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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 26th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

As long-time readers know, I’m very fond of science fiction and fantasy; the difference between the two is that the latter describes a world which (by our understanding of the laws of the universe) could not actually exist, while the former describes a world which could but does not (at least yet).  As some have pointed out, though, the term “science fiction” is really too limited; very often the world described in such a story differs from our own not due to some scientific discovery or technical development, but in a social or cultural way.  For this reason, some writers and critics prefer the term “speculative fiction”, which broadens the genre to include things like alternate-history stories; my tale “For I Have Sinned”, for example, imagines what our modern world might be like had the Catholic Church won the Crusades and successfully suppressed the Protestant Reformation.  The story is an example of a type called a dystopia; while a “Utopia” is a fictional world better than our own1984 (at least in the writer’s estimation), a dystopia is one that is worse.  But just as the traditional science fiction of yesterday (e.g. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Destination Moon) can become the science fact of today, so can what was once the stuff of dystopian speculation become the true and horrible political reality.

The process is usually very gradual, just as technological development is; a poisonous idea becomes established in one place and spreads to others, expanding in scope once it’s in place.  The wicked Swedish model of prostitution law, which defines women as moral imbeciles and men as their evil oppressors, is sold to the delusional, the misandrist and the ignorant as a means of “protecting” women from dirty, bad sex, and though it has been repeatedly beaten back in England and Scotland it has now taken root in Northern Ireland:

The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted by 81 to 10 in favour of making it a crime to pay for sex…Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to vote in favour of the measure.  There is still some way to go before the bill becomes law, but the prospect of a ban on paying for sex in Northern Ireland has taken a significant step forward…Opponents included Justice Minister David Ford who claimed it would be difficult to enforce…

“Difficult to enforce” is an understatement; the US has criminalized both the buying and selling of sex for a century now, and though only a tiny fraction of all such transactions are caught by police it takes “sting” operations and other violations of civil liberties to accomplish it.  In other words, even if you believe that stopping consensual behavior is somehow a good thing, prohibition can’t actually accomplish that.  It does, however, provide a useful excuse for the construction of a vast police state; “protecting children from porn” was the rationale for establishing the UK’s internet censorship regime, but it’s now being extended to allow suppression of any viewpoint of which “authorities” disapprove.  Nor will they be content with merely silencing such people:

People found guilty of Internet “trolling” in Britain could be jailed for up to two years…following a number of high-profile cases of abusive and threatening behaviour on Twitter.  Justice Secretary Chris Grayling…[said] “This is a law to combat cruelty — and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”…last month a man was jailed for 18 weeks for what prosecutors described as “a campaign of hatred” against a [politician].  “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life…” Grayling said.  “That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence”…The government proposes to amend two existing laws to extend the maximum jail term and also the time limit for prosecutions, from six months to three years…

I edited this item to remove the cases politicians are using to win the support of the thoughtless and focus on their real motive: shielding politicians from criticism.  Thoughtcrime is now a very real offense in Britain; perhaps you read about this case:

Robul Hoque…[was convicted for] his collection of Japanese Manga or Anime-style images alone…His barrister Richard Bennett said:  “These are not what would be termed as paedophilic images.  These are cartoons”…Police found the images when they seized Hoque’s computer…none were of real people.  They were classified as prohibited images as they depicted young girls, some in school uniforms…exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity…Six years ago he was prosecuted for having “Tomb Raider-style” computer-generated pictures of fictional children…

That’s right, he was convicted for having drawings of a taboo subject.  Drawings.  And pay attention to that line about how they found the forbidden doodles, because their power to search you for “evidence” (or any other excuse) is increasing all the time:

Registered gun owners in the United Kingdom are now subject to unannounced visits to their homes under new guidance that allows police to inspect firearms storage without a warrant.  The new policy from the British Home Office went into effect Oct. 15…Britain’s gun owners were subject to the home visits before the update, but the inspection had to be conducted with prior notice…the Association of Chief Police Officers [claimed] the revamped guideline does not grant police any new powers…ACPO is also encouraging [informants] to call a new Crimestoppers hotline to report any [people they want harassed by police]…The Home Office is [pretending] that legitimate guns could easily be stolen and wind up in the hands of terrorists…

