictory; the reporter says the victim was a “man” but she may have been a pre-op transsexual. And the lawyer’s insinuation that the victim somehow deserved a murderous assault is “NHI” thinking at its most repellent.
Robin Hustle has a great deal more patience than I do; if I had a story of coming out to parents who were in denial about my sex work, I certainly wouldn’t tell it on Jezebel. The article is intelligent, well-written, right on and even funny, but of course the comments are largely what you’d expect (starting with the very first one, which basically accuses her of lying). No thanks; I learned my lesson with Feministe.
A disproportionate number of perverts, rapists and pedophiles have been discovered in a job which allows them to grope and fondle women and children with impunity in public. Golly gee, who could’ve predicted that?
As I predicted, a few journalists are beginning to question the “sex trafficking” hype; though this article reprinted from Christian Science Monitor overstates the credibility of some of the fanatics’ claims and quotes professional victim Stella Marr at length, it also interviews prominent trafficking hysteria critic Ann Jordan, criticizes celebrity opportunists like Ashton Kutcher and flatly states that the scare-figures are wildly exaggerated:
…the…statistic…that there are 100,000 to 300,000 sex slaves in the US – figures repeated by interviewers, blogs, TV hosts and…movie stars…are wrong…the number of actual sex-trafficking victims has been estimated by the US government to be in the tens of thousands, but even those numbers have been criticized as unfounded and far too high; between 2008 and 2010, federally funded human-trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation. Among those cases, only 248 suspected sex-trafficking victims under the age of 18 were identified…Hype over such high and inaccurate numbers of “child sex slaves” leads to a misguided response at best…At worst, it siphons financial resources away from preventing other sorts of human trafficking…[and] undermines solutions to problems…that lead to exploited youth in the first place…
Cause: Making it essentially impossible for brothels to operate legally. Effect: Lots of illegal brothels.
…Elena Jeffreys said when sex work was decriminalised 16 years ago, local councils were given the job of regulating the industry…but…they are now knocking back brothels on moral grounds…”Their job is to regulate the sex industry, not just to blanket knock back every single (brothel) application they get. There’s some local councils in NSW that have never approved a brothel application and then they wonder why there’s brothels in their suburb that are unapproved”…Ms Jeffreys said there were more than 6000 sex workers in the state and most people would have lived near a brothel or a sex worker at some point without knowing it…
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an American sex worker activist (other than myself) make this enlightened point:
…Controversial model-actress [Gehana Vasisth] recently tweeted that she wanted to open a…high class hygienic brothel where men could come and satisfy themselves…with professional, medically certified commercial sex workers…According to Gehana, legalising prostitution and pornography in India – like it is in the West – will help reduce crimes against women drastically. “If men can satisfy their carnal desires without any restriction, rape and other crimes against women will be reduced,” she explained…
Over a year after the controversy which caused his break with Psychology Today, evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa is back with a new blog entitled E pur si muove on a relatively new website named Big Think. And though his debut is not without controversy even there, Kanazawa’s “about” blurb states:
E pur si muove is about science. Science is the accumulation of pure knowledge for its own sake; it has no other goals or purposes. In science, only logic and evidence are the arbitrators of the truth; nothing else matters. No scientific conclusions can ever be good or bad, desirable or undesirable, sexist, racist, offensive, reactionary or dangerous; they can only be true or false. No other adjectives apply. If the truth offends people, it is our job as scientists to offend them. In the memorable words of David Hilbert, Wir müssen wissen, wir werden wissen. If what I say as a scientist is wrong, because it is illogical or lacks credible scientific evidence, then it is my problem. If what I say offends you, then it is your problem. Get over it. Prepare to be offended.
And really, that’s pretty much my attitude in this blog as well; I wish Dr. Kanazawa the best of luck with his new site and hope Big Think proves to be more dedicated to free speech than Psychology Today has proven itself to be.
