Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
And so another year has come and gone, the fourth since I started this blog. I’ve finally got things just about exactly the way I want them, so you probably won’t see a lot of change this year as you have for the last few; though I have made a few refinements in the way I organize my writing, that really isn’t something visible to y’all. Suffice it to say that I’m steadily giving myself more room for the sort of outside projects that I’m getting more offers for, and also for working on my second book (which I hope to have ready to launch by summer). One thing that definitely isn’t changing is the pattern of my holiday columns; as usual, New Year’s Eve means a retrospective of the year’s news.
From what I can see, we’re on course for the “sex trafficking” hysteria to end by 2017 as I predicted. This doesn’t mean that things are going to get steadily better now; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Though skepticism about the claims of “trafficking” fetishists is becoming much more common, both governments (it’s a versatile, albeit blunt, excuse for tyranny) and the rescue industry (it’s oh-so-profitable and provides work and validation for pathological liars) have a vested interest in keeping the panic going, and so the myth will grow ever more silly, bizarre, grandiose, ridiculous, specious, supernatural, impossible, dogmatic and self-contradictory until it implodes. One example of this fracturing is the way in which classic whore stigmatization and support for criminalization exist alongside of the “whore as pathetic victim” narrative, sometimes within the same article. Another is the way that while some states seem reluctant to embrace “Super Bowl sex trafficking” idiocy, others are so aroused by it they prematurely ejaculate their foolishness over a year in advance. Because the Swedish model dovetails perfectly with “sex trafficking” mythology, it’s no surprise that several countries with long histories of mistreating sex workers are considering it as an excuse for further oppression, especially since it’s known to increase violence against us. And though the United States isn’t about to decriminalize selling sex any time soon, “end demand” rhetoric provides a useful cover for hurting people in the name of “helping” them.
Of course, it’s not only whores who are under attack; anyone who dares to be sexual in any way (especially kinky ways) is a target, as is anything which can be portrayed, however implausibly, as having anything whatsoever to do with “children” (a category that now extends from conception to at least the age of twenty-one). Pregnant women’s rights are routinely violated, governments claim the right to invade people’s privacy on a microscopic level or censor the internet, and all of these actions are performed in the most mindlessly-violent way possible. Nor are the mainstream news media of any help whatsoever; they have become the handmaidens of the police state, defending monstrous tyrannies and mindlessly parroting official statements in articles larded with absurdly-Victorian language, packed with lurid, masturbatory “sex trafficking” fantasies and showering government functionaries in glowing, fetishized praise no matter how outrageous and morally indefensible their actions. So because they won’t do their jobs, I and others have to step into the breach by exposing lies and exploding myths; this year I debunked inflammatory nonsense about rape, the notion that criminalizing sex work deters coercion, the claim that the Swedish model reduces violence against sex workers, the idea that people who sell or buy sex are abnormal, and a whole host of prohibitionist lies.
Still, the news wasn’t all bad this year; besides the growing number of organizations supporting decriminalization, we’ve also seen a lot of positive coverage of disabled people hiring sex workers, victims of the Satanic Panic being exonerated, support for draconian “sex offender” restrictions eroding, sex workers mobilizing to fight criminalization, and the Canadian Supreme Court striking down arbitrary laws against sex work. Many people are awakening to the fact that sex workers are routinely denied human rights, and though the progress is maddeningly slow it is the nature of these things to take time. Year by year, we move closer to the day when the majority recognizes that it’s never OK to oppress any minority, and that those who condone such oppression of others are paving the way for their own.