Of course, guns aren’t the only things which terrorists might use; knives, household chemicals, cars, computers, money…why, the list is endless!  Clearly the police need the power to “inspect the storage” of those things in private homes, without warning or warrant.  And if the owners aren’t home when they arrive, well, in the interests of national security the police should clearly be given the power to let themselves in, and if the place gets ransacked in the process you can be sure those in charge will dismiss any claims the householders make with the assurance that proper procedures were followed.

time machineAll of us are time travelers, and though the process is both slow and unidirectional, it inevitably brings us into a world very different from the one where we started.  Unfortunately, we cannot merely hop into the TARDIS and return to the past or visit a different future if we don’t like the one in which we find ourselves; we are stuck there, like it or not.  Tyrannies don’t materialize without warning overnight, nor are they usually imposed from outside any more; the world around us is a prison we have allowed the powerful to build, stone by stone and bar by bar.  They capitalized on our fears, our intolerance, our greed, our envy, our laziness and our wrath, and though we could have stopped them many times over we were always more concerned with what other people were saying, doing or thinking, and thus handed our self-proclaimed “leaders” the weapons they needed to dominate us all.  Welcome to the future, and if you think all the things I described above are hunky-dory just wait until the inexorable action of legal precedent brings your face under the boot next.

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I see you so often rail about the imaginary “trafficking” issue.  I realize that very few adult sex workers are coerced, and that anti-prostitution laws have nothing to do with protection, but is there any actual evidence that there are real girls under 16 (particularly from Asia) who are really being forced to work as prostitutes? 

distorting mirrorIn a world of over six billion people, it is a near-certainty that any situation anyone can conceive of (which doesn’t violate the laws of physics) has already happened at some point and continues to happen from time to time.  So yes, I am sure that there are some Asian girls under 16 who are actually compelled (by some means almost anyone would agree were coercive) to work as prostitutes.  I have no way of guessing what that number might be, and neither does anyone else despite pretensions to the contrary:  all the cases which make the news involve women older than that; and/or the compulsion is of a type that would not be viewed as a problem if she were a maid or nanny; and/or she chose the situation as the best of a number of alternatives, many or all of them bad; and/or there is some cultural difference which causes her to see her situation differently from her “rescuers”; and/or the “trafficker” is actually an intimate partner rather than a cartoon pimp or racist caricature of a crime cartel.  Moreover, though prohibitionists paint sex workers’ clients as sadistic perverts who ignore bruises and evidence of bondage and prefer prepubescent girls to adult women, nothing could be further from the truth; sex workers who seem to dislike their work tend to get bad reviews because most men don’t actually like having sex with unwilling partners, and the idea that a business model based on the overt enslavement of traumatized tweens could ever be a thriving concern is highly dubious to say the least.  In fact, the popularity of this narrative reveals the sick, twisted psychology and sexuality of those who promote it; their view of sex work is like something seen in a warped mirror, not only reversed but magnified and distorted into unrecognizability.  The three most important forms of distortion are:

  • a rare, extreme situation is presented as though it were not only the norm, but a norm from which there is little if any variance (thus making it unique in human experience);
  • complex, nuanced human interactions are reduced to absurd black hat-white hat melodrama complete with mustache-twirling “pimp” villains, passive damsels in distress, and heroes with pure motives who ride in on white chargers to save the day; and
  • the carceral “solutions” which the fetishists inevitably favor not only fail to help women in the complex real-life situations whose existence they deny, but also to help even the women in situations which actually resemble their fantasy somewhat.  In fact, these supposed “solutions” make things worse in almost every conceivable case, as I explained at length in “Straining at Gnats” and “Enabling Oppression”.  Criminalizing sex work does not discourage a black market in which coercion can thrive; on the contrary, it creates such a market.