Whenever it looks like something might be decriminalized (such as brothel ownership in Brazil), you can bet the police will launch as many “crackdowns” as possible before their window of opportunity closes:
On the eve of June 14…armed members of [Rio’s] Police…and public prosecutor’s office arrived at a brothel called Centauros…[where] they arrested prostitutes, management and the owner, seized documents, computers…used condoms…and…$150,000…in cash. The owner…spent a week at a maximum security prison. The prostitutes were released the same night and found work at other upscale brothels…Quite a lot of drama when you consider that prostitution is not actually a crime in Brazil…But as Rio de Janeiro prepares for its turn on the global stage – as the host of the World Cup in 2014, then the 2016 Summer Olympics – the city is taking drastic action to keep its thriving sex industry out of the spotlight. Rio has already shuttered 24 sex establishments…and…another 33 venues have been threatened or harassed by the police…It’s the biggest crackdown…in a generation…according to anthropologists Thaddeus Blanchette and Ana Paula da Silva, who have been studying prostitution in Rio since 2004 and have authored almost 20 academic papers on [the subject]…
Keep in mind, California is still under a SCOTUS mandate to reduce its prison population, yet this persecution for profit continues:
Fetish filmmaker and distributor Ira Isaacs’ sentencing was put on hold last month because federal prosecutors intended to present evidence to support…a two-level increase in sentencing…[for] federal crime[s] where the defendant knew or should have known that a victim involved in an offense was a “vulnerable victim”…presumably [this means] an actor or actors involved in films deemed obscene…prosecutors have recommended that Isaacs serve a term of up to seven years and three months in prison, as well as a three-year term of supervised release and a $10,000 fine…[the court also stole] all of his websites…copyrights…computers, servers, props and video equipment.
…The Malay Mail reports [that a] car wash in…Kuala Lumpur…had formed a partnership with a local massage parlour, enabling customers to redeem free sex from the brothel as part of a customer loyalty scheme…police stormed the parlour and found several stamped loyalty cards that had been used by customers…officer Emmi Shah Fadhil [said]…“To get the extra ‘offer’, customers must send their cars for washing nine times within a certain period…The tenth car wash will entitle them to free sex.” The parlour would usually charge between 130 and 180 Malaysian Ringgit ($40-$55) – cheaper than the $65 price for a full-service car wash. Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia. As a result of the raid, nine Vietnamese women aged between 18 and 28 were arrested.
Actually prostitution isn’t illegal in Malaysia; only public solicitation is. However, for the past four years the Malaysian government has been engaged in a campaign to violently suppress brothels under the guise of “fighting human trafficking” in order to win a pat on the head and a “good doggie” from the US State Department.
…a bare-breasted sculpture in an Overland Park arboretum has triggered a grand jury investigation into whether the city is promoting obscenity to minors. The artwork, titled “Accept or Reject” and donated by Chinese artist Yu Chang, depicts…what the artist statement says is the incomplete identity expressed in one’s digital self — critics contend it promotes “sexting” to children…”The statue appeals to an unwholesome obsession with a sexual act” [said petition sponsor Phillip] Cosby…who calls sexting “the most under-prosecuted crime in America”…
Anybody who claims that any crime (other than those committed under color of authority) in America is “under-prosecuted” is certifiably insane.
If abortion is criminalized, do people really want women who get them imprisoned? Or will this turn into another Swedish Model-like agency-denying thing which only persecutes abortion providers (and maybe men who urge or pay for them)?
Here’s a long but must-read essay by Georgina Perry of Open Doors, a London health organization serving sex workers; she explains how Olympic “sex trafficking” hysteria was amplified by politicians, the police, the media and others, and collapsed when one especially vociferous NGO lost its main source of funding:
For the last three years I’ve been…relegated from a professional considered knowledgeable in her field, to a noisy troublemaker, determined to rail against received wisdom. I’ve had the data I assiduously collect, analyse and make public quoted back to me by law enforcement agencies, the media and NGOs but with clumsy interpretations skewed to strengthen a particular rhetoric…as the 2012 London Olympics drew inexorably towards us, the whole of the UK suddenly became an expert on my job…[the]experience…left me cynical and at times speechless at the sheer effrontery of those who stood to gain from talking up a story that…is not, has not and is unlikely to ever be a reality…
Melissa Gira Grant was interviewed on “Behind the News with Doug Henwood” on public radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California this past Thursday; she talked about the rescue industry, agency denial and the neofeminist anti-sex work agenda (starting at 30:00).
This Week in 2011
How “feminist” laws infantilize or pathologize women, how Arianna Huffington panders to hysteria, how politicians judge others but never themselves, and why only some religions have freedom. Also, an Algerian tribe in which prostitution was normal and accepted and an essay on whores in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
This Week in 2010
The importance of caring for husbands sexually, the woman known to history as “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, a few book reviews, a story I wrote when I was 18, “whoredar”, and a little about my lesbian experiences.