The one-sentence answer to your question, then, is this:  A small number of such girls probably does exist, but their situations are a lot more complex than the “sex trafficking” profiteers want you to believe, and the laws they favor actually hurt such girls by enabling those who exploit them.

(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.)

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In this new experience you may find temptations both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both.  -  Lord Kitchener

Kitchener recruiting posterOne hundred years ago this past June 28th, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated, triggering a series of events which set Europe ablaze within weeks.  By November the German advance had been stopped at Ypres; in the four years between that battle and the signing of the armistice ninety-six years ago today, the battle-lines of the Western Front became entrenched and only barely moved until the last few months of the war.  So while the soldiers on other fronts had to make do with the usual assortment of camp followers, local girls and any brothels which survived the operations that brought the lines to that spot, both sides on the Western Front were able to avail themselves of the services of established brothels in the towns near the front on each respective side.  Well, the officers could, at least; proper brothels which had existed before the war generally displayed blue lamps, signifying that they were forbidden to enlisted men by military regulations.  Lower ranks had to content themselves with makeshift red-lamp facilities, sometimes the new French Bordels Mobiles de Campagne, but more often just commandeered pubs or other buildings whose facilities might consist of little more than, as one soldier reported, “a stretcher, with a very thin sheet and blanket.”

In 1914, Western civilization had not yet sunk into the modern madness of pretending that healthy young men can simply “just say no” to sex without ill effect (or that they should); with rare exception, absolutely nobody in military leadership imagined that they could really stop men from visiting brothels by ordering them not to.  Of course, the British tried to anyway; unlike the Germans (who issued the troops both condoms and disinfectant) and the French (who issued entire brothels), British military officials issued only the epigrammatic advice from Lord Kitchener while quietly allowing the troops to visit French brothels under the excuse that they didn’t want to offend their allies and hosts.  Since blue lamp facilities were established houses staffed by experienced professionals with a supply of condoms, they had no problem with sexually transmitted disease.  The same, however, could not be said for the red lamps, and since the troops were issued neither prophylactics nor proper information, STIs ran rampant.  Over 400,000 cases were recorded among British or Commonwealth troops during the course of the war, 150,000 of them on the Western Front alone; altogether roughly 5% of the men were infected at least once, three and a half times the infection rate among French troops and fully seven times the German rate.

By 1915 nurse Ettie Rout persuaded the New Zealand authorities to begin issuing prophylactic kits to their troops, and Canada soon followed suit; Britain’s response was to garnish the pay of soldiers who contracted STIs and treat them in separate, second-rate hospital facilities in order to punish and shame them.  Considering that an English Tommy’s pay was a scant one-fifth that of his counterparts from Canada and Australia (sixpence a day vs. two and a half shillings), it’s hardly surprising that infected troops preferred to hide their infections and/or treat them with ineffective patent medicines or folk remedies.  It is commonly claimed that many soldiers purposefully practiced unsafe sex in the hopes of trading thirty days in the trenches for thirty in hospital, but there is virtually no evidence to support this; in fact, given the pay garnishment, the stigma and the unpleasant side-effects of the arsenic-based medicines of the time, it hardly seems likely that many would purposefully pursue such a strategy.  And in any case, the story is unnecessary to explain the high disease rates among the British troops; the pigheaded policies of their leaders were more than sufficient for that.  By 1916 they began providing basic health education and encouraging soldiers to “disinfect” themselves after sex, but until the end of the War refused to issue condoms for fear that such a measure would attract public accusations that the Army was affording the men “opportunities for unrestrained vice”.

The United States only entered the Great War at the very end, but given that its institutional prudishness dwarfed even that of the United Kingdom, it seems likely that had the War not ended when it did, the Yanks’ VD rate would have challenged the Tommies’.  After all, not even the British had gone to the absurd length the Americans recently had, in criminalizing the act of prostitution itself; it’s even possible that a longer war would have given Washington more opportunity to impose its “white slavery” hysteria on the rest of the world back then as it is doing now.  But as things turned out, that did not happen; it took another century and another world war for the sane Franco-German approach of making allowances for human nature to lose out to the dangerous and delusional Anglo-American one of denying it, and for the idiotic strategy that resulted in half as many STIs as there were deaths in battle to become the dominant one over most of the world. 

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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  -  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

I am often asked by interviewers if I think the majority of sex work prohibitionists truly wish us harm, or if they’re just misguided.  I answer that while the leaders of the prohibition movement are evil, duplicitous and fully aware of the harm they’re causing both to whores and to our clients and families, most of the rank and file are well-intentioned people who believe the prohibitionists’ claims that they “only want to help sex workers, to ‘rescue’ us from ‘objectification’ and ‘degradation’, to ‘save” us from our own choices.”  This is nothing new; all through history unscrupulous leaders have used similar claims (“saving the souls of heathens”, etc) to justify conquest, pillage, rape and murder, and the majority of the population supported them because they simply didn’t know any better.

For the most part, anyone with the slightest actual knowledge about sex work sees right through such claims; a large fraction of the writing, speaking and social-media activity of activists and allies these days is devoted to exposing these false claims of concern for our welfare, often under hashtags such as “#NotYourRescueProject” and “#RightsNotRescue”.  But every so often the prohibitionists manage to sugar-coat their bait well enough so that even veteran activists swallow it, and unwittingly promote the interests of prohibitionists by spreading their propaganda and contact information.  In June of last year I shared several examples in “Long Spoon”, but a month ago another, even better one appeared:  Massachusetts end demand press releaseThis graphic was shared on Facebook and Twitter by a number of activists, but few seem to have noticed the direct source, the Massachusetts State Police, who are about the farthest thing from sex worker allies it’s possible to be.  And even fewer saw this article, which totally lays bare the agenda behind it:

…the large female percentage signals that these arrests may not be dealing with the root of the problem, the demand for prostitutes created by johns and pimps and the over-sexualization of the female in American culture.  “Mass NOW believes that the commodity model of sexuality in our culture contributes to the inability of law enforcement officials to see the percentage of sex workers who are coerced into the sex industry as victims”…said Katie Prisco-Buxbaum …“We believe…in…working to erode some of the cultural perceptions around prostitution”…“It is certainly cheaper for police to arrest the sellers, but there isn’t much evidence saying that it is efficient to do so,” said Michael Shively, founder of Demandforum.net…If prostitution is to ever be truly eliminated, the state of Massachusetts and the rest of the world need to make a larger effort to eliminate the prostitution market by targeting the johns and the pimps…

I doubt many of those sharing the above infographic without comment (or even worse, with supportive comment) would have done so had they realized that it was naked “end demand” propaganda, a blatant push toward Swedish-style systems that aim to “eliminate prostitution” by eliminating prostitutes through slow starvation.  The filth about “victims”, “commodification” and “cultural perceptions” belched forth by Katie Buxbaum would’ve been quite enough, and even the name of Michael Shively would’ve rewarded a quick Google search with the revelation that he makes a very good living producing bogus studies for Swanee Hunt, a morally-warped multi-billionaire with a personal vendetta against whores who actually bankrolls pogroms against us.  These “operations” go under the name “National Day of Johns Arrests”, but just because a politician calls something the “Free Kitten Act” doesn’t mean it’s actually devoted to giving out free kittens; in fact, it may be the exact opposite.  The center of Hunt’s private anti-sex jihad is Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located; its sheriff, Tom Dart, vomits out “end demand” poison every time he opens his filthy mouth on the subject.  So one would expect his county to be a model of “john arrests” in order to uphold his advertising and please his obscenely-wealthy patron, wouldn’t one?  Well, not quite:

On paper, sex workers are still not as likely to face felony charges as their patrons, who can be charged with a felony on their first offense…But…analysis of the…data shows that prostitution-related felonies are being levied almost exclusively against sex workers.  During the past four years, they made up 97 percent of the 1,266 prostitution-related felony convictions in Cook County.  And the number is growing:  Felony convictions among sex workers increased by 68 percent between 2008 and 2011…

Trojan horseIn other words, the city most associated with Hunt’s “end demand” program saw an increase in the number of sex workers’ lives destroyed by police, despite propaganda to the contrary.  Given the presence of her toady Michael Shively and the recent announcement that she’s inaugurated a new crusade in Boston, this “infographic” has Swanee Hunt’s name all over it, and those who spread it without explanation were doing her dirty work.  The proverb tells us not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the Trojans might have a different opinion on the wisdom of doing so; given the cleverness and resources of our enemies, advocates would do well to closely examine the teeth, hooves, withers and (especially) parentage of any horse presented to us before saddling it up and riding it in this very serious race where our lives are literally at stake.

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Given that large numbers of prostitutes operate independently without panderers, it would be difficult to characterize prostitution as inherently rooted in subjugation.  -  Gail Heriot

Think of the Children! Jaqueline Laurent-Auger

The half-life of sex radiation must be over 40 years:

…[73-year-old] Jaqueline Laurent-Auger was a teacher at the Montreal private school, Le Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf…but…the school [fired] her [because]…as a young actress…in France, she starred in a handful of erotic films…[including] Le Journal intime d’une nymphomane (1973) and Dany la ravageuse (1972).  In a statement, school officials maintain that “We’re not talking about paintings or sculptures of naked bodies produced with artistry and aesthetics in mind.  There are erotic scenes destined for an adult audience…”

Dirty Whores

The headline makes the contagion sound voluntary and evokes the “dirty whore” myth:  “…a [Liberian] sex worker…suffering from Ebola…passed the deadly disease to [Floson Louise]…who unknowingly spread it to seven other soldiers…the army barracks are being decongested to ease the spread of the disease…

Rooted in Racism

I’m really pleased to see black intellectuals writing about this:

…the movement against “modern-day slavery” deploys non-racial language to…[solidify] the existing racial regime…and…is inordinately preoccupied with women’s sexual victimization…the focus on white women…working in commercial sex recalls the…late nineteenth and early twentieth century…[panic over] the “white slave trade”…the moral authority that anti-slavery mobilizes today partly stems from the memory of black liberation that it implicitly draws upon—all the while explicitly distancing itself from black historical struggle…

Surplus Women

[Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana]…may be a serial killer who has killed…as far back as 20 years ago…Vann…was arrested…[for the murder of] Afrika Hardy…[after she] did not return from [an]  appointment [with Vann, a friend]…went to track her down and found her dead from strangulation.  Once in custody Vann…admitted…Hardy’s murder and led police to the bodies of six other women, all in abandoned houses…[officials were] unable to say whether the other victims were sex workers…

Not an Addiction (TW3 #6)

Since when do “scientists” treat patients?

Scientists have treated…the first patient with internet addiction disorder brought on by overuse of Google Glass.  The man had been using the technology for around 18 hours a day – removing it only to sleep and wash – and complained of feeling irritable and argumentative without [it]…he had also begun experiencing his dreams as if viewed through [its] small grey window.  The existence of internet addiction disorder…is hotly debated among psychiatrists.  It was not included as a clinical diagnosis in the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

It is not “hotly debated”; OCD is not “addiction”, no matter how much money-hungry scammers want to rebrand it as such.

Above the Law 

A Birmingham [Alabama] police officer arrested earlier this month on child sex abuse charges is now charged with rape of an adult woman.  Joshua Herbinger…was not in any kind of…relationship with the [victim]…In the earlier case…Herbinger was charged with four counts of sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old…

Shift in the Wind

One of the members of the US government Commission on Civil Rights openly criticized “sex trafficking” hysteria in a dissent with the Commission’s predetermined rubber-stamp “findings”, and may have cited yours truly in it:

…terms like “sex trafficking”…obscure more than they enlighten, because there is little agreement on what they mean…claims that the Super Bowl is a magnet for sex traffickers appear to be more myth than fact…In the late 19thcentury, Great Britain was also swept by a wave of hysteria over “white slavery“.  In time, the panic spread to the United States…the Heriot dissent decries the tendency to view the complexities of so-called “international labor trafficking” as something inherently sinister…There is plenty of opportunity for fraudulent or coercive behavior in these transactions.  But there is also opportunity for gain by the most vulnerable of the world’s people, trapped in poverty…

Bottleneck

Why 90% of whores prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing:

…Dancers and managers at a Washington state strip club are…suing to stop their county from releasing their names, photos, and other identifying information to a man who has filed a public records request…because strippers in most areas of Washington must obtain an “entertainer’s license”, their identities are a matter of public record…it’s entirely likely [David A. Van Vleet]…is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob.  Maybe both…it’s hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job…

Capricious Lusts (TW3 #37)

M.C. Nanaiah , chairman of the [Indian] expert committee to suggest measures for safety of women and children has favoured a wider discussion on legalisation of prostitution…to prevent rapes…

That Old Black Magic

The “Juju sex slaves” myth just keeps on going like a zombie:

Juju “magic” may seem strange, mythical and other-worldly but it is a problem that is all too real when it comes to the sex trafficking of women from Nigeria…Trafficking expert Siddharth Kara from Harvard University said:  “[Juju] exerts a kind of control that’s so much more potent than chains or locking someone up.  It’s control of the spirit which is far more powerful and insidious”…

Westerners have our own Juju faith in self-declared “experts” like Kara, a charlatan whose degree of ignorance is astonishing even in a field dominated by charlatans.Barry Freundel

Buried Truth 

One of the nation’s most respected rabbis…[is] accused of placing a camera in the women’s…area of a sacred bath…Barry Freundel is a…leader in the Modern Orthodox movement…with controversial opinions on everything from abortion to homosexuality.  He…was known to take a strict position on morality, [saying]…just weeks ago:  “The lack of sexual morality…pervades this society…Pornography and its accessibility is wrecking marriages”…

Scapegoats (TW3 #49)

Daily Beast writer (no giggling, now) says Denmark doesn’t have enough reasons to lock people up yet:

…A new law on the table in Denmark proposes to make sex with animals…illegal.  The Danish law currently states that humans can have sex with animals as long as the animal doesn’t suffer…[but] how would one know if an animal enjoyed human sex?…If the law passes…only Finland, Hungary and Sweden will remain lawless…[the bill's sponsor] is…concerned that…Denmark…could become the [Mecca] of animal sex tourism…

I’m not sure what’s sillier, the writer’s conflation of “doesn’t suffer” with “enjoy” or her idea that “human sex” is fundamentally different from other mammals’ copulation.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

How many moronic prohibitionist plays can the market bear?

Tony-award winning playwright…Sarah Jones…has been publicly “workshopping” her newest one woman show, entitled Sell/Buy/Date…The play is really one insult after another…Everybody was a “prostituted woman” except for a Russian male pimp who self-described as a sex worker.  And the sex worker rights activists are caricatured as dimwitted and undereducated supporters of Sarah Palin…Jones seems to be under the impression that the sex worker movement is funded by big corporate interests…Jones’ monologues [are set in an imaginary future dystopia] where…prostitution could not possibly exist…emergency medical treatment will be necessary to cure male porn addicts…However, magically, there will be a “re-sensititization” of men by forcing them to watch Thelma and Louise

Cops and Condoms (TW3 #330)

a 30-year-old female sex worker [has been sent] to prison for at least nine years under Germany’s “preventive detention” law, because she has shown a pattern of not disclosing to clients that she was living with HIV before they chose to have condomless sex with her…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #337)

Sex workers in Northern Ireland are overwhelmingly opposed to…a law that could criminalise those who pay for prostitutes…only 2%…are in favour of the so-called “Swedish model”…61%…thought [the]…law…would make them less safe.  And…only 16% of…clients…said such a law would make them stop seeking to pay for sex…

Unfortunately, facts don’t concern politicians.

Damned If You Don’t (TW3 #343)

Charles CouchA man arrested in a police operation to harass and jail gay men was not only abused and threatened:  cops also stole his property, trashed his reputation and seriously jeopardized his career.  “Charles S. Couch…is suing the city [of Manhattan Beach, California]…Chief Eve Irvine and five police detectives, seeking $5 million in damages for mental distress, aggravation and loss of work.  He is being represented by civil and gay rights attorney Bruce W. Nickerson, who specializes in litigation surrounding police sting operations…

Rhinoceros (TW3 #403)

It turns out COAST is even sleazier than I thought:

…The majority of the board members of COAST’s backing group, the Association of Club Entrepreneurs (ACE), have been sued by their own employees for violations of labor law including wage theft, intimidation, charging debt-inducing illegal fees, and even sexual harassment…one of COAST’s co-founders, Michael Ocello, got involved in anti-trafficking efforts after the Illinois club he owned was raided by federal agents…

The Missing Word

The ridiculous claim that 42% of all UK sex workers are male derives from a bad study which makes two false assumptions: that each sex worker takes out one and only one ad at a time, and that all sex workers use all advertising platforms equally.  But that’s not the interesting thing about this article; it’s the fact that when men are the subject, agency is not denied and the word “trafficking” is nowhere to be found.

Property of the State

Women’s advocacy and drug-policy reform organizations are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “publicly renounce” enhanced criminal penalties for pregnant women.  It’s an issue that’s been gaining more attention since the July…conviction of Lacey Weld…[who] was pregnant at the time she made (and used) meth…[and] received an extra six years of prison time…Many object to charging a pregnant meth user with “child endangerment” on the grounds that an embryo or fetus is not yet a “child”.  But we also…[know] that heavy drinking and poor nutrition are much more dangerous to developing fetuses than exposure to meth…

The Roof Caves In

The Somaly Mam Foundation…shuttered its entire operation…and urged its followers to support other anti-trafficking groups…The SMF website on Saturday appeared to be stripped of all its content except for the announcement on its homepage…

Of course, the same bunch have already started a new “rescue” scam.

If Men Were Angels

A man who claims he can “cure” gay people…raped a teenage boy and threatened to kill him with his “warlock powers” if he told.  Kentucky police have arrested…youth pastor Rex Allen Murphy…the 16-year-old [victim said Murphy]…told him…that by brushing his skin or shaking his hand…he could tell his sins…Murphy reportedly asserted he thought he would be able to help the victim with his “battle with homosexuality because he, too, had experimented with homosexuality”…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #434) 

Five Women in Whitechapel (TW3 #437) 

It was supposed to have been the definitive piece of scientific evidence that finally exposed the true identify of Jack the Ripper…However, the scientist who carried out the DNA analysis has apparently made a fundamental error that fatally undermines his case…it would mean his calculations were wrong and that virtually anyone could have left the DNA that he insisted came from the Ripper’s victim…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #440)

following the mass eviction of over 1,449 prostitutes from…Dolly…it would appear that Papua has become a destination of choice among a small portion of the evictees…Papua is by far the richest province in Indonesia in terms of natural resources, boasting some of the largest gold, silver, copper and timber reserves on earth…nouveau riche mining capital has ensured that sex workers in Papua are among the highest paid in Indonesia…

The Face of Trafficking

I’m going to use this subtitle for stories refuting the myth of the evil client:

A woman who was lured to Dubai by promises of a job [in a beauty salon] but was then forced into prostitution was rescued by her first customer when she burst into tears and told him her story…the victim [said]…“He…booked me a ticket back to Morocco and even drove me to the airport”…she was not allowed to leave the country because…her employment contract had not been cancelled, so she headed to airport police and told them the whole story…

There was an earlier example here.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 12th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

The Black CatAs befits a girl who was born on Halloween night, I’m a big fan of horror films, horror stories, horror TV shows, horror comics, horror poems and just about anything macabre and creepy.  I’ve written about horror fiction on my blog more than a few times, especially (though by no means exclusively) in October, which is my favorite month in part because it’s Halloween season.  But this is not merely a deviation from my usual topic; in fact, as I explained in “Eros and Phobos”, fear and sex are inextricably intertwined:

…the trappings of BDSM would be equally at home in a gothic horror setting, the rape fantasy is as popular as ever and the lurid fantasies of “sex trafficking” fetishists can be found in mainstream news outlets every day, forced up from the collective unconscious by the pressure of the return to Victorian levels of prudery.  Nor does one always have to look outward to find the connection; I’m sure many of my readers have realized that the things that sexually excite them most are often related to things that frighten them.  For example, some of you may recall my mentioning that I have a phobia of being trapped (including in traffic jams), and I think even the veriest psychological amateur could recognize that I have a tremendous aversion to authority.  Yet at the same time, I’m turned on by bondage and themes of dominance and submission

I hardly think it’s necessary to point out that when an individual tries to suppress sexual desires, they usually pop out somewhere else; the same thing is true of society as a whole.  The neo-Victorians who now dominate our culture are so afraid of sex they’re trying to completely neuter and domesticate it:

They imagine that engaging in sex for the “wrong” reasons, or without the benediction of elaborate rituals of consent, or with people separated from one another by more than a very few years of age, is terribly harmful.  They believe that merely taking pictures of the taboo act creates a kind of Gorgonic icon which drives its viewers mad, and that the mere existence of such images harms women and children who are not even in close proximity to it.  And they fervently assert that it is so incredibly dangerous to the sacred “innocence” of “children” (a term which refers not to true children, but to a ritual category which actually includes some adults), for strangers to even imagine sexual contact with them causes such tremendous harm that those who indulge in these Forbidden Thoughts deserve penalties greater than those for violent assault, followed by lifelong social ostracism

But this only results in the suppressed desires popping out somewhere else.  As I explained in “Eros and Phobos”, horror fiction is one of those points of eruption; it’s a “safe” way to way to deal with feelings that one is afraid to admit to, a way to separate the taboo “dirty”, “bad”, violent or otherwise forbidden aspects of sex from wedding-cake images of romantic love and Utopian talk of mutual pleasure and “enthusiastic consent”.  The more rigid the social demands for 100% clear, legally-provable consent, the more rape fantasies we should expect to see.  The more society insists that the only acceptable sex is between age-peers, the more Lolita imagery will appear.  The more loudly “thought leaders” insist that love and mutual pleasure are the only acceptable reasons for sex, the more attention will be paid to whores.  And the more fixated conformists are on marriage and monogamy, the higher the number of clients the harlots strolling down the streets of their imaginations must have.

Given the draconian sexual regime our increasingly-repressive culture has imposed by use of both violence and shame, we should expect to see a great deal of horror fiction in which very young girls are abducted, raped, enslaved as prostitutes and forced to see exorbitant numbers of men.  And so we do; the lurid, sensationalized tragedy porn narratives that make up the body of “sex trafficking” mythology are nothing more than Gothic horror tales that opportunists pretend are real.  But do the members of the general public actually believe these stories, or are they just outlets for psychosexual tension accepted with the same mixture of credulity and doubt with which our ancestors greeted the spooky tales told around campfires?  It has been pointed out that if anyone actually believed that one in five young women on campuses were raped, nobody would ever send their daughters to coed universities; similarly, if anyone actually accepted the claim that “Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution”, we’d be seeing a constant parade of abductees’ pictures on the news and demands for armed guards at bus stops.  Perhaps one of the reasons for the popularity of such folklore is that on some level people know it isn’t real (even if they consciously deny it); just as the old tales shared certain motifs and were repeated in a ritualized fashion that branded them as fabulous, so do these modern legends.  Perhaps the “sex trafficking” hysteria is at its heart nothing more than a succession of horror plays, sequels to (or remakes of) those in the very popular “Satanic Panic” series of the 1980s and ‘90s, and like them serving as “safe” outlets for anxieties caused by the onerous puritanism of modern Anglo-American culture.  “Safe”, that is, for the audience; in this horror drama the actors, unlike those in Hammer films or Grand Guignol theater, are both involuntary and unpaid.  And as long as this panic goes on they will be forced, like the imaginary sex slaves of the narrative, to play out the scripts drawn from their captors’ twisted psyches at the cost of their own freedom, happiness and lives.

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